The Shock of It All

I have started reading Christine Wicker’s Not in Kansas Anymore: A Curious Tale of How Magic is Transforming America. (Jason Pitzl-Waters has also mentioned it.)

Alas, I’m too jaded to be shocked! shocked! by her revelation that magic–or at least magical thinking–is everywhere. When I see a chapter heading like “The Waitress Wears a Pentacle,” I think instead about the need for a good sociological study of class issues in the Pagan movement.

But that isn’t Wicker’s purpose. She’s in four-wheel drive, barreling down the overgrown road cut in the late 1960s and early 1970s by authors such as Susan Roberts (Witches U.S.A.) and Hans Holzer (The New Pagans).

The revival of interest in the occult and the supernatural is a current example of religious events that some have seen as being of great cultural signifiance and as reflecting serious social conflicts and strains of macroscopic importance.

That’s not Wicker writing, but rather sociologist Marcello Truzzi in 1971. He wrote a lot about the “occult revival” back then, although he predicted that it would fizzle out. He is not in Wicker’s bibliography.

Can you say “cycles,” boys and girls?

Here is Wicker:

People with, shall we say, expanded kinds of awareness are quietly blending among us, cobbling together spiritual lives that more freewheeling than anything else ever seen before.

[Not a trace of irony there.]

The waitress wears a pentacle under her blouse. The computer geek next door is a conjure doc. The mom down the street tells fortunes. Soldiers chant toward gods of war. Nurses send healing power through their hands. You have to know what to look for. You have to search them out, ask the right questions, notice the right signs, but they are there, here, everywhere around us.

[Trust me, your guide. I have walked among the Witches of Omaha, the headhunters of Houston . . . ]

And she is off to the Vampire and Victims Ball in Salem, Mass., just the place that any researcher would start.

If it gets better after Chapter 1, I will let you know.

(Blogging from Rico’s Cafe & Wine Bar. In downtown Colorado Springs. Where the demons are. Only I think that they are across the street at Tony’s Bar.)

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