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A side note: Pagan men today are much more likely to label themselves "witches" rather than "warlocks." Though the words "pagan" and "witch" started out as historical slurs and have since been revived and reclaimed, "warlock," for some reason, is still mostly considered an insult, taken to mean "oathbreaker."6.

The Salem witch trials had nothing to do with real-life witchcraft.

And those lines, in turn, are each often made up of at least a few covens.

(For women, there’s the significant appeal of having the opportunity to become priests, something that’s rare in more mainstream religious traditions.) The person credited with founding Wicca was a man: Gerald Gardner.

A retired civil servant from a well-off merchant family, Gardner spent most of his life in Asia before returning home to England and eventually claiming he’d uncovered a long-practicing coven in the New Forest.

On the other hand, there is a certain amount of drama and flair to ritual magic that the movies have come close to getting right.

Witches ) to guide magical energy in the right direction; they chant, sometimes in ancient languages.

At the same time, since the ’80s, Pagans have been gathering in outdoor festivals and indoor hotel conferences all around the country, sometimes in groups of a few thousand.