There is no randomness to the way people act. There are trends in their choices and decisions, all relying on previous experiences in life. Sometimes it takes longer periods of time to determine those particular points, but it can be found. (–I have no recall of who it was that said this to me, but this quote has stuck with me for a very long time in my life)
The last five years of my work life, my job has been about finding those trends to help determine business-oriented decisions for others. There are mathematical formulas dedicated to trying to guess the coming future, so that businesses and corporations will be ready for changes in consumer spending. so they can make more profit for their shareholders. Essentially, trend analysis has been utilized for corporate greed, and to a wide variance of success and failure. Predicative analytics is not as precise or automatic as many may think. In essence, its a guess utilizing some rather sketchy stretches of logic as a “solid” basis. If you get good at coaxing close guesses out of the material at hand, you seem like a genius. But knowing the underlying framework that is used, and how shaky that foundation truly is, I’m rather skeptical of most prognostication techniques.
Around a year and a half ago, I was asked if I could provide my own analysis of what the future of Paganism would be. Not Paganism in the DFW area or Texas or even the United States. Rather, I was asked to look into where I thought Paganism, world-wide, would be. For a few months, I sat on this question and tried my best to determine what I could. However, that’s difficult, given that I have very small ideas of what Paganism is like in places, such as Australia (where I have never been), much less in places such as the United Kingdom, where I have numerous friends to draw perspective from. Perhaps, I could draw the measure down to Texas? hardly. I’m not plugged in to any of the local communities to be able to draw any proper conclusion. That would also remove me from making any guesses towards the wider DFW area. Truth be told, I am hardly in any position to make any such guess. And even if I were plugged into those communities and had a wider grasp of Pagan communities throughout the world – I still could not make any guess, at least not with any concrete perspective. I can; however, sit down and do a small bit of dreaming. A little bit of “what I would like to see”, if you will allow me.
A Touch More Respect
I have watched enough of the Pagan community, particularly online, to notice those that tend to shun the newer Pagans. You know the ones: just discovering the Pagan world. They found a copy of some text that brought about the idea of an underground Pagan community that stands in the shadows, defiant of the over-bearing Christian community. They might have read Warnke’s “The Satan Seller” or Laurel Willson’ “The Satanic Underground” (under the pseudonym “Lauren Stratford”) and believed that there was a larger community there that could offer them a life without restraints imposed upon them by church elders. Except that what they understand as real is not so. Both Warnke and Willson were debunked by Christian magazine “The Cornerstone” as creators of fabricated stories. And yet those folks are here. They stumbled upon the Pagan community. Or maybe they are the white-lighters that everyone seems to so detest. They just haven’t understood that there is a dark side to all of Life as well – that there is balance in everything, even intent. Or perhaps they are just brand new to Paganism, and know so very, very little. I have watched people like this get swatted aside as being unworthy of the time of those who have been on the Path for a while. In my “perfect” Pagan world, these people would be treated differently. They would have the reality explained against what they have bought into, with respect to the point that they are Seekers. Just a touch more respect for the folks, while remembering that we were all those wide-eyed new Pagans at one point in our lives.
A Little Less In-Fighting
I, like many of you, have survived the various struggles that have come about from a “Witch-war” or a struggle between two different types of Pagan groups in a local community. It winds up being a lot like watching a gang-war in the deep-urban areas of Los Angeles. A constant barrage of fighting over who is the better group for a new Pagan. The reality is that there is plenty of room for each (and more) within the wider Pagan community. Two groups can co-exist in the same urban area, so long as they respect one another. Again with that respect thing, eh? To be honest, there is more than enough room for everyone – groups, traditions, familial units, solo Pagans, solitaires…everyone.
Back in the mid-1980s when I first came to understand that I was a Pagan, there were not a lot of resources available. Most Pagan resources were available by mail-order, such as The Green Egg or Circle Sanctuary’s quasi- newspaper/magazine. If you knew a Pagan, it was likely because they lived near you. If they lived further away, you were most likely on a call-in Bulletin Board System (BBS). This was where I had contact with most of the Pagans I knew, both local and at a distance. Being connected with others was not the easiest thing. Over time, the internet arrived and with it, a wider aspect of connectivity. As a medium of connectedness, it has replaced many other forms – and in some cases, that includes the physical aspect. In a perfect Pagan world, this medium of interaction, communication and connectedness would allow us to discover ways that we are similar – rather than drive us apart. And that has happened to one degree or another, but the internet is also rife with those looking for manners of division too.
Let’s face some reality here. The internet provides a strong degree of anonymity. With that anonymity comes the ability to be overly negative, to be a sore spot for others because being a negative force is much easier than being a positive one. And negative attention is better than being absolutely anonymous. Its an aspect of human nature that I am not sure can ever be completely disposed of. Dealing with it….well, that’s a post cut of a whole different cloth.
Do I believe that such a Pagan world could exist? Better communication, more respect, and feelings of strong connectivity of being Pagan together? Possibly. If I tried to extrapolate that from what data I could collect from the areas of Paganism that I do have knowledge and connectivity with – I am not sure I would be that positive about that possibility. However, as I noted before, I also understand the odd complexity of using mathematical formulas to predict the behaviors of people. The true measure of the trends is not so much human behavior, as much as it is human exploration. And which direction, which concept, which philosophy will draw the majority of people to it is as predictable as where each blade from a fistful of grass will land: whichever way the wind blows.