â€˜Annaâ€™ walks the halls like everyone else at Western. She gets to class on time, does her homework, wants to major in something that will let her be creative.
She sits daily among conservative classmatesÂ who routinely wear a standard Christian Cross around their necks. Only the sharpest of eyes will spot the pentacle around her own neck.
Tis the season for ghosts, ghouls and of course, witches. Did you know they could be sitting next to you in class?
While Iâ€™m taking my 4-year-old on the commercialized childhood ritual of trick-or-treating, in pursuit of the eternal sugar buzz, Anna will be participating in a spiritual rite, honoring the dead and celebrating life.
Daniel Webster, a Wiccan Priest with the Aquarian Tabernacle Church (http://www.aquatabch.org), whose world headquarters is in Index, Wash., explains the modern religious significance of the holiday.
â€œThese days, Samhain (pronounced Sow-an) is a combination of New Yearâ€™s Eve and Memorial Day,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s a time for looking back and looking forward: We remember loved ones who have passed on and wish them well on their journey. And whether folks believe in reincarnation or a set afterlife, we know that we will see each other again.â€
â€œLooking forward has two aspects – we can plan for the new year and set goals for what we want to accomplish, but it also has the immediate meaning of looking at the gathering darkness now that itâ€™s late Fall,â€ he said. â€œLooking at the darkness is another way of saying turning within. Taking stock of yourself and your situation and trying to learn more about oneself.â€
Wicca, the modern day religion of Witchcraft, has come a long way since it began in England somewhere in the 1950s.
In the last couple of decades itâ€™s been the focus of good and bad media coverage — and while the amount of coverage has died down, perhaps the most significant thing happened this past April.
The federal governmentâ€™s Veterans Administration, according to the Associated Press story dated April 23, chose to recognize Wicca as valid and offer neopagan soldiersâ€™ families the chance to have the pentacle on the headstones of loved ones — of course, this conciliation came in the face of an unwillable lawsuit, but itâ€™s a start.
I knew my Wiccan friends would be celebrating and I knew someone in the White House had to be pissed — though he does have larger fish to fry at the moment. It was Dubya, after all, who was part of the faction that tried to curtail religious freedom at Ft. Hood, Texas in 1999. While Senator Strom Thurmond waged war from the Senate Floor, Dubya tried to fight from the Texas Governorâ€™s office.
Religioustolerance.org cites a June 29, 1999 Associated Press storyÂ which Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) submitted a letter to the Senate Judiciary Committee suggesting that religious freedom be curtailed at Ft. Hood.
He wrote: â€œArmy soldiers who consider themselves to be members of the Church of Wicca are carrying out their ceremonies at Fort Hood in Texas.Â
â€œThe Wiccas [sic] practice witchcraft,â€ he said. â€œAt Fort Hood, they are permitted to build fires on Army property and perform their rituals involving fire, hooded robes, and nine inch daggers. An Army chaplain is even present…I do not dispute that individuals may believe what they wish, and they can practice their religion in private life. However, limits can and should be placed on the exercise of those views, especially in the military.â€
He goes on to equate the religion with Satanists and cultists and says â€œFor the sake of the honor and prestige of our military, there should be no obligation to permit such activity.â€
Hypocrites!! We can be such a country of hypocrites. We tout our particular freedomsÂ until someone uses them to do something we donâ€™t like…THEN itâ€™s an issue.
Modern day witches, practitioners of Wicca, haveÂ come a long way in 8 years from bonfires at Ft. Hood to validation on military headstones. Iâ€™m happy for them.
Iâ€™ve only ever known people in the group as peaceful, intelligent and kind. Â Â I treasure my friends, no matter their beliefs. I may not be a member of their religion but I do listen to the lessons it can teach, just as I do for Buddhists, Islam, Hindus and the Jewish people. There are lessons to be learned across the board if youâ€™re open to hearing them.
Hopefully these are lessons Bridget will be open to learning, in time. Knowledge is power, right?
So as the holiday season kicks off with candy and costumes, keep in mind, the holidays you celebrate now, likely had very different beginnings. Look it up, you might learn something.