Druid Thoughts: What Do We Hope to Build?

Where do I see Paganism in 50 years’ time? Hopefully, diverse, shifting, changing, evolving, questioning itself and not getting too comfortable. I do not see the current navel-gazing we do, as individuals and collectively, as any kind of bad thing. Doubt keeps us on our toes. The need to explain and justify ourselves stops us falling into dogma and blind faith. The habit of splitters running off to start new things keeps us fresh and lively. We undermine our own authority in so many ways, and I think this is a great strength within our traditions. In uncertainty, there is grace.

The next fifty years are going to bring climate change and crisis, in all probability. As our governments seem collectively unconcerned about the long term and unable to tackle the big issues, we are going to have problems. Flooding, extreme weather events, crop failures, famines and plagues all look likely. For anyone who is going to survive in the longer term, greater respect for and relationship with the natural world will be vital. I suspect that global crisis will take more people towards nature-based spirituality and an embracing of the Pagan values that might help us stay alive.

I see the Paganism of fifty years hence as even more rooted in lifestyle than it currently is. Re-skilling and re-learning the ways of the land are going to be vital. I think we’ll see less of the airy fairy floaty Paganism in really posh robes. There will be less of the bling and the aesthetic, and more of the engaging with the ancestors, to relearn what they knew and we have lost. I think we will become a more down to earth people, more rooted in practical necessity, as our ancestors were before us. I rather hope by then we will have acquired the wisdom not to get into pointless fights with each other over relatively petty things. But then, if we keep on the way we are going as a species, we just aren’t going to have the luxury of time to spend on Facebook arguing over what’s more authentic and who learned what from whom.

Fotografi af “Uroksen fra Vig”. Fotografi taget på National Musseet, København. Photo by Mikkel.kristiansen.

At the moment, the old gods are abstract for most of us. We do not look to the rain and sun with acute awareness that we might starve if the weather goes wrong. We do not come to Samhain and actually have to decide which of our animals to kill. We do not regularly bury our children. There is every probability that climate change will deliver us a much harsher, more demanding, and more likely to kill us way of life, something closer to ancestral experience. How will we relate to the gods of nature when they no longer seem like archetypes, viewed from the comfort and safety of a snug urban living room? How will we feel about the gods of the hunt and harvest when we have to deal personally with the realities of these things? What new gods will we find in the changing world of the future?

I wonder how many of us will find our Paganism is robust enough to survive the devastating future human stupidity is likely to create. How many of us will be able to walk our talk when our lives depend much more on our choices? Will we manage to be true to our values in crisis, or is it going to get decidedly Lord of the Flies out there? Or can we do enough, now, to avert ecological disaster?

About Nimue Brown

Druid blogger, author of Druidry and Meditation, Druidry and the Ancestors and Spirituality without structure (Moon Books) Intelligent Designing for Amateurs (Top Hat Books) and Hopeless Maine (Archaia). Book reviewer for the Druid Network and Pagan Dawn. Volunteer for OBOD. Green, folky, Steampunk wench with a coffee habit. www.druidlife.wordpress.com and www.hopelessmaine.com @Nimue_B and can be hunted down on facebook.

  • Catriona McDonald

    “I rather hope by then we will have acquired the wisdom not to get into pointless fights with each other over relatively petty things.” As a wise man once said, “academics [or pagans] can be so vicious because ultimately there is very little to lose.” Same principle applies here, I’m thinking.

    In general, I share your outlook as to what the future might hold, though I’m more a fan of JMG’s Long Decline rather than sudden collapse. So much of our practices as Druids is wrapped up in personal development, that we have very little experience using our skills and drawing on our faiths to support our communities. The transition from job magic to crop magic is likely going to be a painful one–and I can’t help but wonder if the world-denying religions will gain even more traction as life becomes more and more difficult.

  • sonya miller

    Ah, a longing for a returning to us going back to the land? Not for I, in fact the numbers of Urban Pagans you omit in this article is astounding. Technology is not going away if anything it grows every day, and it does not destroy cities…people do. I am not going to learn to hunt and fish, and dig a “hobbit house” ; most people I know (and there are millions) do not even cook, or sew, or even paint their own homes! I You will have a more simplified way of of eating, and living but it will not be at a pace where we ‘return to living in nomadic tribes growing our own gardens and throwing spears” it will be where we do not have to cook, or clean so much and where people figure out how to balance life, work, marriage, etc .

    Gaia has outlived us all, and always will but do remember humans form civilizations for an innate reason (there is a reason for humanities); and we do like it…we like it very much. Urban pagans, observe the sun, and the moon, and we dig gardens, and recycle, and we also do clean ups and help people learn about being more Eco-friendly and co-existing with our planet, we throw festivals and we hate camping out doors most of us and love cabins and hotel room this does not make us commercial it makes us HUMAN!…but I do not think civilizations are a thing of the past and going to die.

    Paganism is growing, and flourishing the Temples are popping up everywhere you speak not for just one DEITY anymore but for all of them. Now they have buildings once again, and now the interfaith work we do, makes people see the similarities and not balk when they hear Isis and Mary in the same sentence. The future is one where like Ancient times on one corner you see a Baptist church and on the next corner a Wiccan one, and no one bats an eye! If what you predict is correct, then what is the point of learning our faith, what is the point in teaching? What is the point in Clergy ordination, classes, and the future seems so bleak…then your life and mine is a waste. I pray that the future of a new “awakening” is true and that we see more merging and spirituality rather than exclusion and only one way.

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