Today's WaPo mentions Pagans, essentially in the usual gee-let's-throw-something-weird-into-the-article way that is essentially the only way that WaPo ever covers Pagans. In an article on the recently-released census report, WaPo notes that:
Membership in Wiccan, Deity, Druid and Pagan sects has been skyrocketing -- up from an unregistered blip in 1990 to more than 350,000 as of 2001 The article couples this statistic with the fact that: We love shoes, 2.1 billion pairs of them, almost all from overseas.
Thanks, WaPo. Fascinating analysis. Note the use of the word "sects," rather than religions. Cute. The report itself calls them "Religious Groups," which is what it calls every other group that it lists from Catholics, to Methodists, to Hindus, to Jews.
The report shows a total of 140,000 Pagans, which I consider to be an overall category, kind of like Christian, 134,000 Wiccan, which I consider to be a subcategory of Pagans (and 33 Druids, again, a group I consider to be a subcategory of Pagans). (I'm not sure what "Deity" means -- perhaps the number of people who identify themselves as believing in a specific diety, such as Pan, or Hecate, or Athena? But then wouldn't almost all religions -- Judiasm, Xianity, Islam, etc. -- fall into this category?) There are 629,000 Unitarians, and my guess is that a number of those folks are Pagans, as well, who find it easier to say that they're a Unitarian than a witch or a druid. To compare, there are 55,000 Scientologists.
It would have been fascinating if WaPo had bothered to do any reporting or analysis of these figures. Why the explosion? Are these religions actually growing at this rate or are people now more comfortable identifying themselves as members of these religions than they were during the earlier census? How many of these new members are Cradle Pagans who were born and raised in their current faith and how many were adult converts? How does the trend in America compare to Australia, where the growth has been almost explosive? How does the growth of Paganism, in general, compare to, say, Evangelicalism, or Atheism, or Buddhism? No answer. Witches and lots of shoes are just funny and weird and that's all that a piece on them is meant to be.
I'm a woman, a Witch, a mother, a grandmother, an eco-feminist, a gardener, a reader, a writer, and a priestess of the Great Mother Earth. Hecate appears in the
Homeric Ode to Demeter, which tells of Hades who caught Persophone
"up reluctant on his golden car and bare her away lamenting. . . . But no one, either of the deathless gods or of mortal men, heard her voice, nor yet the olive-trees bearing rich fruit: only tenderhearted Hecate, bright-coiffed, the daughter of Persaeus, heard the girl from her cave . . . ."