"Nature religions, commonly described as Paganism (or neo-Paganism), are
growing in Australia. In the last Census, 33,148 people claimed affiliation
with a nature religion: including Animism, Druidism, and the many traditions of
Wicca, the most practised Pagan pathway.
Thirty years earlier, just 4,353 Australians put down Paganism as their
religion. Affiliation with Christianity has decreased over that 30-year period.
Australian laws against practising witchcraft have only been repealed as
recently as this century in some states and territories. In the Northern
Territory, it was just 10 years ago: 2013. The laws were repealed in 2005 in
Victoria, 2000 in Queensland and 1991 in South Australia. New South Wales was
the first state to repeal them, in 1969.
The British Witchcraft Act of 1735, which Australia’s laws stemmed from, was
repealed in 1951; the last conviction of a witch was in 1944.
There’s never been a recorded conviction for witchcraft in Australia. But many
Pagans remain cautious about practising their faith openly, due to perceptions
of believers as Satan worshippers. So, Australia’s Pagan population may be much
higher than the figures show: declaring a religion on the Census is optional.
The Satanic panics of the 1980s in the UK and America didn’t help. Nor does the
appropriation of Pagan symbols by far-right movements, which has a particularly
dark history in Germanic and Scandinavian countries.
But Paganism grew rapidly during the 1990s, with the popularity of
Pagan-friendly movies and television like The Craft
, Sabrina The Teenage
, Buffy the Vampire Slayer
. And in the early 2000s, the
wild success of the Harry Potter
franchise normalised magic for an entire
Paganism’s emphasis on nature worship resonates in our increasingly climate
conscious society. It also offers an alternative to traditional patriarchal
church hierarchies, with its predominately female support base: 66% of Pagans
in the 2021 Census identified as women. Significantly, Paganism is inclusive of
people from any background or sexual orientation."
*** Xanni ***