News and Commentary

American Witchcraft Rises As Christianity Declines

As American Christianity slowly exits the scene, witchcraft has suddenly become popular again.

According to The Telegraph, the number of Americans who identify as witches now outpace the total number of Presbyterians – 1.5 million.

“As Christianity declines across the country, paganism has swung to the mainstream, with witchcraft paraphernalia for sale on every high street and practices normalized across popular culture,” reports the outlet.

Witchcraft has become especially popular during the Trump administration. Following the president’s victory over Hillary Clinton in 2016, witches gathered to cast a collective binding spell against him. They repeated this following the confirmation of Justice Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

According to Vox, “many quasi-religious rituals” were making the rounds in the halls of social media to “help self-identified witches process trauma, anger, and grief” in the wake of Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. One popular spell is the “Gratitude Spell,” authored by Instagram user @celestightfor the pagan political organization WitchTheVote that focuses on feminist causes.

“In this open-ended spell, participants might choose to make a sigil — a sacred sign — on the paper, or vary their tribute to Ford in accordance with their own personal experiences and history,” reports Vox. “They might, if they so choose, send their note to Ford directly.”

Dakota Bracciale, a 29-year-old transgender/queer witch and co-owner of Catland Books and witch shop in Brooklyn, told The Telegraph the rise in witchcraft among millennials speaks to their desire to find spirituality outside of traditional religion.

“The hex centres on the notion that we live in a universe of chaos, entropy, destruction, death, decay with a final ending of oblivion – scientists are telling us,” said Bracciale. “So the witch does everything for themselves – there is no other help in this universe of decay and chaos. If you don’t get in the driver’s seat things will just get worse.”

Bracciale allegedly takes “no issue” with the idea of causing someone physical harm. “Bracciale would have been just as pleased with the new Supreme Court Justice’s death, resignation or physical disfigurement,” reports the outlet.

In 2017, Market Watch reported that millennials have been overwhelmingly gravitating toward witchcraft spirituality over traditional religion. Worse still, a majority of Americans now believe it is “not necessary to believe in God to have good morals.”

Many of these young adults have also looked to 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 of the Brooklyn-based “metaphysical boutique,” Catland, confirmed that she has seen a rising interest in the occult these past few years.

“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” she said. “For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive.”

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