It interested me to read about the paranormal, the occult, and magic in this week’s reading. I am a fiction writer who specializes in fantasy, and it’s always fascinating to be reminded of the real-life belief systems that inspire some of my favorite genres of fiction. The concept of such rituals and behaviors is one that has always been foreign to me, even before I departed from my religion, but the fact that they continue to hold such sway in modern society is a very interesting concept to me. From my personal point of view it would appear as though the magical rituals practiced by occult and wiccan societies would have died out in this era of skepticism and cynicism. Of course, a practicing magic-user likely would not follow my point of view in the least, and would instead view their rituals as a tradition as ordinary as I once considered prayer to be. And that’s really what interests me most about this issue. If I wrote a fantasy novel in which the characters attended a religious service every Sunday, prayed, held communion, and did all the practices of a traditional Christian church service, it would be strange. Mainstream Christianity has been so normalized that the traditions don’t seem out of place. But the traditions and spirituality expressed in magical and paranormal rituals should realistically be no different. They’re just another way of expressing faith. The only difference would appear to be how mainstream they are. It’s a very fascinating example of how our society has developed around religious practice and tradition.