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Digital witchcraft: the rise of the virtual coven

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Technology has driven witchcraft from the fringes, right into our Instagram feeds

If you’ve seen tarot, crystals or meditation pop up on your TikTok ‘for you page,’ it’s likely that you’ve stumbled across #witchtok. As interest in traditional religion dwindles, young women are using this space to reclaim their spirituality.

The unexpected rise of #witchtok

The ‘witchtok’ hashtag has racked up a total of over 11 billion views since it kicked off on TikTok in 2019. Since then, the community has established an impressive following on other social platforms like Instagram and Twitter.

https://www.tiktok.com/@witchtokboy/video/6967155116147215621?lang=en&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6968266470396872193

So what is witchcraft, and why is it so popular online?

David Garland from Pagan Awareness Network says anyone can do witchcraft. He says it’s a craft you can develop with practice, much like knitting.

“Witchcraft is the act of invoking change using your environment.”

David Garland, Pagan Awareness Network

Garland says the Pagan community should embrace #witchtok. “If it makes people think and consider spiritual alternatives, then it’s not a bad thing,” he said.

Spirituality without the rules

The interest in witchcraft driven by #witchtok comes at a time where young people are increasingly turning away from traditional religion.

Danae Moon Thorpe, owner of Spellbox and self-proclaimed witch says many young people are drawn to the community’s founding ideas of empowerment and self-determination. 

“We live in a world that’s increasingly turning away from spirituality,” she says.

“Religion often brings dogma and rules. This is like a philosophy, a way of connecting. It’s a way of being. And it’s different for everyone.”

Danae Moon Thorpe

Rise of the wellness industry

Another reason for the sudden interest in digital witchcraft might even be the rise of the wellness industry.

Wellness is a $700 billion industry and expected to grow to nearly a trillion by 2021.

To me, self care is being real. And being authentic. Often, we lose ourselves so witchcraft is always about connecting with nature and others,” says Danae Moon.

The feminist reclamation

There’s a reason the new witches are primarily young women – experts say witchcraft can be a profoundly feminist practice.

“The major religions of the world are patriarchal and worship men,” says Skye Alexander, author of more than two dozen books on spirituality, including The Modern Guide to Witchcraft. 

“This stimulates an interest in goddess-based spirituality, where it’s all about feminine energy and power.”

Natasha is an Associate Producer at ticker NEWS with a Bachelor of arts from Monash University. She has previously worked at Sky News Australia and Monash University as an Online Content Producer.

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