In years past, Canada outlawed witchcraft. Section 365 of the criminal code outlaws witchcraft related fraud, which includes when one:
(a) pretends to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration, (b) undertakes, for a consideration, to tell fortunes, or (c) pretends from his skill in or knowledge of an occult or crafty science to discover where or in what manner anything that is supposed to have been stolen or lost may be found, is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
So, this law means that anyone who pretends to use magic can be convicted as a criminal in Canada. One wonders why the jails were not full of teens who loved Harry Potter? After all, the law only outlaws those who pretend to practice witchcraft.
Recently, however, the justice department of Canada announced that it would “make the law more relevant in our modern society.” And this means legalizing witchcraft. So what does that mean for Canada?
Witchcraft Will Be (or Is) Considered a Valid Religion
Today, I turned on the radio and heard a practitioner of witchcraft celebrate his practice. For the radio personality, his magic was in writing. He calmly explained that there are three laws that the witchcraft community follows and cited one of them: whatever you do will return to you threefold. He inferred that few people would practice black magic then because this wicked magic would repay the user threefold.
All of this was said with seriousness.
Witchcraft Will Be (or Is) in the Public Sphere
In Toronto, Witchfest North 2017 celebrated witchcraft during the month of October. The organizer of the event explained, “I created this event with the intent to empower the diverse community of Toronto and specifically to celebrate the sacred feminine in the arts.” The organizer includes “Witches, Wiccans, Pagans and Polytheists” as those the festival supported.
All of this happened in a major Canadian city.
Witchcraft Will Be (or Is) in Historical Places of Worship
Synagogues, churches, and mosques will have to deal with congregants or visitors who practice witchcraft. Many of the these practitioners will practice the white magic, others dark. It will interesting to see how historic faiths in Canada encounter this burgeoning movement.
The numbers of those who practice witchcraft and related spirituality is not insignificant. According to data from statistics Canada in 2011, there are 25,495 pagans in our nation. With the forthcoming legalization of witchcraft, one wonders how many more people will identify as pagan?
Historical religious bodies in Canada will need to face challenge head-on. Early Christians too engaged pagans across the Roman Empire. They showed the value of Christ and encouraged pagans to leave their paganism behind to trust in Christ for their salvation. Let’s hope the Christian church of Canada can winsomely and persuasively bring pagans into the body of Christ.