[National Catholic Register] 29 Oct 2008--Are witches real? Of course they are. Are they skinny old women with green skin, pointy chins and warts on their noses, who cackle over cauldrons? Of course not. Do they attend an academy called “Hogwarts,” play a form of hockey on their broomsticks and battle mythical beasts? Is “Samantha,” a pretty middle-class suburban wife with magical powers and a gaggle of kooky and spooky family members, a witch? Of course not. All of that is an attempt to make us believe that there are not really such things as witches.
But there are. Witchcraft is alive and well in our modern, secular age. It has taken the name “Wicca” and claims an increasing number of adherents. Followers of Wicca profess to be modern pagans. They claim to draw on the powers of nature to heal people, foretell the future and put people in touch with their departed loved ones. The modern Wicca religion is descended from another British witch, Gerald Gardener, who, in the 1950s, synthesized various strands of ancient paganism into a new mish-mash kind of paganism.
Is there anything to it, or is it just a load of silly, New Age nonsense? Be assured that there is not only something to it, but something sinister. To put it bluntly, pagans worship the gods and goddesses of the ancient world. The early Christians understood quite clearly that the pagan gods and goddesses were demons. They understood that the pagan rites were sacrifices made to demons, and that through the pagan initiation rites devotees gave themselves to the demons and that as a result, the pagan worshippers were usually demon-possessed. That’s why the preparation for Christian baptism involved careful catechesis over a long period of time with numerous exorcisms.
Is it possible for modern people to summon up the ancient gods and goddesses and offer themselves to be infested by such spirits? Of course it is. C.S. Lewis commented on the foolishness of summoning up evil spirits, saying that if they were called we should not be surprised if they arrive on our doorsteps. Followers of Wicca are not benevolent New Agers who just happen to be vegetarian, sandal-wearing bearded weirdoes. Their religion follows ancient rites where they summon up the ancient gods and goddesses.