The massive American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) is
probably the most accurate source for religious identification. 1
It was a telephone poll taken during 2001-FEB to JUN among over 50,000 people. However, even their
estimates contain room for errors:
Some heavily oppressed and
discriminated against groups, like Wiccans and other Neopagans, often
refuse to reveal their religion to a stranger over the telephone because of safety concerns. So, the actual number of
Wiccans is probably much larger than the survey indicates.
In the ARIS study of 1990, 2.3% of those contacted refused to
disclose their religion. In the 2001 survey, the number had grown to
5.4%. The latter number represents over 11 million adults. The reason
for this increase in desire for secrecy is unknown.
The terminology is confusing. As a result of the 2001 survey, they
estimate that there are 134,000 Wiccans and 140,000 other Pagans in the U.S.
But many Wiccans describe themselves as Pagans. So, the number of
Wiccans is probably larger than indicated.
Our best estimate of the total number of Wiccans in the U.S. during
2001 is based
on the ARIS study:
Number of Wiccans found by ARIS:
Number of Pagans found by ARIS:
Total Wiccans and Pagans:
Less estimated Pagans who are not Wiccans:
- 70,000 adults
Estimated number of Wiccans who refused to disclose
Total Wiccan adults in the U.S.
Total Wiccan families (adults plus children)
Update using the 2008 ARIS study:
ReligionLink reports data from the 2008 ARIS survey in comparison to 2001
data. 5 They state:
"Specifically, the number of Wiccans more than doubled from 2001 to 2008,
from 134,000 to 342,000, and the same held true for [other]
neo-pagans, who went
from 140,000 in 2001 to 340,000 in 2008."
"Experts say the growth reflects not only increasing numbers of
neo-pagans, but also a rise in the social acceptability of paganism. As a
result, more respondents would be willing to identify themselves as
followers of some pagan tradition. They also note that identification
surveys do not fully measure the influence of neo-paganism. Many people use
two or more religious identifiers â€" calling themselves
Unitarian and Druid, for example â€" while others
might adopt certain neo-pagan practices without calling themselves
"The upshot is that neo-pagans â€" such as Wiccans, Druids,
Asatruar (from Heathenism), and various
Reconstructionists â€" and neo-paganism have pushed further into the
"Some scholars credit the Internet and its ability to connect pagans of
different tribes who previously would have remained unknown to each other.
Whatever the reason, pagans have grown increasingly more organized and more
visible and today are widely recognized by religion scholars and
sociologists as a group with staying power."
With 682,000 subjects admitting that they were Wiccans or other Neopagans,
the true number would probably be considerably larger than this number, even
though between 2001 and 2008, it has become safer for Neopagans to come out of
the closet. 6
Wiccans in Canada:
If there are on the order of 750,000 Wiccans in
the U.S., then one might expect about 70,000 in Canada. The
Statistics Canada census estimates that there were 5,530 Canadian "Pagans"
in 1991 and 21,080 in 2001 -- an increase of 381% over one decade. 2 If we assume that only
about 30% of Pagans feel sufficiently safe and secure to tell their real
religion to a census taker, who is a member of their community, then
70,000 Canadian Pagans might be an accurate estimate for the year 2001.
Number of Wiccans elsewhere:
An unidentified study in 1997 predicted that there were 100,000 practicing
Neopagans in the United Kingdom. The Pagan Federation in the UK reported
in 1999 that they were currently receiving 100 inquiries a month from potential
new recruits. Kate West, vice president of the Pagan Federation and a practicing
Wiccan said: "Spiritually, people want more than the paternalistic 'I
will tell you what to think and what to do' attitude. As a race we are maturing.
We want to make our own decisions about our own morality. We don't believe in
The Australian census reported that the number of Wiccans had grown from
fewer than 2,000 in 1996, to almost 9,000 in 2001. The number of Pagans more
than doubled to 10,632 in 2001. Druids, animists and pantheists also increased
in numbers. 4
Wicca relative to other religions:
The 408,000 Wiccan adults in the U.S. would then represent the 7th largest
organized religion, and the 10th largest religious grouping, in the United States. The adult population
who identify with the
largest religious classifications, according to ARIS are:
"Religion (95A), Age Groups (7A) and Sex (3) for Population, for
Canada, Provinces, Territories, Census Metropolitan Areas 1 and Census
Agglomerations, 1991 and 2001 Censuses - 20% Sample Data," Statistics