Feminism and witchcraft go hand in hand. Like peas and carrots. Like Simon and Garfunkel. Like socialism and misery. As feminism has gained more cultural staying power over the years, it should come as no surprise to any of us that witchcraft would suddenly become great again.
According to Laurie Penny at The Baffler, the number of feminist witches has been steadily rising since the 1960s to an apex in the Trump era. Since day one of his administration, these merry bands of restless Sirens have performed a variety of spells and hexes to "bind" the president from implementing policies that defund Planned Parenthood or protect religious freedoms. No telling yet if they have succeeded.
Today, witchcraft is back in vogue, a heady brew of nineties nostalgia, goth revivalism and plain, arcane fun sloshing around social media. Days after Donald Trump won the U.S. election, videos of women “hexing” Trump went viral around the world, encouraging budding magical practitioners to burn images of the president-elect to bring his works to ruin.
There has also been a spike in sales of witchcraft paraphernalia like cauldrons, candles and other occult items meant to summon spells, likely as a result of the witchcraft "trend."
Back in the 1970s, the Women’s International Terrorist Conspiracy from Hell (W.I.T.C.H.) explained how feminism and witchcraft go to together like a horse and carriage. You really can't have one without the other:
If you are a woman and dare to look within yourself, you are a Witch. You make your own rules. You are free and beautiful. You can be invisible or evident in how you choose to make your witch-self known. You can form your own Coven of sister Witches (thirteen is a cozy number for a group) and do your own actions. ... You are a Witch by saying aloud, "I am a Witch" three times, and thinking about that. You are a Witch by being female, untamed, angry, joyous, and immortal.
Laurie Penny states that the hunger growing among feminists to embrace witchcraft stems from the discontent sowed by a "chaotic and competitive society" that is only remedied by "a revived interest in forms of feminism that don’t care who they frighten."
"The craze for witchery displays an encouragingly wide understanding that for social change to happen someone has to feel threatened," writes Penny. "The paraphernalia of skulls and guts and ravens are merely a uniform that declares intent. I am not a nice, compliant creature, not a princess in training. I am something else. Something darker. There are more like me. Best beware."
In other words, the embrace of witchcraft has less to do with filling a spiritual void and more to do with mocking patriarchal Christians. Call it "spiritual trollery." Penny has the courtesy to admit this: "Pissing off your over-pious relations is as good an excuse as any to dabble in magic—and a good many modern practitioners are spiritual refugees of one sort or another from patriarchal, monotheistic religions as practiced in, for example, large parts of the United States."
Penny recognizes that people traditionally see witches as agents of evil and concludes her piece rebuking this. To her, witches have always sought the common good and have been maligned by patriarchal forces:
Resistance movements seek to change the story of power, and what else is a witch but a break point in that story? Traditionally, witches did not do magic in order to rule the world, or damn it. Witches worked in their communities for the common good, as well as their own. Witches took control of their own destinies and helped others do the same—and there’s danger whenever a woman decides to do that, whatever the cost, no matter what she calls it. The magic might not be “real”—but it works anyway.
A report earlier in 2017 also showed that millennials were largely ditching Christianity for astrology and witchcraft.
According to Market Watch, "interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials." Worse still, a majority of Americans now believe it is "not necessary to believe in God to have good morals."
The replacement for more of these young adults has been astrology, which involves aura reading, mediumship, tarot-card reading and palmistry. Adherents to these practices grew 2% between 2011 and 2016, creating an industry that is now worth $2 billion annually.
Melissa Jayne, owner of Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique,” Catland, confirmed that she has seen a rising interest in the occult these past few years.