With the recent release of several large-scale studies showing that climate change may now be inevitable, many Pagans are re-evaluating their approach to environmentalism. Particularly in the United States, the Pagan movement of the 1960s and 1970s embraced ecotheology and Gaia theory in the belief that the damage human beings were causing to the environment could be slowed or stopped. Today, the possibility that human beings will change their ways before our fossil fuels run out seems much less likely, and the hopes of earlier Pagans may appear wildly unrealistic.
As Pagans, do we continue or intensify our environmental activism, hoping to minimize climate change? Do we take time to grieve, as in the Dark Mountain project, or begin to prepare for scarcity scenarios? When we listen to our gods, our ancestors, the spirits of the land, and/or Gaia Herself, what guidance do we receive? What does it mean to be Pagan or practice a nature religion in the midst of climate change?
Steven Posch, Storyteller, Linguist
We must confess to our crimes and misdeeds against the gods of our people. Let us stop, reconsider, and change direction.
Diana L. Paxson, Elder of the Troth, Author, Teacher
The Eddas and sagas were written by people who lived in a harsh environment and had many enemies. Given the probability of drastic environmental changes, what counsel can heathen lore provide?
Emma Restall Orr, Ethicist, Author
Emotional indiscipline is a luxury in a time of crisis. We must learn to ride our emotional energies, using their power positively instead of letting them batter and break us.
Laura Pustarfi Reddick, Integral Ecologist
Paganism has already broken open the unsavory system of institutionalized religion. We can become leaders in similarly breaking open other institutions that perpetuate climate disturbance.
Chris Highland, Interfaith Chaplain, Naturalism Writer
The naturalistic reformers of nineteenth-century America call us to love this world and no other. We can't "save" this world until we save ourselves from distractive spiritual speculation, until we turn our minds to radical interrelationship.
Daniel Foor, Teacher, Ancestral Medicine
Climate change is profoundly related to ancestral problems. Ancestor work can heal us and the dead and reorient us to our role in the global ecosystem.
Alison Leigh Lilly, Druid, Blogger
What we really need is a bit more human management: more self-restraint, more humility in the face of natural forces whose consequences we don't (perhaps never can) fully understand.
Selina Rifkin, Nutritionist, Health Educator
If we each grew some of our own food, how much carbon could we conserve, and how much more connection would we have with the land?
Mark Gallup, Pagan Priest, Environmental Engineer
Working to reduce global warming is critical. But I feel that as well as working for change, I must commit to bear witness—to the Earth and to climate change—as a sacred act.
Michael F. Strmiska, Professor, SUNY-Orange
The ethic that animates much of American Ásatrú is not essentially environmental, but ethnic.
Chandra Alexandre, Founder, SHARANYA
In Tantra, crisis can move us down the path toward perfected love. Might this global crisis push the whole of our planet beyond limiting and oppressive value systems into a revelation of accountability and promise?
John Beckett, Blogger, "Under the Ancient Oaks"
What will cause people to set aside their immediate desires for the long-term good of other people and other species?
Vivianne Crowley, Wiccan Priestess and Psychologist
Earth magick is one approach, but magick needs channels to the material plane. The easiest way to heal the earth is to change human behavior.
Rhyd Wildermuth, Blogger, "A Sense of Place"
This gigantic, tragic mess the world has become is not where we end, but where we begin.
Sara Amis, Blogger, "A Word to the Witch"
Our best hope, if hope there be, lies outside the comfortable light of human civilization’s campfire.
In the name of a more humane future, Pagans must do all we can to restrict the power and extent of joint stock corporations. Economic decisions must be made by human beings who will not be penalized if they do not put money profit first. This means removing joint stock corporations from sectors of the economy closely interacting with the natural environment.
The world is alive and aware and we are part of it.
Maybe the Pagans of the 1970's thought they were going to single handedly fix the hole in the ozone layer, save the rain forests, and get everyone to eat organic but I'm not sure that was really the case. What so many of those Pagans wanted was to transform the Earth, and the human society that lives on her. In that sense those people succeeded.
The idea that we can save the planet with magic is both ludicrous and entirely right. Forget the magic of spells and prayers, though, because that’s not doing it. We need an entirely different kind of magic, and it is the magic of changing ourselves. The more we can do to change ourselves, the more we can help and inspire others to live differently.
If we are going to do spiritual work for the benefit of the environment, we must support that work through our mundane actions. By choosing to engage in activities that are helpful to the environment, we give our spiritual work a physical medium through which to manifest.
How a Saegoah views and reacts to Climate Change isn't any different than if there wasn't any Climate Change. Here is why.
The zombie apocalypse isn't going to happen. Sorry. Let's get rid of using apocalyptic language when we talk about the environment, too.
As we look around at the ecological crisis that faces us today, it's reasonable to ask if this movement has failed. But like the karate student with the broken arm, we have to ask that not in comparison to a perfect outcome, but to what the result would be if we did nothing. Would we have an significant environmental movement at all if it were not for this soft voice in the background whispering, "There is something sacred here"?
Pagans have not failed in the environmental activism and preservation movement. We as people have failed to take into account the psychological conditioning that capitalism and other such systems here in the United States have had on the average American. We are are continuing to struggle between the messages of society that are based on worth, gain and monetary values, and the knowing that this life will not continue if we do not change.
The Deep Ecology Foundation has an eight point platform that is worth reading. Deep ecology is more than just recycling. It is a way of life. It’s time our community remembered our relationship with Gaia and included her in our tribe.
When I first woke up to how desperate our situation has become I became suicidal. It was the one-two-three punch of climate change plus exhaustion of oil plus big corporations controlling the world.
Jenya T. Beachy
As humans in our human world, there are pieces of the puzzle that we will never connect with. There are powers that cannot be mediated into the world of refrigerators and books; those who remember us before the planting of crops, when we struggled to survive on what was given us. At some point, if we need to, possibly we can find them again. Possibly, out of pity, they will help us.
Whenever I confront my personal ethical choices around sustainability and ecology, I realise that everything depends on everything else. One choice may be more sustainable than another, but it may have other deleterious effects. You fix one part of the ecosystem, another gets broken. You try to fix poverty by donating clothes to charity shops (thrift stores) and then discover you have undermined small-scale indigenous clothing manufacture. You buy fair trade goods and then discover that they have been shipped over vast distances.
Our desire that our groups or traditions be ideologically perfect will not serve us now. Whether we are ready to face it or not, we are in a life or death situation. It is time to embrace our imperfect allies, because that is all we have, and all we are.
We need to invite people to participate in simple rituals that will help them form a living bond with the earth. We Pagans can help people feel that. But first we have to let go of this idea that people will magically find their way to Paganism if it's right for them. We need to get over our timidness and our excuses. We need to let go of the idea that sharing our faith is the same thing as pushing it on people. We have something the world desperately needs and, if there is such a thing as sin, then it is a sin for us to hide our faith in the closet.
All I know is, we, the pagan community, creators of and participants in a spiritual movement that has had widespread ramifications worldwide, were once poised to shift the paradigm. What happened? How can we get it back?
As I lean into the invitation of Earth's promise to renew, there is a certainty that now is the hour to commit to Earth with a saving message. I choose to enter covenant with Earth as Mother Goddess and nurture her as the life giver.
The troubles of Mars colonization, terraforming of Mars or geoengineering Earth, and how there are already indigenous design solutions for Earth that deal with Climate Change.