Rituals Are Important. But They Aren’t Activism.

In times like these, those of us who are of sound mind and values know: we must do something.

In Atheopaganism, we believe in the power and necessity of human ritual. We understand the science about why rituals work, and why they are important to us. We celebrate the turning of the seasons and personal and familial milestones in life, and we conduct rituals to focus our attention, our intention, and our future activity in pursuit of our goals.

It’s important and meaningful stuff.

However, we also understand that ritual’s effect is the transformation of consciousness: more specifically, the transformation of the consciousnesses of the ritual’s participants. It is powerful and effective at that, but that is the limit of its effect.

Recently, I’ve been seeing a lot of postings in Pagan groups on Facebook in which posters advocate for “spellwork”, “hexes”, “bindings” and other so-called “spiritual activism”, with the goal that these will influence the current state of public affairs, such as the many disastrous policies of the U.S. Trump administration.

Sorry, folks, but that’s not activism. It may make you feel as though you are doing something, but you’re not. And therein lies its danger.

Now, I think that rituals for activists are great. They can help to support, motivate, focus and encourage us as we work to create a better world. At this year’s Pantheacon, I was a presenter of “Arming the Warriors of the Earth: An Activist’s Ritual”, which was all about empowering those who commit themselves to public benefit advocacy.

But that doesn’t mean that holding a ritual is going to affect things all by itself.

Our values as Atheopagans advocate for a better, kinder, more ecologically responsible world. And for that world to come requires physical, material-world action…and not just symbolic, ritual action.

We must communicate with decision makers—often, politely, and with clarity about what we want. We must vote, and volunteer to organize voters. We must write letters to the editor, and talk with our friends. We must speak out against bigotry and injustice. We must run for office ourselves. We must support the organizations that are doing the heavy lifting in advocating for our values. We must march. We must spend our money where it does good, or at least less harm.

We must be voices for what we want to see in the world.

So certainly: light that candle and speak that invocation for peace and kindness. But then get on the phone and let your representatives know exactly what you expect from them. Write a letter. Join a phone bank. Volunteer for a weekend canvass.

And vote. Vote, vote, vote.

Do something real and tangible to advocate for a better world.

You’ll be surprised at how good it feels. And as millions upon millions act, how much change can be made.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Rituals Are Important. But They Aren’t Activism.

  1. This reminds me of a dynamic which exists in Quaker tradition. Both mysticism and activism have emerged from the testimonies, and invariably some members are more focused on one than the other.

    Liked by 3 people

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s