Flashback Friday: Witches’ Brew, A Brief History Of Paganism

in Culture

In the October, 1993 issue of High Times, writer Paul DeRienzo, a committed atheist, went in search of his pagan roots and discovered an unexpected affinity for Goddess culture.

Having survived the 1980s, when the so-called religious right indirectly ruled the United States through Ronald Reagan and George Bush, I tend to consider mainstream religion as self-serving propaganda for the status quo. I’m probably not alone, as thousands of people who attend gatherings of the Rainbow Family each year looking for spiritual renewal can testify. Although I’m a confirmed atheist, I wanted to learn more about today’s paganism, a movement I am told is on the rise. I began my education by attending a ritual celebrating the full moon.

It was in the cavelike darkness of the lower East Side performance space Gargoyle Mechanique that local priestess Aletheya prepared for the ritual. A cloudy haze prevented the moon from illuminating the rain slicked streets, but that didn’t stop Aletheya from paying homage to earth’s orbiting companion. To modern witches, the full moon is the symbol of Goddess and fertility, the source of life on earth.

Blue and orange spotlights illuminated a large room. A diverse group mingled, drawn by the promise of a happening. The curious were joined by veterans of many other witchcraft rituals.

Aletheya floated among the group preparing the tools of the ritual wearing a black dress under a wine red smock adorned with a silver pentacle, the five-pointed, star-shaped symbol of witchcraft. Around her waist was a belt made from a brown cloth cord from which hung a small silver charm cast from the body of a snake. Stuffed between the belt and her waist was a large white bone. She spread a large square black cloth on the floor in the …

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Author: High Times / High Times

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