Witchcraft International Craft Association (WICA)

views updated

Witchcraft International Craft Association (WICA)

An early neopagan witchcraft organization founded in 1970 as the outward expression of the Sicilian Strege Wiccan tradition in America. WICA is led by Dr. Leo Louis Martello, who was a Spiritualist minister in New York City and was also known as a hypnotist and graphologist. Martello stepped into the spotlight within the Wiccan community through his authorship of one of the first widely recognized texts presenting modern post-Gardnerian witchcraft to the public, Witchcraft: The Old Religion (1973). He argued effectively that witches were people from all walks of life "who practice the pre-Judeo-Christian, Pagan religion." They were not Satanists and did not believe in the Devil, he said; their main deities were Mother Goddess and Horned God, and they were nature worshipers.

Martello also founded the Witches Antidefamation League (WADL) "to educate the public, counteract false accusations, take legal steps, obtain IRS recognition, paid legal holidays (such as Halloween) for members, fight distortion and discrimination, sponsor seminars across the country, hold regular festivals." In 1970 WICA and WADL, backed by the American Civil Liberties Union, sued the New York Parks Department for discrimination when refused a permit for their "witch-in," and won, the first such victory for witches in the history of the world.

The teachings of the Strege have never been revealed, though much of their lives and thought were written about by Charles B. Leland in his book Aradia. Diana is recognized as the major deity and the goddess of witches. During the 1970s Martello published the Witchcraft Digest and the WICA Newsletter. Books representative of the Strege are published through Hero Press. Last known address: 153 W. 80 St., Ste. 1B, New York, NY 10024.


Martello, Leo Louis. Weird Ways of Witchcraft. New York: HC Publishers, 1969.

. What It Means to Be a Witch. New York: The Author, 1975.

. Witchcraft: The Old Religion. Secaucus, N.J.: University Books, 1973.

About this article

Witchcraft International Craft Association (WICA)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article