Neo-Pagans are in danger of becoming as relevant as the Dodo. And the fault lies at their own feet. It isn’t the evil Christian villains subjugating and victimizing them. It is their own willful ignorance.
That’s exactly what it is, willful – the facts are out there, they are just inconvenient to a good fantasy, apparently. Short sightedness plays into this as well.
If Neo-Paganism is to survive then the adherents need to educate themselves and stop perpetuating ridiculous myths and outright lies in order to make themselves appear relevant. An example: in North America, the Salem witch trials is a big myth. The people who were tortured and executed were not witches. They were victims but Christian victims of a belief system that had gone askew. Or as some research suggests, they were executed due to ergot poisoning. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-D34Q19JeMo
Witchcraft, at that time, was believed to be the craft of the devil. It wasn’t about healing with dandelions and chamomile. The belief was that a witch was a witch because she had pledged her troth to the devil – there was some dreadful kissing of his butt end involved to seal the deal. That was witchcraft then. It is not witchcraft now. Apples and oranges.
This is not a subtle difference in interpretation; “witch” then and “witch” now are like day and night. Two totally different things. The word “witch” has been redefined and that’s fine. The frames of reference have changed. Society has changed. By and large, educated people do not believe in a devil that requires ass kissing; for most of us, CEO’s have taken over the role of that whole butt kissing thing. We don’t need a devil, we have them.
Neo-Paganism has not grown a bit since the earlier days. Not unlike other belief systems, most adherents are locked into an existence of myth and ignorance. Current historical research, archaeological finds, facts and figures are ignored in favour of a fantasy existence of fairies, spells and hocus pocus.
Is it so wrong to push Neo-Paganism into the modern world of science and fact? Is it so wrong to make this system relevant by examining how basic premises can be adopted to create a better world? Some, to be fair, are doing this through various eco-initiatives but it isn’t enough. Why can’t the entire system be used as life guidelines on their own, without hauling out deities of which we really have no connection?
That was then, hundreds and thousands of years ago. This is now. There are no gods or goddesses. There are archetypes. These archetypes encompass the human desire for improvement, the desire for strength of character and body, the desire for justice and equality.
If Neo-Pagans want to be taken seriously, if they want respect from the rest of society, then they have to move ahead and not be so terrified of truth and knowledge.