” Interviews by Elizabeth Barrette and Diane Conn Darling
The Future of
Where Do We
Go From Here?
At this time, we find ourselves approaching a
threshold. The world has changed enormously over
the last thousand years, not only in terms of
innovation but in terms of speed; no doubt the next
thousand years will bring even more amazing
changes. From here we can glance back, peer
ahead, and consider what all this means for us
here and now.
In compiling this collage of essays, Diane and I
sought to capture the thoughts and feelings of our
community at this important time. We put together
a list of eloquent, insightful Pagans of our
acquaintance and invited them to share their ideas.
In approaching our contributors, we asked each
person to use divination in their favorite system
(draw one Tarot card, or take one glance in a
scrying bowl or whatever) with the query focusing
on the future of Paganism in the next millennium.
We wondered how the elder traditions would adapt
to new circumstances, how the more recent
religions would mature, and how Paganism will
shape the future.
Here's what our panel of visionaries had to say.
Paganism in the 21st
” Frederic Lamond, London, Great Britain
What does Paganism mean? The religious concepts of the immanence
of the divine in women as much as in men, as well as in animals,
plants and every thing that is on the face of the Earth and in the wider
cosmos? Or the organized self-described Pagan movement with its
Wiccan, Druid, Asatru and other branches?
The paradigm of immanent divinity now permeates not only all
branches of the Pagan movement and of the New Age, but is making
its way into the Christian churches. The "Death of God" theologians,
having pensioned off the fierce old man in the sky, find that the only
meaningful way in which they can still talk of God is as a force for
good within us. In his books Original Blessing and The Coming of
the Cosmic Christ, Matthew Fox calls for renewed recognition and
worship of the Earth Mother to balance the aggressive dynamism of
the Sky Father. Fox™s influence is growing in the underground of the
Roman Catholic church and among more liberal Protestant
theologians. Some Catholic theologians want to see the Holy Spirit
recognized as the divine feminine Sophia of the Gnostics, and look
forward to a new Trinity of "Father, Mother and Child." Five million
Catholic laypersons, priests and even some bishops signed a petition
to the Pope last year that he proclaim Mary "CoRedemptrix of the
Human Race" with complete equality with her son, Jesus Christ.
Many Protestant churches now pray to a "Father/Mother God" and
allow their pastors and members to call God "She." In Europe,
growing numbers of practicing Christians are deserting the cold and
dark traditional churches and meeting in small groups in "house
churches" that bear an uncanny resemblance to Wiccan covens.
Observing all these developments, there seems little doubt that the
dominant 21st Century paradigm will be a gender balanced
pantheism, despite the rearguard attempts of the Vatican and
What then of the organized Pagan movement? We have the advantage
of affirming divine immanence and pantheism in their purest form,
unencumbered by old scriptural dogmas that the churches now have
to reinterpret to fit into the new paradigm. In line with pantheist
concepts, we are a religion of inner personal experiences and not of
beliefs in myths of divine incarnations in distant cultures in the
remote past. We strive to empower our members to make their own
responsible moral decisions, instead of surrendering their power to
some guru or set of holy scriptures.
On the other hand, our numbers, though growing, are still small and
almost entirely confined to the traditionally Protestant countries of
Northern Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. This
need not matter, as small religious and political movements can
sometimes influence the spirit of the age out of all proportion to their
numbers. In the last 40 years we have already pioneered divine
immanence and Goddess consciousness and influenced the Feminist
movement (which then influenced the rest of society). Can we repeat
this success by reconciling Western society with the natural ecology
of our planet and making everyone feel part of Nature instead of
standing apart from it and trying to manipulate it?
Humanity´s survival may depend on it. But we can only lead by
example, and that means taking much better care of that part of
Nature that is closest to us: our own spirits, minds and bodies.
” Fred Lamond is an international lecturer and was a member of
Gerald Gardner™s original coven. His book, Religion Without
Beliefs, was reviewed in the summer issue (#20) of PanGaia and is
available from Janus Publishing, London.
"The dominant 21st Century paradigm will be a
gender balanced pantheism."
A Turning Point
” Pete Pathfinder Davis and Wende Northstar Davis,
Washington, United States
The Pagan renaissance has reached a turning point. The practice of
modern Witchcraft and other Pagan faiths has left its dark closet and
strolled quite proudly out into the sunlight. In the forty years since
Gerald Gardner, most groups tried (often unsuccessfully) to remain
secret by meeting behind closed doors and sharing their knowledge
only with a chosen few. This is hardly practical any more.
