The elements of nature, magic and witchcraft are pieces of the religion that Ana Lebron practices and has built a sense of community through.
“With Wicca, it’s very open, it’s very fluid,” says Lebron, a sophomore exploratory major. “I like the freedom that comes with it, and I like that everybody in that community is OK with that kind of freedom being in their community.”
Lebron says she would be considered more of a solitary or eclectic Wiccan. She does not follow older traditions of Wicca such as being a part of a coven.
Wicca is a “nature-oriented religion having rituals and practices derived from pre-Christian religious beliefs and typically incorporating modern witchcraft of a benevolent kind,” according to Dictonary.com.
Julian Serrano, a junior psychology major, who also practices Wicca, says nature is both his shield and his home.
When he first started exploring Wicca, Serrano says he began researching several different religions before deciding he was an eclectic witch, a sect of Paganism blended with aspects of other religions or philosophies.
“I acknowledge a lot of other beliefs,” he says. “Especially Daoism where they believe in balance and the Four Guardians of the north, south, east and west.”
Despite his beliefs in other religions, Serrano says he has always worshiped nature, which is at the core of Wicca, and attach himself to it and embrace it.
The religion itself goes back to a British servant Gerald Brousseau Gardner. He published “Witchcraft Today” in 1954, with the movement spreading to the United States in the late 1960s, according to Britannica.
As an eclectic Wiccan, Lebron says there is a lot to explore within Wicca, but she does not want to dedicate herself to just one part of the craft without trying her hand at everything.
“As compared to someone who is a green witch, they’ll follow more herbology, while someone who is eclectic, they’ll dabble in it a little bit, but they’d rather try to form connections with Gods of different calibers with the help of a little bit or herbs and spice as an offering,” she says.
Witchcraft and Wicca go hand in hand, while Lebron says some Wiccans may disagree, the magick cannot be taken out of the religion because that’s where it started.
Serrano says magick is the “manifestation of something intangible becoming physical.” Like Lebron, he says magick comes hand in hand with religion.
“A lot of people can say magick is no different than faith,” he says.
The Wiccan Rede, or the key moral in the religion, says “An ye harm none, do what ye will,” or as Lebron says, “Do not do that which harms others, if you do not want it to be done three folds back to you.”
With this key moral or mindset, Lebron says it’s a nice way of living with no malintent in her craft.
“It would be so easy to just sit there and be like ‘hex, hex, hex,’ and send any form of harm or dangerous intent to somebody,” says Lebron. “But with the mindset of would you want that to come back to you or worse, it kind of eliminates that negative emotion from you.”
The conversion to Wicca from Christianity for Serrano was a positive change for his confidence and self-worth. He says to see all the openness and liberty within the religion, especially for someone who identifies as gay, it was liberating to be able to fully embrace who he is.
“By trying out new things it made me realize I do love something about this, and this particular practice actually represents me,” says Serrano. “It represents who I am and what my goals are, what I’m embracing to be, and also who I was in the past.”
Alyssa Haskins, a junior math major, doesn’t practice Wicca, but she has done in-depth research on the religion in her Women & Religion class.
What drew her to it was the Wicca accepts women, diverse people, and anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.
“In Wicca, all people practice side by side,” says Haskins. “Cis, trans, gay, lesbian, bisexual, anybody can come together and have this free space where everybody is supported and represented.”
For someone who was raised Roman Catholic, Haskins says she had very strict views growing up, but has since branched out. Looking deeper into Wicca made her admire the religion and consider converting.
The Wiccan Pentagram, which is another part of the religion, symbolizes spirit, air, earth, water and fire and the circle around the five-point star is representing the universe. Lebron says the pentagram helps tie the religion of Wicca to nature and it’s used in practice.
The Horned God is one of the two primary Gods in the Wiccan religion. Triple Goddesses who are described as the mother, the maiden and the crone.
Lebron says she doesn’t limit herself to what Gods she follows within the religion.
Within the religion, there are also rituals, including cleansings which Serrano practices. When it’s been a long day, he says he will cleanse his energy with the water from the shower or when he’s outside hiking, he’s attaching himself to nature and increasing his awareness of his surroundings.
For Lebron, she says she mainly practices her religion through divination, so she does a lot of tarot, pendulums and broom work.
Her favorite practice is with her tarot cards, something she says is often misunderstood as just “telling the future.” They instead give further insight into their current situation and guide someone to a decision.
She says she has multiple different decks that she uses on herself and sometimes her friends, even if they don’t appreciate honesty.
In more traditional Wicca, Haskins says people would often join covens and cults to practice rituals.
Wicca also has religious holidays, Lebron says there are eight sabbats which are based on a wheel representing the earth’s yearly cycle that celebrate solstices or the change of seasons.
She says four are solstices and equinoxes and the other four falls in between each of the changes in the seasons.
Additionally, she says Wiccans tend to follow the lunar years which are 13 full moons.
Depending on the holiday, Lebron says each has a different ritual. For Samhain, a celebration of the dead that falls on Halloween, she says there are many pumpkin-based activities and lots of cooking as offerings.
There is also Yule, which she says is like Christmas, however Wiccans don’t typically believe in the gift giving aspect and they instead like to do baking and decorating or burning the yule log.
Within the religion of Wicca, Lebron says many misconceptions surround it. People believe the religion is associated with the devil or Satanism, which she says she doesn’t understand.
The aspect of Satan and the devil follows a Christian religion, which many Wiccans don’t follow because they don’t believe in the aspect of the devil, according to Lebron.
“Other misconceptions are that a lot of people genuinely do think we’re diluted enough to think it’s all just pure magic,” Lebron says. “It’s not. It’s energy and it’s ourselves, it’s nature.”
Stereotypically, Haskins says Wicca has to do with witchcraft and spells, which in the Middle Ages could have gotten people burned at the stake or hanged. The more modern form, she also said is often associated with Satan worship.
On the outside, Haskins says someone might look at a ritual as if it’s tied to Satanism, but she says there is much more to it than people understand.
Serrano also says the idea of being “devil worshipers” is a big misconception, but he says he tries to educate others and it’s up to people to accept what Wicca is.
More misconceptions he says include being emo with piercings and jewelry and sacrificing animals.
“It’s just a matter of informing others,” Serrano says. “I’ve always laughed it’s like ‘oh they have brooms, so they fly at night.’ It’s also very complicated to educate others who just go by the stereotypical stories out there.”
He says not every witch or Wiccan practices the same way, which can make it difficult to educate people.
For both Lebron and Serrano, what they both say they love the most about practicing Wicca is the fluidity and the liberty that comes with it. Haskins says she loves how it defies other religions and how Wicca is constantly growing and changing.
“It’s being so open and not having such a rigid structure,” says Serrano. “I think that’s one of the best things about being Wiccan and Wicca itself—because it doesn’t make it a religion, it makes it a spiritual path.”
By Jessica Guerrucci