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Wicca, The Apocalypse, And The Future Of The Natural World.

1667 words - 7 pages

According to Haviland, Kilmurray, Fedorak and Lee (2013), religion is universal across cultures, and it serves several purposes for humankind, both psychological and social. It meets human needs by explaining the unknown, promoting group membership, denoting right from wrong, and absolving accountability for individuals by placing responsibility on god(s). In recent years, however, interest in mainstream religions has declined. In its place, Haviland et al. (2013) explain that there has been a resurgence of pagan religions, now referred to as neo-paganism. The most followed, according to Jorgenson and Russell (1999), is known as Wicca, and they say that most Wicca practitioners are white, Western middle class women. Arthur (2008) says that Wicca is a matriarchal, Goddess based religion, and its focus is on Earth, nature and the environment. It includes practices such as white magic and rituals that are said to heal the body and the earth. He says that it is difficult to make any assertion about Wicca that would be relevant to all followers; this is because aside from the core beliefs that “…the 'Earth is a deity' and 'All life is sacred'…” (p. 202), Wicca comprises a diverse assortment of beliefs. However, while every individual’s reasoning for following Wicca is unique, as a group this demographic’s interest in Wicca is related to attempts to satisfy human needs once fulfilled by mainstream religion, including assuaging apocalyptic fears and providing a sense of identity and group belonging.
First, Haviland et al. (2013) say that religion and the questions it answers, like explaining life and death, have always been universal across cultures. In addition to offering answers, comfort, and solace to individuals, religions offer individuals and groups a system of morals and values. Mainstream religions like Christianity, Islam and Judaism have historically filled this niche, but interest in these religions has declined. Altemeyer (2004) says that in 1945, almost 70% of Canadian respondents in a Gallop Poll said that they had attended a religious service in the last week. In 1985, however, only 35% of Canadians said that they had done so. Noting that the decline has been about 1% per year, Altemeyer (2014) goes on to say that in 1998-89, only 20% of Canadians said they attend services regularly. He explains that one reason for this decline is disenchantment with dogma like the anti-gay stances so many mainstream churches profess, and says that disillusionment because of perceived hypocrisy in other church members has also contributed to the decline. Finally, he goes on to say that social change also negatively impacts church membership; in many areas, there is no longer a social stigma attached to not attending church, so people do not feel compelled to be church members. Canadians are no longer identifying with the morals and values that mainstream churches offer, and when that is the case, they cannot find the answers, comfort, and solace that...

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