But all of that has been changing. The secrecy was to perpetuate our
faith during times of persecution. Today we are the fastest growing
spirituality in America. Certainly, there still are still problems of
bigotry, but compared to historical executions and torture, these can
hardly be called persecution. They are more properly termed denials
of our legally protected Constitutional rights.
Selena Fox (of Circle Sanctuary) recognized that there were
thousands of people who wanted to follow Paganism, but didn™t want
to be leaders or study a lot. Many just wanted to gather with like-
minded folk to celebrate the turning of the wheel in the Pagan
manner. Selena began to minister to these people, and her efforts and
those of many others have led Paganism (and Wicca in particular)
into the "Temple movement."
Many on the Pagan path attend our own churches to gather and
celebrate together. Many others continue in small group practice;
most Pagans practice as solitaries in between gatherings. In the
coming millennium, we will see more large groups established as
legitimate, tax-exempt organizations, with open attendance policies.
They will provide open worship and celebratory opportunities and
establish recognized, accredited seminaries for clergy, as well as
Pagan schools for the education of our children.
We are doing something wonderful for humanity by raising children
who are without the concepts of inborn guilt and sin. They
comprehend that it is they who are responsible for their condition,
who own the fruits of their behavior and control their own lives. A
whole generation of Pagan folk learn that their ultimate reward is not
some "pie-in-the-sky" but here and now, if they are willing to be
responsible for themselves.
At first, I didn™t think that my goal of helping Paganism become a
tolerated spirituality in our modern culture was going to be achieved
during my lifetime, but I stand corrected. I will live to see someone
yawn when I tell them I™m a Witch. Already several Interfaith
Councils have elected the Wiccan faith to membership, and one has
elected a Wiccan priest (myself) to be its president ” twice ! In spite
of some southern politicians™ efforts to fish for votes by attacking us,
the Pentagon has publicly declared its stand firmly in support of all
religious practices, including Wicca and Paganism.
In the last few years, our efforts at education have begun to pay off.
Virtually all press and broadcast media coverage has been positive
and it continues to grow because many of us have chosen to endure
the annoyances of the few remaining bigots and stand up to be
counted publicly. Those frontrunners were willing to take the body
blows that such fights always produce, but stood up because they
knew that the rights we enjoy in this country were hard won for us by
other brave people who stood up in the face of far greater risks,
penalties, and even death.
Spiritually, the new millennium is ours. Mainstream religion knows
this, else they would not be rewriting their liturgy to include Mother-
Father God and endorsing ecology. History may look back on the
twentieth century as "the Christian Interlude."
It™s time for all of us who can endure it to brace ourselves and stand
up to be counted. Pagan churches are popping up all over. Join one in
your area today. If there isn™t one, start one or support a national one.
You™ll be glad you were a part of it.
” Pete Pathfinder Davis began a coven in 1979 that provided
spiritual services and support for the Wiccan community; this grew
into the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, of which he is Archpriest
and his wife, Wende, is Archpriestess. For more information, see
www.AquaTabCh.org or write to ATC , P. O. Box 409 , Index, WA
"Spiritually, the new millennium is ours."
Ethnic and Modern
” Jonas Trinunkas, Lithuania
We live a truly exciting time, witnessing the transition of millennia,
and we are a part of it. Some of us see it as a lurid crisis; others
envision new era coming. The Parliament of the World™s Religions
announced "The Declaration of a Global Ethic" in Chicago, 1993.
The text of the Declaration is very dramatic, beginning with words:
"The world is in agony," though the authors of the Declaration
apparently were not capable of wording radical and prospective
In short, this ethic needs another fundamental demand: "The Earth
and all creation must be valued, protected, and we, as human beings,
must find our place within the web of all life, not outside and separate
from the whole of Creation." (Michael York) It must also reflect the
intention to treat all animals in a humane way: "All creation deserves
privacy and the very least, a humane death." Such ethical propositions
arise from continuing efforts to lead the human being out of the
isolation in which he has placed himself.
Here we witness a classic instance of something that appears to be
very new being actually very old, and even forgotten. When I read the
ideas of new spiritual (religious) or ecological movements, I find all
this in ethnic traditions of my country™s people.
