Australians wed with witchcraft

Witchcraft weddings are all the rage in Australia now that all states and territories have repealed laws that outlawed the observances of witches, wiccans, shamans, goddess worshippers and druids.

Four people with experience of the occult have qualified as marriage celebrants and are offering witch weddings or “handfastings,” news reports said yesterday.

“The calls are coming in thick and fast and we’ve all been inundated with inquiries for weddings since we’ve been appointed,” pagan priestess Ann-Marie Cloke told Australia’s AAP news agency.

In a handfasting, the hands of the bride and groom are bound together with ribbon and they are jumped over a traditional broom.

Pagan Awareness Network (PAN) coordinator Gavin Andrew said the shaft of the broom and its bristled head symbolized the joining of the man and the woman.

Melbourne-based Cloke said she had requests to perform legally binding handfastings from as far away as New Zealand.

“It’s a thrill to do,” she said. “We’re not scary people. We might have our seasonal worship stuff, but it’s no different from how other people celebrate Halloween or Christmas.”

Last month Victoria became the last jurisdiction in Australia to legalize witchcraft by repealing the Vagrancy Act. On the statute book since 1958, the act had outlawed “fortune telling and pretending to exercise witchcraft” as well as “any occult of crafty science.”

The act had threatened pagans with punishment for practising “any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.”

PAN’s Andrew said that at the 2001 national census 11,000 had identified themselves as pagans with 8,700 declaring themselves witches.

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DPA, via the Taipei Times, Germany
Sep. 15, 2005

Religion News Blog posted this on Thursday September 15, 2005.
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