Oct. 30, 2009— -- Patti Wigington is a soccer mom. She is the vice president of her local PTA.
And she's a witch.
This Saturday while her neighborhood outside Columbus, Ohio, is crawling with costumed witches in search of candy, Wigington and a group of other local witches will not be celebrating Halloween, but the new year festival Samhain, which also occurs Oct. 31.
In her backyard, Wigington and six other local women who make up her coven will stand in a circle, each holding a lit candle dedicated to a dead ancestor. They will offer an invocation in each direction of the four winds. They will build an altar upon which they will offer their deceased ancestors gifts of food and wine and "celebrate the coming of the dark half of the year… and do a ritual that honors death."
When she gets to the part about death, Wigington, a middle-aged mother of three, stops for moment in her explanation of a typical Samhain ritual.
"Look," she says, "I know some people are freaked out by death. But death is part of the life cycle. This time of year we say farewell to the garden, to the crops and to our ancestors. We welcome and celebrate the coming of the dark half of the year. It's at this time of year we communicate with the spirit world and we honor the spirit world," said Wigington, who writes extensively about her faith and hosts the page on paganism and Wicca at about.com.
Wicca is a relatively new religion, which its practitioners say is based on ancient precepts. A hodgepodge of ancient European pagan practices and new age spirituality, Wicca is practiced by a small but growing number of Americans.