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Australian Media on Paganism

Witchcraft's magic numbers

by Cheryl Critchley, family reporter - Hearld Sun 20/8/97

Going to church may be losing it appeal, but devil worship and witchcraft are alive and well.

Last year's national census revealed 2093 Satanists and 1849 witches.

Witches were much more likely to be women (1242 to 607 males) while Satanists were much more likely to be men (1778 to 315).

Caroline Tully, 31, has been into witchcraft for about 14 years and sees it as a religion and a lifestyle.

She describes herself as a witch, pagan and magician.

"A witch is someone who believes in the pagan gods and uses traditional magic techniques to improve their life," she said yesterday.

"With witchcraft, primarily, there's one god and one goddess and they are one themselves."

Ms Tully said witchcraft and the occult generally were becoming more popular, although mainstream society was still not very accepting.

Psychic Kerry Kulkens said more people were looking "for something to fall back on".

Witchcraft was basically communing with nature and generating positive energy, she said.

The census revealed 4353 pagans, some of whom also practised witchcraft, and 1023 Rastafarians. More than 8100 people said they were spiritualists, whose beliefs include God, reincarnation and angels.

Another 10,116 were born-again Christians and 654 listed ancestor veneration as their faith. Religion is the only optional question on the census.

More than 120 catagories were listed, mostly of Christian origin.

But a growing number professed beliefs such as Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam.

More than 500 described themselves as Oriental Christian.

Other unusual faiths included Druidism (556 followers), Zoroastrianism (1518), Pantheism (835), and nature religions (1618).

Nearly three million said they had no religion, 8801 were agnostic and 7496 were atheists. A total of 16.5 per cent had no religion, up from 12.9 per cent in 1995.

The dominance of the major Christian religions continued to decline.

Herald Sun, 20/8/97


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