Witchcraft soaring in popularity

By Leisha Petrys
July 21, 2002
The Advertiser (Australia)
http://www.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,4057,4743877%255E2682,00.htmlOff-site Link

WITCHCRAFT is just one of the faiths South Australians are embracing as an increasing number of people move away from mainstream religion.

Recent ABS figures show there has been a dramatic increase in witches, with more than 9000 registered Australia-wide, a jump of 7000 in the past four years.

In SA, wicca is also one of the fastest-growing religions with 841 witches compared to just 154 in 1996.

Other ancient religions, such as paganism, druidism and animism, also have grown in popularity, according to the 2001 census.

Visiting associate professor of anthropology at Adelaide University Kingsley Garbett said the findings were not surprising.

He said the nature-orientated values of wicca appealed to many people living in a harsh, modern environment.

“The people who usually turn to wicca are interested in natural therapies and medicines, environmental protection and are anti things like GM foods,” he said.

He said women in particular were more likely to feel an affiliation to the ideals of wicca – which is supported by the census results which found there were 656 female witches living in South Australia compared to just 191 males.

“It has a strong emphasis on a female deity rather than a male one,” he said.

Prof Garbett said followers of witchcraft tended to be middle-class and very well read.

“I think it’s naive to still think it’s all about hocus pocus,” he said.

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