- a collection of essays on Neodruidic Studies
- a journal of Post-Reconstructionist Neopaganism

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Outlook for Neopaganism?

A brief dialogue of my thoughts on where we're headed...

Q:  In your estimation, what are the richest fields for 
      exploration by modern Neopagan ritual-groups?
A:  A profoundly functional Wheel of the Year,
     unconstrained by a single "Hearth Culture"...
It’s long been my contention that, particularly for those of us living in a region with fairly well-defined set of four seasons, the Wheel of the Year should be refined and developed to function fully independent from any one specific hearth culture. Definitely we should incorporate various seasonally-appropriate folkways from various cultures but this is one clear case where ancient tradition should not be allowed to restrict a model based on a modern understanding of the “facts” of nature and their effect on our modern souls.
Of late in this respect, in ADF, the cart has been placed before the horse. As de facto providers of open group pagan-spiritual activity in our greater pagan communities we should, we must,  recognize that adopting the popular ADF “Hearth Culture” model (the settling on a single cultural motif for one's whole ADF Grove) for the work of your whole local organization automatically has you turning your back on three quarters of your local pagan community and their modes of practice.
It is primarily this reason which makes me want to insist that 
__________ one’s “hearth” is one’s home,  
__________ i.e. one’s PERSONAL practice... 
The forum for group-work and relating to your greater Neopagan community? - - That’s called a “grove”. There should be no need to compromise one’s personal “hearth”, when in its place. Hearth-work thereby is by definition not group work, unless it is sub-grove work (i.e. a hearth-based sub-group within your grove).
There’s a lot of room for new work there; groups like ours keep getting bogged down pounding square pegs into round holes trying to come up with authentically seasonal themes for hearth cultures which really don’t have obvious corollaries for certain feasts. Certainly having well-tooled cultural-motif modules available to plug-into the various high days is of order in our work since some of the cultural expressions for the seasonal feasts do fit very well and utilizing that “fit” helps individuals more easily reconcile their personal pagan aesthetic with the larger cultural context in which we live. Both of these approaches pose significant challenges and benefits.

Q: Ok, I can see this material is central to the work you've been doing, BUT, 
     other than that, where should Pagan folk be looking for inspiration these days?
A: Hmm. Here’s a “teaser” list of my favorites:

- The Wyrd:   The Weave, the Weavers and the Woven....
 A particularly English (Anglo-Saxon) take on a vast IE cosmological principle

- Idolatry... 
Really!   (Relax; it’s ok…).

- Post Kaballahlistic Paganism 
( PKP ) Let go of the Bible. Get Thee behind me Jehova ! - - I’m gonna wash “One-God” right out of my hair...

- De-Reconstructing “Celtic” paganism 
Yes, everything you’ve been told is (still) wrong.

- The Sacralization of the Sciences:  
The true future of Druidism; integrating an actively Religious Materialism into our spirituality.

- The Spectrum of Divinity:  
Dynamic anthropomorphism in action

- Magical influence and “Luck”:  
Amulets, Talismans and Hoodoo... and respect for the power of the unknown.
The arrival of active superstition in your practice is when your magic becomes "alive".

Q:  Do you feel there are areas in which Neopaganism still 
      needs to “clean up its act”?
A:   Oh, yeah, quite so...

Well, it might be said that we’ve been spending the last thirty years doing that (cleanup) and there many years of work ahead of us. We've barely scratched the surface. Somehow, Paganism needs to remain attractive and rewarding for future generations even once it has lost its “Bad Boy” reputation. Once a destination for many “goth” inspired youth, we’re just not as cool of a scene as we used to be. Some young people today already consider Wicca and Neopagan as “dorky”, associated with “hippies” and therefore painfully out of fashion… “Wicca? Eeeuuuww, that’s like SO nineties!” Do we forever have to be represented to the general culture as a shambling collection of flakes, sad aging geeks and "bad-as-I-wannabee" teenagers?

The harder and more seriously a group of people work on something collectively, the more likely they are to be found broadcasting an un-accepting or unfriendly “vibe” towards those whom they consider their competitors or inferiors. This is already evident in the often indelicate language regarding others used by those in the large more highly organized groups like ADF, Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionists, OTO,  etc. We need to remember that we are all, collectively ostracized by Western Society and need to work toward mutual respect and conversation, not fractiousness.

 - E.

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