The words “witchcraft” and “Wicca” can conjure up a spooky picture. Some may have connotations of seances, sacrifices, hexes and even devil worship. In Las Vegas, there’s actually a Wiccan population, and many of whom said most of those beliefs is just not true.
“My magical name is Lady Walking Turtle, and my coven here in town is the Red Dragonflies,” High Priestess Sherry Watts said.
Watts said she has been practicing witchcraft and studying Wicca for years.
“I was fortunate enough I was raised in a magical household,” Sherry said. “We were allowed to do things as kids. Like once a year, we could mess up the weather so that the school bus couldn't come and get us.”
She said when she moved to Las Vegas and found her coven, it was like an awakening.
“I just felt like I had come home when I found my group, it was like, 'Where have you been for 40 some years? So I came home,” Watts said.
Sue Pugh said she has also been living a wiccan life for years.
“Magical name is Sisterwolf, although I have earned the honorific name of “Lady” before that because within my coven, Inner Circle Sanctuary. I am an elder and guardian which means I've initiated from first and second degree,” Pugh said.
She tried following other religions, but said nothing felt quite right. Then one late night while watching PBS, she said she discovered what she’d been missing.
“There was a special about witches in Salem and Lauri Cabbot, a very famous witch from Salem, says witchcaft is a religion,” Pugh said. “I researched it. I read every book I could get my hands on about it and I was like 'This is it. This is what I'm supposed to be doing, this is what makes so much sense to me.'”
“(Wiccans) worship in terms of a god and a goddess, a lord and a lady, but when they are together they are one spirit, we call spirit,” Watts said. “It's a nature based, it's an earth based concept. We believe that all life is sacred. We believe that it is our responsibility to create change within ourselves and then take that change out into the world.”
Watts said one of the reasons she thinks people have a misconception about the religion is because of the unknown.
“We do like our rituals. And there is a lot of mystery and a lot of meaning around our rituals, and it's easier sometimes to think something's evil or negative then to actually research how positive and uplifting something is."
“(The ritual Samhain is) when we believe the veil between the worlds in the thinnest and so people, spirits, energies can pass through and we can commune with them,” Sue said.
“(The religion is hidden because it) can to this day get them killed. There are still people in the United States of America who get killed by some fanatic because they think they're casting bad curses on them or whatever,” Pugh said.
The witches said there are many misconceptions about the religion.
“The word “hex,” “hexery”, that concept, it means “witch,” it means working magically. It's nothing bad,” Watts said, “We believe in the three-fold law so anything we do is going to come back to us three times. If you do something positive, you get something positive back three times, why would you wanna say 'let's do something negative,' and then you have to deal with that?”
“(People) still believe that people who are pagan are devil worshiping or Satanists who sacrifice babies and it's just not true,” Pugh said.
“There is no devil in the craft. We hear that all the time. ‘You worship Satan.’ Well we didn't invent him! Okay? He was somebody else's concept,” Watts said.
Pugh said she’s lost a job because of her religion and many others fear the same sort of retaliation.
“We've had other law enforcement before who have been badgered out of law enforcement because they're not part of the right wing regular normal people because they believe they're worshiping the devil and dancing naked under the full moonlight, which just doesn't happen,” Pugh said.
“We're just normal people we have regular jobs, I live in a regular house, I have two dogs, and I don't dress in all black all the time with crazy goth makeup or anything like that. We're just normal people. You would never know we were Wiccan unless we told you."
“We're all here to make this world a better place and live a better life and we want to do it by way of magic and our connection to spirit and we don't have time for ten million misconceptions anymore because this earth is just moving so fast,” Watts said.
“Every religion out there teaches you to love your neighbor no matter what, that hating someone because they're different from you is not okay,” Pugh said.
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