Not long ago the Earth was addressed as "Mother" and was sacred to
Lithuanian villagers. They prayed to the Earth and on special
occasions kissed the soil. It was forbidden to strike upon the Earth; to
pollute fire or water or to break a tree twig in spring when buds were
opening. In our folk ways all creation, including humans, live the
same kind of life. This is shown in Lithuanian folk songs that still
The tide of the heathen revival is overwhelming the Western world,
but this is not a cultural crisis or a step backwards. With the growth
of modern democracy, the escape from dogmatic thinking and
totalitarian political systems, the human being now stands in a wider
scope of possibilities for choice and understanding. The diversity of
heathen movements in the world is a clear manifestation of this. Our
popular motto is: "Unity and diversity." While the Christian church
leaders have always been terrified at the idea of diversity, for
contemporary Paganism diversity has a great value.
The Lithuanian Romuva is one of many contemporary pagan
movements. It rests upon the ancient Baltic religion traditions that
have been preserved well in living folklore and customs of the
Lithuanian people. We make a clear distinction between ethnicity and
nationality. Romuva is not a purely Lithuanian movement; the old
Romuva (1300 C.E.) was the symbol of ancient faith of all Baltic
people and ethnic groups.
It is remarkable how our folk customs reflect such uniformity. For
example, before sowing the first rye seeds to the soil, one would pray:
"God, bring this up for the sake of all people, animals, birds, beetles,
for the poor and our enemies, and for all living creatures." Here, in a
peculiar way, the custom behavior crosses all boundaries dividing
people. We call it the Darna , harmony principal.
Modern (Wicca and other) and contemporary ethnic (Romuva, for
example) Paganism are carrying similar ideas and principles. There
should be no contradictions between them. The contemporary human
being is aware of the right for choice and will choose the life and
activities from that which s/he likes and understands. In 1998, the
representatives of ethno-heathen movements from different countries
gathered in Vilnius, Lithuania, and established the World Congress of
Ethnic Religion (WCER). Their intentions and ideas have been set
forth in their Declaration. It reads "We believe that the dawn of a new
era of individual and intellectual freedom and global exchange of
views and information gives us an opportunity to start again to return
to our own native spiritual roots in order to re-claim our religious
” Jonas Trinunkas is head of the Lithuanian Pagan organization
Romuva and of the recently founded World Union of Ethnic
Religions. For more information, see www.romuva.lt or write Jonas
Trinkûnas, Vivulskio 27-4, Vilnius 2009, Lietuvos Respublika
"Modern and ethnic Paganism carry similar
ideas; there should be no conflict between them."
” Patricia Monaghan, Illinois, United States
As the last millennium wheeled round in Ireland, my O™Dalliagh
forebears were crafting poems in the old bardic style in the west,
while somewhere in the midlands a Monaghan ancestor was keeping
alive the heritage of being a priest™s son.
I no longer sound my poems to the harp nor lay claim to the cleric™s
mantle by right of blood. But like my unknown ancestors, I struggle
to sustain a vision of the world which goes counter to that of the
dominant culture. They lived in a world where Christianity, which had
melded with Irish paganism to create what Pronsias MacCana calls "a
symbiotic religion," was becoming more rigidly and fervently
rejecting of pagan ways. Soon, the bards would be all dead or fled and
the Catholic clergy would suppress all memory of married priests,
save that which is hidden in the surname I wear.
For my part, I too struggle against the dominant vision of the world as
a passive soulless thing upon which we can work our will before
discarding it and flying off to a new virgin planet ripe for the
despoiling. I like to think I™m living at the cusp of a time when the old
ways my ancestors fought to maintain are coming alive again, and
that in another millennium they will be flourishing ” that we will see
our world again as sacred and the body, whether male or female, as
sacred as well. I dream, in short, of the restoration of polytheism.
For most of our history, humans have been polytheistic. Monotheism
is a recent invention, its 5000 years dwarfed by the 50,000 or so years
when the whole world honored multiple divinities. And even during
this brief time, most people throughout the world have remained
polytheistic. Strict monotheism has been the exception rather than the
But during the past thousand years, the monotheisms have gained
strength and power, spreading across the globe so that they are today
unquestionably the dominant form of religion (so much so that a
recent anthology of "religious" poetry included only monotheisms,
with the exception of Hinduism which they represented, peculiarly,
only by prayers addressed to male deities). Christianity, Islam,
Judaism, theistic Buddhism, all proclaim a doctrine of one true way
” and of one true god, for it is invariably a god, not a goddess, who
reigns supreme in the monotheistic worlds.
