Why is Paganism on the Rise?
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
In the U.K.’s 2011 census, more than 55,000 people identified as pagan, a follower of witchcraft or an adherent to some other New Age sect. This amounted to .003%, or three-tenth's of one percent of the population. A simpler way to say this is that three people out of every thousand claimed to be "pagan." This is a small number due to most of the world turning away from religion. But despite such small numbers, "Paganism" is one of the ten fastest growing religions in the world. Please keep in mind though, that Asatru, Aldsidu, Theodish Belief, Wicca, Druidry, and many other subgroups are smashed into one group called "Pagan" in these numbers. Therefore, Germanic Heathenry (which includes Scandinavian Heathens, who are Germanic Peoples) is even smaller than three-tenths of a percent. Religion seems to be dying overall in America. While 200 years ago, almost 100% of America attended weekly church services, today, only 22% of America goes to church once a month. Many people are leaving christianity, and if they do not leave the church for agnosticism or atheism, some are turning to Paganism. But why Paganism? Former New Age activist and now Catholic convert and author Roger Buck sees the attraction of today’s neo-paganism very similar to the appeal of the New Age movement: a loose body of beliefs that promises much and demands little. “I would argue Catholic Christianity in particular aspires to something of a maximum as opposed to a minimalism I see in paganism. … This maximum is both moral and doctrinal, whereas paganism and the New Age often amount to what I call ‘minimum-commitment spirituality.’ … [That] minimalism is attractive in itself. ‘Maximum-commitment spirituality’ is scary [to secular people]. And paganism much more easily allows for libertinism in our massively sexualized society.” PS-This is one of my major areas of concern with modern Germanic Heathenry. Most never read the Eddas once in their lifetime. Most never crack open a Saga. Most never really do ritual, but are active on social media claiming to be Germanic Heathens. While Heathenry does (at times) teach "We are our deeds", most are not doing any deeds outside of social media posts, many of which focus on social or political issues, and not spiritual ones. While most people know I am not a fan of surfing the web as legitimate research, this project shows clearly that the internet tells a pretty simple story as to why Paganism is on the rise. Paganism ends up being a place of refuge for many "monotheistic outcasts." Social Justice Issues that the bible teaches against (though many in the church now ignore the bible), make Paganism a viable alternative. They are looking for a spiritual path to celebrate their social justice cause, and not a path that focuses on spirituality. PS- Aldsidu is against all forms of bigotry per our mission statement. According to the influential Wiccan priestess Starhawk, reclaiming the word "witch" is to reclaim a woman's right to be powerful and to celebrate aspects of the divine that have been traditionally associated with "the feminine," such as creativity, mystery, emotion, natural cycles, and regenerative powers. “Many young people are leaving organised religion for similar reasons to myself,” says Eileen Nash, 20, an ex-Catholic turned Wiccan. “They’re tired of the shame, they want to ask questions and they don’t want to be a part of an organisation that promotes discrimination of any kind.” Jonathan Wooley, 30, an ex-Anglican turned Druid states: “As a queer man, I felt like I constantly had to apologise for my sexuality, and beg for forgiveness for something I didn’t choose. Meeting an increasing number of Christians at university – many of whom were bigoted, intolerant and closed minded, performing boring and aesthetically impoverished rituals – convinced me that this was not a spiritual community I wanted anything to do with. So I stopped going to church.” Witchcraft, or “liberation spirituality” as Instagram’s Erin Aquarian terms it, is particularly appealing to young, LGBTQ, and women of colour, people who identify with the witch as a liberating outsider force, so its little surprise the Craft is enjoying a renaissance among feminists and activists. For others, Ancestry, interest in their past, brings people to Pagan paths. “I always felt intuitively that nature was sacred,” recalls someone named Jonathan. “I just didn’t know where to go to acknowledge or learn how to express that. The more I discovered about Druidry, the more I realised it was the natural, traditional, spiritual way of my ancestors. My mother’s family are from North Wales, and my father’s family are from Ireland, so the way of the Druids really appealed to my desire to connect with my heritage.” Of course, many of the social justice warriors label Ancestor worship as racist. Ancestral pride seems to be less tolerant for people of European descent. A quick Bing or Google search on Ancestors brings about many websites warning about European pride and racism. This used to be surprising to me, but now is just an accepted "norm." Most cultures of our Ancient world, did venerate ancestors, no matter what corner of the planet they were on or from. And common sense would deem that all people, no matter what their skin color is, or what their gender is, would feel pride in honoring their Ancestors. But often, this is seen as a racist behavior. I myself hate racism, but toasting my grandparents in sumble should not be considered racist at all. Why is loving one's family taken this way by so many? The simple answer seems to be that the spiritual is far less important than the social justice stigmas. It shows that SJWs searching for their "witches" to burn at the stake, are too aggressive at labeling non-racists as "racists." This