2014 Religious Trends
Pagan Ethics and the Predicament of Climate Change
Climate change challenges us to up our spiritual game. Anthropogenic climate disturbance is more than a potential problem since we have reached and passed tipping points that cannot be reversed. It threatens all humans, as it threatens all non-humans. There is no longer any romantically untouched space. And with our handling of all spaces comes a responsibility for stewarding and tending the places we love. Places that are loved thrive, and their agency in a world of uncared-for areas reverberates through everyone who can mindfully enter. As Pagans, we have the capacity to love the entire planet. As part of our Pagan ecological ethic, it's time to develop a Pagan version of stewardship as we tend to our earth mother in hospice.
It's not enough to be Pagan and an Environmentalist. Climate change draws from the deep well of systemic dysfunction. We can sometimes feel stuck in the unhealthy systems we must participate in to function in society. Paganism has already completely broken open the unsavory system of institutionalized religion. We have created a spiritual tradition that is eclectic and individual, yet still collaborative and honoring of tradition. We can become leaders in similarly breaking open other institutions like education, government, and economy that perpetuate cycles encouraging climate disturbance.
We have reached a point where climate disruption is inevitable, and our world requires new stories to help us cope with the changes we cannot foresee. The best science tells us waters will rise, winds will blow, earth will shake, and heat will blast. As Pagans, we have developed techniques of ritual, magic, and divination that can help us find creative solutions to our environmental problems. Through a robust environmental ethic that challenges unhealthy systemic structures, these techniques of the sacred can not only help us deal with our pain for the earth, but can empower us to foster the rebirth of a sustainable and just world.
Laura Pustarfi Reddick is a philosopher, creative, and integral ecologist. She holds an M.A. in Philosophy, Cosmology, and Consciousness with a concentration in Integral Ecology. In her particular manifestation of Paganism, her practices and beliefs draw from the lineage of Gerald Gardner, Starhawk, and a variety of dear friends and teachers. Laura is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Ecology, Spirituality, and Religion at the California Institute of Integral Studies.