Witches League for Public Awareness

Witches League for Public Awareness

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

Founded in May, 1986, by Laurie Cabot in Salem, Massachusetts and presently headed by Reverend Cheryl Sulyma-Masson, the Witches League for Public Awareness is a proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft. The League says that its work springs from a shared vision of a world free from all religious persecution. Its founding was inspired by the misinformation conveyed in the movie The Witches of Eastwick.

The Witches League for Public Awareness works with the American Civil Liberties Union and various police departments to correct false information connecting Wiccans and Pagans with occult crimes. It was instrumental in exposing a secret newsletter compiled by a police officer in the 1980s, which falsely named individual Witches and Craft organizations as likely suspects to be considered for any and all occult crimes. The newsletter was known as "File 18."

A similar organization is based in Minnesota and known as The Witches' Informational Network. This is a growing group of modern Pagans who are striving to help dispell the myths about the Old Religion through education and networking. They publish essays, news articles, and contact information on a web site and take part in local events and gatherings to encourage human rights and dignity for people of all faiths.

One of the most important organizations fighting for Wiccan rights is The Witches' Voice. Their mission statement says, "The Witches' Voice is a proactive educational network dedicated to correcting misinformation about Witches and Witchcraft. Wicca IS a legally recognized religion in the United States, and it is our mission to protect that right through education and awareness." They go on to say, "It is our belief that Witches are givers and healers. By keeping abreast of the latest news and updated information, as well as having access to critical resource tools, we, as Witches and Pagans, can not only empower ourselves, but develop programs to educate our local towns and cities on who we are and what we do."

On The Witches' Voice web site, they offer printable documents on a wide variety of subjects, such as Wearing a Pentagram in School, Education and the Pagan Child, Supreme Court on "Prayer in School," Know Your Legal Rights, Letter to Your Local Police Department, and Child Custody and the Modern Pagan. It is a very active organization doing much for Wiccan and Pagan rights.

In 1973 the Council of American Witches adopted a set of thirteen declarations defining the Wiccan world view termed "The Principles of Wiccan Belief ":

1: We practice rites to attune ourselves with the natural rhythm of life forces marked by the phases of the Moon and the seasonal Quarters and Cross-Quarters.

2: We recognize that our intelligence gives us a unique responsibility toward our environment. We seek to live in harmony with Nature, in ecological balance offering fulfillment to life and consciousness within an evolutionary concept.

3: We acknowledge a depth of power far greater than that apparent to the average person. Because it is far greater than ordinary it is sometimes called `supernatural,' but we see it as lying within that which is naturally potential to all.

4: We conceive the Creative Power in the universe as manifesting through polarity—as masculine and feminine—and that this same Creative Power lies in all people and functions through the interaction of the masculine and feminine. We value neither above the other, knowing each to be supportive of the other. We value sex as pleasure, the symbol and embodiment of life, and as one of the sources of energies used in magickal practice and religious worship.

5: We recognize both outer worlds and inner or psychological worlds sometimes known as the Spiritual World, the Collective Unconscious, Inner Planes, etc.—and we see in the interaction of these two dimensions as the basis for paranormal phenomena and magickal exercises. We neglect neither dimension for the other, seeing both as necessary for our fulfillment.

6: We do not recognize any authoritarian hierarchy, but honor those who teach, respect those who share their greater knowledge and wisdom, and acknowledge those who have courageously given of themselves in leadership.

7: We see religion, magick and wisdom as being united in the way one views the world and lives within it—a world view and philosophy of life which we identify as Witchcraft—the Wiccan Way.

8: Calling oneself a `Witch' does not make a Witch, but neither does heredity itself, nor the collecting of titles, degrees and initiations. A Witch seeks to control the forces within her/himself that make life possible in order to live wisely and well without harm to others and in harmony with Nature.

9: We believe in the affirmation and fulfillment of life in a continuation of evolution and development of consciousness giving meaning to the Universe we know and our personal role within it.

10: Our only animosity toward Christianity, or any other religion or philosophy of life, is to the extent that its institutions have claimed to be `the only way' and have sought to deny freedom to others and to suppress other ways of religious practice and belief.

11: As American Witches, we are not threatened by debates on the history of the Craft, the origins of various terms, or the legitimacy of various aspects of different traditions. We are concerned with our present and our future.

12: We do not accept the concept of absolute evil, nor do we worship any entity known as `Satan' or `the Devil' as defined by the Christian tradition. We do not seek power through the suffering of others, nor accept that personal benefit can be derived only by denial to another.

13: We believe that we should seek within Nature that which is contributory to our health and well-being.

References in periodicals archive ?
Masson, who chairs the Witches League For Public Awareness, is a veterinary nurse.