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 integrity—must, 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 Patheos.com, 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.
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.
(To read many of the bloggers who left Patheos as a matter of conscience, visit paganbloggers.com)