An Encounter With A Modern Day Witch Hunter

By:  Heather Abraham

“Thou Shalt Not Suffer A Witch To Live.”  How do you like that for an opening line!  During a recent visit to a local book store, I encountered a middle aged man who thought it was appropriate not only to scrutinize my choice of reading material but to comment on them also.  Since I was holding books on various religious traditions, it took me a minute to realize that in quoting Exodus 22:18, he was snidely referring to the Wiccan Encyclopedia I was holding.  Without missing a beat, this stranger continued his one sided dialogue—shrieking that I needed to put the book down, repent my satanic ways, and open my heart to Jesus Christ.  His continued ranting and bizarre body language left little doubt that a two way conversation would not benefit either of us.  Escaping his venomous verbal barrage, I slipped into the ladies room and waited for an all clear from a concerned customer.   

Although the crazed stranger was familiar with Old Testament scripture, he most certainly knew little if anything of modern Wicca or witchcraft.  Yet for some insane reason, this crazed “believer” chose to embrace an archaic and superstitious  worldview that would leave any reasonable person speechless in horror.   I had to wonder if he could trace his ancestry to those responsible for prosecuting the guiltless women of Salem, Massachusetts.  Unfortunately, this crazed creature is not a throw-back from the 17th century—no he is product of and contributor to the persistent negative religious stereotypes embraced by a large part of our uninformed society.  He was right about one thing; Witches are alive and well and flourishing in the Americas and Europe. 

Contrary to popular belief, modern day Witches are no longer the “other”, but are in fact your neighbor, attorney, waitress, and teacher.  Witches have gone main stream and believe it or not, they don’t make sacrifice to nor worship Satan.  In fact, Wicca does not even recognize the existence of Christianity’s dark menace.  For a Witch, blaming another entity for one’s behavior is unthinkable.  Many Wiccan traditions believe in the rule of three or the law of return which teaches that all energy, positive or negative, will be returned threefold.  Thus Witches are most assuredly aware of their actions towards others as well as nature.  


Although modern Wicca’s origins are still under debate academically, many Witches claim a direct and unbroken line from the “Old Religions” which thrived in pre-Christian Europe.  Like the religions of yore, Wicca is a nature based religious tradition which promotes the sacredness of the earth.  Although Wiccan and Witch are often used interchangeably—this is misleading.  Many Witches are solitary and do not subscribe to practicing within a coven.  In short, all Wiccans are Witches but not all Witches are Wiccan.  Like all religious traditions, Wicca is complex and diverse and cannot be summarized here; there is much more for you to learn about their story.    

Intolerance and religious fanaticism are real concerns for 21st century.  Religious extremism mixed with ignorance is a powerful and dangerous cocktail.   If the first decade of the new century taught us anything; it illustrated the dangers of perceiving any group as “the other”.  My bookstore encounter with the crazed lout is proof positive that we all need to exercise caution and make an effort to educate ourselves on the facts of religious traditions distinctive from our own.   As for the crazed witch hunter; he is a sanctimonious ass who besmirches the beauty and message of Christianity.


Filed Under: Heather AbrahamNRMsPagan & Wicca


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