also shows me, if I am called racist for toasting my Ancestors, then the spiritual is certainly less important for the many than the political. Nonetheless, just eye-balling websites on Paganism, it is clear social justice issues far outweigh interests of spirituality and growth within modern Pagan movements. As stated above Paganism requires extremely little from its followers. Hence the perception that it is more of a group for SJWs is magnified when few sites discuss what Pagans actually do, or what Paganism actually is. Often, when trying to figure out what tenets Paganism holds, I come across many comments like this one: “I can shape my life or destiny any way I want,” says someone named Vicky. “I can believe anything I want and no one can really tell me otherwise. There isn’t a big, old, miserable guy in the sky anymore telling me off for feeling something that I can’t control, or waiting to swoop down and punish me if I set a toe out of line.” One Asatru organization has a saying "No one can tell you that you are doing it wrong." This same Asatru organization also states (less often) "Asatru is a religion of homework." But this is at odds with "no one can say you are doing it wrong." Why do homework if anything and everything flies? While this Asatru organization is just one of many, it is by far the largest Asatru organization in the world, and therefore, represents well the minimalist attributes of Asatru. This organization's social media posts are also very socio-political, as opposed to quoting historical sources trying to reconstruct a historical religion of Northern Europe's past. Paganism is not really the home of those of scholastic mind, who really want to put in time and effort into their spirituality, as Paganism is "minimalistic." Sure, the scholastic people, and the more "maximist" crowd do exist in modern Paganism, and I am certainly one of those, but this is not the norm in Heathenry, and is the decidedly small minority. I have lost count of how many times I have posted a quote from the 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th, or 12th century, and the response is that I must be a racist for having pride in my own European heritage and actually doing some reading about that historical heritage. I believe historical Heathens did value the Old Ways. Aldsidu is the Old Saxon word that means "Old Ways" and it was what the Heathen Saxons called their faith. The Heathen Saxons called other religious paths of foreigners "landuuise" meaning "customs of (foreign) lands." Historical Heathens valued a multicultural world. So do I. While I am not Egyptian, the Book of the Dead and pyramids fascinate me. While I am not Greek, Homer is amazing. However, my practice, and my faith, is Old Saxon centered ONLY, despite my respect and admiration of other paths. This also makes me even more of a minority in the Greater Germanic Heathen umbrella. Social Justice fears seem to be leaning towards making the world "one culture." The vast majority of Germanic Heathens, from both the more racial "folkish side", and the non-racial "universalist" side, do not promote diversity. Which is at odds with the historical Heathen worldview, that loved cultural differences, and respected foreign customs to the point that Aldsidu (Old Saxon Heathens) did not try to change the cultures they came across, not pushing their values/culture on others. The Folkish side of Germanic Heathenry focuses on a more racial "white-European" faith. This is not historical, as Greek Paganism, Basque Paganism, Celtic Paganism, Slavic Paganism, Roman Paganism, and many others were completely different from Germanic Heathenry, which Scandinavian Heathenry is a part of. Europe had many cultures and languages. Only the Germanic Tribes venerated the Aesir and celebrated Yule and Winter Nights for example. So, the folkish make it non-historical by making all Europeans have the same religion, when culturally, Europe was diverse. The same is true of the universalist side, which often pushes a mixing of all European faiths into one "Heathenry" especially through Proto Indo European studies, which ignores that Europe did develop into many diverse cultures. A friend of mine recently said: "I really hate the "we're all Indo-European people's!" Crap. It's a spectrum, not a homogeneous blob. Common sense dictates there was a good deal of cultural sharing, but even within Germanic cultures we see a lot of differences between tribal groups, and likely between familial groups. Hell, even today, we have regional cultural differences. Being on the Chesapeake, I absolutely grew up with different cultural habits than someone in Chicago (Stuffed ham for life!). The folkish heathens reject their own cultural uniqueness, and the universalists try to embrace diversity by rejecting it, and their both jokes because of it." Another friend of mine, a member of a universalist Asatru org, sent me this IM two weeks ago: "Now we are so universalist, we even allow non-Heathens in, so long as they stand against racism. By allowing non-Heathens in, we can be all-inclusive." Quotes like these, make me realize, bringing back the Old Ways is truly hard, and Heathenry will never be a main-stream religion again. The main reasons why people are coming to Heathenry, do not seem to be spiritual, and instead of celebrating deversity in the world, and embracing cultural differences as great things, making the world one via modern socio-political norms, is the focus, removing the spiritual and the faith from the "religion" itself.
If you are one of the few that wants the Old Ways, and wants to put forth some effort into learning the Historical Old Ways, please join us on the Facebook group "Aldsidu: Saxon Heathenry." I recently went YouTubing. I found a channel called "Masaman." Check out some of his charts at the bottom of this article. