The middle ages in Europe saw one of the most brutal attacks against women in the form of witchunts. Many women were burnt at the stake by the patriarchal catholic leaders who saw them as opposing the rules set by them. Now centuries later, women in England are coming together to revive the magic and spells practiced by the witches centuries ago. In 2021, the British town of Warwickshire hosted the first festival for pagans and witches called The Coven of Gaia. According to its official website, the Coven of Gaia was founded by Julie Aspinall, who along with her fellow witches, wanted to find a way to pass on the knowledge and educate new witches and pagans.
The official website also mentions that the passing of this knowledge “ensures the ways of the witch and pagan are not forgotten.” To clarify all the misconceptions perpetuated by pop-culture and propaganda, the website added, “We aren't evil, we are people that celebrate and worship a different God or Goddess.”
The festival included some interesting rituals, spell-casting workshops and other classes for experienced witches. According to BBC, the first festival held last year was at a site near the village of Fillongley which has 160 acres of land. Nearly 2,000 festival-goers were given the opportunity to camp there and take part in night-time activities. Some of the night time rituals listed on the website include, drawing down the moon ritual, fire ceremony, cord cutting ritual and more.
Speaking to BBC, Aspinall said, “If you have no interest at all, but just want a fun family weekend, that's fine too. It's a place to ask questions, learn a bit more, check out what we do, or just have fun.” Speaking to Mirror, the 57-year-old said that she knew she was different since childhood. “People used to say I was the luckiest person they knew, if I wanted something or wanted something to happen, most of the time it would. I felt like I was somehow special because things would just go well for me.” Aspinall also claims to have healed her broken bones with the power of witchcraft.
Aspinall’s statement on the website reads, “I experimented with lots of candle magic astral projection and read lots of books, there wasn’t the internet at that time so reading was the way forward.”
Besides The Coven of Gaia, Aspinall also founded the festival of Pagans and Witches which has grown into a bi-annual event. In this festival, the witches’ aim is to educate and bring forth understanding. The festival is set to take place next month according to a recent Facebook post.