Essence of Paganism

Here we have Tom Rowsell saying that all paganism in Europe is defined by dedication to deities. He thinks it’s all about the gods and worshiping the gods.

I think he has the wrong end of the stick there. Rowsell’s emphasis on the gods leads him into some needless complexities, as well as some blind spots.

The essence of everyday paganism–the mentalité we want to recover–is honoring the ancestors and the local land spirits. Life at the household level.

The gods are something more. Too great a focus on them at a personal level is misplaced. They are too many for one person. They belong collectively to the community, to the nation, and to the great national holidays.

If we were to follow the pattern of our pagan ancestors, we neo-pagans in Europe and in the European diaspora would be participating, more or less gladly, in the “public” rites of Christianity. Our ancestors didn’t get a pass because of their personal belief systems and neither do we.

I think many people understand this, but not all. But those who do understand don’t know how to break out of the problem. It’s as simple as recognizing that the ancestral world, with its mono-ethnic dominance, is likely gone forever.

It’s easy to be a modern pagan if you focus on the personal and household sphere. But where the gods are larger than life expressions of ethnicity it’s no longer possible for them to dominate the national community.

Our fellow citizens don’t universally share either our heritage or our paganism. Not anymore, and probably not ever again.

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