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I Practice Witchcraft, And I Wish People Knew These Things About My Religion

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The old religion, the old gods; Wicca draws from the Old Traditions of Witchcraft. This is true that Witchcraft and Wicca are similar in many respects yet they are not the same. One can be a Witch, without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian without being a Baptist. Wicca is a recognized religion, while Witchcraft itself is not considered more of a path. It’s best to describe Wicca as a modern religion, based on ancient Witchcraft traditions.

Contrary to what many believe, Wicca is a very peaceful, harmonious, and balanced way of life which promotes oneness with the divine and nature and all which exists.

Wicca is a deep appreciation of the sun rising or setting, or the forest in the light of a lustrous moon.  It is light and shadow and all that lies in between. It is the balance. It is loving Mother Earth, Nature, and being humble. To be a Witch is to be a healer, a teacher, a seeker, a giver, and a protector of all things.  If this path is yours, may you walk it with honor and integrity

This belief system is a reconstruction of pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. While much of the information of how our ancestors lived, worshiped, and believed has been wiped out from history by the medieval church, we try to preserve those beliefs to the best of our ability with the information that is available.

Thanks to archaeological discoveries, we now have basis to believe that the origins of our belief system can be traced further back to the Paleolithic peoples who worshipped a Hunter God and a Fertility Goddess. Wicca is a fertility religion, contrary to popular belief of it being a earth religion. With these discoveries of cave paintings, estimated to be around 30,000 years old, depicting a man with the head of a stag, and a pregnant woman standing in a circle with eleven other people, it can reasonably be assumed that Witchcraft is one of the oldest belief systems known in the world today. These archetypes are recognized by us Wiccans.

Witchcraft in ancient history was known as “The Craft of the Wise” because most who followed the path were in tune with the forces of nature, had a knowledge of Herbs and medicines, gave counsel and were valuable parts of the village and community as Shamanic healers and leaders. They understood that humankind is not superior to nature but instead we are simply one of the many parts, both seen and unseen, of the whole. These wise people understood that what we take or use we must return in kind to maintain balance and equilibrium in nature. Clearly, modern man, with all his applied learning and technology, has forgotten this.

For the past several hundred years, the image of the Witch has been mistakenly associated with evil, heathenism, and unrighteousness. In my humble opinion, these misconceptions have their origin in a couple of different places.

To begin, the medieval church created these myths to convert the followers of the old nature-based religions to the church’s way of thinking. By making the Witch into a diabolical character, and turning the old religious deities into devils and demons, the missionaries were able to attach fear to these beliefs which aided in the conversion process.

Secondly, the women healers threatened the position of men in the medical community. Unfortunately these fears and superstitions have carried forward through the centuries and remain to this day. This is why many who follow this fertility- and nature-oriented belief system have adopted to hide, to escape the persecution, harassment and misinformation associated with the name of Witchcraft and Witch, not to mention the bad publicity the press and Hollywood has given us!

The Wicked Witch. A still from “The Wizard of Oz” (1939).

This is a spiritual system that fosters the free thought and will of the individual, encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature, thereby affirming divinity within all living things. Most importantly however, it teaches responsibility. We accept responsibility for our actions and deeds as a result of the choices we make. We do not blame an exterior entity or being for our shortcomings, weaknesses, or mistakes. We acknowledge the cycles of nature, the lunar phases, and the seasons to celebrate our spirituality and to worship the divine. This allows the Witch to work with the intent of living in harmony and achieving balance with all things. Some of the spells that we do are for healing, love, harmony, wisdom and creativity. The potions that we stir might be a headache remedy, a cold tonic, or an herbal bath.

Wiccans believe that the spirit of The One, Goddess, and God exist in all things. In the trees, rain, flowers, the sea, in each other and all of natures creations. This means that we must treat all things of the Earth as aspects of the divine.  We also revere the spirits of the elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, from which we obtain insight to the rhythms of nature and understand they are also the rhythms of our own lives.

Image courtesy of the author.

Because Witches have been persecuted for so many centuries, we believe in religious freedom first! We do not look at our path as the only way to achieve spirituality, but as one path among many to the same end. We are not a missionary religion out to convert new members to think the same as we do. However we are willing to share our experience and knowledge. Anyone who is meant for this path will find it through their own search as the Goddess speaks to each of us in her time and way.

Wiccans practice the ‘Harm None’ Policy; the Wiccan Rede. Wicca is not a cult. We do not worship Satan or consort with Demons. Satan is a Christian creation and they can keep him. We do not need a paranoid creation of supreme evil and eternal damnation to scare us into doing the right thing and helping others. We do not sacrifice animals or humans because that would violate our basic tenant of “Harm None.” We have no need to steal or control the life force of another human to achieve mystical and supernatural powers. Wiccans have a very strict belief in the ‘Law of Three’ which states that whatever we send out into our world shall return to us three-fold, either as good or bane.

Remember to read with your heart, for it is when you see life and the world with your heart and spirit that you truly gain an understanding of what Wicca is.

Blessed Be!

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An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

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Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

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MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

Find out more about her campaign here.

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A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

A Gender Rights Activist working with the tribal and marginalized communities in india, Srilekha is a PhD scholar working on understanding body and sexuality among tribal girls, to fill the gaps in research around indigenous women and their stories. Srilekha has worked extensively at the grassroots level with community based organisations, through several advocacy initiatives around Gender, Mental Health, Menstrual Hygiene and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) for the indigenous in Jharkhand, over the last 6 years.

Srilekha has also contributed to sustainable livelihood projects and legal aid programs for survivors of sex trafficking. She has been conducting research based programs on maternal health, mental health, gender based violence, sex and sexuality. Her interest lies in conducting workshops for young people on life skills, feminism, gender and sexuality, trauma, resilience and interpersonal relationships.

A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
biodegradable sanitary pad vending machines in all government schools across the state. Her petition on Change.org has already gathered support from over 90000 people and continues to grow.

Bidisha was selected in Change.org’s flagship program ‘She Creates Change’ having run successful online advocacy
campaigns, which were widely recognised. Through the #BleedwithDignity campaign; she organised and celebrated World Menstrual Hygiene Day, 2019 in Guwahati, Assam by hosting a wall mural by collaborating with local organisations. The initiative was widely covered by national and local media, and the mural was later inaugurated by the event’s chief guest Commissioner of Guwahati Municipal Corporation (GMC) Debeswar Malakar, IAS.

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