Paganism for Beginners: Things we care about

Some issues are associated in people’s minds with being Pagan, most obviously environmentalism and feminism. Since Paganism and Nature-worship are synonymous in many people’s minds, caring for the Earth seems like an obvious thing for Pagans to want to do. And since the Earth is often viewed as a goddess, or as the Goddess, Paganism is an obvious choice for anyone who wonders why so many monotheists view their deity as exclusively male. [Read more…]

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Stephen Fry, burrowing insects, and lions and tigers and bears

Christianity assumes that humans are the pinnacle of “creation” and that the world exists for our benefit. Atheists often turn this on its head and claim that the universe is hostile, but fail to notice that we are just one species among other species. The universe is neither 100% hostile, nor is it 100% benign.

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A tangled web

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. [Read more…]

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What happens when the oil runs out?

The oil won’t run out overnight, and if we are lucky, it will be managed sensibly. But all the current indications are that it will not be managed sensibly. Instead of reducing our dependency on fossil fuels, companies are inventing ever more destructive ways of wresting them from the ground, the worst of these being fracking. We are also not investing in sustainable power sources, or taxing carbon consumption, or anywhere near enough of the things we should be doing. The warning signs of climate change are being ignored. [Read more…]

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Lupercalia

Whatever the origins and timing of Valentine’s Day, 14 February was originally the date of a very different festival – the festival of Lupercalia. This was a fertility festival honouring the she-wolf who suckled Romulus and Remus. It also honoured Lupercus, god of shepherds. The festivities were presided over by the priesthood of the Luperci, who were dedicated to Faunus. They sacrificed two goats and a dog. There was then a sacrificial feast, and the Luperci cut thongs called februa from the skins of the animals, dressed themselves in the skins of the sacrificed goats, and ran round the walls of the old Palatine city. They struck all those who came near with the thongs. Young women would line up on their route to receive lashes from these whips. This was reputed to ensure fertility, prevent sterility, and ease the pains of childbirth. [Read more…]

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Five questions about Paganism

(1) How is paganism different?

(2) What is the significance of its difference?

(3) What are the key issues in a modernity project?

(4) What can paganism contribute to these issues in contrast to contributions from other religions?

(5) How can or does paganism work with other religions in addressing issues of economic imbalance, corporate power, industrial pollution, global warming, disaster relief and constructive cooperation? [Read more…]

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Eco-spirituality in practice

Eco-spirituality involves relating to your environment. It is a non-violent spirituality and spiritual activism. One form of it is known as deep ecology. It also involves being sustainable, and working with Nature, not against it. [Read more…]

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