Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Problems With Paganism

Colorado Celt over at Tír na nOuray has written about two things that he finds to be problems within modern Paganism. The first problem that he mentions is regarding the overuse of titles and has this to say:


Terms such as, Druid, Archdruid, Grand Archdruid, High Priestess, High Priest, and many others have become so commonplace as to be virtually meaningless.

He has a great point. If everyone has a title, they do become meaningless, not necessarily to the person using it, but to those around the person. When something is used so much to become common place, it loses the awe factor behind it.

One reason why it loses it awe factor for me is because of the requirements to gain the use of the term. For example, I know about how long my professors went to school to gain the title of "Doctor." They put a lot of work into gaining the knowledge of their field. Within Paganism, there are different requirements for each group. Therefore, there is no way to know how much training they have gotten before they start calling themselves by various titles.

The other problem that Colorado Celt mentioned is the health issues that are plaguing the Pagan community. He says:

...the pagan community deals with obesity issues, diet, and lack of exercise. These are not positive problems for us as we move forward.

This echos what Margot Adler said recently at Pantheacon when she encouraged Pagans to take care of themselves physically.

Another "problem" that I have noticed with modern Paganism is that for a religion that has an interest in the natural world, hardly anyone seems to spend any time in the natural world. When I talk to some of my friends who are Pagan, they express amazement at the amount of time that I spend outside. On the flip side, it amazes me that they don't have an interest in being outside and would rather sit inside in front of their TVs or computers.

Staying inside is taking it's toll on how people interact with the outdoors. As I've mentioned before, people see the outdoors as something to do rather then being a part of life. Because of this, people don't know the natural cycles of their own area as they have removed themselves from the outdoors.

Colorado Celt finishes up by mentioning:

If we started writing and speaking more about these issues individual pagans will respond. Exercise, diet and general physical health are just as important as full moon esbats, Beltaine ceremonies, and visualization techniques.

I agree.

9 comments:

Spider said...

The healthier/fitter we are, the more we can enjoy activities outside ... I can't imagine when I'm too knackered to get up a hill to enjoy a view or dance round a stone circle in just me wellies !!!

Persephone said...

...and I thought I was the only one to think these thoughts...:)
I am actually putting together a workshop for a small group and was truly contemplating incorporating a thought similar to this. It is not a popular subject though, but it is a very truthful one....thank you...

CrimsonFox said...

Yeah that Colorado Celt is a smart guy. I like him *wink* and it's true what he says. Thanks for adding your thoughts too!

Sojourner said...

Spider - You make me laugh. :)

Persephone - I think that if you incorporate your thoughts on this within your workshop, you will be showing a "maturity of religion" (according to A. Maslow). To show maturity in religion, you have to be willing to see the good with the bad; be critical in thought even if you have faith. (This idea comes from the book The Individual and His Religion by A. Maslow)

Good luck with your workshop.

Kitsune - :) CC is someone that I am coming to respect through his writing. He is willing to bring up issues that many people are not even though they are thinking about similar things.

julie said...

"...the pagan community deals with obesity issues, diet, and lack of exercise. These are not positive problems for us as we move forward."

I think it's a bit of a vicious circle. Paganism tends to have a more accepting, even encouraging, I'd say, view/treatment towards heavier men and women.

So, a lot of them gravitate towards paganism for this reason. They don't feel like an outcast. But then, rather than address any health issues/psychological reasons for their weight, they just toss on a "fuck your facist beauty standards" shirt and ignore it.

It's weird I stumbled upon this blog, as the correlation between obese women and their large numbers in the pagan community has always been of interest to me.

Ligeia said...

I concur, especially with the last. If we cannot take care of ourselves (physically), how can we expect to be at our best for spiritual osmosis...or, something like that.

Sojourner said...

Thanks for you comment, Julie.

Julie said:

Paganism tends to have a more accepting, even encouraging, I'd say, view/treatment towards heavier men and women.

I can't really agree with you on this as there is a difference between accepting and encouraging.

Accepting (in the example of obesity) shows that people are willing to pass up the fact that someone isn't the ideal of what society views as perfection. To say that the Pagan community encourages people to be obese is a misinterpretation of what acceptance means. I have never seen anyone (Pagan or not) encourage another person (again, Pagan or not) to either gain weight or continue being obese. In fact, I think it is quite the opposite.

Because of this difference, I am guessing (and please tell me if I am wrong) that you mean enable. Because of being accepting, does the Pagan community enable people to remain obese? That is a whole different question.

Julie also said:

the correlation between obese women and their large numbers in the pagan community has always been of interest to me.

Just remember, "correlation doesn't equal causation." In this case, most of the people are coming from other systems of belief and decide Paganism is for them. With that in mind, if you look in almost any Christian church, I would guess that many of those women are obese as well. Our society as a whole is more obese than not.

julie said...

ARGH I hate the new blogger comment system, I lost my reply!!

Tigress said...

Few issues are more touchy and sensitive with people than their weight. What I find interesting is that I don't see a lot of pagans making the correlation between environmentalism and responsible eating. The agri-industry of this country is a major offender of the environment and animal rights. Huge concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, are destroying groundwater supplies and top soil, pollute the air, support animal cruelty, and devalue and debase the spiritual contract between humans and our food. When pagans buy from fast food companies and chain grocery stores they are supporting these horrible practices and contributing to the problem, with a particular smack of hypocrisy and ignorance. Its time to start calling ourselves out on this grievous disconnect of consciousness.