Cheryl Weatherford

Being a practitioner of witchcraft has been a part of my life since I was a young girl. I always found comfort in the earth, singing in the rain, soaking up the sun, and  cleansing my spirit with warmth and light.

Today, I continue to educate myself about non-conventional religious practices, learning new things about myself along the way.

With this unique personal context, I am painfully aware of a new trend to exploit “witches” like me. I’m seeing headlines complaining about “witch hunts,” Geico commercials staging witches as broomstick riders, and an overall disrespect for a valid spiritual practice that precedes Christianity.

When I work with clients to create jewelry, sometimes we get into topics of religion. Often, I hear sheepish whispers about Paganism and Wicca. Even among people seeking to adorn themselves with protective or enlightening amulets, the thought remains we are not supposed to believe in magic or look to Mother Earth for salvation.

Giving credit to any feminine presence is still hard for us.  Pagan holidays often serve a God and a Goddess, but the practice of Wicca is mainly to serve the divine feminine, the mother who gives us life. Wiccan practitioners feel the sting of “witch hunt” prejudice more.

In the news, using the words “witch hunt” serves a political nature, to control women.

When mostly male politicians use this term  to generate sympathy for themselves, they are exploiting a phrase extremely hurtful to women. The term hearkens the fear generated by the Salem witch trials, during which 19 women were hung for practicing their beliefs.

    Paganism is not to be mocked. It is a spiritual practice that saved me from enduring childhood pain. I grew up in a Methodist family,  where service to community was how we expressed love in the Christian God’s name.  To this day, I’m thankful for the foundation my mother and grandmother created, teaching me and my three sisters to give and love unconditionally.   

    But I never felt quite at home in a church with the teachings of the Bible. Church always felt like going through the motions of announcing Jesus as my savior each Sunday.

    Recently, I felt a fresh stab from the Methodist community.  As a bisexual woman, I am now officially not welcome in that community, the church in which I was baptized and confirmed. This rejection of my feelings for the feminine is yet another isolating experience, and another reason why I find comfort in Paganism and its respect for the divine feminine.

    We need to stop carelessly tossing around this word, “witch,” as though it means nothing. We witches are nature worshippers. Our practices are a way to help others find their own strengths from within, not a con.

    We should not be teaching our children to avoid any spiritual paths, or to ignore or mock the divine feminine that lives in all of us. We should expand spirituality, and allow everyone to find comfort in how they would like to practice it.