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21st Century Pagan
an article by Blackhawk

We live in an age of rapidly-increasing industrialisation; technology is evolving second by second, infiltrating the daily lives of almost every single human being on the planet. Probes descend to the deepest, darkest places at the bottom of the oceans, map distant planets and are, at this very moment, heading out of this solar system into the void between the stars; satellites spin a web of digital data which covers the entire Earth. Technology is here, and there’s no escape.

Religion is controlled; established; industrialised. State religions are the unalterable status quo, perfectly formed for social control and the continuation of [profitable] wars. Thinking outside the box is not recommended; religion is religion, all else is cult.

Amid all of this sit the sons and daughters of Mother Earth. How do we fit in? How do we create lives for ourselves and our families in line with our belief in the sanctity of life and our concern for the welfare of Nature herself? How do we explore and express a faith which sponsored propaganda derides or, in many cases, punishes? How do we live lives true to ourselves in an environment which is rapidly becoming more and more alien?

Some return to the wilderness, living off and with the land, living in harmony with their surroundings, giving and receiving in equal measure. Some fight the processes of artificial growth which are sponsored by commercial empires and taught to our children as gospel truth [ “progress is good”; “cash is king”; artificiality is “the real thing”], fighting with weapons of example, education and protest. Others live their faith and their daily lives quietly. Hidden. Diverting blows of derision and contempt with shields of anonymity and silence.

Living as a Pagan in the western world today is not easy. Though our numbers are increasing at a gathering pace, society remains geared towards adherents of established religions [ER's]- the twin giants of christianity and islam, or the minor players such as hinduism, sikhism, judaism, etc.

Religious holidays from school or work are accepted without question - in fact they are encouraged - for ER’s, but employers / educators will rarely accept a request for time off to observe and celebrate samhain, yule, lughnassah, etc. as legitimate holidays.

Religious schools are widespread for ER’s, but how many legitimate Pagan schools exist to educate our children in a manner suited to our beliefs?

When was the last time you heard of Social Services removing children from their homes and families and categorising them as “at risk” because their parents were muslims, jews or presbytarians?

The truth is : no matter how inclusive our society pretends to be, in many ways we [pagans of all kinds] are discriminated against both overtly [lack of representation] and covertly [through propaganda and media manipulation].

So how do we, as Pagans, respond to the situation in which we find ourselves? Do we slip into the shadows, hoping that we are not noticed as being “different”? Do we accept a position at the fringes of society, happy not to be the target of derision?

For so long this has been the case, but in the words of the american bard : “the times they are a-changin’”. With Pagan numbers growing rapidly across the western world, more and more of us are standing up to declare our faith, stating loud and proud that this world was PAGAN FIRST.

21st Century Pagan - © Blackhawk 2003


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