May 25, 2007


Melissa McCrady
Have you ever met a real-life witch? Chances are you have, and you don't even know it. They're not as 'scary' as you may think. We found out...modern-day 'witches' are actually a lot more Glinda the Good, than Wicked Witch of the West. For years, witches have been portrayed as broom-flying, cackling, evil-spell-doers. Actually...they like to stay very close to the earth. Circle Sanctuary is a Wiccan Church near Madison. Selena Fox started the group more than 30 years ago. "The Wiccan religion is a nature religion, and it has more in common with Celtic Christianity and Native American traditional ways," Fox says. She says there are many misconceptions about her faith. "The Wiccan religion has nothing to do with the devil, with anything nefarious," Fox explains. On Earth Day, she led the group in a ritual...praising the five sacred elements: Earth, air, fire, water, and spirit. The event also included a dramatic prairie-burn, which helps restore and preserve the prairie as a habitat. People from all walks of life belong to the church. Joey says her love of nature attracted her to the faith. "When people ask I usually just say, 'Yes, I'm Pagan, I'm a nature worshiper,'" Joey tells us. Other people, like Rachel Rucinski, are just trying it out. "I don't adhere to a particular religion at this time. I think what people don't understand scares them, and for me, what I don't understand excites me," Rachel says. The craft is also part of the Wiccan religion. Felicia Morgan teaches witchcraft. She recently opened 'The Witch's Knot' in West Allis to educate others. "You can't go to a lot of places even now, and say, 'Hey, I want to learn about being a witch,'" Morgan says. Felicia teaches a variety of skills, from tarot-reading to spell-casting. "Spells are our form of prayer. Before we do anything we ask ourselves, 'Will this harm someone?'" Morgan explains. Mostly, the group just gathers together to talk about life and faith. Betsy Clemens works at a hospital. She says it's good to have a place where she can express herself. "We're kinda shy about it. There's a lot of misconceptions. People think we worship the devil and we don't." And in the midst of all the broomsticks, candles, and cauldrons...Morgan says her customers' comfort is her main priority. "A big, comfy area, people can come in, feel safe," she says. And...maybe get a new understanding about a religion that dates back hundreds of years. One of the Wiccan leaders referred to Wisconsin as "Witchconsin." She says the Pagan population is growing rapidly across the state, as more and more people understand the true meaning of the faith. The Wiccan religion is recognized by the U.S. Government. Some lawmakers have tried to overturn that decision. Even President George W. Bush said he doesn't think Wicca is a religion.

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