Monotonous, monopolistic, often monomaniacal: that is the world of
monotheism. It™s often dualistic as well, for if god is to be found in
only one place and one form, everything else becomes non-god.
Polytheism is vastly different. As Miranda Green has pointed out,
monotheism attacks the sacredness of the world, placing god "up
there" rather than "in here," or even more importantly, "over there," in
that bush or up in that tree or flashing by on the wings of that bird.
When there is only one god, there are many things which are not god:
cliffs, stars, ferrets, polar bears. You. Me.
But where monotheism is exclusive, polytheism includes all, and
there lies its subtle strength. When the next millennium rolls around, I
hope Mary is standing on the altar under the wings of Isis and next to
a leaf that fell from the Green Man as he passed on the Solstice. I
hope people still say mass, but that the celebrants are nude women. I
hope that all the ways are maintained, all moments and all places
honored, and all people known as holy.
That would, at last, be the one true truth.
” Patricia Monaghan, one of the pioneers of the women™s
spirituality movement, is the author of The Goddess Path: Myths,
Invocations and Rituals and of the forthcoming The Goddess
"When the next millennium rolls around, I hope
people still say mass, but all the celebrants are
” Pete Jennings, Great Britain
Ten years ago I could not have imagined a member of the Northern
Tradition such as myself heading a major European Pagan umbrella
organization. I am living proof that things do change in quite a short
time. There have been many significant developments in the UK
within that decade: an explosion of books, moots, conferences,
positive media coverage, official recognition and people generally
coming out of the closet.
I drew a single rune from my bag to indicate what the next decade
may bring. It was Ur ( u ) , a symbol of strength derived from the
extinct big horned aurochs that once roamed Europe. So, it seems
European Paganism will grow in strength, to wander at will again.
Certainly I have seen the seeds of it, through our own operations. At
the moment, most European Union countries are in a similar state to
the United Kingdom of 5-10 years ago: people are afraid of being
exposed, satanic abuse stories pop up from time to time, and there is
no official recognition of Pagan paths. Yet some other countries are
now getting their own moots, newsletters and conferences!
How I see the future of Paganism and how I would like it to be are
two different things. I would like it to continue to develop along its
many diverse paths, free of dogma from within and free of
discrimination from without. However, unless some Pagans are
willing to change some of their perceptions, this is unlikely to happen.
Dogma from within arises when one or more teachers/leaders are
perceived as having got it totally correct, to the detriment of
competing ideas. Too many Pagans adopt "gurus," whether the
individuals concerned want that role or not. Dogma breeds
discrimination, and we can be just as bigoted as other spiritual paths
in thinking our way is superior to others, be it Wicca, Druidry,
Asatru, Shamanism, or whatever. It also causes us to perceive other
religions outside of Paganism as less worthy ” with an arrogance we
have often accused them of. There are fundamentalists of many
religions and it is an uncomfortable fact that we must face that
Paganism has fundamentalists, too.
This is particularly evident in the UK with regards to the issue of
interfaith relations, which is to say Pagans talking to representatives
of other religions. This is attacked by some on both sides as
evangelizing. Those actually involved tend to see it as an information
exchange, not a way of conversion. Not everyone feels comfortable
with this process, and there are dangers of a religion misusing it, but
we can never expect others to be more trusting nor to accept or
understand us if we do not talk with them.
Interfaith work is still in its infancy in the UK, with both successes
and setbacks. It will be harder to progress in some other countries due
to the heavy influence of state religions. If I could have one wish for
the future of UK Paganism, it would be that the Government
separates itself from the Church. At present the House of Lords has
spaces reserved for bishops who clearly do not represent me. I would
like to see a level playing field for all religions.
Globalization is another big issue facing us. Access and usage of the
Internet is high amongst the Pagans of many countries and, being
naturally creative, many have seized the opportunity to network and
disseminate information. The Net has its dangers though: once we
only had to deal with localized "bitchcraft" ” the spreading of lies
and gossip. It takes on a new dimension when one individual can
reach thousands instantly. Even if it is later disproved, the damage is
done. Pagans are going to have to be more cautious in checking the
accuracy of their information and where it originates from. What
cannot be stopped as more people across the world start thinking for
themselves is that even more will rediscover their roots and become
” Peter Jennings is the current president of the Pagan Federation,
a networking organization for Pagans of all kinds in the British
Isles and parts of Europe and NorthAmerica.(
www.paganfed.demon.co.uk). He is also High Gothi of Odinshof.
