BUMPER STICKERS appear on cars around my small town: "Born-again Pagan"; "Witches Heal"; "Life is a witch (lavender broomstick inserted) and then you fly."
Do I live in an odd little enclave of weirdos and eccentrics? No, I live in a major metropolitan area. But I live in the midst of a pagan revivaland so do you.
Of course, you could say it's that season. During Halloween, interest in the occult seems overt. Yet catalogs hawking ready-to-worship statues of Egyptian gods and goddesses come uninvited through my mailbox any time of year. Books on spellcasting and pagan ritual can be found in my local library and bookstores. Television and magazine ads trumpet the services of psychic counselors.
What's going on?
In a word, witchcraft.
Like many Christians, I knew little about the neo-pagan movement until five years ago, when I discovered that the name of a Seattle abortion clinic, "Aradia," named after a "goddess of healing arts," also was cited in witchcraft literature as the daughter of the moon goddess Diana and the sun god Lucifer sent to earth to establish witchcraft.
Witchcraft, or Wicca, is a vital part of the growing neo-pagan movement and is considered to be one of the fastest-growing religions in America. While estimates vary, several sources say there are between 100,000 and 200,000 practicing Wiccans in the U.S. today. If one includes other neo-pagans and New Agers, who share many similarities, that figure likely would be higher.
The Quest for Control
A Wiccan high priestess named Shaune Ralph once wrote in Mademoiselle magazine that she cast her first spell because she was unhappy in her job. She made a talisman, or charm, out of a few objects, "charged" it with energy, and waited. A short time later she was hired as a laboratory administrator for a biotechnology company. Witchcraft, she found to her delight, got results.
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