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.