WASHINGTON, DC (WUSA) -- As Delaware Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell spent the weekend explaining an 11-year-old televised remark that she dabbled with witchcraft and unknowingly had a date on a satanic alter, witches in Washington gathered on DuPont Circle to celebrate the changing seasons and to take part in DC's Pagan Pride Day.
"I think someone was having fun at her expense. There is no way a real witch was trying to sit her on an alter to have a picnic. That seems to me that someone was just having a little bit of fun with her," said Washington witch Katrina Messenger of O'Donnell's story.
Messenger says at least a couple thousand Washington area residents practice her religion, Wicca.
"Witchcraft is basically the work of the wise. It basically means we are working with the world, that we honor the air, the fire, the water, the earth, that we honor all life. We honor the seasons and the turning of the wheel of the year. Basically it's a spiritual path for people who are in touch with the gods and design in everything," Messenger told 9NewsNow.
"Me, personally? I do public rituals. I do rituals to help people connect with the seasons because I think many of us have gotten out of touch with what the seasons mean, what the changing of the moon means, and re-connecting with those natural seasons because we're not too far (removed) from our ancestors. We need to be connected with what is going on around us," she said.
She says many people simply don't understand Wicca.
"I think people are misinformed. I think some of it is just like many things: we rely for information on people who are not people who are embedded in the faith, and there is a lot of fear.
"I understand some things that you don't understand can be a little frightening, but the reality is we're just human beings. We're people just like everyone else. We have jobs. We have families. We have aspirations for our careers. We have bills. We have mortgages. We have everything just like everyone. We're simply just another faith tradition.
"Interesting, now a days, is that many of us do a lot of interfaith work, so I work with rabbis and ministers and imams and folks from different walks of life to help do work that we are all spiritual people, working toward similar goals and that we can work together. There's nothing to fear. There is nothing to fear from us, and we have nothing to fear culturally from each other," she said.
"What is a witch," asked 9NewsNow.
"A witch is a person who believes in Wicca. Wicca is a religion and, basically, some say the religion originated in Europe and, basically, it was just a folk magic, and the folk works of the people in the country. It was, basically, working with the seasons, working with the earth, understanding how to grow food, when to hunt, when not, when to plant, when to harvest, and working with the old ways and basically modern witches have sort of a throwback to that...It's not an unbroken lineage but we sort of fall back to that, that we try to work with the rhythms of life, itself," she said.
"Do witches cast spells?"
"Well, I always liken spells to prayers. I was raised Catholic, and we did prayers for everything. We blessed animals. We blessed houses. We blessed children, and we blessed the folks who were dying.
"Well, witches do the same thing and we call those spells.
"Basically we'll sit and we'll pick a candle and we'll light it to say a prayer for someone across the country who is sick.
"Recently, I was sick and everyone around the world that knew me was sending me prayers, and many of them were in the form of spells," she said.