Witchcraft: The Selfie of the Soul

Like practically everyone else, I look at my phone or turn on my computer as soon as I wake to find out what has happened in the world in my temporary absence from it. You can always tell that nothing much has happened when the headlines are something like (as they were this morning) “Number of Americans who say they are witches is on the rise.”

In fact, such stories are much more interesting and important than “President of somewhere-or-other assassinated,” for they reveal, or at least give a glimpse of, the deeper currents in our societies.

According to the article, between a million and a million and a half Americans now “self-identify” (ghastly word!) as witches. Witchcraft or Wicca is now the fastest-growing religion—or is it a hobby, like crochet and philately?—in America and no doubt elsewhere in our crumbling civilization. It isn’t yet as common as tattooing, but one cannot help feeling that the two phenomena are related in some way.

Amazon.com Gift Card i... Best Price: null Buy New $50.00 (as of 01:10 EST - Details) The article was as interesting for what it didn’t say as for what it did. Indeed, one might almost assert of journalists, newspapers, magazines, blogs, websites, etc., that By their omissions shall ye know them. This is especially true in an age of political correctness and self-censorship such as ours, in which we are all afraid to bring the wrath of the ideologically disgruntled down upon our heads. Thanks to so-called social media, we have lost one of the most cherished freedoms of all, namely that of freedom from opinion.

But to return to the American witches, soon no doubt to be counted by the tens of millions if the rapidity of the spread of tattooing and other manifestations of mass bad taste are anything to go by. What was most significant was that the article gave no demographic breakdown whatsoever of the witches: For the author of the article (or perhaps the editor), a witch is a witch is a witch. Or at any rate, that is what he would have his readers believe, because he does not want to be accused of stoking prejudice. After all, the words witch and witchcraft, even today, have no very favorable connotations. No one says, “She’s a witch” meaning “She’s a very nice person with whom it would be a pleasure to have dinner.”

It might be interesting to conduct a survey to establish how people imagine the demographic profile of the average or median American witch. For myself, I can only say that the image of Hillary Clinton comes irresistibly to mind: a million Hillary Clintons or more flying about on broomsticks! As the French say, Quelle horreur!

I imagine witches (predominantly female, of course, apart from a few emasculated male hangers-on, who do not even rise to the level of wizards) to have that facial expression of ruthless self-righteousness, or self-righteous ruthlessness, that la Clinton wears like a mask in the Noh drama. It would also be interesting to know the voting pattern of modern American witches; my guess (though I admit that it is no more than a guess) is that they are at least 90 percent Democrat. It is easy to imagine a “Witches for Hillary” committee, but rather harder to imagine a “Witches for Donald” one. Whatever else may be said about, for, or against Mr. Trump, he is unlikely to be popular among witches.

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