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Friday, October 5, 2018

The Rise Of Witchcraft


wiccan, witch, witchcraft

THE US WITCH POPULATION HAS SEEN AN ASTRONOMICAL RISE

Spirituality is now firmly placed in mainstream culture. The growing interest in astrology driven by millennials, as well as the popularity of crystals and tarot cards via the ballooning wellness industry, have brought mysticism from the fringes, and right into your Instagram feed.


However, as the cosmetics giant Sephora recently found out, mysticism and its more formal manifestation, witch culture, are not topics to be taken lightly. When the company tried to commodify and condense witch-related practices into a “Starter Witch Kit,” they managed to piss off a bunch of actual witches, forcing the kit’s manufacturer to apologize and pull the product.

wiccan, witch, witchcraft


The kit was clearly aimed at dabblers in witchcraft, rather than those who actually practice it, which was perhaps part of the miscalculation. Data on the existing population of self-identified practicing witches suggests that a robust—and growing—witch community exists.
By the numbers: witches, Wiccans, and Pagans

Though the data is sparse, what we do know is that the practice of witchcraft has seen major growth in recent decades. As the witch aesthetic has risen, so has the number of people who identify as witches.

wiccan, witch, witchcraft

The best source of data on the number of witches in the US comes from assessments of the Wicca population. Not all people who practice witchcraft consider themselves Wicca, but the religion makes up a significant subset, as Alden Wicker noted for Quartz in 2016.

Wicca is a largely Western religious movement that dates back to the mid-20th century in the US and UK. According to the site wicca.com, it’s a belief system informed by “pre-Christian traditions originating in Ireland, Scotland, and Wales,” that promotes “free thought and will of the individual, and encourages learning and an understanding of the earth and nature.

Birgitte Necessary, who describes herself as a Green Witch from Washington State, defines the religion similarly, explaining it as “a deep adherence to nature and natural law, an attention to the cycles of the earth and the lives within it.” As a Green Witch, Necessary adds that her practices mostly revolve around the plant kingdom and herbal healing. 

wiccan, witch, witchcraft

While the US government does not regularly collect detailed religious data, because of concerns that it may violate the separation of church and state, several organizations have tried to fill the data gap. From 1990 to 2008, Trinity College in Connecticut ran three large, detailed religion surveys. Those have shown that Wicca grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. They also estimated there were around 340,000 Pagans (pdf) in 2008.

By Sangeeta Singh-Kurtz & Dan Kopf, Quartzy

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