Photographer Alice Smeets was born in the German speaking part of Belgium in 1987 and currently divides her time between Belgium and Haiti. Fascinated about documentary photography, she learned her skills by assisting the Magnum photographer Philip Jones Griffiths. She received a distinction for her MA (Photojournalism at LCC) in 2010. She is focused on photographing social and cultural issues, at present concentrating on Haiti and spiritual religions. This work is from her series, Modern Witchcraft. This is her statement:
Modern Witchcraft is practiced across Europe, the USA and the rest of the Western World. It is extremely diverse; with beliefs that range widely from polytheism to animism, to pantheism and other paradigms. The largest movements of this self-termed Neo-Paganism are Wicca and Druidism; the followers of which call themselves Witches or Druids, sharing beliefs of Magic, Witchcraft and Nature’s Power. They respect their environment and celebrate eight Sabbats in the Wheel of the Year where they praise the divinities of nature. They often hold rituals – called Esbats – on the Full Moon. In part, they return to some of the old Celtic traditions.
While Wicca is a very young religion – formed by Gerald Gardner not more than 50 years ago, its roots are much older than Christianity. It has no relationship to Satanism, which is one of many misconceptions held by the public. Ancient pagan beliefs have begun to make their way into the Neo-Pagan community in many ways, making our spiritual path a very deep one, rooted and grounded in the very earth that supports us. From its origins in England it is now widely spread across Europe, America and the rest of the world. At the present time, Neo-Paganism is a large network of small communities with its own organizations, festivals, magazines, shops, workshops, gatherings and ceremonies. Witches can be found everywhere: in the supermarket, in the streets, as well as in our own neighborhood. And you would not know these Witches unless you were told who they were or were one yourself.