Wicca is a religion that uses magic. Nature is the center of this religion, which is recognized by the government. This religion does practice witchcraft, but not in the negative way that might be expected.
This religion became more popular in the 1950's when the British repealed their laws against witchcraft. People were practicing this before, but they were not in the open about it because of the laws. Gerald Gardner wrote several books about Wicca and helped form the religion, Gardernian Wicca. Folklore and mythology, among with many other sources, influenced this religion. In the United States, Wicca was changed to fit the needs of those who practiced it at that time, and there are now 10 major forms of Wicca and over a thousand variations.
Although this is witchcraft, many people who practice Wicca do not like to be referred to as witches because of the negative stereotypes the word holds. Wicca is not a diabolic religion. The people who practice it do not use it to to cause harms to others. Wicca is based on nature and everyone who practices it has respect for all living things. They pride themselves on being able to heal and being tuned in to nature.
Most people would assume that practicing witchcraft is a terrible thing, and that it is dangerous and the people who practice is are evil, but this is not the case at all with Wicca. They think that as long as they are not hurting anyone, then it doesn't matter what they are doing. They are very free and do not set strict guidelines that believers have to follow. They also think that whatever they do will be come back to them three times more intense, which motivates them to treat others kindly and with generosity.
Wicca followers do hold rituals, but they are not the scary rituals of creepy people dancing around a cauldron trying to curse someone. Most of the time their rituals have to do with things in nature such as lunar phases and equinoxes. They use these rituals to thank the Earth for what it has given them. "Rituals usually involve the consecration of space (usually a circle or sphere), honoring the four Elements, invocation of deities, and a meal (www.bloomington.in)." They use the circle for healing powers by chanting, mediation, or singing. During these rituals they do things such as praying and acting.
People are afraid of the religion of Wicca because they think that witches will hurt them. People are usually afraid of them because of what they are made out to be in movies and TV shows. This is a false image. Wicca followers do not thrive on the suffering of others, they do not wish to hurt others in any way. They are not out to hurt you, although their beliefs are quite different from most people's.