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Wiccans are witches, but they are unlike Harry Potter and his cohorts.

A pagan religion in which the practitioners are called witches, Wicca has been growing during the past few years with people’s ideals of living naturally and going green.

“People have a lot of misconceptions about Wicca, and there are a lot of prejudices,” said Joan Robinson, the priestess for The Spiral, a Wiccan group she started in 2002. “We believe everything has its own spirit, and we don’t harm anything without respect for its life.”

Robinson, a 25-year Arcadia resident with her own accounting practice, said she has been a witch since the mid ‘90s. Though she used to be Christian, Robinson said, “I have been on this path my whole life.”

Practitioners said that while Wicca is not an unheard of religion, its beliefs are often twisted by rumors and stigmas.

“People assume we worship Satan or that we eat babies,” Robinson said.

Wicca is an earth-centered religion that does not believe in a devil and follows the Wiccan Rede, which much like the Golden Rule states: “Do what thou wilt but harm thee none.”

During the past few years, Wicca has been growing “extremely quickly,” said Jodie Baird, a researcher with Arizona State University’s School of Historical, Philosophical & Religious Studies. She has been researching Wicca and paganism for three years.

“Wicca appeals to people in that it is an individual belief that they can personalize,” she said. “The ideals of living gently on the earth and going green are attractive to people.”

Robinson said some women are attracted to Wicca and paganism, because, unlike Christianity, they are not patriarchal religions.

Wiccan magic does not require mixing potions or sacrificing animals to work the spells. Wiccan magic refers to bending energy and directing it in a way to achieve a goal, Robinson said.

The word Wicca means “to bend,” she said.

“Energy-working and Christians prayers are the same kind of petition to a deity,” Robinson said.

Similar to how Christianity celebrates Easter and other holidays, Wicca celebrates eight Days of Power during the year that follow the Celtic agricultural season. On these days, the sun and earth are thought to make special magic or energies.

Baird said practitioners can do things differently, but in general there is a belief in respecting life and not interfering with others’ lives.

“Wicca is about balance, not only in individual life, but in the world,” Robinson said.

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