Some lament that the Pagan movement has failed to heal the world, failed to forestall human-made climate change and prevent abuse and oppression. A related complaint, usually made at the same time, is that other Pagans are self-absorbed. Others aren’t serious about their practice, the charge goes, as evidenced by the facts that they focus on caring for themselves, and that they’ve neglected to join the (usually male) complainant’s online community or sign their petition.
That’s a lot to take on, more than what I can fully explore in a single blog post. But to choose just one thing: it’s important to understand that other people aren’t always like you.
It seems reasonable, to think that most Pagans value Earth’s ecological integrity, and that they’re alarmed about the consequences of climate change. But Paganism is a diverse movement. Others may have different goals than you do, or they may genuinely struggle to put their ideals into practice. For some Pagan practitioners, simply caring for themselves and their families and performing their paying jobs takes massive effort. Also, not all Pagans, not even all Pagans practicing within the same Pagan tradition, are the same. If you can’t avoid judging others, at least judge them as individuals, not as stereotypes.
Something to try, in case you’re wounded by the shortcomings and self-absorption of other Pagans: take on the perspective of a Pagan who is different than you. It could be someone from a different social class, someone with a different skin color, gender identity, or sexual orientation, a Pagan who holds different metaphysical commitments than you do, or whose practice is based in a different tradition. Not sure what their situation or approach to Paganism is really like? Only read about it in books and blogs? Ask an open-ended question to find out more, and take care to do more listening than talking in response.
Something else to try, in case you’re wounded by the shortcomings and self-absorption of other Pagans: reflect on how well your own practice aligns with your Pagan values and principles. Is mitigating the impacts of human-caused climate change an important part of your Pagan practice? I hope you’re composting, and that you don’t travel by plane or eat meat!
It’s not helpful to condemn other people for being bad Pagans. Want to heal our society’s relationship with the living, breathing world?
Pagan, heal thyself.