Religious Studies Hosts Lecture on Magick, Wicca and Witchcraft

October 21, 2010 by · Comments Off 

By Lauren Michaels
lmichaels@smu.edu

If you walk up-and-down the aisles at Whole Foods, Susan Harper seems like your everyday shopper, dressed in normal clothes and pleasantly smiling to all. While she may not be fully dressed in black or flash spooky jewelry, many people in the Dallas area know her as a feminist witch.

Harper, SMU graduate, spoke about the Wicca religion, spirituality and witchcraft during her lecture at the McCord Auditorium on Wednesday night hosted by the Religious Studies Club. About fifty students, professors and community members came to listen to Harper explain her ideas about religion and her experiences as a witch.

Jill DeTemple, assistant Professor of Religious Studies, thought this event was a great opportunity for student’s to become exposed to fresh ideas about an interesting religion.

“We don’t hear much about Wicca, especially here on the SMU campus and having somebody here who actually practices and can also give more of an academic view is a real treat,” DeTemple said.

Attendees learned the basics, and a little more, on the often mysterious religion of Wicca. (PHOTO BY CAROLINA BRIOSO / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

There are almost 500,000 Pagans and Wiccans practicing in the United States, including many throughout Great Britain and Australia.

What is Wicca?

-Wicca is a modern, nature-based religion
-All Pagans are Wiccans
-Studies of the Neo-pagan movement come from Pre-Christian and indigenous practices
-Magick is a natural phenomenon, a goal and energy
-It is not right to willfully harm someone with Magick

For over ten years, Harper has practiced feminist witchcraft and continues to explore the various theories about Wiccan religion. Almost once a month, she participates in a group practice ritual inside the living room of her 721 square foot apartment.

Spread out on the table are some of the materials Susan Harper uses during her Wiccan practices. (PHOTO BY LAUREN MICHAELS / SMU DAILY MUSTANG)

Everyday, Harper participates in some form of religious practice, whether it is in a yoga class, art project or a prayer. According to Harper, one of the most important aspects of the Wiccan principle is being able to be present in life.

“It’s the sense of overall awareness and the call to pay attention,” she said. For Harper, these are the feelings that can make the Wiccan religion so special.

Wicca: An often, misunderstood religion

Today, it’s not uncommon for most people to hear about Wicca through a friend or even by word-of-mouth on the street. With the debut of Delaware Republican Senate candidate, Christine O’ Donnell, and her comments about witchcraft, Harper still feels confident in the public’s popularity about Wicca.

“There has been a lot of good stuff from Christine O’ Donnell and its been really good for public education,” Harper said.

While others may have not have taken O’ Donnell’s appearance seriously, more people are continuing to learn about witchcraft ideologies and the process of becoming a witch from the media’s exposure.

Religious Studies Club President and SMU junior, Wesleigh Ogle, hoped that the lecture allowed students to see the importance in learning about all sides of a religion, like Wicca.

“People have preconceived notions about Wicca and with the timeliness of Halloween coming up, I thought it would be an interesting lecture for people to see,” said Ogle.

So for this Halloween season, don’t let the stereotypes about a witch’s costume break the traditions of the Wicca religion.

To learn more about the Religious Studies club visit their Facebook page. For more information, contact Wesleigh Ogle.