"My wish for the future of Paganism in the
United Kingdom? That the government would
separate itself from the (Christian) Church."
Dining at the Spiritual
"We must shift to being agents of interfaith
dialogue, making social contributions, and
helping to shape the new myths."
” Anodea Judith, California, United States
As we board the Cosmic Chariot to the next millennium, one wonders
how an Earth-based tradition fits into the mass of biological sentience
cruising the spiritual smorgasbord in the post-modern era of Internet
Browsers, Quick Fixers, Spiritual Cynics, and Disillusioned Youth.
What do we have to offer and what do we need to survive?
Paganism brings joy and passion, practical moral codes, flexible
power structures, archetypal richness, and a strong ecological focus.
These are much needed elements that we can offer to the coming
millennium™s spiritual syncretism ” if we get the chance. Pagans are
seldom invited to the dining table of the spiritual smorgasbord and,
without our contribution, the table is missing the important elements
described above. We have responded by creating our own table.
Isolated among our own kind we find ourselves becoming esoteric,
inbred, and spiritually xenophobic. Yet our private table is also
missing some essential things, and members fight among themselves,
trying to find them. This does not command the respect that gets us
invited to dinner.
Connection to nature, ritual experience, and simple joy are
desperately longed for by many members of other religions. Yet they
do not come to Paganism because it seems too strange, too childish,
or prohibitively esoteric. If we are to be included at the table, we must
shift from being primarily interested in hanging out with our own
ranks, to being agents of interfaith dialogue, making social
contributions, and helping to shape the new myths.
The changes that are in store for Pagans are not different from the
challenge that humanity faces as a whole ” to grow up. We must
leave the extended infancy of being children of the Earth, children of
an archetypal Mother who endlessly provides for all our needs, to one
of being stewards of the Earth, an adult form that provides for the
needs of others through co-creation with the source. This makes the
emerging time of transformation a coming of age ritual, where an
adolescent sheds his or her former identity and emerges as a new
adult being, woven into the tapestry of the larger community.
Because Paganism is a religion that worships a mother archetype
(among others), there is a tendency to remain infantile. We do rituals
of asking and worshipping, but often fall short of taking true
responsibility. Many people at Pagan gatherings seem more
committed to marginality than true spiritual and personal growth.
Paganism will be left far behind if we do not cultivate the discipline
of inner practices and add to our strengths the ego-transcending
benefits of inner work.
Paganism, at its foundation, is a religion of the Earth and the body,
the original thesis from which we as sentient beings emerged. The
patriarchal religions typically worship the sky and the mind. In their
historical takeover, they created the antithesis that taught us to get
beyond our immediate reality and find a broader perspective. Their
methods were brutal, but their gift is essential.
It is time now to form a spiritual synthesis between the two,
integrating mind and body, Earth and sky, masculine and feminine.
We do hold a missing piece of the puzzle, but we are not the puzzle
itself, nor is a spiritual path that remains fixed upon an archaic past
likely to be the answer to an unknown future. It is the responsibility
of Paganism to keep Nature sacred, yet upgrade our own programs
enough to offer intelligent discourse in the larger spiritual
” Anodea Judith, Ph.D is a priestess, author, and healer who is
best known for her work with the transformative powers of the
chakra system, integrating inner mysticism with ritual experience.
She has been involved in the Pagan movement for 25 years. For
more info, find her at www.SacredCenters.com.
Respect Each Other
” Janet Farrar, Ireland
In most European countries, within their various Pagan communities
there is a divided attitude of "them and us." In this respect, Paganism
has got to change direction: we™ve got to start respecting each other a
whole lot more. Hopefully, we will learn to stop being people of the
book. All spiritual books are written by fallible humans. I would
prefer to see books used only as guidelines for self-discipline. We
need more spontaneity of spirit in our ritual practices. Ritual should
come from the heart, not from written words on paper.
