You can find almost anything on TikTok. Although increasingly controversial, the platform is used by hundreds of millions of people searching through every dark crevice of the internet - and for some people, idle scrolling may have landed them on spirituality videos - mainly associated with a subsection known as WitchTok.
The latest census (2021) revealed the number of people who call themselves Christian has decreased to less than half the population (baring in mind the question on religion is voluntary and 94% of people answered it). This comes to around 46.2% - which was a 13.1 percentage point decrease from 2011. However, “Christian” remained the most common response to the religion question.
“No religion” was the second most common response, increasing by 12.0 percentage points, from 25.2% (14.1 million) in 2011 to 37.2% (22.2 million) in 2021. There has also been an increase in the number of people who described themselves as Muslim (6.5% in 2021, up from 4.9% in 2011) and Hindu (1.7% in 2021, up from 1.5% in 2011). However, interestingly enough the largest increase for “other religions” was "Shamanism", increasing more than tenfold to 8,000 from 650 in 2011.
So, with the recorded increase in the latest census, and the booming popularity of WitchTok - are we becoming more spiritual as a society? And what does it mean to be spiritual?
What is WitchTok?
The subsection of TikTok, WitchTok, delves into all things occult related, from anything related to manifestation, tarot readings, explaining crystals and spells. Since the end of 2022, the trend has amassed billions of views explaining how to connect with a more spiritual side of yourself.
On TikTok, using hashtags such as #spiritualawakenings and #witchtok, creators make bitesize content to teach their audiences brief lessons about spirituality, which range from religious stances to more secular beliefs. Whilst some creators focus on developing and strengthening your third eye, some teach about the power of crystals, or healing from past trauma.
WitchTok content creators range from any age to any race and gender, and is accessible from novices to those who have been practising spirituality for decades.
Are we becoming more spiritual?
Over the past year spiritual life coach Patience M. Chigodora has seen an increase in interest for her services in spiritual life coaching, inner child healing programmes, wellness workshops and new moon virtual women's healing circles events. She says that her clients are getting ready “to get to know themselves better, explore connecting with their intuition and search within themselves for answers.”
The increase comes as more people are “becoming more aware and comfortable with putting themselves first", and they are exploring what life could be like beyond the "rise and grind" ideology into which society frequently forces us to fall” she explains.
Chigodora believes more people are turning towards spirituality, but with a twist: “I think more people are turning towards a pan-spiritual (all-encompassing) approach, which means you can take the best of both organised religion, atheism, and cultural traditions elements and apply them to your life.”
This approach provides flexibility and freedom of choice in how you practise spiritual beliefs and is not confined to the rigidness often associated with religion. She explains that spiritualness is personal, and is a tailored approach to the individual as what matters is that you get to know yourself and express yourself in a way that makes sense to you.
But what attracts someone to spirituality? Clare Flaxen, cognitive behavioural therapist and founder of CF Mindset Ltd, explains spirituality allows people to feel connected to something bigger than themselves, which has been constantly important across regions, race and society. She says: “That sense of being part of something, being connected to the world around us and also perhaps offers a sense of reassurance. A way of making sense of the world and our lives.” However, Flaxen states that religion and spirituality are not mutually exclusive, as many people who are in a religion often describe it as a spiritual experience.
Chigodora agrees and says people seem to benefit from feeling connected and guided by forces outside of our own internal narratives and experiences. Through various means such as the universe, ideas around energy, and the law of attraction, people can find comfort and inspiration from being part of something universal “and the idea that we can tap into a universal force that will help guide our own individual journeys and experiences”.
How can we become more spiritual?
Chigodora explains the best thing to do to become more spiritual is to get to know yourself. She states: “Consider what you like, what you don't like, and what you want out of life. When you have a better understanding of who you are, it is easier to understand what practises touch your soul” and importantly, incorporate these practices and thoughts into your daily life. “It’s about intentionally choosing to live a life that enriches your mind, body, and spirit and it means that how you practise that is up to you.”
This can range from anything such as yoga, exercising, going for a walk before work, perhaps meditating, reading helps you centre your thoughts before sleeping. Chigodora also says spirituality can be expressed through:
Religion - this includes Buddhism, Christianity, Islam, Judaism
Cultural traditions and rituals - for example honouring ancestral lineage, the existence of spirits, astrology and numerology
Socially conscious actions - being of service to others through humanism, environmentalism
Alternatively, by combining elements and teachings that are most appropriate for you.
The recorded increase in some religions and Shamanism indicates society may be becoming more spiritual - and perhaps that’s why there is a boom in WitchTok videos.