Something is brewing at the U of A, but it isn’t evil. It’s RELIG 274, the class all about witchcraft, magic, and the occult. Recently, an article regarding the rise of youth interest in paganism cited the popularity of the U of A course as an example.
The situation regarding witchcraft today is vastly different from when I went through my witchcraft phase at the tender age of 10, where I was met with ridicule from my peers. The article cites the inherent feminism of witchcraft and as one of the reasons for the increasing interest. Instead of solely worshipping a male god, there’s a focus on goddess worship. The moon is also a strong symbol in Wicca (one of the many contemporary forms of witchcraft, though there are many varieties) because of its link to feminine energy.
Additionally, Wicca and other forms of witchcraft prioritize the earth and the environment, making it even more appealing to an increasingly environmentally-conscious population. Many believe the Divine is present in nature, and as such, everything from herbs to animals should be respected. It’s also a very peaceful religion. The core tenet is “an ye harm none, do as ye will,” and many believe that doing harm will come back to you threefold.
I believe there’s another reason for the popularity as well. The rise in interest reminds me of the Romantic movement following the Industrial Revolution. The Romantics emphasized emotion, nature, and the past, at a time when their daily lives were undergoing a lot of change. Much like peasants in the 1800s, we too are currently undergoing lots of instability in our daily lives. We’re facing the uncertainty of climate change, an increase in automation, and separation from nature. It is entirely understandable that witchcraft is increasing in popularity because it allows us to connect more with nature in a time where said connections are increasingly difficult to make.
Although I no longer practice Wicca, there was something reassuring about engaging in its practices. It was empowering because of the emphasis on the feminine; it’s very refreshing to have a matriarchal religion for once, especially since so many important figureheads in society are men. As a nature-based religion, it can help people feel closer to the Earth and lends a sense of power and control over one’s life.
Practices like reading tarot cards and tea leaves can give us a sense of control and stability our lives. Although practicing Wicca may not be for everyone, there are still many principles within it that are appealing, especially to young people. Incorporating some of those principles into our daily lives could really help us deal with our uncertain futures and make us feel like not everything is hopeless.