Pagans in many European countries are attempting to find their roots,
much of which was lost through our grandparents™ and great
grandparents™ attitudes toward religion. Religion was reduced to a
form of control over the human psyche. By contrast, we are freeing
that psyche again. Part of the reclamation is that there is a new
priesthood growing who are putting aside dogma and its principles.
These people, who are willing to educate the up and coming Pagans
of the future, emphasize the need to take Paganism into the larger
world community and to use our knowledge to benefit the man in the
street, whether on a spiritual or mundane level. We need to learn from
other cultures and realize our shamanic roots as mirrored by eastern
European countries and Native Americans. The hedgewitch is nearer
the truth than we may realize.
” Janet and Stewart Farrar are founding members of modern
witchcraft.. You can find them on the Internet at:
” Philip Carr-Gomm, Great Britain
Paganism in Britain has been growing over the last decade. As we
move into the next millennium, I believe more and more people will
find Paganism a sensible, exciting alternative to mainstream religions.
I used The Druid Animal Oracle to inspire me with ideas about the
future of Paganism. I drew the Stag, representing Pride and
Independence. Here is an excerpt from the interpretation I wrote for
the oracle: "The Stag brings us the qualities of grace, majesty, and
integrity. The stag signifies independence ” both spiritual and
physical. In Ogham the Stag is related to Beith, the birch tree and the
number one. The birch tree is known as the pioneer tree and is
associated with the blessing of beginnings. This means that it is
auspicious to draw this card when contemplating new projects.
Through the stag™s connection with fertility and sexuality, this card
signifies that you will find a way to bring dignity, grace, power and
integrity to your sexual life."
As Pagans, we follow a spiritual path that honors independence; I
believe that more and more people will be attracted to the freedom
that Paganism offers.
Above all, Paganism invites us to reclaim our place in Nature and to
reclaim our bodies. It invites us to include our sexuality in our
spirituality. This is where I believe Paganism will really succeed in
speaking to large numbers of people. And if, as the Stag suggests, we
can find a way to bring dignity, grace, power and integrity to the way
we celebrate our sexuality, then I believe we will all have helped
progress the cause of Paganism, as well as the wider cause of
deepening our experience of being human and of becoming more
conscious and valuable members of the circle of Nature.
” Philip Carr-Gomm is the current head of the Order of Bards,
Druids (OBOD) and author of The Druid Way. For more
information, see http://druidry.org or write OBOD, P. O. Box 1333,
Lewes, East Sussex, BN7 1DX, UK.
"Ritual should come from the heart, not written
words on paper."
"More and more people will be attracted to the
freedom that Paganism offers."
A General Religion?
” Olivia Robertson, Fellowship of Isis, Ireland
My vision for the future of Paganism is that it™s going to become a
general religion for everyone. I believe we are moving from a solar-
based faith, to a star-based pantheism. I think basically it is going to
be a religion of the Goddess, but that happens to be my inclination. I
see everyone becoming pantheists. I do very much believe in the
future of Paganism.
Spring for all life on Earth is coming. The children of Gaea are
moving into an etheric sphere of being. This enhanced consciousness,
affecting every human, animal, plant and rock, is a natural
evolutionary progression. Evolution proceeds by jumps. We struggle
to our feet and our hair is pulled from above! We can observe the
gradual development of life and form through ever-increasing
complexity. But so far we choose to ignore the onset of mystical and
I see a future in which we gladly accept the inspiration of beings from
spiritual spheres more evolved than our own, but always balanced by
accepting our roots in the Earth. I believe tribes, religions,
movements, will be superseded by an amazing development of the
individual, expressed in originality, creativity and expressiveness.
And this will apply to a surprising self-generated progress in some
animals and plants. And this is happening now!
People, plants and animals have always had auras. We shall see them!
We shall be able to heal ourselves. We have always had the innate
capacity. Our wisdom shall increase when we realize our ignorance.
We will love unconditionally. We shall enjoy Heaven on Earth. It is
already here for those who can enjoy it with the eyes of a child.
” Olivia Robertson is Archpriestess of Isis and a founder of the
Fellowship of Isis, a worldwide Pagan networking organization.
For more information see www.fellowshipofisis.com or write to
Fellowship of Isis, Clonegal Castle, Enniscorthy Co.
