Mary Caldwell has spiky pink hair, tattooed arms and works in customer service for a software company. She’s also the leader of a Wicca meet-up that gathers every other Monday at Monkey Nest Coffee on Burnet Road. On a recent Monday evening, she led the group in a discussion of numerology – the belief that numbers have mystical meanings – as well as rituals and personal experiences with spirits. Recently, some members of the group had visited a local cemetery to commune with spirits.

“Some of the people in the group just see them, some just hear them and some of them just smell them,” said Caldwell, 44. “It was great fun.” Wicca is a modern version of ancient pagan religions, created in England and brought to the United States in the 1960s. Its followers worship a goddess and a god, honor the Earth and practice ritual magic. They follow the Wiccan Rede, a statement of principles that stresses the importance of doing no harm. READ MORE