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A Cultural Movement And Embrace Of Witchcraft By A Younger Generation

SACHA PFEIFFER, HOST:

Witchcraft is having a moment. We don't mean the pointy black hat, cauldron and broomstick kind of witchcraft. We're talking about curated sets of crystals, bespoke decks of tarot cards and TV reboots of "Charmed" and "Sabrina The Teenage Witch."

CHRISTINE EMBA: Yeah. You do see witches everywhere.

PFEIFFER: That's Washington Post opinion columnist Christine Emba. She recently wrote a piece headlined, "An Entire Generation Is Losing Hope. Enter The Witch." Her hypothesis is this - as younger generations leave organized religion at higher rates, they're on the lookout for something else that could help them make sense of these challenging times.

EMBA: These young people do long for meaning. They want to understand the world in at least a spiritual sense. Atheism isn't quite doing it for them. So they turn to older traditions. And witchcraft is one of these.

PFEIFFER: Witchcraft is loosely defined. It could be spells and hexes and special candles or going deep into astrology and harnessing energy from crystals.

EMBA: It's increasingly customizable. You can sort of pull different aspects of different traditions and put them together to create something of your own.

PFEIFFER: If you're not into DIY, there was a starter witch kit from the beauty retailer Sephora, although that never actually made it to store shelves because hardcore witches complained. But that hasn't stopped other companies from trying to cash in.

EMBA: Pretty much anywhere you go, you can find something that's, you know, crystal-infused or a set of, you know, specific candles for aura purposes or even bundles of sage or palo santo.

PFEIFFER: But like the weather, the season of the witch may also be cyclical.

EMBA: You see it at almost every time of crisis. You know, during the Civil War there was a renewed resurgence in spiritualism. It's said that Mary Todd Lincoln would hold seances in the White House. And then again in the '60s and '70s, New Age took off. But there has always been an interest in spiritual things.

PFEIFFER: Or maybe the current embrace of witchy things has less to do with spiritualism and is just trendy. As Christine Emba, the Washington Post columnist says...

EMBA: In fact, at this point, it's just kind of cool.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.