Note: The following comes from the Afterword of the newly-released book, Neo-Paganism: Historical Inspiration and Contemporary Creativity, by John Halstead. (If you’ve followed my previous criticisms of contemporary Paganism, you will have heard most of this before.) Continue reading “The Promise and the Peril of Paganism”
Anna Walther is one of my favorite pagans. I say that because she consistently reminds me what being pagan is all about.
Most recently, it was in her essay, “Walking with my Dog is my Most Sacred Practice”. There, Anna explains that her most sacred practice involves no ritual paraphernalia, no casting of a circle, no calling the quarters, but simply walking through her neighborhood with her dog, Poe. Because she walks with Poe, explains Anna, she knows what phase the moon is in, when the trees are leafing and the flowers are blooming, when the birds and bats return, and what her neighbors are about. In short, she knows when and where she is.
“I experience a sense of place and belonging, when Poe and I walk through our neighborhood. I’m grounded, connected, and relating with intention to the human and more-than-human world around me. I’m aware that the very real world of spirits is here, right now, and not somewhere else, far away. This is it!, to borrow a Zen Buddhist proverb. To experience this world as radically alive, all I have to do is keep walking and pay attention.”
Anna reminds me that being pagan is about being here, now. But more than that, it’s about loving here, now. …
Please go and read Dayan’s entire essay at Atroposian Musings. Here is a short excerpt:
“…the [Pagan] movement has not prepared most people involved in it to step beyond their personal self-healing/comforting in order to grapple with larger issues….
…We are meant to be a healing balm for our ancestors and our modern cultures, going forward. We are meant to make peace with a tortured past so that institutions might be restructured. We are meant to be the chorus of the dead, for those beings that pass without notice. We are meant to give voice to those that yet remain, and affirm the relational bonds that weave the Immanent Divine.
With every calling of Mother Earth, great and bountiful Gaia, we are meant to assert the irrevocable obligations life makes upon life and all other beings of Nature. We are supposed to make kin with beings whose lives are our fortune and live in ways of mutual benefit. We are meant to teach this way of living–more than just a way of believing–to a world much in need of it. By creating little and grand rituals, we are supposed to reaffirm the belonginness due to every human….”
Not suprisingly, the most popular posts of 2018 here at The Allergic Pagan have been some of my most provocative posts. Continue reading “Hating on Paganism: Top Posts of 2018”
We’re going to lose the fight against climate change
(The fact that we think about it as a “fight” probably has something to do with why we’re going to lose.)
Human civilization will collapse and the human species will be lucky to survive.
Note: What follows arose out of a discussion in the comments to a recent post entitled, Religious Leave-Taking as Asking Different Questions, in which I described my growing disinterest in most Pagan discussions and the change in the questions that most concern me now. One of the commenters, Phil Anderson, challenged me to continue to be “a purveyor of sense and reason in the paganosphere”. His comment prompted a long response from me, which I have edited and reproduced here. Where important for context, I have reproduced parts of Anderson’s comment here.
For a long time, I believed that a naturalistic* version of Paganism was the most genuine expression of contemporary Paganism. When I came to Neo-Paganism, I thought it was naturalistic at its core, and I thought the supernaturalism I saw was aberrant. It seemed to me to be an unfortunate consequence of a historical accident, the infiltration of occultism into the neopagan revival via Gerald Gardner’s Wicca. And there are several academics whose work support this notion, including Robert Ellwood & Harry Partin, Joanne Pearson, and Wouter Hanegraaff. I thought these strands–the occultist and the neo-pagan–could be separated, and so I set about trying to unwind them. Continue reading “Paganism Needs a Prophet (but it ain’t me)”
The author observes that “Wiccans can have a difficult time being taken seriously by mainstream culture.” That does seem to be true generally of Wiccans and other Pagans. (The author seems to conflate Wicca with contemporary Paganism.) Though, it should be said, I don’t think being mocked by Fox News is necessarily a bad thing. Continue reading “Why Wiccans Get Made Fun Of”
1. It’s not like in the books.
Like a lot of other Pagans, I read a lot of books about Pagans before I ever actually met another Pagan in the flesh. My first sources for my image of the contemporary Pagan came from Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon (1999), Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon (1979, 1986, 1996, 2006), and Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance (1979, 1989, 1999). The first was academic, the second journalistic, and the third rhapsodic. As a result, my pre-formed image of Pagans was somewhat idealized. (I once heard Margot Adler admit in an interview that the Paganism she and Starthawk described in their respective books as more of an ideal than a reality.) I have since learned that the best way to learn about a religion is not by reading a book about it, but by going and seeing the real thing. Continue reading “Nine Things I Wish I’d Known Before I Became Pagan”
I recently met someone who described himself as “Pagan-adjacent”, which I thought was an interesting self-designation. He was a (self-described) “angry atheist” who followed atheism to its logical end and was left wanting. He intuited that there was something else–something bigger and/or deeper–but no one seemed to be writing or talking about it. Then he discovered David Abram’s Spell of the Sensuous, which he experienced as revolutionary.
