(Quote from Wikipedia: According to The Statesman Anne Elizabeth Wynn claims "The two most recent American Religious Identification Surveys declare Wicca, one form of paganism, as the fastest growing spiritual identification in America"
The thing with Paganism is that its a pretty broad umbrella encompassing a wide range of faiths and beliefs. A witch, a druid, a wiccan and a shaman could all call themselves a pagan but each will have a very different set of beliefs and a different understanding of what being pagan for them involves. This fluid definition has been a key factor in the rising popularity of the alternative faith paths. Paganism is a fundamentally accepting belief system. Instead of being asked to conform and mould beliefs into a non compromising single world view, Pagans can turn inward and think about their own views and what matters to them. In doing so, a genuine path is sought and found and each individual is able to walk the road that feels right for them.
In times long gone we would have marked the passing of time by the phases of the moon ans the change in the seasons. In our central heated, air conditioned world the seasons do not perhaps have the same physical impact on us that they used to. But the changing nature of the earth still has a symbolic resonance. Pagans honour our dependence on and relationship with the earth.
Perhaps as our sophistication grows we desire more than ever a return to simpler values and the security of being part of the turning of earth's wheel.
The landscape is right for a revival of the old faiths. As a society we have become increasingly involved with materialism, consumerism and modernity. We have embraced the Industrial revolution and survived technological progress. We have moved away from close links with the land, small communities and regular church attendees. State and church have never been more separate. Politically we are striding toward a secular world. So is it any wonder that we are starting to feel something of a void? Humans are spiritual creatures with needs beyond those that can be satisfied by online shopping and text messaging. For those who feel unable to worship at the altar of progress and technological advancement there is a need for more, for something greater, something with more meaning. And so rather naturally more and more people are reaching out to see what is out there and what can fill the void.
It is interesting that in this spiritual vacumn, none of the world religions have stepped up to the mark. But there is a current ennui toward the big cultural religions. Between the wars and the fighting and the media controversy - religions, possibly Christianity in particular, are perceived to have lost their link to spirituality. Religion has been debated, argued about and chewed over until it has become devoid of its spiritual core. Take the Church of England, in a country just finished celebrating Christmas. How many of you exchanged presents? (Pretty much all of you) How many of you went to church? (Stats suggest less than 10% of the Uk population). The rituals remain but the reasons for them have become blurred and in many cases nearly forgotten. For those asking the questions, traditional religions just don't have the answers any more.
And as we become more and more in need of connection with our spiritual selves the meaningless rituals, many of which have been raped by consumerism fail to resonate with us. (Would you believe Easter eggs are in the shops already?) And we start to look beyond the trappings for true meaning. And this is where many people first encounter Paganism, on the brink of the modern world and the demands of their own soul. As the ancient voices of our forefathers tending the land echo down through the years, people start to move closer to the earth, to the forgotten simplicities of nature and her healing powers and back toward the true nature of man working in harmony with the earth and not against it.
And as society changes, individuals are changing too. Our education system teaches us to think, to question and to evaluate. Is it then surprising that people are choosing to turn away from being spoon fed beliefs that they are told not to question and starting to seek a way through life that chimes truer with their individual beliefs
Our young people of today are aware and awake and they want to think for themselves. So they look beyond the teachings and doctrines that have failed to keep pace with the changing times and they look to find a path that has personal meaning for them.
And why not? What religion can legitimately claim to have a monopoly on truth? A belief held by a million people is no more valid than a belief held by a single individual. In the absense of absolute proof each of us has a right and possibly even an obligation to fight our way through the chaos of the unknown to the personal truths that lie beyond.
There's a certain irony in all this that as society progresses so quickly forward the spiritual
answers are actually being found by looking back into the past. However the adopting of old ways and old values into the modern world is a new path forward and perhaps one that represents the truest progress of all as man's growing intelligence and development becomes at one and harmonised with the forgotten spirituality of old.
http://www.sxc.hu/photo/1409793 (Andreas Krapweiss)
Pagan Blog Project 2013