We the Witches: The Resurgence of Spirituality Has a Young, Female Face

By Ciana Alessi

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The present resurgence of witchcraft among young women is one of many subtle expressions of female solidarity that acts as an opposing force against big, bad patriarchy. Although articles such as “Why millennials are ditching religion for witchcraft and astrology” likely appeal to the senses of angry, confused Baby Boomers who love to hate us millennials, the fact of the matter is true: many of us, especially within feminist circles, are ditching traditional modes of worldly understanding for previously disregarded, alternative systems. There simply could not be a better time for anyone to explore alternative belief systems than 2018; many of our established political, economic, and cultural modes are obviously failing and surely will not suit the generations to come. It’s time to explore our options.

One of the many reasons witchcraft and astrology are such appealing options for younger generations is because of the growing population of spiritual individuals that are not necessarily religious; many of us have a desire for explanations of earthly phenomena, or some guiding sense in the world, however, that explanation doesn’t need to be grounded in one being or location, nor does it need to be concrete and static. Millennials are necessarily tumultuous, in-flux, and fluid. We’ve realized we don’t need to accept the answers that have been given to us without doing our own research online, and our general lack of religiosity is the explicit effect of this, amongst other things like our recognition of gender fluidity and rejection of the outdated institution of marriage.

The previously “alternative” position of witchcraft and astrology is in itself a remnant of a past time when normativity reigned supreme. The heightened visibility of alternative belief systems is surely a positive, yet, we must not forget those who have been blatantly villainized in mainstream media for having very similar beliefs to those that are now in style. In 2013 on the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills, housewife Carlton Gebbia openly practiced Wicca and was consistently under scrutiny and ridicule from her fellow cast members about the subject; even in the show’s production the perceived abnormality of her beliefs was heightened by the use of eerie, halloween-like background music any time the topic was discussed. This is only the tip of the iceberg, as most people are familiar with the Salem witch trials and similar persecutions that resulted from even simple accusations of suspicious, non-religious activity performed by (mostly) women.

The Wicca belief system is based in appreciation and reverence of nature, includes worshipping multiple deities -- the main deity being female -- and accepts unconventional lifestyles. Clearly none of these things are scary, sinister, or otherwise peculiar, unless you believe that nature is for human use only, that there should only be one god-like figure in any given belief system, and that only one lifestyle is the right one. Many traditional religions believe some if not all of the following precepts, making the historical rejection of systems such as Wicca almost underwhelming; if religion is inside conventionality, alternative belief systems exist entirely outside of it. These alternative systems present an opportunity for rebirth and further acceptance of difference. Witchcraft and astrology represent the limitlessness of the world outside of religion, outside of structure and normativity: a world of exponential potential, spirituality, and badass female energy.