Children of the Earth Tribe, WAKE UP

Back in September of 2015, I asked, is Atheopaganism political?

Go ahead, read it. It lays out why I believe that any religious path that is truly about this Earth—any path of integritymust, in days such as these, be one of activism.

Since, I’ve had plenty of opportunity to consider the Pagan community generally through this lens. And I am sorry to say that I have been sorely disappointed.

Most of the visible voices, most of the “Big Name Pagans”, are anything but political. At best, they may voice the occasional political opinion in passing, but mostly they’re about rituals and magical tools and cultural traditions and “mysteries”.

Oh, and selling stuff. Books, tools, tokens, clothes, workshops, statues. Stuff.

There are exceptions, of course. But they’re kinda rare. And it turns out that nearly all of them are women, people of color, and people who are LGBTQ. Those folks know what time it is. They know this is not the time to be silent.

A year ago, two dozen writers left the Pagan Channel at, the foremost religious discussion site on the Internet. They left because the site had been purchased by companies run by far-right Christian evangelicals associated with racist and anti-LGBT hate groups, and the terms of the writers’ new contract prevented them from criticizing this (or anything else about Patheos). And it allowed Patheos to edit or censor anything it found objectionable in the writing of its writers.

Oh, and it banned them from using too much dirty language.

There’s a lot to be said about this. A year on, John Beckett (who stayed at Patheos) has one very strong view.  John Halstead (who is definitely in the activist camp) has quite another.

Tempers are hot and each side probably has scored a point or two. But I want to focus on one, very specific thing: Beckett’s triumphalism over having not been censored over the past year.

To which I say: that’s the problem, John

In a whole year, you haven’t said one damned thing of substance that brought out the Patreon ownership with a red pen. And looking over your posts of the last year, it is quite clear that you never tried.

Why aren’t you pushing that boundary? Why aren’t you challenging on the issues that are most important today?

You’re a white middle class straight cis man with a megaphone. YOU don’t have to contend with what the owners of Patheos are promoting all over the world. And in your privilege, it apparently doesn’t even cross your mind to speak out on behalf of your fellows who aren’t so privileged, does it?

No. You just keep on going on about gods and fairies and rituals, in a very comfortable bubble, and rationalize your service of the likes of the Family Research Council as “getting out your message”.

As if the world weren’t burning.

As if people aren’t being murdered and deported and abused and shunned for being different.

That’s not “proof” that Patheos is benign. It’s evidence that, willfully or not, you are complicit in their agenda. Which includes the agendas of their owners.

(Beckett’s just an example. Others can look in the mirror and decide for themselves whether or not this critique applies.)

So I look at all this, and the content of the vast substance of Pagan content being published online every day, and I say NO: Modern Paganism isn’t political.

But it bloody well should be.

Aren’t we supposed to be about a better world? Haven’t we “resacralized” living on Earth? Aren’t we about diversity and tolerance?

Paganism isn’t just playing dress-up and being “witchy cool” and holding hands in circles and partying. And it isn’t JUST religious practices.

It’s about walking responsibly in the world that gave rise to us, and in service to our people…all of them.

I hate saying these things. They’re grouchy and depressing and they are the farthest thing from honey (vs. vinegar). I’d much rather devote time to my own activism and my own religious practices and culture-building.

But for Earth’s sake, “Children of the Earth Tribe”, will you wake up?

Everything is not “just going to be okay”. Tragedies are happening every day, and enormous ones are looming.

If you’re not actively out there fighting for what is right, please.

Wake up.

Do something.


(To read many of the bloggers who left Patheos as a matter of conscience, visit

7 thoughts on “Children of the Earth Tribe, WAKE UP

  1. I’m trying to understand the intention behind these angry, absolutist posts about the folks who still write for Patheos (whose blogs I also enjoy, btw) and those who identify as witches or practitioners of magic. Is the goal to finally shame them into leaving Patheos? To shame them into giving up their woo spiritual practices? To shame people who identify as Pagan into making the same political choices as you do? Or to doing activism in the same way you do? To self-congratulate yourselves for doing the right thing?

    More inspiring would be to show others your own activism, to lead by example, instead of telling others what they should do. *Even better* would be to spend more time and energy listening to and elevating female, LGBTQ, and voices of color, instead of so much time and energy on taking credit for starting movements, leading protests or rituals, getting arrested, doing the right thing, etc. The vast majority of posts on our HP community blog are by white males, for example. Why is that, and what can we do about it?

    I respect and value you and John and generally enjoy reading what you write, but am so deeply disappointed and alarmed by the kind of black-and-white thinking that recent posts about this issue reflect and the insults and attacks on other people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well…I’m sorry to hear it.

      I don’t now where you get the “shaming people in giving up woo practices”. Talking about the fact that there are woo practices isn’t the same thing.

      I’m not interested in “credit” for anything. I’ve had plenty of recognition in my life and don’t need more of it. That’s why I only refer obliquely to my own activism in my writing here.

      But when I see something that I view as morally wrong, I talk about it. I talk about the fact that the Pagan community simply isn’t walking its talk in a bunch of areas. And I don’t feel I have been “black and white” in so doing. Your mileage may vary.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Kenneth

      “I’m trying to understand the intention behind these angry, absolutist posts..”
      My own intention for criticizing Patheos Pagan’s handling of the issues is not about shaming anyone. It’s to try to get the would-be leaders of the Pagan movement to get off their collective asses and stand for something beyond their own self-promotion.

      Instead of working to build anything organically Pagan of lasting value, John Beckett and Jason Mankey and some others at the core of Patheos Pagan have spent their energy over the last year defending their Religious Right corporate paymasters and trying to dismiss and marginalize anyone who voiced reasonable concerns about editorial freedom and the ethical implications of helping to fund Trump’s vision of America.

      They swear up and down that there’s no censorship or pressure to self-censor, but as Mark rightly notes, political writing on the channel has been conspicuous by its near total absence over the last year. I don’t think it has to be all politics all the time by any means, or simply a left wing megaphone. It’s the lack of engagement that troubles me. It is possible to read weeks and months worth of posts on Patheos Pagan and to not be able to glean any indication of what year or even decade it is or any idea of what’s going on in the real world. That’s pathetic. I’m not an atheopagan, but to find any meaningful engagement of current events on Patheos, I have to go to the Nonreligious or Progressive Christian Channels. Even some of the Conservative Catholic writers are doing a better job of evaluating and criticizing our nation’s rising fascism than the Pagan Channel these days.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Most won’t wake up in time. We carry on, preserve what we can/want, and find a haven to stash all of it. Because when the hard times come–they’re just around the corner–we better be prepared to fight, yes, but also to survive. Survival will be an pitched battle all on its own.

    Liked by 2 people

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