Newsweek reports on an ‘occult revival’. A few quotes from the article make for interesting, if not sobering, reading for Christians as we think through our gospel response:
Magic “has always been a technique of the disenfranchised,” [Jesse Bransford, a New York University art professor who co-organized an occult humanities conference earlier this month] says. “It’s something you do when the tools you have available don’t seem like they’re enough.”
“It’s embarrassing to admit you’re religious,” says Hilary Pollack, a 27-year-old who recently moved to Brooklyn. “But I think a lot of people my age are sick of being nihilistic. Spirituality is a lot cooler.”
Women and the LGBTQ community are particularly attracted to the supernatural because it’s not patriarchal, says Lynsey Harrington, the 22-year-old founder of Moon Church, which hosts new moon ceremonies, performance art events, and workshops on herbalism, aromatherapy and magic for female-identified people. “I don’t particularly want to be part of anything the patriarchy is a part of,” she says. Many of the women historically targeted by witch hunters were, after all, misunderstood lay healers and midwives; churches may no longer burn women at the stake, but they are still controlled by men. Rebecca Gowns, a 25-year-old freelance editor from Los Angeles, says queer women like herself are drawn to the occult because they “seek outside validation” but don’t want to be talked down to by priests and pastors. Astrologers and psychics are more like trusted, nonjudgmental friends.
“You have all these people who are disillusioned with big institutions – religions, corporations, big money – who want to connect to a larger meaning,” says Occult Humanities Conference co-organizer Pamela Grossman, a teacher of magical practice and history. “Now, they have ancient practices that were once hard to access at their fingertips.”
Others, however, don’t take it that seriously. “I would think of it as adding those 25-cent vitamin powders when you get a smoothie at a health store,” Gowns says. “Whether or not it actually does anything, you feel good knowing that you’re going that extra little inch for yourself.”
And some don’t take it seriously at all. “It’s hard to say if anyone is actually invested in any of this occult stuff they meddle in,” says Pollack, who says many of her friends have abandoned their healing crystals. “It almost devastates me to say this, but daily life can be so mundane. Applying thematics of epicness to your life makes it more exciting.”
So what might we say and do?