The number of Americans who claim to be witches has increased dramatically over the past 30 years.
An estimated 1 to 1.5 million people say they practice Wicca or paganism, a rise from an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, and 340,000 in 2008.
In 2014, a Pew Research Center survey found about 0.4 percent of Americans identify themselves Pagan or Wiccan, a significant increase over prior years.
If accurate, the Pew data would suggest that there are more self-identified “witches” in the United States than members of some mainline Protestant denominations. For example, according to 2017 figures, there are 1.4 million practicing Presbyterians in the United States.
Wicca is a form of modern pagan witchcraft begun in the 1940s and 1950s in the United Kingdom. Those who practice Wicca often refer to themselves as “witches.” People who practice other forms of witchcraft may not identify with the “Wiccan” or “pagan” label, meaning that the number of self-identified witches in the United States might actually be higher than reported.
Online, witchcraft has become increasingly popular and mainstream. The hashtag “#WitchesofInstagram” has been used nearly two million times on Instagram, featuring images of crystals, pentagrams, and people sharing their experiences as witches.
A priest pursuing doctoral studies in exorcisms told CNA that he was not surprised by the increasing number of Americans interested in dabbling in witchcraft.
The priest, who asked not be identified because of the attention exorcist priests often receive, pointed to the increasing popularity of spiritualism in general, which includes yoga and ouija, and the need for instant results in American culture.
He theorized that people who are dissatisfied with their religion begin to look for a “quick fix– magic.”
And while some witches differentiate between “white magic” and “black magic,” with black magic being intentionally malicious, he rejected the idea there could be any such thing as positive or harmless magic.
“Both of them are associated with Satan, and he’s in charge of that,” the priest told CNA.
Full story at Catholic News Agency.