Halloween 2023: how many witches, satanists and pagans are living in Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre?
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It’s Halloween today (Tuesday, October 31) and a look at the most recent census figures shows there are a surprising number of folks who identify as witches, pagans, and even Satanists across England and Wales.
How many witches are there?
In Blackpool, 43 people selected Wicca as their religion in Census 2021 (down from 45 in the 2011 census), in Fylde, 20 people selected Wicca as their religion (down from 22) and in Wyre, 23 people selected Wicca (down from 25).
The religion developed in England during the first half of the 20th century with its name deriving from the Old English 'wicca' and 'wicce', the masculine and feminine term for witch.
Across England and Wales, over 12,800 people opted for Wicca as their religion – a slight jump from 11,800 in 2011.
Separately, the number of people across both nations selecting Witchcraft as their religion has fallen from nearly 1,300 in 2011 to under 1,100 in the recent census.
The figures show two people selected Witchcraft as their religion in Blackpool in 2021, three in Fylde and one in Wyre.
How many people are Satanists?
While the witch population has not soared nationally, Satanism has more than doubled in the past decade as nearly 5,100 people identified as Satanists in the recent census compared to 1,900 in 2011.
In Blackpool, 14 people said they were Satanists, six in Fylde and five in Wyre.
Despite the name, not all Satanists believe in a literal Lucifer. Instead, it is often a metaphor for questioning authority and rejecting mainstream religion.
How many people are pagans?
Across England and Wales, there has also been a 30% rise in pagans- from 56,600 people in 2011 to over 73,700 two years ago.
In Blackpool, 244 people said they were pagan, 102 in Fylde and 126 in Wyre
Halloween, which has roots in paganism, originated from the Celtic celebration of Samhain that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the winter. Celts believed the boundary between the worlds of the living and the dead became blurred on this night.
Celtic priests would build bonfires, where the people gathered to burn crops and animals as sacrifices to the Celtic deities.
Eventually, the influence of Christianity spread into Celtic lands and All Soul's Day and All Saint's Day – or All-hallows – was created, incorporating some of the original pagan traditions. To celebrate the days, people would light bonfires, throw parades and costume as saints, angels and devils.