A Brief History of the world

Oct 14th, 2014 | By | Category: Articles

trevorUrban Pagan. That’s what a lot of us are these days. Personally I like the phrase, I think it sounds quite sexy. I guess that’s because it also sounds like a clothing range, ripped jeans and faded leather jackets, designer shades tilted down and a moody stare into the lens, or maybe even a new eau de cologne pour homme (oh come on… it’s going to be French!)

It’s also, in its literal sense, an oxymoron. Pagans were once country folk. I like the way it all gets flipped round. When the Romans were in charge the Christians were pagans, then when the Christians were in charge everyone else was a pagan. But now it’s all up for grabs again, Traditional Witches and Reclaiming Witches; Druids, Heathens, Pagans and neo-Pagans, lots of them all believing, well, pretty much everything… but in a good way, a subjective, non-dogmatic way that allows Druids and Witches to breathe the same air and share their stories in a way that Christians and Witches once never could.

So where did the Romans and the Christians go? Well, they’re still around and they’re still in power in many places but they are starting to feel the lack of the certainties that once fuelled their legislation, their conquest and their unwavering belief in their version of God. Despite the tenacious survival of some forms of fundamentalism and the occasional flaring up of post-liberal support, it remains a commonly held view amongst religious and social commentators that the meta-narratives of world religions are breaking down, drawn against their will towards a philosophical black hole from which neither light nor Light can re-emerge. Passing through the event horizon of a secularised society they maintain dignity and meaning only through their relationship with history. Religion, in the traditional sense of the word is becoming a lost Eden, a broken promise.

But if religion is falling into darkness, spirituality, an oft overused and misunderstood term, remains vibrant and full of possibility. It bespeaks a form of faith at the edge, prophets and preachers relocating from pulpits to parking lots, salvation measured out in coffee cups and the quality of human relationships rather than in doctrinal agreements which require the adherent to believe in the impossible. I asked a Buddhist recently what or where is Nirvana. He said he never thought about it. And that in religious terms is both the answer to the problem and the problem itself.

But I guess we have to ask… does Paganism have the same problem or has its emergence as a religion of the alternative circumvented the self-destruction built into the religious institutions that initially guaranteed their own survival (but ultimately their own self-destruction) by doctrines of objectivity and holiness? Don’t take offence at the title ‘alternative’. I know Earth religion predates monotheism by one hundred thousand years… but neo-paganism doesn’t, in fact some of it doesn’t even pre-date me!

What’s different? Well, society for a start. It’s receptive to change in so far as these days we wouldn’t tell Galileo to fuck off and take his telescope with him (although I guess if I proclaimed myself the Saviour I’d be offered medication rather than adoration). But where the change does kick in a positive way is the coming together of people in caring for the planet. Christianity sought to dominate the planet and some other religions rejected the idea that our Earthly existence was significant or even real. But, it turned out that matter matters and it matters so much our relationship to the Earth is now seen by many in terms of parent and child rather than as simply a human resource.

Where was I, oh yes, the emergence of the Urban Pagan, those for whom the high rise obscures the view of the sun rise. Well, you’re here and you’re here to stay. Grow strong, history salutes you.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Comment