Well, we all managed to make it to the end of another calendar year. Much like the previous year, this year has had its share of challenges. While those difficulties have been rough and tumble, we’ve all learned from each struggle and managed to continue. Certainly, we will see more struggles going into the future. More challenges that place us on the edge. But we will also have happy moments. We will have triumphs that equal – and surpass – the energy and emotions of our tragedies. That’s all a part of the constant cycle of life. Many will see this as an example of the metaphor for “circling the drain.” I see it more as a long trail up the mountain. As we climb higher, the climb gets more difficult in places. However, if we stop every so often, and turn around, we can enjoy the gorgeous view – and reflect on how much we have persevered to get to this point. As well as look up to the mountain’s pinnacle and realize there’s more to climb. We all climb the mountain for different reasons. Each of those reasons are personal and varied. Each are just as valid as the next person’s.
I have been taking some views towards the future of our collective Paganism over the past few posts. Today’s post will mark the end of that grouping of posts. I have had a lot of fun writing these posts. I’m not trying to predict the future of our collective Paganism. I’m not arrogant enough to believe that I have any measure of the pulse of what is to come. I can see the trends of the past, and attempt to predict what might happen. But as I have noted before, the troublesome data set remains the human beings. Human beings can defy logical reasoning and make choices that are antithetical to a reasoned trend. Human beings remain the unpredictable factor to a coming future.
Our collective Paganism will most certainly continue on into what is certainly an unpredictable future. What shape it takes, what ritual aspects it continues to observe…all of that is to be determined by the younger Pagans, as I have noted before. This could all look exactly the same or so radically different that those of us within Paganism barely recognize what it has become. Or it would be somewhere in-between. My bet is for somewhere in-between. But its not for me to decide that future. My chance for growing Paganism came during the late 1980s and early 1990s – and followed through to where we are today. I had a hand in that, as did all the Pagans of my generation. The coming future is not ours to design, move forward, and expand upon. That belongs to our younger Pagans, some of whom are my age. That’s right. I am fifty-(mumble-mumble). I’ve been on my Pagan Path since 1986. I was twenty when I took my first steps. Later that year, I turned twenty-one. But there are Pagans just taking their first steps on their own Pagan Path that are my age. Some even older. Their “new” eyes will help initially set the future in motion.
A future built on the stage we currently stand on. A stage built on the past of other Pagans. A stage built on the memories of Pagans who had a grand vision of the future that probably never approached their dreamed of future. That’s because the future was built by others who expanded on those visions with their own desires of what Paganism should become. Those also had a grand vision of what Paganism might become. Their younger generation steered that vision as it applied to their younger dreams. That cycle continues to this day and on into the future.
When I was in my younger years of Paganism, there were dreams of Pagan temples honoring the Gods standing side-by-side on city blocks with churches and in suburban sprawl like the current churches that litter our neighborhoods. There were dreams of an acceptance of Paganism and exultation of the acceptance of this wider belief system in the public world-wide. Neither of those dreams have been realized to any full extent. I sincerely doubt that these ever will come to fruition. While I still see seeds of this “need for wider acceptance”, the coming of Pagan beliefs manifested within an individual rather than a group has quietly extinguished much of that flame. For the most part, these solo Pagans (commonly referred to as “Solitaires” – a phrasing I personally eschew) are not trying to develop a Paganism that has buildings, temples, groves, and such readily available on every corner. Seemingly, they do not wish to create spaces with neo-signs standing out front, advertising the existence of such locations. Most solo Pagans I have encountered are quite content in seeing the entire world as their temple. From skyscrapers in the vast concrete jungles to the wide-open prairie lands to anywhere else. The truest temple we have is the world around us, according to this perspective. Honestly, it’s a perspective that I do ascribe to, so there is a strong degree of bias in what I write here.
With a current that skews far stronger towards that of the solo Pagan than to the Pagan group perspective, is this a future that I see rising? A Paganism where the group flavor diminishes? Where the dreams of established sanctuaries, temples, and groups do not come to fruition? I’d be a complete fool to say yes. Not only is the future impossible to predict, but established locations have already happened. Take, as a singular example, Circle Sanctuary. They exist. They thrive. If you are looking for a blueprint to work from – there it is. As with any blueprint, its model can be altered accordingly. What’s necessary for that model to thrive? Well, I’m not one-hundred percent sure, but I would imagine that it comes down to a core group of people that whole-heartedly believe in that vision. People willing to place their entire soul into the creation, maintenance, and growth of such an idea. Thus, I would never rule such an aspect out of the future. There definitely are those people out there. And despite what an analytical trend might say, they most certainly ARE a part of the future. That’s not hard to believe in. That’s not hard to see. What is difficult to ascertain is the size of their significance in that future. They will exist, regardless. They currently exist. The truer debate comes to the degree of their existence.
A few have asked what references and sources I have to back up my assertions. Aside from personal observance – none. I’m not some theological nerd who studies every aspect of theological perspective. I can barely talk the talk of a theologian. I have no studies in my background – other than the studies of Catholic theology and theory that were hammered into my head during my high school years. But to be fair, I’m not claiming to be “right” here. I’m looking at everything for a prospective of discussion. I’m not telling you that this concept of the future that I am writing is a “definite” thing. Merely that this is what I am observing and relating in these blog posts. I claim no stranglehold on the truth. I do not have the truth tied up and laying at my feet, eviscerated for the whole world to perform their own autopsies upon. I’m just me. One simple Polytheist Pagan Druid, just trying to make my way through life the best that I can. Just trying to draw up a touch of discussion on the idea of the future, even if that happens out of my eyesight and hearing. Nothing more.
To quote Yes’ “Close to the Edge”:
Close to the edge, down by the riverYes, “Close to the Edge”
Down at the end, round by the corner
Seasons will pass you by,
Now that it’s all over and done,
Called to the seed, right to the sun
Now that you find, now that you’re whole
Seasons will pass you by,
I get up, I get down
I get up, I get down
I get up, I get down
I get up
Indeed, the seasons do pass us by. We observe them every year through the cycle of the Wheel of the Year. We use our rituals to mark the passing of time. We learn from the Past; we observe where we are in the Present. We don’t always talk about the Future, until the Veil thins or the physical calendar of the Year prepares to change (as I am doing here with these blog posts). Perhaps, we need to be more open about our Future throughout the Year? We cannot completely control our collective Future, but we can influence it to one degree or another. Do we want or need public temples? Is our collective Paganism going to move completely towards a solo perspective? Is the aspect of groups rising or waning? Or are we currently in the downside or upside of a cultural cycle within Paganism itself? Is this dynamic power-struggle between solo Pagans and Group-oriented Pagans a waxing/waning shift that continually occurs from our collective Past into our Present, and further on into our Future? Well, the “seasons will pass us by” …but I think these questions will wax and wane into the future…. only the continual slow roll of Time will truly tell. I, for one, am excited by the future that our younger generation of Pagans will bring forward. Likely, I will not be alive in this incarnation to see this – but I am excited by their dynamic energy, and their innovative manner of thinking. I hope I get to see just a glimpse of it all…just a glimmer. One day….