This question was recently posed to me: What does the “millennial generation” need from witchcraft? Which witchery will they adopt and adapt for their time? Which witchery do they reject and will allow to die out?
For that matter, what does *any* newcomer to the witching path seek, regardless of age, and can how us older folks, as writers, teachers, priest/esses and shopkeepers, best support them?
The Millennial Demographic
What makes someone a “millennial,” anyway? I went to the Pew Research Center to find out some hard-core data about this demographic. According to them, “anyone born between 1981 and 1996 (ages 22 to 37 in 2018) will be considered a Millennial…” I also found out that I’m considered part of “Generation X” (1965-80).
Writer Michael Dimmock reminds us in this article to “keep in mind that generations are a lens through which to understand societal change, rather than a label with which to oversimplify differences between groups.”
The Millennial Lens
Here are the key events that Pew Research Center believes influenced this generation (source):
- The 9/11 terrorist attacks: Most were 5-20 years old during this tragedy.
- The Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: Contributing to intense political polarization.
- The 2008 election of President Barack Obama: The power of the youth vote elected the first black president.
- Racial and Ethnic Diversity: More than 40% of them are non-white – Hispanic (21%), African American (13%), Asian (7%) or another race (3%).
- The economic recession: “As is well documented, their life choices, future earnings and entrance to adulthood have been slowed by this recession.
- Technology and the Internet Explosion: rapid evolution of social media, constant connectivity and on-demand entertainment and communication.
Therefore, Millennials tend to be:
- More Liberal: “Millennials remain the most liberal and Democratic of the adult generations.”
- Less likely to be Bigoted: Because they are already the most racially and ethnically diverse adult generation alive, and this trend increases with the post-millennials.
- Less trusting of Government: Only 15% say they trust their government. 65% disapprove of the Trump administration.
- More Diplomatic: 77% think good diplomacy is key to foreign relations.
- More GLBTQ Supportive: They are the most supportive generation for same-sex marriage, and believe that homosexuality should be accepted.
- Less Religious: 1 in 3 Millennials say they are religiously unaffiliated; 29% of Millennials do not think belief in God is a necessary condition for morality. source
What do Millennial Witches Want from the Craft? A GenX Opinion
For over a decade now, I’ve served, taught and mentored through initiation many “millennial” witches. I love them, and they have been influential on my own outlook and practices. After interviewing quite a few of my friends and customers, here is my report:
Practicality and Balance
I think that Witches new to the path (the serious ones, anyway) seek a spirituality that is equal parts mysticism and practicality, ancient wisdom and modern science. They enjoy the earthy romantic, vaguely macabre witch aesthetic, but they’d also appreciate a no-bullshit, straight-shootin’, well-organized, researched and reasonable explanation for why witches do the things we do. Gone are the days when a seeker will accept a trite bit of lore just because some old white dude in England said so. These folks are working from their own Grimoires, and from what I can see on their social media pages, that work is gorgeous.
Neither do they care much for diluted, flavorless “new age” brands, where all the pointy occult teeth have been filed down, glossed over in poetic fluff, and then bleached white from the glaring of so much “light.” These young folks surely do like to take a walk on the dark side, and they realized a long time ago that it takes an understanding of both sides of The Force to make a well-balanced Jedi. Balm and bane are sometime only a matter of dosage, after all.
Authenticity and Discernment
These witches are well aware that Western society is teetering on some kind of brink, and they are going to have to deal with the fall-out. This makes them some of the most politically and socially conscious adults that I know. There is an urgency to their seeking the Craft…there is no time to waste, no illusion of safety, and no spare change for the witch-frippery being re-branded, re-packaged and re-sold for the sake of separating the gullible from their money. These witches seek authenticity and discernment in an increasingly deceptive and exploitative world.
[breaking news: I’ve just discovered that while I was typing this article, the school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas on May 18th, 2018 was taking place. More young people were bleeding out at school … This is what I’m talking about!]
Pop-Witchery and Ancient Gods
The Ancient Gods, heroes and mythologies are reemerging faster and more powerfully than ever, because this generation have been doing their historical research and digging in deeply to devotional practices. However, they are just as likely to appreciate how the God’s are emerging through the new stories they grew up with, too. Pop-witchery is ubiquitous to this generation and becomes the gateway mythos that brings them to my shop doors.
Through TV shows like Charmed, books and movies like The Craft, Practical Magic, Star Wars, Harry Potter (JK Rowling,) Percy Jackson (Rick Riordan,) Tiffany Aching (Terry Pratchett,) and Lord of the Rings (JRR Tolkein); through video games, anime and the Super-Hero comics, the Old Gods have been streaming through the works of us older folks, to feed them a constant diet of magickal cosmic truths.
Sure, the teachings were cloaked as “fantasy fiction.” This is not a new phenomenon; this is the exact same way that witch-parents in the middle ages preserved their folk wisdom in “fairy tales” and nursery rhymes. Fairy Tales are a legit source of Divine inspiration that is a favorite among older witches, but they aren’t the only source. The human exploration of our divinity and power never stopped being written, it merely manifested through the available mediums of each generation. The Paleolithic cave painters, and Druid Bards of yesteryear served the same purpose as the comic book writers of 2018. Young folks tell me they could use some help separating fact from fiction, but they’d appreciate it if we’d stop lambasting them for their fandom.
