Sometimes I hear Pagan folks in the UK talk about recognition of Paganism as a religion, and hey this is a great idea. But sometimes when I hear people talk, it’s like they’re hoping for a position parallel to the big, mainstream, organised religions. And you know what, they then start vying for who can be “credible”, which means organised, exclusive and seen to have clout. And pretty soon we got people driving in the wedges, and we’re not talking about Paganism any more. Then we have “real” Wiccans, “real” Heathens, “real” Druids, “real” XYZ, so anxious to distance themselves from the imaginary masses. And then we’re told “of course Paganism isn’t a religion (but we are)”, and “of course witchcraft isn’t a religion (but Wicca is, and we say who is and isn’t really Wiccan etc)”.
Well whatever my dear little sunshines, but just a little backtracking. In this scramble to be one of the big boys (at least in our heads) we’re forgetting just one thing. For all the talk of rights, we’re forgetting that all our religious rights as Pagans in the UK come from the rise of secularism. Not from a sense of what counts as a real religion with clout (which hasn’t been extended by progress essentially), but from a sense of the personalisation of spirituality, and the irrelevance of religion to politics.
So please Pagans, embrace secularism along with individual spirituality, and quit imagining that dinosaurs evolve, or that it would be nice to be one. Know which side your bread is buttered on, and work for more freedom for all.
The way we get to have Pagan spirituality acknowledged is to have any individual spirituality acknowledged for its own merits. Number 1, like in medicine, “do no harm”. And no special clause if you’re big, organised, rich or old, or if you can get a lot of people to agree that we’re “us” and they’re “them”. No special clause if you all believe in the same kind of harm. That’s it. If you want Pagan spirituality acknowledged, dissolve the special clauses. We don’t need any more, and certainly not any of our own.
Still think “Paganism isn’t a religion”? Well just deal with it, and do it.