“If you conjure up an image of a witch, you probably picture an evil looking lady with a pointy hat, pointed nose and a broomstick. But that’s not how the modern-day witch appears and Julie-Anne Farmer is living proof of that.”
Reporter: John Worldon
Presenter: Melissa Maddison
Julie-Anne is a practising wiccan and she says the modern-day version of the witches of yesteryear are growing in number throughout the country and the Mackay region is no exception. She describes wicca as a nature based religion and says its followers believe the earth is the giver of life.
“Wicca is an ancient art – it basically means wisdom,” says Julie-Anne by way of explanation. She says while there’s no written evidence of when it first started, it goes back to the stone age where they have the first archaeological evidence of the worshipping of the goddess. “It’s the wisdom of the arts which is the earth and the way that it works, the planets and the system of the way the trees are formed,” she adds.
They worship the trees, they worship the animals they worship anything that is within this society of our earth. So they really respect the earth.
Julie-Anne says her years of study of the practice of wicca reveal that it began with the wise woman in the community, the herbal woman, the woman people went to to get the medicines and to get healing. “A wiccan understands the herbs and all to do with the earth and healing processes – they work with energies, the energies to help heal people,” she says. “They work with the mystical arts which is our sixth sense which we don’t have any knowledge of, but we’re getting more and more knowledge of through the years.”
Julie-Anne says witchcraft which was later to evolve into wicca, was essentially outcast because it was so powerful and its followers went underground and other religions took over. “It became too much of a threat because the physicians were not able to heal so they would go to the herbalists – so it went underground,” she says. “History tells us people were burnt at the stake and tortured and children were tortured – it was quite horrific. It was a feared thing but really it’s just a very natural art and it’s becoming more and more modern.”
Julie-Anne continues recounting the history of wicca by explaining that it was essentially an underground practise until the 1950s when a man called Gerald Gardiner started writing books about it and brought it back into the public domain. “That was the start of what we know today as wicca and it’s been changed slightly to go with the times,” says Julie-Anne who’s keen to dispel the myth that wicca is a cult. “Wicca is a craft and you’re not put into any cult – it’s not a cult- based religion like many others,” she says. “A lot of people in the modern day practise solitary so they actually practise their craft themselves and maybe with a few select handheld friends and that’s how they do it. They don’t have churches, they don’t have huge gatherings.”
The main creed that we have is not to hurt or harm anybody – that is the main law in wicca.
“A lot of people are doing it because they respect the earth. If we want to go and cut a branch of a tree, we ask the respect of the tree and ok it’s just a tree, but that tree owns an energy – they are living things – they give us oxygen and we respect everything about nature.”
According to Julie-Anne, the practise is growing in popularity daily in the Mackay region and she says the ages range from 6 to 80. “It’s men and women and they all practise it in their own way. Some people like to do it to heal and help people. Some people like to do it because of their own satisfaction because it helps you, it helps you understand things.”