Social Consciousness and Political Activism
So, those Harry Potter kids grew up, and now they mean to get down to the serious business of creating some change….and their Will is strong. The next generation of witches, like the storybook heroes they admire, come to this path ready to punch nazis, smash the patriarchy, open all the closet doors, and restore equality at every table; bigotry will no longer be tolerated. They aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty and do the hard work. They are already dying on the altars of corporate greed and political corruption, so they might as well go down swinging…
Millennial witches engage in witchcraft to conquer their fears, and get right up in the face of the status quo for a duel. These will be the witches who redefine the very purpose of life in this society, starting with themselves. Like Ginny Weasley no matter how much us Mama Witches’ want the kids to stay home safely out of the cross-fire, they will not have the luxury to sit this battle out. This fight is brought right through the classroom door anyway, so us moms better step up and start screaming, “not our daughters, Bitch!” and get to dueling, right along side them.
Sacred Mission and Self-Care
Anxiety, depression, illness and unprecedented stress plague young people (hell, all the people,) and many come to witchcraft to find coping mechanisms, healing and life purpose. The witchcraft they seek would, therefore, need an over-arching Sacred Mission of personal and societal evolution into something – anything – better than this apocalypse burning at our gates. Life is moving so fast — too fast– we need to keep teaching a praxis of mindfulness and self-care.
Ethical and Responsible
Nature-based paradigms require a new study of what is ethical and responsible behavior. Meek, servile and obedient are no longer virtues in the #metoo world. We are not sheep. We are not impure. We need to teach alternatives to the standard “Shame, guilt and worry about damnation” that surrounds us. We owe it to our young people to host a discussion on what it means to live a beneficial and effective life as decent witch, as an alternative to the failed, oppression and denial of the puritanical over-culture. I believe that Witchcraft’s praxis of internal and external balance, healthy boundary setting, and personal sovereignty will be of utmost importance in the next phase of human development.
Sustainable and Affordable
I also believe that Witchcraft for the Next Generation, must also divorce itself from the materialistic rehashing of the old formulary that are no longer sustainable. Folks need local options for what is naturally on-hand, just as the Grandwitches of merry old England once used whatever was in their own gardens. The magic we seek isn’t in Doreen’s Valiente’s back yard; it grows in OUR back yard. Air-shipping an endangered plant, from an ecologically disastrous regime, and packed by child-slaves, shouldn’t be a requirement for your “heal mother earth” spell.
Besides, young witches I know remind me that they are broke. So they will not be buying a $100 bottle of Sandalwood Essential oil today. The rise in demand by the “New Age” movement has been devastating to some crystal mining communities in South and Central America, and holy forests in India. This ravenous consumption by our “earth-based” religious movement is like a swarm of locusts, and that will no longer fly. <cackle>
Accessible and Acceptance
The next generation demands a witchcraft that is accessible by everyone regardless of gender expression, sexual preference, race, affluence, or cultural background. They tell me that they are a bit tired of the hetero-normative bludgeoning in the old “fertility religion” metaphors.
They reject all notions of classism, sexism, racism, broom closets, or secret societies because they’re “woke” from the illusion of separateness. Bullies beware. They will not wait for a Guru to come and save them, and aren’t particularly impressed by the Guru options out there, anyway.
Like Luke Skywalker, the force is strong with this crowd, but I think they still need the focus and structure provided by this “hokey ancient religion” more than they need religion, itself. Millennials have an unprecedented level of natural psychic and energetic ability. They have everything it takes to be GREAT WITCHES, but they still need a “Yoda”…they still need to take their pilgrimage to Degoba for safe and responsible training in the occult arts. I think it is important for those of us a bit further along the path to help them.
Because these young witches came of age during the internet explosion, they already have amazing cosmic power in their hands, and no concept of what it means to live without access to whole libraries of phenomenal information in their pockets. They’ve always had the ability to reach out instantly through an alternate dimension and communicate across vast distances.
What is a multi-player video-game, but an alternate world made of thought and energy. Is this much different than an “astral” dimension full of thought-constructs, where many consciousnesses fly through into the liminal to meet, party, learn, kick-ass, conquer bad guys, build an egregore, whatever… That is some kick-ass soul-flight. They have the skills to visualize, then create that vision in digital ways to effect change – those worlds are real to them. That is some powerful alchemy!
The witchcraft that will be adopted, adapted, and preserved, would do well to harness this technology. We should affirm and utilize this power and these witches’ prowess at using it, rather than anachronistically insisting upon Renaissance-level tech. Those old-world witches used what they had on hand, now let’s do the same. As we create and document this 21st century witchery, let’s embrace new media. Want an astrology natal chart in real time? There is an app for that. Want to time a spell with planetary hours according to Chaldean order? There is definitely an app for that.
I think the successful publishers and teachers in the future will expand into streaming video, digital books for e-readers, and downloadable audio files of the meditations and songs that are listed in the books would be handy… CD’s have gone the way of the 8-track, so we need to get with the new programs. Hell, I hardly know how to even suggest things…. but interactive tech resources to accompany printed works will be the future, I know that much.
Goddess knows I’m a bibliophile, and as a GenX who didn’t even have a personal computer until *after* I graduated from college, so I struggle with technology. I don’t want to see good old-fashioned paper books and face-to-face instruction disappear, but I also know that these magical new vistas are where millennial and post-millennial witches will guide us in the coming decades. Better to get on board now, I suppose. Hopefully, they will be more kind and gentle with us old fogies as they help us learn the new tech, than some of us have been with them, as they were learning how to “adult.”
I remain open to learning more about what the next generations need to aid their witchcraft. That is the point to the Great Work, after all…personal evolution of as many individuals as possible, so that our species can collectively level-up. We still have one hulluva Boss-Fight ahead of us, but I’m confident that we have the strength we need to win the fight, if we work together.
Please leave me a comment if you have any recommendations about what young adult witches, (Millennials, Post-Millennials) or newcomers to the Craft of any age, may be looking for by way of content or advice, and I will endeavor to fill the need. I’m also collecting book titles that you think especially appeal to millennial witches.