A different take on Halloween

Alex Adams leans against the back of her wooden library chair, dressed comfortably in a flannel shirt and sweatpants. She’s a member of the Ames High band, and plays oboe and flute. She’s also a witch. "We don’t do magic like turning a person into a frog," Adams said. "Some Wiccans practice magic, but I don’t." Adams grew up as a Methodist, but when she was in fifth grade, her mom revealed that she was a Wiccan, and asked Adams if she would like to join her. "[My mom] had been practicing since she was 14," Adams said. "I was like ‘hey, this is cool’." Both Adams and her younger sister, Madison, converted to Wicca at the same time. According to Adams, there are many common misconceptions about the exact nature of Wicca. "We don’t worship the devil," Adams said. "There is no hell [in Wicca], and the ‘devil worship’ thing is really annoying." The term "witch" simply refers to someone who is a practicing Wiccan, and while some Wiccans perform spells and magic to grant them luck or good fortune, Wicca is more just a set of religious beliefs. "It’s an Earth based religion," Adams said. "There’s a mother goddess and a father god, and there aren’t really actually any rules except for the Wiccan Rede, which basically says don’t hurt other people." Adams describes her Wiccan practices as being not that different from going to church. She and a group of fellow Wiccans meet regularly and during holidays to celebrate and perform Wiccan rituals. There are a total of 8 Wiccan holidays, called Sabbats. Interestingly enough, Halloween is celebrated as a Wiccan holiday under the name of Samhain. In Wicca, Samhain is when the veil between the world of the living and the world of the dead thins, and Wiccans use this time to celebrate their ancestors. Other than that, Samhain doesn’t have much in common with the popular interpretation of Halloween, though Adams likes to "dress up too, just for fun." During a ritual, Wiccans call upon the elements of earth, fire, air, and water, and put up a circle to keep out evil. Then, they call upon the god and goddess to protect them. Normally, towards the end of a ritual, Adams and her group bring out cakes and ale as offerings to the god and goddess and leave them in the forest. "You tell the god and goddess that they can stay if they want to, because they’re always welcome," Adams said. Adams says that people have been generally very accepting of her beliefs, although her dad thinks "it’s a bunch of bs," and she had some trouble with a few kids ganging up on her in elementary school when she said she wasn’t a Christian. "They’re just my beliefs," Adams said. "We aren’t out there trying to change anyone."