I think we all can agree on one thing – that Paganism is going through some growing pains. It would probably be a good idea if I were a little more specific. Paganism is going through a “growing-up” period. There’s little dispute in that aspect. However, where there is a dispute is the manner in which something as large, over-arching, and disparate as “Paganism” should explore towards this concept of “growing up.”
On the one-hand, there are those that believe that there needs to be a much deeper exploration of Paganism’s wider-ranging theology. In some respects, there’s the desire to ditch out on the “fluffy bunnies” and “white-lighters” of the Community, and embrace some of the darker aspects of Paganism. Others point to a need to explore more than just the ‘Wicca-101″ aspects that tend to populate the local bookstore shelves. In other words, we need to move deeper into the aspects of Spirituality. There are others who believe that the maturity for the Pagan community comes through an embrace of discourse of beliefs – even where that discourse turns to argument, disagreement and outright vocal hostility. Others point to the perspective of seeking deeper perspectives of reconstruction. Others a “back-to-basics” approach. There are those that set forth to embracing newer archetypes such as super-heroes from comics and movies over that of the traditional archetypes described in folklore, myth and legend.
I have some disagreements with all the approaches – and I have agreement with many approaches as well. However, I think the greater area of focus is to realize that Paganism encompasses many different beliefs – some even diametrically opposed to one another in their very natures. I do believe that the best approach towards a “maturing” of Paganism, as a whole, is to find an area of common ground…and start from there with all of these ideas, concepts and perceptions. You don’t have to agree or accept that any of these approaches is something that you would follow. But we can agree that the approach is valid for the individual following and practicing that perspective.
I’m not Asatru. Far from it. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the Asatru faith is not compatible with who I am. That doesn’t make it any less valid for the individual practicing that Path. Maturity, in my opinion, STARTS when an individual understands that every Path is valid for the Seeker that treads it. That Seeker doesn’t need to be you. But the respect for that Path should be there – even from the non-adherent. After all, if you want respect – you will need to give it as well.
Are all the aforementioned things necessary for the growth of Paganism? Sure. Perhaps not in overly large steps. But I can see the validity in all of those changes in perception for the growth of Paganism for each individual adherent. I firmly believe that once we can accept the idea that not all of us think or believe alike, and that regardless of how silly it looks to ourselves – each Path has validity for its adherents — then we start the process of growing up and maturing.
Just one Pagan’s opinion….