Today is March 29, 2011 which marks the day of the start of the 30 Days of Advocacy against Witch Hunts which you can learn more about on their facebook page and on the South African Pagan Alliance Website. There is only so much that I can do to help out with this cause so I figured that I would spread the word about witch hunts and persecution from the anthropologist perspective.
When most people in America think about witch hunts they immediately think of the Salem witch trials or similar witch trials in the colonial United States. Images of puritan witches being strapped to wooden poles and lit on fire and the like fill the mind of many. It is thought to be something of the past that author’s used to write pieces such as the crucible. This though is not the case. Witch-hunts are still alive and well all around the world.
Most of the persecution stems from the fear of the unknown and people’s need to blame something or someone for life challenges. The rest of it stems from this insane notion that there is only one true path to follow in life and that if you don’t follow that then you must be eradicated. It is sickening that there are people out there that feel this way and that the majority of people in the world don’t know that this is going on. In today’s world we should be accepting and tolerant of everyone’s beliefs and practices.
Going along with this there are also many misconceptions of witches all around the world. Many people in America have made this picture in their heads that are fueled by pop culture that we’re all sitting around in circles, holding hands and praying to Mother Earth or on the flip side worshipping the devil and turning men into toads. Now obviously I just went to the extreme because I realize that not everyone believes that, but just wanted to drive the point home.
Witches come in many different forms and backgrounds. It has always been my belief (feel free to argue away on this one though) that witchcraft itself is a practice and is used to fuel your background whether it is religious, spiritual or otherwise. It is not a religion in itself and it is definitely not a blanket religion. There are many different witches all around the world. We have the Wiccans that pull their witchcraft from Celtic and other European traditions, American Indian witches who pull their witchcraft from their tribes beliefs about the world around them, witches that come from African tribes who pull from their deities and practices and even Christian witches who pull from Catholicism and other sects of Christianity.
There is no one mold that witches can be used to classify witches just like there is no one mold to classify all religions and practices. So to help stop persecution in general (not just witch-hunts) we must educate people and spread the word about all the other groups out there. For now we can start by spreading the word about witch-hunts and how they are still happening all across the world even in this day and age.
During these 30 days I will be using my blog to educate and promote this fight against witch-hunts by writing a series about witchcraft around the world. I will focus specifically on the ones that are coming under persecution and witch-hunts both in the present and the past. The purpose of all of this? To show that even though the world is changing with technology, views and other means that there are still these witch-hunts are still going on around the world. We have to come together as people of all different faiths to preach tolerance for others. The only way that we can stop this is if we all take a stand and get the word out there.