Studies show that paganism in the U.S. has been growing by leaps and bounds in recent years, accompanied by increasing mainstream interest in occult-related activities like astrology, tarot, and spellcasting.
An article in Quartz cited a study performed by Trinity College in Connecticut. From 1990 to 2008, the college ran three large, detailed religion surveys showing that Wicca, a contemporary Pagan new religious movement incorporating witchcraft, grew tremendously over this period. From an estimated 8,000 Wiccans in 1990, they found there were about 340,000 practitioners in 2008. In addition to the Wiccans, the study showed another 340,000 people self-identified as Pagans in 2008.
A later study by the Pew Research Center in 2014 found that 0.4 percent of Americans, or around 1-1.5 million people, self-identify as Wiccan or Pagan. To put this in perspective, a report in the Christian Post on this study compares this to other religions.
“There may now be more Americans who identify as practicing witches, 1.5 million, than there are members of mainline Presbyterianism (PCUSA),1.4 million,” the article wrote.
This rise is accompanied by a burgeoning industry. In October 2017, Market Watch reported that the psychic services industry was worth approximately $2 billion. Last year, the BBC noted a 30 percent rise in sales of Tarot cards. The same report cited a survey by the National Science Foundation showing that more than half of young Americans believe astrology, an occult practice, is “scientific.”
Much of this renewed interest is fueled by a new-age makeover hiding ancient pagan roots. The Burning Man Festival, an annual gathering bringing about 70,000 people to the Nevada desert, includes pagan temples and undeniably pagan elements while claiming to be secular and unaffiliated. Even more bizarre was a fashion show held last year in a London church featuring Satan-inspired designs.
Witchcraft and paganism have entered the political arena in a big way. When President Trump was first elected, a group of witches gathered at Trump Tower to cast a hex on him. Witchcraft has gone high-tech and this call to black magic was repeated, sent out on social media as president-hexing became a monthly event. More recently, a gathering was called in Brooklyn to hex newly appointed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.