A recent question asks whether the portrayal of witchcraft in Macbeth can be related to actual practices of those professing to be witches during Shakespeare's day. This companion question asks about neo-pagan practice in our own time.

Neo-pagan religions such as Wicca rely on reconstructions of pre- or non-Christian European traditions that went underground due to the ascendancy of the Church and subsequent persecution both before and after the Reformation. Wicca looks to historical traces of such suppressed practice.

Shakespeare's Macbeth includes a group of witches as important characters. Scenes attributed to Thomas Middleton that derive from his own play The Witch also bring onstage the figure of Hecate as queen of the witches. Hecate is an important figure in contemporary Wicca.

Do contemporary neo-pagan practitioners regard Shakespeare and Middleton as reliable historical sources for their belief and ritual? For example, is their view of Hecate influenced by how she is portrayed in Macbeth? And do the incantations in Macbeth find echoes in chants or spells current in Wicca?


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