Future of Paganism
The Future of Paganism Is Our Future
Paganism is a term that applies to the earliest spiritual practices of the world. As patriarchy gained control of much of the world, and as politics became more deeply intertwined with spirituality (and certainly hid behind the mask of religion), the world fell into a whole new level of disarray. Neopaganism, in many ways, is the fight against socio-political control, and is a reclaiming of the spirituality of humankind's earliest ancestors -- for the division between spirituality and life itself is a relatively new phenomenon of thought in human history!
It seems to me that Neopaganism will continue to evolve and redefine itself. Barriers of communication and knowledge are things of the past -- as the world's veil of Maya (illusion) continues to fall, the significance of spiritual living will be more acutely revealed. The freedom of mind, body, and spirit that the spiritual seeker desires can be found in the world's Pagan religions and within spiritual paths that don't claim to hold the one and only Golden Ticket to God. The duality of spiritual eclecticism and traditional rigidity are both highly significant, and I believe the world will see an evolution of both lines of thinking (traditional vs. non) not only in the Neopagan sphere, but in global spirituality as a whole. The perceived differences between religions is being replaced with the perception of similarities and shared values, which is a step toward a global religion; this, in fact, is not a religion at all, but is instead simply an evolved mode of operating in the world: one that transcends dogma, political control, and divisive thinking. As with all evolutionary steps, these changes in perception and consciousness are individual in nature; we must individually take positive steps to change the world as a whole.
Raven Digitalis is a Neopagan priest and the author of Shadow Magick Compendium, Planetary Spells & Rituals, and Goth Craft. Visit his website at www.ravendigitalis.com.
We are the ancestors of tomorrow.
Selena Fox is the founder of Circle Sanctuary.
Rev. Wes Isley
I think pagans should be involved in interfaith work in order to build bridges between our faith communities and others. It's essential for our own growth and survival, and I believe it will help educate others about us, dispel myths and misinformation, and generally be good for everyone involved. I understand, however, the reluctance of some pagans to step out there. What will the Christians say about us? Will the Muslims look at us funny? Come on, aren't we bigger than that? If our pagan faiths and traditions have any value whatsoever, we should be able to handle it. I believe that pagans have much to offer the wider community.
We are a minority spiritual group, many of us have experienced religious discrimination and many of us fight stereotypes and misinformation every day. Every religion has experienced this at some point, and many still do today. Just consider the uproar over a Muslim center being built near New York City's Ground Zero. I can only imagine what would happen if some local pagans in my little burg decided to open a temple or community center. Devil worshippers! Interfaith dialogue is critical to preventing this from happening. How do we do this? That's something I'm beginning to explore.
I'm looking to get involved with area Christian, Jewish and Muslim ministers and groups. They need to see us. They need to hear our messages of inclusiveness, respect and joy. Earlier this spring, I had an opportunity to offer the invocation at a county commissioners meeting, a practice that has grown increasingly controversial because some religious groups want to dominate while secular groups want prayers like this to disappear completely. I was nervous, certainly, but focused my prayer on what we all have in common. And it went off without a hitch, no angry tirades in the media, no lawsuits. Maybe my pagan prayer touched someone spiritually, giving them the courage to be more open about why they believe as they do.
Ours is not a conquering or evangelizing faith, and I think that is important in this modern age. So find those quiet corners where a pagan voice is missing and speak up. Be seen and heard, give something back to the community, but most of all, be respectful. You have to give respect in order to get it.
Rev. Wes Isley lives in Greensboro, NC and was ordained as an interfaith minister by Earthstar Spiritual Center. His website is GreensboroMinister.com.