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Witchcraft, Warlocks and Wiccans

July 20, 1986

I noticed your article, "Pomona College Witch Studying Wicca Ways" (by Dick Roraback, July 9) and was astonished at the level of naivete and lack of research indicative in the article. You are evidently unaware of the true purpose of Wicca, witchcraft and "women's spirituality" that have inundated many colleges.

Central to the belief of these groups is a rejection of a God who has "power over" anyone or anything. Rather, power is viewed as "power within."

Margot Adler's useful study, "Drawing Down the Moon" (1979), examines witchcraft as part of a larger neo-pagan phenomenon. According to Adler, members of these groups embrace the values of anarchism, non-authoritarianism, animism, sensuality, passion, and they make no distinction between matter and spirit. To them, Mother Earth is sacred, and whatever divinity exists is immanent, not transcendent. They draw inspiration from European folklore and mythology, especially the ancient Mediterranean Mysteries.

Witches practice what they call "wisecraft." The word wicca predates the Anglo-Saxon word for "wise," originating in the Indo-European root "wic," meaning "bend or turn." Witches think of themselves as people who are both wise and capable of wielding wonder to twist reality as they please.

Instead of admitting that they are involved in the occult, they prefer such labels as "folk parapsychology," "alternative thinking," or "mystical technology."

Their basic ritual is "casting the circle" and purifying this magical space by manipulating such objects as the sword, wand, cup and pentacle--symbols borrowed from the tarot. Through dancing, chanting or other activities that increase psychic energy, a priestess and her consort priest will "draw upon" the presences of their patron deities to temporarily become the incarnations. In this state they may sometimes celebrate "the great rite" or "sacred marriage" by sexual union.

Some covens are composed entirely of Lesbians. Feminist wiccans are highly political and bent on reshaping society. All wiccans have an antipathy towards Christianity, Judaism, or any religion that has a patriarchal structure.

It is regrettable that you did not disclose in your article the true occult involvement of people who participate in these activities. The main harm of being involved in the occult is that it leads to possession by evil spirits in the guise of mind expansion and, ultimately, a loss of control of the mind.

My comments are not merely the remarks of a wild-eyed fundamentalist or religious crackpot. I happen to write a theological column that is published widely in the U.S., reaching 1.5 million readers.

JOHN ALAN COHAN

Los Angeles

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