My family is Buddhist, but my cousins and I don't go to the Temple except for important reasons. One of them was my grandmother's death in 2002.
Other than that, my brushes with religion have been in thin, nonexistent strokes.
My good friend Kirah and I attended a service at Unity Church last night after deciding we wanted to uncover the truth behind the sensationalized religion of Spiritualism and practice of Wicca. I can't speak for my fellow journalist-in-training, but I had secretly and foolishly anticipated solemn-looking people dressed in head-to-toe black, remaining tight-lipped and vague about their faith. We got the exact opposite.
We were especially shocked to meet Rachel, the "resident witch" at Unity Church and the main character in our news story. A pretty young woman with flowing brown and blond hair, Rachel didn't look like a witch with her pink off-the-shoulder top and black tights.
"We definitely don't have green faces and ride around on brooms and have black cats," she laughed, batting her dramatically long eyelashes. "We deal with the natural, not hocus pocus."
Rachel talked to us about her services at Unity Church; soul paintings, psychometry, and mediumship were her main duties. No bubble, toil or trouble here, just impressions based on energy and vibrations.
We told her she was doing a good thing talking to us and dispelling misconceptions that many (including myself) hold about Wicca. After her interview, we immediately sensed that she regretted talking to us. That was how we got our story angle.
"You know, nobody even knows I do this," she said out of the blue, flipping through her sketchbook of soul paintings.
Wicca, otherwise known as witchcraft, developed in England in the first half of the 20th century. From 1991 to 2001, Wicca was the fastest growing religion at 280%. Over 21,000 Canadians called themselves Wiccan.
People weren't accepting of witchcraft and witches then. But even now, there's a stigma. And Rachel is afraid of what her workplace, neighbours, and people within her social circles will say when (if) this story ends up on the CBC website.
"Just do us some dignity," she jokingly pled.
Have a little faith in us, Rachel.