Wicca Today

Pop-culture Wicca (1996-Present)

Copyright © 2012 Gray Seal

In the 1990s and 2000s, Wicca began to become ingrained in popular culture. Aspects of Wicca were incorporated into the New Age movement, and many Wiccans took on New Age beliefs and practices. Wicca was also taken up by popular entertainment; in 1996, the American film The Craft was released about four witches who are corrupted by their power. The same year the television series Sabrina the Teenage Witch appeared, which was followed the following year by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and then, the year after that, the series Charmed and the film Practical Magic. Whilst these were heavily criticised by many Wiccans (Margot Adler called The Craft "the worst movie ever made!"), they did encourage many teenagers and young adults to investigate more about the religion. Most covens and Neopagan groups refused to allow under 18s into their ranks, and so many teenagers turned to books to find out more. In turn, several books were published to cater for them, including Silver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation and Scott Cunningham's Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner. This helped to bring about the Teen Wicca movement, and it has been suggested that the reason why so many young adults are attracted to the faith can "be attributed to the fact that it tackles issues that teenagers are interested in — in a way that other religions do not." The popularity of Wicca amongst teens has also brought problems; in 2001, a 12 year old American schoolgirl named Tempest Smith committed suicide after being bullied for her faith.

However the rise of this teenage-focused, New Age, pop-culture Wicca has been highly criticised by traditionalists, many of whom refuse to accept it as Wicca, instead using terms like "wicca-lite". The historians Brooks Alexander and Jeffrey Russell commented that "pop-culture witchcraft is sufficiently vague in structure and content to qualify more as a 'lifestyle' than a 'religion'."

The rise of the internet also had an effect on Wicca. Previously, solitary Wiccans around the world had little way of communicating amongst one another, however, the internet allowed them to do so. Websites such as Witchvox.com were set up. Historian Brooks Alexander commented that this was a form of "minority empowerment."

Wicca today.

A modern Wicca Coven performs a outdoor ritual.

Gaining Recognition

For a long time, Wicca was seen as being simply a minor sect, or cult. However, with the rise of solitary practitioners describing themselves as Wiccans, the faith went from becoming simply a mystery cult to becoming a public religion.

Groups were formed to represent the Wiccan community, such as the Covenant of the Goddess, which was founded in 1975. Wiccans began to appear on various British television documentaries, including The Heaven & Earth Show and Desperately Seeking Something.

In the USA, the court case of Dettmer v. Landon in 1986 established that Wicca was a religion, and therefore should be treated as such under the eyes of the law.

The first Wiccan Wedding to be legally recognized in the UK (by the Registrars of Scotland) was performed in 2004