The soaring numbers of new pagans may have been influenced by TV shows and films like “Harry Potter,” “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.” There has been record attendance at rites held near Stonehenge in the U.K. Maybe it’s disillusionment with wars waged in the name of religion or sexual predators in the church, or maybe it’s just a desire for good company.

At least 10,000 Pagan witches and 6,000 Pagan druids were practicing in Britain in 1996, says history professor Ronald Hutton, and the number is even higher today. Druids find spiritual enlightenment through nature, and witches practice Wicca, using nature?s power as magic. “It’s a religion that meets modern needs,” says Hutton. “Traditional religions have so many prohibitions: Thou shalt not do this or that. But Paganism has a message of liberation combined with good citizenship.” The freedom of paganism is shown in its motto: “An (if) it harm none, do what you will.”

Matt McCabe of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) says his organization has grown from a few hundred in the late 1980s to 7,000 worldwide today. He attributes much of this to the internet.

Kevin Carlyon, High Priest of British White Witches, says Wicca is “the fastest growing belief system in the world.” But he warns teenagers against joining a coven too young, because “there are some bloody weird people out there.”

Is it possible to reconcile religion with paranormal phenomena?

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