Since it’s mid-October and Halloween is fast approaching, I decided to look up info on the most common thing to dress up as for Halloween: a witch.  Not a particularly surprising choice for the month of October.  You know what is surprising?  Communities all over the world still burn people to this day that they accuse of witchcraft.  Most of these groups are indigenous tribes in remote locations around the world so it is hard for national governments to enforce laws on these people who have such strong beliefs.

An article I came across was about a woman in Peru who was burned alive because she had been found guilty of witchcraft.  This particular case was different in that the immolation was caught on video on a mobile phone.  Authorities say these crimes are not uncommon in the over 300 indigenous tribes in that district of Peru.

Now you might be thinking, “This is interesting and all but not very supernatural”.  Who knows? Maybe the woman in this case really was a witch and was rightfully guilty of witchcraft.  We’ll probably never know.  But these ritual killings are happening all over the world and they can’t all be witches.  The real problem is that people who practice pagan witchcraft, also known as Wicca, are persecuted by those who don’t understand that it is a religion.  Many parts of the world don’t really subscribe to the concept of religious freedom and see witches simply as a threat.

Whether or not Wiccans can actually practice magic isn’t something that I can answer. I can, however, tell you about the importance of Halloween to the Wiccans.  Halloween, originally called Samhain by the Gaelic people, marks the end of the harvest season and the beginning of the darker half of the year for Wiccans and other pagan groups.  Pagan witches believe this is the day of the year that the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest, which makes communication with the dead much easier.  Although Samhain is nothing like Halloween today, it is still a major celebration in the modern pagan culture.

P.S. Samhain is pronounced SAH-WIN.  Gaelic makes absolutely no sense.  Happy Halloween!