The New Ones

Much has been made in both the popular and Pagan press recently about the “witchcraft fad”. There is lots of witchy imagery in media and popular culture right now, including fashion, television, film and literature.

Witchcraft, so they say, is having a moment.

And not just in the media, but in reality: self-described witchcraft (which has at least some nexus with what we generally call Paganism) is enjoying a surge of interest. People—particularly Millennial and Generation Z women —are enthusiastically embracing not only a witchy/gothic aesthetic, but practices such as Tarot reading, creation of their own ritual “spells”, and in many cases, Earth-devotional or Goddess-oriented spirituality.

The response of established Pagan voices has varied. Some think it’s great: any gateway to our paths for newcomers is an opportunity both for them and for our community. Others seem a bit baffled, wondering, who are these people? They aren’t studying our traditions or learning the way we did. They aren’t going to our events and conferences. Whatever they’re doing, they’re calling it “witchcraft” and we (the “royal We”) haven’t had any say in what it comprises. They’re making it up as they go!

Response to this by journalists and analysts is all over the map. Some see that personal autonomy and feminist/egalitarian values are both on the rise among the younger and under siege by the right, and the very self-created nature of witchy activities is empowering. Others see it as sad: a commentary on how powerless people feel now and how desperate they are for anything to help them in their lives.

Personally, other than the crass commercialism that pollutes every aspect of popular culture here at the dead end of capitalism, I think it’s wonderful. I think that discovering the world of personal ritual creation and spiritual expression—of religion with agency as opposed to as a subject—is the birthright of all of us. The genie of self-chosen and empowered spirituality is out of the bottle; what the subjugating religions are selling simply isn’t competitive by comparison. Not to twenty-first century people.

All religious behavior was made up at some point: that extends to men in rich gowns running poisonously corrupt two-thousand-year-old institutions just as much as to newly-coined, self-initiating witches learning to read Tarot cards and building their first altars.

Sure, the fad will wane and some of its current adherents will move on to something else. But in a societal context where credulity in faith-based religion is generally falling, a rise in self-created spiritual practice will inevitably lead to a confluence: to many of “the new ones” pursuing godless, nature-based Pagan paths.

And we’ll be here to welcome, support, and offer community to those who find such paths of interest.

11 thoughts on “The New Ones

  1. I, too, think it’s great.
    After all, my experience, finding Paganism in the earlier “Pagan Boom” of the early 80s, was that we were free to “make up” stuff that felt right. If it served the purpose of taking us deeper, enlightening us, it was good. We had some beliefs about “The Old Ways” (most of which turned out to be not so old), that seemed to support what we were doing, but, as we used to say, mostly we were simultaneously “remembering and inventing” a spiritual path.
    Whatever “the kids” are doing, nowadays, if it does no harm, I say go for it. Anything that subverts the dominant paradigm is all to the good, as far as I’m concerned.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. This morning after Christmas, was reflecting on the co-opting of Christianity by propagandists. Sadly, they take advantage of the ethic of faith and the people who want and need to believe in God no matter what. So many preachers and political rulers steer them to an agenda the original “Jesus” would never embrace. We know this truth of course, and so we think, and find meaning through self spirituality. I humbly hope to not only nourish my own soul, but to raise the vibrations of earth and humanity.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I used to believe these people were looking for the latest fad etc. Now I see these as people who are searching; to find somewhere they feel at peace with their selves. Yes, it can get very frustrating at times; answering so many different questions and trying to be serious at the same time (been there). So, what does one do? Really nothing; just offer as much positive attitude as one can give. I know what it is like as having been in that exact situation. Where I started from and to where I am now has been a long journey. If this has given rise to public attention; then go for it and let it ride its course. I applaud your effort to bring this to the fore; we being either all or just one particular area need to find acceptance and understanding. Plus extending our hands to those in search.

    Liked by 6 people

  4. Great post, totally agree that whatever winding path gets people to where they’re going is fair play.

    My only disappointment with the latest surge is that much of the media coverage has failed to note that men can be witches too.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Good. I’m glad they can see past the hype. I have an image in my head of a male witch but it’s a composite of all the male witches I know, not an image that’s embedded in / propagated by the broader culture.

        It would be interesting to analyze the waxing and waning of popular interest in witchcraft and see what cultural moments it corresponds to.

        Liked by 2 people

  5. Male witch/female witch; does it really matter as to which gender a “witch” is? Yes, many men are gravitating to the “Witch” aspect or side. So that being a Witch is not just a feminine issue. What is interesting to this issue is that there are many individuals who see the “Witch” aspect; as being something that is strictly female. On another issue; this thing of Spirituality, humans find that whatever it is it is a personal thing. Religion doesn’t really play into it; it may influence some yet it is an issue of personal something. So, yes there are many different sides of an issue and different ideas of what being a “Witch” is or isn’t and the same with Spirituality”. Myself? If what I do gives me the feeling I am at peace with me and what I do can remotely influence something or someone in a positive way; then for me I am accomplishing what I set out to do.

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  6. Thank you so much for your kind and welcoming approach to this topic. In a spiritual realm where practicing your craft often evokes imposter syndrome, it is lovely to hear such a positive spin on the newcomers. I really appreciate your insight.

    Liked by 1 person

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