Paganism is not an ancient dead religion. Statistically, it is growing quickly in the United States and Europe.
As we all know paganism is very diverse and some studies look at paganism as a whole. Some look at a subset of paganism such as Wicca, Norse, or Neo-paganism.
On all accounts, we are growing in numbers.
Is Neo-Paganism The New Religion?
It can often be hard to find out the precise numbers for people who consider themselves pagans. You may have checked a box that said “other” or not “affiliated”. These terms are confusing, not to mention discriminatory.
While it’s not a direct correlation we do know that many people who become pagans have left the Christian faith.
A Gallup Poll for 2020 showed that there was a significant drop in people who identified with mainstream religion. In 2020, 47% of US citizens said they belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque. This number was down from 50% in 2018 and 70% in 1999.
More people are identifying as pagans and more surveys and studies are giving them the option to choose paganism as a religion.
Religious Composition of the United States
The PEW Institute tracts the religious composition of the USA. According to them in 2014 Wiccans composed 0.4% of the total population. This is roughly one to one and a half million persons.
While this percentage looks small consider this. The same year smaller Christian denominations such as Presbyterian Church in America, Seventh-day Adventist, and Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) were about the same size.
Comparably Native Americans were 0.3%, Hindu’s were 0.7%, and “Nothing in Particular” was a whopping 15.8%.
Pagan Numbers in Europe
Paganism is growing among our European friends as well. In fact, Great Britain does an excellent job of allowing pagans to identify with what type of pagan they are. Categories such as Pagan, Wiccan, Druid, and Heathen are all options.
According to the UK Census taken during 2011, 53,172 English people identified as Pagan and 11,026 as Wiccan. In Wales, 3,448 identified as pagans and 740 as Wiccans.
Scottland recorded pagan numbers at 5,282 in 2011 and numbers are expected to rise several percentage points after the 2021 census numbers come in.
Iceland is approximately 1.2% pagan with 4,375 persons enrolled in pagan congregations.
Are These Numbers Accurate?
Yes and No! Any data collection is based on several factors. People choosing to self-report, questions reaching a statistically broad group of people, and accuracy of the researchers.
Many surveys such as PEW and Gallup rely on talking to people via phone. With the modern cell phone letting us know who is calling and even promoting us when a call may be Potential Spam, many people don’t answer unidentified calls.
This leaves out a lot of potential information.
Pagans are very diverse in how we see ourselves so may not identify with the options given to them. Furthermore, we typically don’t belong to an organized church that has membership numbers.
All of these things make it hard to have an accurate count of pagan populations.
Look What’s Selling
Another way to judge growth is to look at what is selling in mainstream stores. I am 57 and I remember when you had to go down the “dark alleys” to purchase tarot cards, runes, and other divination tools.
Today you can find witchcraft supplies at national retail stores. Barnes and Noble and Walmart both carry tarot cards and Amazon carries wands, athame, and other ritual tools.
Both Brick and Mortar and Online stores that sell pagan-related merchandise and services are growing in numbers. One report showed that psychic services bring in about 2.2 billion dollars a year and are growing at about 2.6%.
The highly vogue magazine Cosmopolitan recently published an article titled 15 Online Stores Where You Can Buy Crystal Friends. SageWoman, a magazine geared towards female witches, has over 25,000 subscribers and is sold in large health food stores such as Whole Foods.
Facebook groups and Twitter Accounts for pagan groups are very popular.
Celebrate Pagan Holidays has a Private Facebook Group to build community and discuss modern paganism. Join us!
Why the Rise in Paganism?
Paganism is not without its challenges and you can read more on challenges in our blog.
Many people new to paganism express frustration with a dogmatic religion that they feel limits their spiritual journey and growth.
A 2015 PEW study found gay, lesbian, and bisexual persons feel unwelcomed in traditional churches. with 11% of people who identified as LGB said they belonged to a non-Christian religious group.
Persons who feel connected to nature and animals are often drawn to paganism as are people who want to get in touch with their roots or ancestors.
Also, it has simply become more acceptable to identify as a pagan, witch, or heathen.
Paganism is gaining numbers and with that clout as a viable religious option for many people. Paganism has been around for thousands of years. Christianity and Muslims tried to kill the beliefs. But the stories remained. Author and Druid leader Kristoffer Hughes likes to say “We are still here!
Author, Ame Vanorio, likes to joke that she is 1/2 pagan and 1/2 Catholic due to her Native (Cree) and Italian heritage. She is a lifelong pagan, an environmental educator, and a licensed wildlife rehabilitator.