Paganism is not dying. Paganism is NOT dying. PAGANISM IS NOT DYING!
Why don’t you believe me?
People who are telling you otherwise (like He Who Shall Not Be Named at Patheos) just want attention. Attention whores!
Believe me, Paganism is fine. It’s just fine. I mean, it’s okay. Really.
After all, there are more members of my secret initiatory tradition than there ever have been. Don’t believe me? You’ll just have to take my word for it. I mean, I could show you, but then I’d have to kill you.
Sure, we’re getting older. We’re in our thirties, forties, and fifties … ok, well, more like our sixties, seventies, and eighties … but we’ve still got spunk! Ok, not so much spunk, but you know what I mean.
Just because you don’t hear from us or see us or anything doesn’t mean our tradition is dying. Because, you know, it’s seeeeeecret.
Ok, the big Pagan festivals are declining, but that doesn’t mean Paganism is dying! Most people don’t just want to leave their backyard. But that doesn’t mean Paganism is dying!
Actually, most people don’t want to get their asses off the couch and do anything related to Pagan community. But that doesn’t mean Paganism is dying! After all, Paganism practiced from your couch is just as good as Paganism done in community, right? Right?!
And ok, CUUPS is declining. And British druidry is declining. But I don’t care about them.
We just don’t like institutions, okay?! I mean, who needs organization when we’ve got Facebook! Facebook Paganism is real Paganism, isn’t it?
And hey, we’re not any worse off than the Presbyterians. So there’s that.
Lots of Pagans just don’t care about the wider world anyway. They just want to be left alone to do their thing and play with their gods, and fuck the world! you know? Nothing wrong with that, right?
I mean, not every Pagan needs to care about the earth, right? I mean, what has the earth ever done for Paganism, anyway? And why do we need to change the world? The world seems to be doing just fine, as far as I can see.
I mean, I didn’t sign the Pagan Community Statement on the Environment, because I don’t like to sign petitions, or even really read them, because you know, if I had, I would know the Statement isn’t a petition, but a call to action. But whatever, fuck that too. Anyway, I already pick up litter sometimes. So I’m doing my part.
Just because public Pagan groups are failing left and right, that doesn’t mean Paganism is dying. There could be lots of reasons for that.
I mean Cherry Hill Seminary had the best of intentions, and I’m sure they’re all good people and stuff, but you know, they just haven’t been able to compete in the marketplace, so you know, fuck them. What are you, a socialist?
Same goes for Pagan bookstores. Market failure I say. It has nothing to with Paganism dying.
It’s all because of the internets. Damn those internets. Ok, Pagan websites have seen their traffic decline too. But that’s because of Facebook. But that’s not a downward trend in Paganism; it’s an upward trend in the venerable tradition of Facebook Paganism!
Sure we’re losing physical Pagan spaces. But that only makes it feel like Paganism is dying. I mean, nobody is counting. So, you’ll just have to take my word for it.
I mean, I think we’re actually growing. Look at the number of television shows about witches!
Okay, okay, I admit it, the contemporary Pagan community may not be long for this world. But there will always be people who like to call themselves “Pagan”. Just like there will always people who like to call themselves “Thor” or “Elvis”. And that’s got to count for something, doesn’t it?
Sure, there’s a giant hole in center of the donut that is Paganism, but who wants donuts without holes? Sure the hole is growing. Hail Eris! If more and more people are moving to the periphery of Paganism, who cares? Let them eat donut holes, I say!
Anyway, maybe people like being without community. You can’t force your community on us! Fascist community mongers!
It’s a historic fact that there’s always been cycles in Paganism. And I don’t believe that this change in the religious climate is Pagan-made. I just don’t believe in Pagan-caused change.
Bottom line: Paganism is not dying. It’s NOT!
This is a work of satire. Source material can be found here.
Theosophy, root-stock of much of the Western occult and New Age, was once a mass movement of hundreds of thousands or millions of adherents, now it has a few thousand. Its growth and collapse looks very much like neo-Paganism and if we don’t address the issues that led to that cycle, we’ll go too. Which would be a pity.
So, institutions, trained and authorized priesthood; fewer prophets and more clergy, some real theology rather than the grab bag of other people’s ideas. And a cheerful embrace of our differences – rather than glossing over these things, building separate institutions for Wicca-based Paganism, for Asatru etc. Plus, getting over this mass approach – since one size does not fit all, building appropriate sized groups which are scalable rather than trying to work with absolutely everybody.
Excellent analogy and analysis.
Frankly, imho, all these posts about whether Paganism is dying or not are pure speculation until someone actually comes up with some demographic data.
Huginn’s Heathen Hof did a survey recently, and found that a lot of Heathens were under 35, so maybe that’s where the under-35’s are going.
Imho, the Pagan organisations and events that are dying are the ones founded by Baby Boomers that didn’t adapt to the changing times (e.g. by embracing consent culture, democracy, consensus process, and being inclusive of BIPoC, disabled people, and LGBTQIA+ people).
No-one wants to go to events that aren’t safe because they are full of people who can’t keep their hands to themselves and their dicks in their pants. No-one wants to join organisations that run such events.
This is utterly spot on, John, thank you. I was laughing all the way home on the train!
I can’t take credit. Jason practically wrote it for me.
As an interested outsider… I tried to find/make contact with a local group for months. When someone bothered to look at their group’s email and get back to me, they were not exactly welcoming. (Actually the group CLOSEST to me NEVER answered the email I left at their website. Not after multiple attempts over MONTHS. Not the way to grow the community.)
Issues of “1 size fits all” include the assumption about/insistence on political views of a certain bent. This turns off about half the country. (And the visceral reaction you are having right now at the thought of Republican pagans is exactly the issue.)
Ibid: how much does/should Asatru have with Wicca? What middle ground is there between deity-centered vs earth-centered practices? It is fine to say “paganism” is a big umbrella, but is it any different from saying the Levant is big umbrella. (And the 3 parts of the Levant have spent a good deal of the past 1000 years at war with each other.)
The progressive view that there is no right/wrong no Truth/Falsehood makes it really hard for “fewer prophets more clergy” to take off, because clergy are passing on Truth. If there is no truth, if everything right, then exactly what are clergy to do? Not much.
Community means coming together and valuing something other than yourself. If you are going to run for a safe space whenever someone says something that you don’t like, it is hard to have ANY kind of discussion, because eventually someone is going to say something that you don’t like.