Reporter’s investigation finds that modern witchcraft, occult practices and mystical lifestyles are reflective of spirituality repressed by the march of science against faith.
Wicker, formerly the religion reporter for the Dallas Morning News, tells how her bestseller, Lily Dale (2003), about a town that has “talked” to its dead for decades, opened the door to multiple, intimate contacts with Americans who seem average in most ways except for their active participation in “magic.” She claims she had no trouble finding “wizards and vampires, Satanists and voodoo priestesses, high magicians and conjurers of the black arts” all over the U.S. Defining belief in magic as a conviction that powers beyond humankind can be obtained and controlled for one’s benefit, the author also points out that Judeo-Christian beliefs do not necessarily exclude it (e.g., Santería, Pentecostal rites). After arguing that a majority of people do, in fact, incorporate magic into their lives in the form of persistent superstitions that often become unconscious acts, the author embarks on an extended tour of the occult—everything from Wiccan covens (in Salem, Mass., natch) and voodoo ceremonies in graveyards to vampire fests and hex shops retailing mojos and kits for casting spells. A reporter’s seasoned skepticism leavens some of the more bizarre events; she notes, for example, that rituals incorporating sex acts in which men are in charge generally do not bode well for women. Eventually, though, a series of personal revelations culminates in an epiphany she has while taking Communion at Westminster Abbey. Wicker returns to her own faith and credits magic with helping her do so. “What we must not do—no matter what the scientists tell us—is allow ourselves to be cut off from our own experience of life as it presents itself.” She adds that it was “no accident” that “Jesus showed up in my dreams during the days when I was most avidly pursuing magic.”
Entertaining adventures in esoterica, with some serious side effects.