Carlow, Ireland. An interview with Olivia appeared in PanGaia
"Spring for all life on Earth is coming. "
The Goddess Movement
” Starhawk, California, United States
As the year 2000 approaches, we Pagans cannot divorce ourselves
from the sense that we are reaching a significant watershed. Where is
the Goddess movement at this moment? Where do we see ourselves
going in the next millennium? As a movement of any size, we™re
about thirty years old, and like a person of that age, we™ve emerged
from adolescence and are moving toward maturity. We™re stepping
out of the broom closet and becoming visible, taking our rightful
place among the world™s religions and spiritual traditions. This
development is a mark of our success, but brings with it some losses
and dangers. Many of us chose the Goddess because we had deep
criticisms of mainstream society, especially of its treatment of women
and the Earth. We preferred being on the boundaries of institutions.
What happens when we become institutions ourselves; will we
become dogmatic and dominating? Yet, if we cling to our
marginalization, are we not turning away from the potential power to
transform the larger society?
Reclaiming, the group I™ve worked with since the early nineteen-
eighties, is struggling with issues of growth and structure. We™ve
grown from a small local collective to a net-
work extending over many communities in North America and
Europe, with a quarterly magazine, annual Witch Camps, local rituals
and classes and support for a sister community in El Salvador. We™ve
worked hard at developing an organizational structure that allows
each individual and community freedom and autonomy, yet allows
Reclaiming as a whole to have connection and communication.
What do we do well? The Pagan movement has created an enormous
body of ritual, liturgy, chants, songs, poems, literature, scholarship
and art. Granted, some of it is pretty dreadful, but that™s true of any
religion. The miracle is that much of it is good. Reclaiming has
developed techniques and disciplines of magic and energy working
and a collective ability to create powerful rituals for one person or for
a thousand. We™ve welcomed our newborn babies, marked our
children™s rites of passage, and sung our dying into the Other world.
We™ve created ritual at the gates of nuclear weapons labs, in defense
of the redwood forests, in jail, and in city streets. We™ve been part of
the major movements for political and social change.
I™d like to see more focus on youth, an effort to pass our tradition on
to the next generation. Today in many parts of the United States, the
prejudice and fear surrounding Witchcraft have made it impossible to
openly teach youth. But as our own children grow up Pagan, and as
other teenagers discover a longing for an Earth-centered spirituality,
we can begin to offer our young people some of the resources other
The broad Pagan community includes great diversity of age, class
background, gender and sexual orientation, even of politics and
lifestyle. However, we are not nearly as diverse in terms of ancestry
and ethnicity as the society around us. I hope in the next century we
confront this issue and have the courage to make changes so that we
can truly welcome all who are called to the Goddess.
We continue to deepen our work for social justice and liberation. The
Goddess has been an empowering figure for women and men who are
willing to challenge patriarchy.
The Pagan movement, by asserting that sexuality and pleasure are
sacred, stands as an important counterbalance to repressive religions.
Paganism offers a home to people of all sexual orientations. We will
continue to be a force for freedom.
As Pagans, we worship Nature, but many of us are far more at home
online than in the woods. We say Nature is our sacred text, but many
of us are functionally illiterate when it comes to reading it. My own
work and practice has shifted to grounding spirit in the natural world,
trying to integrate more deeply what I believe and how I live. We will
take the symbols we use and make them real: not just invoke air, fire,
water and earth, but know how to clean and conserve water, how to
grow food sustainably, how to plant a windbreak and how to live with
In short, I™d like to see us not just sing about the Earth being sacred,
but live it. The Goddess movement can become a real force for
changing the way we live. Unless that change occurs, the next century
will not be a comfortable one for human survival.
” Starhawk lives in California, where she works with the Reclaiming
organization. Her books include The Spiral Dance, Dreaming the
Dark and The Fifth Sacred Thing.
You may reach Reclaiming at www.reclaiming.org or write to:
Reclaiming, P.O. POB 14404, San Francisco, CA 94114.
"When our groups become institutions will we
become dogmatic and dominating? Yet, if we
cling to our marginal status, are we not turning
away from the power to transform the larger
These images of the future comprise only a few of
the myriad possibilities. Take some time to do some
divination of your own; you'll rarely find such a
perfect opportunity. What do you think will happen
to Pagans in the next decade, or century, or
millennium? Where do you think we'll go? We
stand now at a point of balance, and anything
could tip the scales. Much of what happens
depends on us, so work to manifest the kind of
future in which you truly want to live.
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