The history of witchcraft is one that has not always been smooth or popular. Way back when it was once condemned to practice crafts associated with witchcraft, it proved fatal to even be suspected of being a witch. In 2020, witchcraft has become a type of trend; from crystals to tarot cards, people are regularly partaking in practices associated with witchcraft. The definition of witchcraft according to Irish pagan school can be defined as the practice of and belief in magical skills and abilities exercised by solitary practitioners and groups. Ireland’s history with witchcraft can be traced back to the ancient druids, which originated from paganism. Druids were once recognised as pagan religious leaders amongst their communities.
According to www.oldmooresalmanac.com Druidic tradition and core beliefs remain unchanged to this day, it involves maintaining a strong connection and reverence for the old gods and the natural world, as well as engaging in practices of spirituality and mindfulness. These core beliefs are perhaps what resonates with young people today.
How is it that something that was once fatal for people to be associated with is now so popular?
A brief history of witches in Ireland
Ireland itself has had a history of condemning witches. Much like the famous Salem witch trials, Ireland also had its own with trials. According to www.irishcentral.com, the most prominent trial dates back to March 1711, when eight women appeared in a Carrickfergus court being tried for witchcraft. The women were accused of demonic possession of a teenage girl’s body, mind and spirit. They were later found guilty and were put in stocks where the public threw stones and rotten fruit at them before they were jailed for a year. These types of practices against accused witches were common in many communities from Ireland to America. Women were often hunted and later put on trial for being suspected of being witches.
Read our article on Irish witches here, From Magic to Tragic: A History of Ireland’s Witches – Babylon
Witchcraft practices are something that has been trending amongst young people, particularly young women, for the past few years. It has something that has become trendy with many even following a witch fashion aesthetic. Tiktok is flooded with witchcraft; from spells, affirmations and the occasional hex – famously a few have tried to hex Donald Trump. The subculture of witchcraft on TikTok, or “Witchtok” as many like to label it, is an algorithm on TikTok which has many facts and practices associated with the occult, witchcraft and even horoscopes. Currently, if you search the hashtag #Witch on TikTok it has 3.1 billion views and #Witchtok has 4.1 billion views. When you click into the tags, you can find an inclusive community of young people discussing and educating each other on topics such as manifestation, tarot cards and how crystals work.
Manifestation is a big trend associated with modern witchcraft, it is very similar to the law of attraction. It involves setting a clear intention and envisioning that intention happening. However, you have to be consistent and clear with your intention for it to work!. According to www.vogue.co.uk “WitchTok takes its cues from traditional witchcraft and has swiftly become one of the most popular alternative wellness movements online”.
Witchcraft rather than religion
Both millennials and gen Z’s today are more inclined to ditch traditional forms of religion and seek out something else that will fulfill them spiritually. According to www.marketwatch.com, interest in spirituality has been booming in recent years, while interest in religion plummets, especially among millennials. Many young people today read their horoscopes religiously and believe in them fully. There is a move towards believing in something that is more spiritual rather than religious. Often spiritual connection can be something that is very beneficial, you could even argue that people need that sense of spiritual connection to help lead an overall happier and grounded life.
As noted by Vogue, witchcraft is becoming a sort of wellness movement for young women, as it is seen as a form of self care to be in touch with your spiritual side. During times of uncertainty, many search for answers and comfort in the alternative, this could be why witchcraft is so trendy, particularly now when the world seems so chaotic. Young people are searching for meaning and answers in witchcraft practices. The practices involved in witchcraft can often be used to enact change, according to MarketWatch “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 “. The need for hope and spiritual comfort in an ever changing world is perhaps why witchcraft has become so popular.
There is a strong sense of belonging to a community when it comes to those within the witch community. It is a community that educates one another and doesn’t judge. For many young women this can be a sort of haven, a place in which they belong. Ironically, it could be argued that the rise and trending of witches and witchcraft is a sort of feminist movement which harshly contrasts with it’s history of women being hunted and killed for such beliefs. The witch community can be seen as a form of female empowerment and sisterhood, according to www.medium.com, “It’s not about broomsticks or cats. It’s about power”.
The trend of witchcraft is becoming more and more popular, I found myself and my friends writing down affirmations and intentions on the night of the most recent full moon. In times of uncertainty these practices are allowing people to get back in touch with their spiritual side and check in with their inner self. It is providing comfort and solace to many young people today.
If you’re interested in learning more about witchcraft check out this book Witchcraft 101 – Witches, Wiccans & Pagans, Who They Are, And What They Do
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