Pagan Power
Hubble bubble, toil and trouble

By Steven Partridge

There’s a noticeable trend in life, history repeats itself. As each new year passes us by there seems to be an upsurge of interest in religions of old, in this article Paganism is getting put on the cross, but held in place with garlands, daisy chains and vines, of course, not handmade nails.

Today we are web-wise and wireless, we seek out the developments in society and technology, yearning for the automation of everyday tasks. To bank, thank, shop, book, look, and love without leaving our swivel chairs, but there is also a massive interest in earth religion and new age philosophy.

There has been a Pagan Revolution and it is gathering members quicker than Christianity can condemn and contain it. It is no longer the hidden way, no longer must one seek out the knowledge of the wise ones in old bookstores or libraries, but now we need only walk into our local bookstores and look no further. In my local store there is a section titled, mind body and spirit, and the crowd around it never ceases. The shelves are packed with books from moon magic to spells for teenage witches to walls of Tarot cards, each one screaming to be shuffled, dealt and crudely divined. What is interesting are the type of prospective buyers who huddle half self-consciously around the bookcases, they are ordinary people, in suits, in floral dresses, in black and pushing prams.

No longer do you find the occasional ‘weirdo’ hunched forward skimming the selves for the works of Aleister Crowley. We ask ourselves, why then the sudden interest? Why has it become mainstream? And what has been the affect on Paganism itself? Why the sudden interest is fairly simple, we are individualistic, we prefer to make our own rules and feel comfortable (most the time) answering to ourselves not some omniscient being. TV Shows like Buffy the vampire slayer and it's numerous spin-offs have given it a percieved glamour. Paganism offers a retreat from dogmatic faith’s, it encourages the believer to make their own rules and to decide these rules around their own modern lifestyles. It helps one to become aware of how your actions affect people, that by sitting in a small cupboard once a week and telling the man (or woman) next to you about your weeks failures you will be forgiven isn’t always the right way.

It forges a connection to nature, pushing past the jungle of wires, modems and phones with inbuilt digital cameras; it’s a release, a timeout from the modernisation of life. Or is it? If we look further in we see that Paganism has too become cyber. As expected thousands of websites grace our search engine results page, but more bizarrely is the increase in online covens, places for people who find it difficult to reach other pagans, congregating not in a circle strewn with flowers and candles but in chat rooms chanting through the ‘tap-tap’ of their keyboards. There are sites offering free and not so free Tarot readings, which is intriguing as accurate readings of the tarot usually requires the querent (person looking for guidance) to shuffle the cards before they are dealt. This has not only made paganism a business but it has also helped thrust it into the mainstream.

Becoming pagan has never been easier, as explained in Wicca For Dummies. One can become Pagan or Wiccan (a ‘denomination’ of paganism) in one simple step: buy a book. A generation of ‘one book wiccan’s’ has been created with the proliferation of Pagan literature, I know many proud ‘pagans’ who own little more than information printed off of the internet. I am not condemning that educating people about the real practise of pagans and dispelling the misconceptions surrounding that practise is a bad thing but its unfortunate that it has diluted the mystery and fantasy that once surrounded the Old Religion, in some ways it has become too accessible and too approachable, it is a sad turning point when witchcraft is discussed at the breakfast table.

The effect on Paganism is both degrading and encouraging. Firstly, there are more pagan people about, or people who adhere to pagan principles. Wicca is the fastest growing religion in American and has as many pagans as published writers. And this is not through recruiting, you’d have a hard time finding a pagan with a home made billboard proclaiming that the Goddess loves you as you walk by. Most people now realise that pagans, wiccans and witches do not worship the devil, or that they don’t even believe in it, the term witch has been used less and less by prominent pagans and new age writers, therefore dispelling the connotations that the word witch brings. Paganism has been pushed into the limelight, and has taken its staring role well, countless films, books and television shows are dedicated to the Craft, without mentioning a certain little boy with round glasses and fancy scar on his forehead. People no longer see a person claiming to be a witch as evil and dangerous but usually see them as the millennium’s answer to hippies, healers and nature lovers.

Pagans no longer hide in the broom closet, they’ve lost their warts and pointed hats, preferring business suits, police uniforms and work shirts. They chose living room circles instead of darkened fields with the stench of secrecy and mystery in their minds, they write books on Wicca 101, and spells for all occasions, they are the person sitting next to you.

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