This thesis examines the symbolism of Wicca, or Witchcraft, a rapidly growing religion in America. Practitioners of Wicca identify their religion as a direct descendent of the pre-Christian pagan witchcraft cults of Europe which were forced underground in the seventeenth century as a result of the Christian persecutions of witches, known as the Burning Times. The majority of Wiccans today worship a Goddess and God, revere the Earth as divine, practice magic, believe in reincarnation, and refuse to proselytize. The Wiccan Goddess and God, as well as many other ritual implements, are what Victor Turner refers to as multivocal symbols. Through content analysis of exegetic accounts of Witchcraft, the symbols and myths of Wicca are examined in light of Turner's theory and others. The data reveals that Wicca is a syncretism: it has roots in Anglo-American tradition, but has also borrowed aspects from many cultures and incorporated them into what is now considered contemporary witchcraft. Wicca is a religion which has adapted itself to the changing social needs and values which have been flourishing in America since the sixties. The analysis and conclusions of this thesis are based solely on data which was collected from accounts of witchcraft as it is given by witches. Future research is suggested, focusing on the operational level of meaning, which could best be understood through participant observation in Wiccan ritual. More emphasis might also be placed on the demographics of witches: What segment of the greater population are attracted to witchcraft and why?


Frese, Pamela


Sociology and Anthropology

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis

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