The Future of Paganism

Any other Pagan Green Wizards? Any other Pagan Green Wizards who are interested in the survival of Modern Pagansim in a post-peak world?

I'm a member of ADF and a Druid of both that sort and the Revival sort, and I'm very involved in my local Pagan community. I'd love to see our community and religions become truly viable and survive peak oil, and I'm trying to figure out how to work towards that goal. As I understand it, JMG identifies as Pagan and has taken major steps toward helping to preserve the traditions he's involved in, but has also expressed some skepticism about how well Modern Paganism will be able to last.

It seems to me that we have a couple major advantages:

1: Many Green Wiazrdry skills are already well represented in the Pagan community, and Pagans are more likely than the average population to study the sort of skills that will be important as indusrial society winds down.

2: The less New-Agey types of Paganism have theologies, mythologies, and world views that are well suited to unplugging from industrial culture and the religion of Progress.

But we also have some major challenges:

1: The Pagan community is widely spread out and we don't have the density to have a self-sustaining community in most places. Because of this, we're overly reliant on the internet and fossil-fuel transportation to connect our community, and we also tend to have little experience in practical aspects of maintaining a community.

2: As JMG has pointed out, small religious movements come and go as fads and can attract a lot of people who will move onto something new as soon as they get bored or things get hard.

What do you think? Do we have a chance? How can we work to preserve our traditions and communities in the aftermath of peak oil?

Pagans and Green Wizards! Six of one and half dozen of the other. Like herding cats, to use the common phrase. :-) I expect pockets of each will eventually coalesce and form viable communities. Pagans have a head start in some larger cities, but Pagans I know in downstate Illinois are either solidly embedded in the middle-class lifestyle or they are preppers with their bug-out kits packed.

As JMG has pointed out, the sweeping religious revolutions have come from the edges of society, from the marginalized and the disenfranchised. Right now I'm looking at Santeria or one of the other West African-based variants in Mexico, Columbia, Brazil, Haiti, etc. Or a indigenous American vision like Pachmama in the south or a fresh vitalized message in the U.S. or Canada.

I'm quite curious to see how it will all turn out.

Here's an article that crossed my news feed this evening: 

Words for Sale: A Critical Political Economy of Paganism

"It is possible to write a political economy of any human community. From tiny Amazonian villages, to vast multinationals; all can be understood in terms of flows of power and produce, that are quite literally the meat and drink of our existences.

"It is interesting, therefore, that despite the universal scope of this method; nobody has yet – to my knowledge, anyway – attempted to explore Paganism in such a fashion. Magliocco focuses on folklore; Luhrmann on logic; Salomonsen on gender; Hutton on history; Harvey on cultural comparison – in all their analyses, they touch upon the political and economic activities of Pagans, but no scholar has yet attempted a full-bore political economic analysis of contemporary Paganism itself....

"When one takes this critical stance, the forms of organisation normally described within Paganism – covens, groves, traditions and so on – fade away, and a very different structure emerges. Different, not just from how we describe ourselves, but from the social orders we find in other religions. We find few churches, monasteries, temples, or mosques – those that do exist, often struggle. In Paganism, centre stage is taken a small circle of private individuals – primarily authors and teachers. In Britain, this means names like Philip Carr-Gomm, Vivianne Crowley, Nigel Pennick, Prudence Jones, Caitlin and John Matthews, Pete Carroll, Rae Beth, and Emma Restall-Orr. They make their living – partly or wholly – by selling their ideas; through writing books, and holding workshops. Around this core of content creators, you have a network of bookshops, occult suppliers, robemakers, celebrants, and healers – all working in ways inspired by the writings of those at the centre of the network...

"What I am describing here is quite unlike other religious communities; these are first and foremost collective enterprises – funded by donations, or the state. For all the world, the Pagan community sounds less like a church or a network of temples, or an ummah – for its social order is fundamentally commercial in nature....

"The dominance of consumer goods – books, candles, incense, space enough in your home to cast circle, salt and so on – within the Pagan sphere sets up obstacles for poorer people wishing to participate, and often relies on exploitative labour in Chinese or Indian factories as part of their manufacturing cycle, or the use of precious resources from fragile ecosystems. Although many fee-charging camps and festivals have ways you can work to earn a ticket – through volunteering in the kitchen or setting up beforehand – even this can create a gulf between those who earn enough to pay outright, and those who have to work."

Now, for years, I advocated "support your local, Pagan dog groomer, support your local, Pagan tax accountant, support your local, Pagan lawn care service..." Much to the puzzlement of local Pagans. Because, frankly, most of us are wage slaves and few us want our workplace associated with our religion. But the deaths of small towns and neighbors underscore how difficult it is to build and maintain a community without those small businesses.

This is really interesting.

I've attended discussions on the state and future of Paganism while at Pagan festivals and had plenty of less formal discussions on my own, and one thing that people always bring up is that we don't have the best cultural relationship to money: Pagans tend to contribute less money to their communities than other religious groups, often feel like they shouldn't have to pay for things that do cost money, and tend to underrate how much they really could contribute. This is usually linked to some of the older Wiccan ideas that money shouldn't change hands for religious services, and that is probably part of it in some areas, but I think the analysis in this article could point to an even more important influence on this: There does tend to be a commercial structure within Paganism, and so there tends to be the mentality of a commercial structure, where the focus is on individual consumers making purchases while looking to get a good deal and save money when they can, and where a large percent of people are trying to figure out how they can make money from their Paganism. This hardly leads to the building of a community, and may be a factor in why contributing financially to collective community projects can seem so strange to many Pagans. I wonder what could be done to change that.

As for the second part, I'm definitely into supporting your local Pagan X. There is the Pagan Business Network, , but that isn't exactly a LOCAL listing, and it hasn't been used much thus far. That could be a front I may try to work on: Volunteer to keep the directories of local, Pagan-owned businesses up-to-date and advertise it.