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'Unsettling and Sinister': UK Church Targeted in Gruesome Ritual Fueling Witchcraft Fear

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What may have been the site of a suspected occult ritual in a U.K. national park has left a nearby village on edge. 

Five animal hearts were found laid out in a pattern on top of a stone landmark with several candles encircling it.

The Times reports a hiker came across the scene at a triangulation station located at the top of Stagbury Hill in the New Forest near the village of Bramshaw, Hampshire. The village's 12th-century church has previously been targeted by vandals.

The outlet reported the hiker cleaned up the scene before reporting it to the police. The police said they are patrolling the area. 

The unsettling display was found close to the church where a dead cat was found last month by members of the congregation hanging from a flagpole, according to The Daily Mail

The Rev. David Bacon warned of "sinister goings-on" after the bodies of dead animals were deliberately left at St. Peter's Church, The Times reported. A dead fox was also found a few weeks ago on the doorsteps of the sanctuary. 

Bacon said he was unsure who the perpetrators were and that they could be "just angry at the world," or there could be bigger witchcraft concerns. 

"Every so often we get things like this happening. It makes everybody feel very uncomfortable," he said. "It's really unsettling and sinister for everyone. We're not sure what will happen next if anything."

"I have no idea why it is happening in our area," he continued. "If it is connected to witchcraft, then the New Forest has been linked to witchcraft for hundreds of years. But it could just be random acts of nastiness. It's all pretty horrible for those who find the dead animals."

In 2019, suspected occultists terrorized the New Forest village, stabbing sheep, and spray painting their bodies with satanic pentagrams. They also spray-painted the same graffiti on the outside walls of Bacon's church, according to The Daily Mail

A Hampshire Police spokesman said, "We received a report of meat found on the top of Stagbury Hill with candles placed in a circle around it. This was spotted by members of the public at around 7:45 a.m. on 13 January."

"The items were disposed of before the report was made. We have conducted inquiries and will continue to patrol the area," the spokesman said. 

Satanism, Other Religions on the Rise in UK as Christianity Declines

As CBN News reported earlier this month, Satanism has been on the rise in the United Kingdom for the past several years as the number of people who identify as Christian declines. 

In the past, the word "Satanism" has often conjured up images of occult rituals, blood oaths, sexual perversions, animal or human sacrifice, and worshipping the devil, just like the recent events at the village of Bramshaw.  

Today's trendier brand of Satanists is trying to distance themselves from the more disturbing rituals of traditional Satanic practice. Now they claim all of that is folklore, saying their popularized brand of Satanism doesn't practice magic, cast spells, or worship the devil anymore. 

Their new attempt to sanitize the darkness is appealing to young people and engaging them with advocacy on moral issues like gender dysphoria and sexual divergence. 

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The Sunday Telegraph reports Satanism is luring increasing numbers of young people disillusioned with "outdated" traditional religions to join its fold by offering an "alternative."

Chaplain Leopold, a 32-year-old London-based undertaker, told The Telegraph two factors are responsible for new Satanism's rise: the decreasing popularity of "traditional dogmatic religions" and "a movement towards self-identification."

"This is particularly amongst younger people who don't want to be identified as part of a prescriptive dogmatic religion and rather want to identify as their own self-beliefs and self-realization – which is what Satanism offers," Leopold contends. "So we often say that we're sort of the religion for those who don't like the oppression of previous religions."

In addition to Satanism, the U.K. has also seen a rise in the followers of Paganism and Shamanism as noted by their increasing number of followers in the 2011 and 2021 censuses, according to The Mail

Shamanism has even outpaced Satanism in gaining followers in the U.K., the outlet reported. It had only 650 followers in 2011, but 7,889 people in 2021 said they followed Shamanism which has many variations throughout the world. 

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About The Author

Steve Warren is a senior multimedia producer for CBN News. Warren has worked in the news departments of television stations and cable networks across the country. In addition, he also worked as a producer-director in television production and on-air promotion. A Civil War historian, he authored the book The Second Battle of Cabin Creek: Brilliant Victory. It was the companion book to the television documentary titled Last Raid at Cabin Creek currently streaming on Amazon Prime. He holds an M.A. in Journalism from the University of Oklahoma and a B.A. in Communication from the University of