“Witches are among us, says the weekly Polityka. Marion calls herself the first stationary witch in Poland. She was initiated in Great Britain in the Wicca cult, a pagan, nature-based religion popularized in 1954 by a retired British civil servant. This petite 30 year old works in a marketing department of a big firm and doesn’t want to reveal her real name. One never knows how her colleagues and bosses would react. It is impossible to say how many Wiccans there are in Poland. They fear intolerance in the predominantly Roman Catholic society. Often even their families don’t know about it. On the other hand, job migration to the British Isles facilitates their contacts with British Wiccans and books on the Wicca cult have sold in 10 thousand copies here.”
You can find a link to the weekly, and downloadable table of contents (featuring a picture of Laurie Cabot), here. As the synopsis mentions, most Polish Wiccans live “in the broom closet”, and often have a hard time coping with the need to remain anonymous.
“A very interesting element is also the relation between the catholic church and polish Wiccans – on one hand in catholic doctrine Wiccans are identified as Satanists; on the other hand Wiccans became discouraged by anonymous rituals and external religiousity of Catholic believers. It seems to be a very important element of Wiccans identity.”
But perhaps as religious freedom continues to grow, and Pagan advocacy groups become more entrenched, the Polish Pagans and Witches there will finally find it safe to live a more public life. In what could be seen by some as a positive sign for redefining the role of “witches” in Poland, government officials recently put a stop to the ceremonial burning of witches in the village of Zielona Gora.
“Polish women’s rights groups and government ministers have banned the display after protests that the stake-burning drama was anti-feminist. “Making peoples’ tragic deaths into a tourist attraction is reprehensible and regrettable,” said Monika Platek, head of Poland’s Association for Legal Education. “The stakes where women were burned were the result of profound misogyny, discrimination against women and ignorance.” Poland’s women’s ministry boss Berenika Anders told the town council it had to scrap the witch sessions.”
Stories like these help to reinforce the fact that the modern Pagan movement isn’t isolated to the UK, America, or Australia, but is a truly global phenomenon spreading from India, to Brazil, to South Africa, and Russia. Paganism isn’t a decadent sign of a post-modern world (as some critics would see it), but a revitalized religious impulse finding its voice once more. So good luck to the Polish Pagans, whether they are Wiccan, follow a revived Slavic tradition, or engage some other path.