From Gardner’s nudism and enthusiasm for sadomasochism, which he folded into the foundation of Wicca…
…to taking and embracing the label “witch” (and, to a lesser degree, “pagan”)…
…to taking unusual names and adopting radical environmental and social politics…
…to everything about Aleister Crowley…
…the roots and modern realities of modern Paganism are heavily sown with trangression: with deliberate contravention of societal norm.
It’s not a surprise. In the US, the modern Pagan movement arose simultaneously with and within the context of the countercultural movement of the 1960s, which was, well…counter-cultural.
I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. But it could be an inherent impediment to Paganism ever becoming a widespread movement.
And it raises serious questions:
How much of this differentiation is legitimate throwing-off of repressive shackles, and how much just contrarianism?
And is it intrinsic to Paganism that it be transgressive, norm-violating …weird?
Would it ever be possible for Paganism to be as widespread as, say, Catholicism? To be a major driver in our societies? How viable are we, as a social movement, for significant adoption?
Or are we—by definition and by necessity—minority outliers who must remain so?
I don’t have answers to these questions, but I think they’re important to ponder.
Because it’s a big set of questions indeed.