New Studies Find An Increase In Paganism
Data collected by the Pew Research Center and Trinity College in Connecticut show witchcraft and pre-Christian traditions have been revitalized and increased over the past few decades. The reports were shared in several articles between October and November 2018. Once such article appeared in Newsweek Magazine this past November.
That article notes the increase comes from Millennials leaving organized Abrahamic religions in favor of Pagan belief systems, notably Wicca.
Ok, I’m not going to mince words with the author. Those of us who are Pagan and have been Pagan know that Wicca is only one of a larger category of Pagan Traditions. But let’s give the guy a break, he appears to be new at this topic.
In addition, it’s nice that Millennials are becoming interested in pre-Christian religions, beliefs and practices. But for those of us who have long practiced a Pagan tradition, let me ask, what about us? If this increase has been noted for decades, pre-Millennials were at the foundation of that revitalization. So can we really put this increase on Millennials? I personally question that assessment.
The article notes Pagan practices have increased dramatically since the 1990s, with several recent studies indicating there may be at least 1.5 million witches across the country.
Now I’m assuming that’s meant to be an inclusive number, as not all Pagans identify as being a “witch”. I don’t for instance. I’m a Celtic Shaman who practices magik, which is just another descriptive title for Paganism. So the question I have about this study, does it include all Pagans, or just those who specifically identify as a Witch?
The author also shares this little tid-bit which is interesting:
With 1.5 million potential practicing witches across the U.S., witchcraft has more followers than the 1.4 million mainline members of the Presbyterian church.
Here’s a few things to keep in mind when reading stories about Polling on Religious topics and especially when it includes information on non-Abrahamic religions.
1. First thing these studies need to do is define Pagan.
The definitions and how people identify as pagan are wide and varied. So do these studies specify “Wicca”? Because Wicca is just a tradition (a denomination) of a much larger spiritual practice that includes 1,000+ different denominations. I’m not Wiccan, but I am Pagan.
To be clear, Pagan is any religion that does not follow the doctrine of Abrahamic religions. That’s a huge category of religions, that would include Buddhism and Hinduism. So exactly how do they define “Pagan”?
2. When these studies talk about Witches, what do they mean?
Not all Pagans identify as a Witch, because not all Pagans practice the Art of Energy Manipulation (magik). And as I mentioned, not all Pagans who do practice magik use the title “Witch”. There are Mages, Sages, Shamans, Wizards, Sorcerers etc.
3. Do these studies differentiate between Paganism and Shamanism?
Here in the United States, most people who follow Abrahamic practices, think Shamanism is Native American beliefs and practices. They don’t realize that Shamanism is a world-wide practice that refers to a spiritual profession, like a Priest, Priestess etc. A Shaman is a healer and/or seer who serves their community on a spiritual level. So while these are most typically found in Pagan practices, it raises the question, do the people conducting these studies know this?
4. Do these studies differentiate between Paganism and Satanism?
The Newsweek article takes note of this difference briefly, but do they really understand what they’re explaining? Do these studies differentiate between the two? Or do they lump all Pagan religions together, only leaving out the obvious practices of Buddhism and Hinduism?
All these questions have an impact on the studies and their conclusions. So it’s important to know the basis of the studies themselves. Which is why, if you ever see an article about religious polling, you must take it with a grain of salt. At least until you can see or read the actual studies these articles are referring to.
While there’s a lot wrong with this Newsweek article, in the description of Pagans and Witches, the studies themselves are interesting and may have some promising insight. I wish this author had included links to the studies. But because he didn’t provide links, I went on a search for myself.
A number of other articles do have a few links we can share here. This Newsweek article refers several times to an article in Quartz. I’m posting a link to that article below. I’m not familiar with Quartz so I can’t refer to their reputation or sourcing. But I did read their article and it’s not bad for the content and description of Paganism.
Bottom line to all of this is, as a community, we’re on the increase. And that’s nice to know.
- 2010 U.S. Census – PDF
- Pew Research 2014 Study – Religion in America
- Religious Tolerance – 2014-2015 Polling Report
- Quartz – The Explosive Growth of Witches – October 2018
© 2019 Springwolf, D.D., Ph.D. Springwolf Reflections / Springs Haven, LLC. All Rights Reserved.