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Witchcraft Laws and Legality

Witchcraft, with its ancient roots and multifaceted practices, has long been a subject of fascination, reverence, and at times, misconception.

The legal lens through which societies view witchcraft, Wicca, and divination has evolved dramatically over the years, influenced by cultural, religious, and political factors.

Today, in regions like the US, Canada, the European Union, and the UK, the approach to these practices is vastly different than in centuries past.

On this page, we delve into the intricate tapestry of laws and legal statuses surrounding the practice of witchcraft, belief in Wicca, and the art of divination across these regions.

Working with a lawyer, Juliana Sirotsky Soria

  • She has extensive experience in both national and international law, having worked in both civil and common law jurisdictions.
  • She has presented articles at conferences in Brazil, Scotland, Norway, England, Turkey, and Italy.
  • She is a qualified Brazilian solicitor with over 8 years of experience.
  • She holds a master’s degree passed with distinction at PUC/RS.
  • Her professional roles encompass working in litigation, managing NGO grants, and participating in arbitration.
  • She has published several articles in her field, in addition to two book chapters. Source 1, source 2, source 3.
  • She leads the pro-bono division of her law firm, assisting underprivileged women in escaping domestic violence.

Experience

Juliana Soria is a highly skilled grant writer, legal writer, teacher, and consultant with a vast background in academic, technical, and legal sectors.

With a Law Degree, Master of Laws (LL.M), and a Research Master in Public Policy, she boasts a solid educational foundation.

Moreover, she is proficient in English, French, Spanish, and her native Portuguese, which equips her to communicate effectively with individuals from various backgrounds and jurisdictions.

Legality of Witchcraft, Divination, and Other Practices in the US

Alabama

Arizona

Arkansas

California

Colorado

Connecticut

Delaware

Florida

Georgia

Illinois

Indiana

Kentucky

Louisiana

Maryland

Massachusetts

Michigan

Minnesota

Mississippi

Missouri

Montana

Nebraska

New Hampshire

New Jersey

New Mexico

New York

North Carolina

North Dakota

Oklahoma

Pennsylvania

Rhode Island

South Carolina

South Dakota

Tennessee

Vermont

Virginia

Washington

West Virginia

Wisconsin

Wyoming

Frequently Asked Questions

In the United States, witchcraft itself was never explicitly illegal on a federal level. Instead, laws related to witchcraft historically pertained to the prosecution of individuals for witchcraft-related offenses, primarily influenced by European witch hunts and trials. The infamous Salem witch trials of 1692 in Massachusetts were a colonial manifestation of this, where individuals were accused, tried, and executed based on accusations of witchcraft.

As the United States was established and began creating its legal system, there was no national law banning the practice of witchcraft. The U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, adopted in 1791, grants freedom of religion, which indirectly made the practice of witchcraft (as a religious or spiritual practice) protected under the law. Over time, state and local laws that might have penalized alleged witchcraft or related activities were either repealed or fell out of use.

However, laws against fortune-telling or fraud can sometimes affect modern practitioners if their actions are seen as deceptive or fraudulent. It’s important to distinguish between historical witch trials, which were about alleged harmful magic and often tied to religious hysteria, and modern spiritual or religious practices like Wicca, which is a recognized and protected religion.

Yes, in the United States, witchcraft, when practiced as a part of a religious belief system such as Wicca or certain forms of paganism, is recognized and protected as a legal religion under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The First Amendment ensures the freedom of religion and prohibits the government from establishing a religion or preventing the free exercise thereof. This means that individuals have the right to practice witchcraft as a religious or spiritual belief without government interference, so long as their practices do not violate any other laws.

The recognition of Wicca and other pagan religions gained notable legal validation in the 1980s, particularly with the Dettmer v. Landon case in 1986, where the court acknowledged Wicca as a legitimate religion. Over the years, various legal cases and decisions have reinforced the rights of Wiccans and other pagan practitioners to practice their religion freely and without discrimination.

Yes, you can legally operate a tarot business in the United States, but there are several considerations to keep in mind:

  1. Local Licensing and Regulations: Some cities or states may classify tarot reading under fortune-telling, psychic services, or similar categories. Certain localities may require you to obtain a special permit or license to operate a business in this category. Check local ordinances and licensing requirements.
  2. Zoning Laws: If you’re planning on operating out of a physical location, ensure that the zoning laws in your area allow for this type of business. Residential areas, for instance, might have restrictions against certain commercial operations.
  3. Business Structure: Like any other business, you would need to decide on a business structure (e.g., sole proprietorship, LLC) and obtain necessary business licenses or permits. This also involves getting an Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS if required.
  4. Disclosure and Disclaimers: To protect yourself from potential legal issues, you might consider having clients sign a disclaimer that acknowledges that tarot readings are for entertainment purposes only and not a substitute for professional advice (legal, medical, financial, or otherwise).
  5. Ethical Considerations: While not legally required, adhering to a code of ethics can help maintain the reputation and trustworthiness of your tarot business.
  6. Taxes: As with any business, you’ll need to report your income and pay any applicable taxes.
  7. Insurance: Depending on your business setup and location, you might consider getting liability insurance, especially if clients will be coming to your place of business.

Always consult with a local attorney or business advisor when setting up a tarot business (or any business) to ensure you are compliant with all local, state, and federal regulations.