Those who actively practice witchcraft have long felt incredible prejudice and discrimination within our global society. There is no time in our past that this was more evident than during the days of the Salem Witch Trials. The number of people who were executed or witchcraft throughout Europe and the American colonies is impossible to determine for sure, spanning several hundred years. Today, modern experts estimate that the number would be around 40,000 to 50,000.
Today the stigma against those who identify as witches has been shifting, and a recent turn of events in Canada may be the catalyst for some big change. Once again revisiting their criminal code and reassessing the topic of equality within the country, the Canadian government has repealed a law that once forbade the practice of witchcraft within the country.
Section 365 of the Canadian Criminal Code stated that it was illegal to ‘tell fortunes’ or to ‘pretend to exercise or to use any kind of witchcraft, sorcery, enchantment or conjuration.’ Acknowledging that this archaic law no longer fits with the views of the country, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Canadian government took the necessary steps to once again show the world that Canada is accepting of everyone that calls their land home.
The law may sound like a joke, however, several people have actually been charged within the country, highlighting the need to make a change. In most, if not all, examples of witchcraft charges the argument can be made that the chargers were really made based on the concept of fraud, but this fails to address the message that is being sent by continuing to use the witchcraft law as a means of prosecuting fraud in today’s society
In an article for the journal ‘Windsor Review of Legal and Social Issues,’ Natasha Bakht and Jordan Palmer wrote, “Few commentators would argue the law should now protect people from frauds perpetrated under threat of misfortune or promise of unattainable goals by a charlatan. However, the provision that differentiates this type of fraud from others is mired in the historic oppression of women and religious minorities, and is not necessary to prosecute fraud.”
Another step towards embracing complete equality, repealing this law promotes a healthier, safer environment for Pagans that call Canada home. No longer will they fear criminal persecution based solely on their personal beliefs.
In an article for Broadly, Toronto based lawyer Omar Ha-Redeye explained: “The witchcraft provisions in the Criminal Code reflect a culture, perspective, and legal system of an entirely different era. They are reminiscent of a time when women who did not conform to societal norms were not only shunned but penalized. These provisions also reflect a primarily Christian mindset, where non-Christian traditions, including what we now may refer to as Wicca, totemism or animism, or other traditions, were demonized as being evil. It’s perhaps no surprise then that even today these provisions are used primarily against women or against people who follow non-mainstream religious traditions.”
Once again, our neighbors to the great white north stand tall and proud in their question for equality. “The True North strong and free” sets a clear example for other countries of the new, more modern approach to witchcraft that they believe should be adopted in today’s society.
Featured image via Pottermore