Years after leaving the Catholic Church because of facing shame for her sexuality, UA alumna Flannery Quinn identifies as a Witch, taking time every day to analyze her horoscopes and Tarot card spreads and foster her connections with other Witches.
When she is not working at The Four of Wands metaphysical shop, Quinn creates intentional alters around her house and performs full-moon rituals by leaving her crystals out in the moonlight for cleansing and recharge. Some of her favorite crystals are quartz, tourmaline, amethyst and citrine. She focuses her practice around her horoscope and “intentional thinking.”
Quinn considers Catholicism to be the “witchiest” version of Christianity, she said.
Wicca is only one of many sectors under the Pagan Umbrella, according to The Informed Pagan. A pagan is a person holding alternate religious beliefs than the majority of the world, according to Lexico.
“You don’t have to be a witch to practice Wicca, and practicing Wicca doesn’t make you a witch,'' Melissa Hall, owner of The Four of Wands said.
Hall thinks nature requires humans to practice spirituality in order to feel completely whole, she said. Hall thinks it is rare to find someone who does not practice some type of spirituality or religion.
Quinn left her final Sunday mass and never looked back, and there was a period of several years where she was not spiritual, she said. She needed that time to reclaim what spirituality meant to her, she said.
After moving to Boston from Fayetteville, Quinn and her friend took a weekend trip to Salem, Massachusetts, where she bought her first pack of Tarot cards, which Catholicism had demonized for her in the past, she said.
Sometimes, Quinn reshuffles spreads she pulls from her Tarot deck if she does not like her cards, and more times than not, she pulls the majority of the same cards again, she said.
“Pulling cards that speak so true to situations, a lot of the times feels so coincidental and so far beyond coincidence,'' Quinn said.
After ending a toxic relationship with her ex-boyfriend, Quinn started reading her daily horoscope and later discovered it predicted the day she would end her relationship, she said. Because of her previous religious trauma, she felt hesitant to come into another belief system.
“It happened in a time where I literally had no sense of groundedness where everything I knew had been completely taken from me, and I needed something to grab onto,” said Quinn.
Studying witchcraft and astrology gives Quinn a blueprint for her own personality and others around her, she said.
Sophomore Hannah, who is identified by only one of her names to protect her identity, began identifying as a Wiccan her senior year of high school, but she no longer practices regularly, she said.
Wicca is a religion based on pre-Christian traditions through which followers practice witchcraft, according to Britannica Encyclopedia.
Hannah found community and acceptance with fellow Wiccans mostly online with apps such as Discord – a voice, video and text app.
“I know if I needed to talk to anyone about anything, I could message them and they’d immediately be there for me,” said Hannah.
Wicca’s main principle using the The Wiccan Rede, a moral guideline most Wiccan’s follow, Hannah said. According to The Wiccan Rede, “It harm none, do as thee will.”
Hannah said she considered Wicca a lifestyle, while others consider Wicca a religion.
Wicca taught her that if she did good, good would come to her, and vice versa, she said.
Growing up in a Southern Baptist household, Hannah said she had always known that she wouldn’t continue practicing Christianity into her adult life. Under the confines of Southern Baptist teachings, she had no room to make any of her own decisions, she said.
There are 1.8 million practicing Wiccans as of October of 2018, according to an article from Crux.
Hannah credits most of her historical knowledge of Wicca to a book called “Exploring Wicca” by Lady Sabrina. After receiving the book recommendation through a group chat in Discord, she said the book not only gave her a thorough history of Wicca but also a guideline of practices she could follow.
Most people who practice Wicca are solitary practitioners, meaning they practice by themselves, Hannah said. Wicca has guidelines, but not everyone follows the same thing. This can make it challenging to practice and relate to other Wiccans, Hannah said.
Hannah said she spent hundreds of dollars on items she used to practice Wicca in the past. Most of her collection was made up of crystals that she used for different practices, such as moon rituals.
Hannah thinks most people are not very forward about being Wiccan because of the negative stigma sometimes attached to it, she said. While she did not experience any negativity at the UofA while practicing Wicca, she chose to keep her beliefs private from most people, she said.
Hannah enjoyed the leniency she was allowed within Wiccan practice, and she enjoyed getting to choose what made her Wiccan, she said. This leniency is something Hannah always wanted more of in Christianity, she said.