“Double, double toil and trouble. Fire burn and cauldron bubble.” William Shakespeare, in his heyday, penned those words for the ominous play, Macbeth. It was Act IV, Scene 1, where three witch sisters encircle a boiling cast iron cauldron, intoning details of a spell that would predict tragedy for the titular general of Scotland. The Bard’s genius is quite dark and creepy. Fast forward to 2017 when a loosely formed group of Wiccans waded into national politics by binding a spell against then-President Trump and his fervent supporters.
Whether or not the spell helped propel the current office-holder to power is a matter of perspective. But what was learned throughout the Trump presidency is that the practitioners of this pagan religion were also politically active and cast votes as well as curses.
Pagans, Wiccans, and Druids, Oh My!
For centuries, people who practice Paganism have been thought of as fringe groups by general society – not to mention probably a little crazy. As such, not a lot of study went into their political ideologies throughout modern demographic research. But that all changed during the lead-up to the federal elections of 2020 – namely, the presidential contest. About one million people in the United States practice some form of Paganism – whether through Wicca or the many branches of Druidry. Since there is no centralized dogma or written religious text, categorizing these folks by political affiliation had been a lot of swings with as many misses. Pagans are an eclectic bunch.
But Cambridge University Press recently published a study to help pin down the Pagan demographic – and it might surprise that they are not all left-wing extremists. The average age is 26; approximately 60% are female, and 80% are white: It sounds like a stereotypical conservative soccer mom with a bit of an edge. But throw in societal issues like sexual freedoms and environmental activism, which tends to skew to the left curve.
These gals are seriously independent and tough to reach.
Ditch-deliver’d By a Drab or Libertarian?
Cara Schulz is a National Libertarian Party recruiter who believes this political demographic most closely resembles “the core ethic” of the Libertarian Party. “And ye harm none do what ye will” is one of those baseline ethics of a Libertarian’s core value. When it comes to acceptance of others and an open mind towards sexuality, one might think the LGBTQ is a stronghold for witches, warlocks, druids, and the like. That is also a stereotype that many Pagans dispute.
Lasara Firefox Allen, an author and nonbinary witch, explains that respecting others’ beliefs and personal identities is a stated value. However, she adds that it is a “baseline of acceptance” of the LGBTQ community, and some draw the line at gays and lesbians “but not transgender identities.”
Who saw that coming? Cara Schulz. Because again, there is no internalized doctrine to reference. The various religions which identify as Pagan believe political involvement is vital to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Schulz practices Hellenismos, a sect based on ancient Greek beliefs. As a fan of separation of church and state, Schulz’s involvement in politics is “deeply tied to her belief system.” Firefox Allen agrees, but only to a point: “Political engagement is not optional for any living, breathing individual.”
As Voting Blocks Go
If there are a million or so politically active Pagans, there are undoubtedly a million more deciding whether to weigh into the Swamp muck every election. Significant regime changes in U.S. politics have been won and lost by smaller margins. Perhaps Shakespeare in 1606 was predicting the rise and fall of future generations when he described his main character, Macbeth, as a man who believed in the power of the witch’s incantations and murdered for political gain. Macbeth, of course, was fatally flawed by the damaging psychological effects of his political ambition: paranoia.
Fast forward four centuries and the parallels seem eerily familiar.
~ Read more from Sarah Cowgill.