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Witches buck religion trend

BY MIKE THOMAS

They don’t toil over bubbling caldrons or cook lost kids. They have no use for flying monkeys. And their spice racks are more apt to contain ginger or paprika than eye of newt. Still, witches are far from fictional. And according to the most recent American Religious Identification Survey, released earlier this month, there are more of them than ever. While most other major religions lost ground, Wiccanism — whose members, Wiccans, sometimes refer to themselves as witches — and other so-called “New Religious movements” grew by more than a million members since the last ARIS survey was published in 2001. They’re now an estimated 1.2 percent of the adult population.

In Chicago — home to an unknown number of Wiccan covens (congregations) and independent practitioners –there’s even a Witch School. An outgrowth of the nationally popular and long-active Web site witchschool.com, the Downstate Rossville-based organization currently offers three monthly courses and returned to town earlier this month after a five-year absence. “One of the things that we found is that people frequently did not have access to information and wanted to learn more about Wicca and metaphysics,” said the school’s chancellor and one of its owners, the Rev. Don Lewis. “And we went into online teaching in order to make it more accessible to people. But it was never our intention that [the site] should replace real-time teaching.”

Read the original article at: Chicago Sun Times

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