Recent reports are showing that year after year, more and more millennials are abandoning the traditional religions of their parents and grandparents and instead opting for practices that might have landed them in hot water (literally) just a few centuries ago: witchcraft, paganism, and astrology.
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“Whether it be spell-casting, tarot, astrology, meditation, and trance, or herbalism, these traditions offer tangible ways for people to enact change in their lives,” says Melissa Jayne, the owner of a Brooklyn-based stored called Catland, which caters to these groups. “For a generation that grew up in a world of big industry, environmental destruction, large and oppressive governments, and toxic social structures, all of which seem too big to change, this can be incredibly attractive,” she goes on. Jayne has also said that she has seen a marked uptick in a number of new customers in their 20’s that make their way to her shop each week, where they can partake in things such “Witchcraft 101,” “Astrology 101,” and a “Spirit Seance.”.
Several studies have reinforced this idea of a trend towards more occult beliefs and practices, such as one that finds more than half of Americans now believe that astrology is an actual science, compared to only 8% of the Chinese population. For those who forget, astrology is using things like horoscopes and tarot cards to predict the future, unlike astronomy, which is the actual science pertaining to the study of the universe.
Furthermore, the psychic service industry in the US has grown steadily in recent years, blossoming into a nearly $2 billion per year sector, showing that there is big money in catering to the occult.
Unsurprisingly, it seems that colleges have become the biggest hotbed of pagan and Wicca activity, and in 2010 Syracuse University became the first major institution to appoint a pagan chaplain at the campus’ interdenominational place of worship. The Air Force soon followed suit, as did a number of other schools. Today, pagan and witchcraft clubs have found a place in several major colleges across the country, most of which are officially recognized by their school’s religious student activities departments.
Witchcraft and paganism, of course, are nowhere near a dominant force within the country, but it is interesting to see how, in recent years, adherents to Christianity have steadily fallen away, while these groups have begun to see a significant rise in numbers of the faithful.
What do you think of the rise of ancient occult rituals among millennials? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!