Urlifestyle Magazine October 2016 October 2016 - Page 24

By Stacy Sturm Staff Writer WITCH. Such an evil word to Christians. Witches practice black magic and put hexes on people. Witches sacrifice babies. Witches cast spells, dance around naked, have crazy orgies, and summon demons. Witches hole up in spooky old houses, hide out in shacks, and caves in the woods and only come out at night. Or maybe.... just maybe... Witches are moms, dads, teachers, business owners, PTA members, volunteers, and upstanding members of society. In fact, when not sacrificing babies, some of them may actually work as nurses caring for them. "We actually prefer to be called Pagans," said Brandon Lee, of Bismarck. "There is actually less of a stigma in pagan than witch," said Sarah Lee, of Bismarck. "People are like 'Oh my god don't talk to me', when I say I'm a witch. " "They think green colors, hook nose, worts, spells," Brandon chimed in. Sarah started her bewitching journey back in high school in a very conservative Christian household, "I started spreading out knowledge wise as far as religions. I had books I would read and my mom would try to destroy them. But as I read, Paganism just worked for me. It had less rules. It wasn't as strict. It wasn't like if you do this you're going to hell and if you do this you'll have many many blessings. I tend to gravitate more towards the Celtic mythology." Brandon came from the opposite environment, coming from a very open and freethinking household. "I never even saw the inside of an actual church until I was 16. We were allowed to explore for ourselves and figure out our own path in life. The more I got into the history of religions the more it seemed to 10 full circle and it just come back clicked with me." Brandon grew up in the Bay 24 Area of California where there were many people who thought and believed as he did. Sarah however grew up in South Dakota where there was not a very big pagan culture. She learned a lot on her own through books. Social media has been a big game changer. "Social media is connecting a lot of witches, even in Bismarck, rather quickly," Brandon said. He joked more and more people are "coming out of the broom closet." According to a 2014 study, Wicca (aka witches, aka pagans) is the fastest growing religion in America. It is currently growing at an astounding pace. It has been estimated that the number of Americans that are Wiccans is doubling every 30 months, and at this point there are more than 200,000 registered witches and approximately 8 million unregistered practitioners of Wicca. Wicca emerged as a faith in the middle of the 20th century, but the origins of many Wiccan practices actually go back for thousands of years, and some researchers believe that certain aspects of Wicca can actually be traced all the way back to ancient Babylon. According to Wikipedia, Wicca “is a modern pagan, witchcraft religion”. And it is important to remember that Wicca is just one form of witchcraft. Like Christianity there are many different sects of Wiccans just like there are many different sects or denominations of Christians. Alexandrian Wicca: A tradition founded in England by Alex Sanders. Basically uses Gardnerian ritual, although they have been modified with many Judeo-Christian and Ceremonial Magic elements. 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