He told me that he knows “in his bones” that “the sacred is in the soil and the wind,” but he is turned off by a lot of what he sees in the Pagan community. By way of example, he told me about an encounter with a Pagan group where he heard one person talking about how great the divination app on her phone was. I know what he is talking about. What has a divination app to do with the sacred soil?
I’ve felt pretty much the same way for 15 years, for as long as I have been calling myself “Pagan” in fact. I came to the Pagan community because I thought here was where I would find that something bigger and deeper. But almost everywhere I look, I see the small and shallow. Almost everywhere I look, I see Pagans reproducing the disenchantment of the mainstream culture. Continue reading “Pagan with a small “p””
Paganism is at a turning point. It’s been 50 years since contemporary Paganism got its start. It’s time for Paganism to grow up.
Stages of Faith
Note that I didn’t say that it’s time for Pagans to grow up. Different people are at different point in their life’s journey. Childhood and adolescence are important stages of development. There are stages in a person’s religious or spiritual development as well. And, as much as most of us would have liked to skip adolescence, it’s not possible to skip stages. The same is true of spiritual adolescence. Continue reading “5 Ways Paganism Needs to Grow Up”
To polytheists, the gods are sacred. But atheist Pagans don’t believe in gods. What is sacred to an atheist Pagans? Some polytheists mistakenly assume that an absence of gods must mean an absence of sacrality.
I’ve had polytheists come right out and say that, because I don’t believe in gods, then nothing is sacred or holy to me. Implied in that statement is the belief that there is nothing sacred or holy in the world except the gods. I would have a hard time imaging a less “pagan” statement than that.
Now, as far as I am concerned, you can be Pagan and a polytheist, or a duotheist, or a Goddess-worshipping monotheist, or a pantheist, or an animist, or a non-theist, or an atheist—if you want to call yourself one. I’m not interested in trying to push anybody out of the Big Tent of Paganism. But I do not understand a Paganism which cannot find the holy or the sacred in the earth or our bodies or in our relationships.
I’m no stranger to conflict in Pagan circles. Over the years, I have noticed similar themes arise when I come into conflict with other Pagans. These themes can be summarized as five lies that Pagans tell themselves.
Continue reading “These Things Aren’t True: Five Falsehoods in the Pagan Community”
“There is another world and it is this one.”
I’ve been slowly coming around to the idea that “magic” is a word that intelligent people can use in a meaningful (albeit nuanced) way. But then I come across listicles like John Beckett’s recent “12 Movies to Inspire Your Magic” and I go back to square one.
I swear, I tried not to write this post. I put in on the back burner. I slept on it. But Beckett’s post keeps popping up in my FB feed (probably because his listicle-loving editor, Jason Mankey, keeps promoting it). So here goes …. Continue reading ““You’re Not Fucking Gandalf”: 12 Movies to Remind You That Pagans Need to Grow Up”
The Problem of Paganism
The question why I am “still” a Pagan implies that there might be reasons why I would not want to identify as Pagan any longer. And there are. I believe that Paganism has the potential to transform our relationship with the earth, with each other, and with our deeper selves—but a lot of the time, I cannot relate to other Pagans.
Note: I wrote this a couple years ago, but it seems appropriate to resurrect it now (with some revisions). Continue reading “Ego-Paganism and the Tyranny of Structurelessness”
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. Continue reading “Nothing to see here folks. Paganism is fine, really, just fine.”
Does Paganism Deserve to Survive?
I don’t know whether contemporary Paganism is dying or not. But it’s definitely changing.
Contemporary Paganism is being squeezed by the same social, economic, and technological pressures that all other contemporary religions are struggling with. Generational differences with Millennials. Economic inequality. The internet.
Which got me thinking, why are we bothering to struggle? Why not just let entropy take its course? Continue reading “Why Contemporary Paganism Deserves to Die”
(Image courtesy of Mike Mason, Pagan Pride UK, Nottingham, 2012.)
Happy Birthday Paganism!
Contemporary Paganism, as it exists today, began with the Counterculture movement of the 1960s and 1970s. Religious studies scholar, Sarah Pike dates the origins of contemporary Paganism to 1967, the year that Frederick Adams incorporated Feraferia and the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn was founded. That same year, the Church of All Worlds filed for incorporation as a the first Pagan “church”.
Which means that this year, 2017, is the 50th anniversary of contemporary Paganism! So let’s look back at what we have accomplished over the past five decades. Continue reading “It’s been 50 years. And what have Pagans accomplished?”
While the origins of some forms of contemporary Paganism, like Wicca and Druidry, go back further, the beginning of what is called the “Pagan movement” can be dated to 1967* — making this year the 50th anniversary of contemporary Paganism.