Editors’ Note: This article is part of the Public Square 2014 Summer Series: Conversations on Religious Trends. Read other perspectives from the Pagan community here.
On the 22nd of May we had elections in the UK for the European Parliament and for local councils. While many people chose not to vote, pretty much every Pagan I know (and I know a lot of Pagans online!) were actively engaged in the process and used the elections to draw attention to environmental issues.
In the last few years, I’ve found that my call to serve as a Druid has increasingly brought me into contact with the Green Party. Last autumn I became press officer for my local branch, and a lot of my hours every week go into that. There are many things I love about the Greens, but the main thing for me is the clarity about how social justice and environmental sustainability are the same issue: clean air, safe water, healthy soil, biodiversity, reducing climate change, etc. The Greens also explicitly connect quality of life with protecting nature – reducing our role as consumers, and instead re-imagining us as active participants in community and culture. This is my soap box and I could stand on it all day to tell you how fantastic and inspiring I find Green politics.
I’ve been to Earth Day rituals and I’ve prayed for the good of the Earth, and I’ve watched other Pagans doing this for more than a decade. We aren’t winning. Not that way. We need much more radical change, and we need it soon. We need it yesterday. It’s very easy to drive somewhere local and say a few words and wave the wand about and drive home. What point is there offering up prayers for the good of the Earth if our lifestyles are just the same as everyone else’s?
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. Forget lighting a candle to burn yet more CO2 into the atmosphere. Forget driving to an Earth healing ritual. 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. We must become the change. We must be the magic we want to put into the world.
There are so many places we can show up, as protestors, voters, volunteers, activists. We can show up to educate the people around us, and we can demonstrate by doing it that a life lived harmoniously is actually a better and less miserable sort of life. We can step away from greed and consumerism and help other people step away. Be the spell. Be the prayer. Be whatever you want to invoke in the world in order to save humanity from itself.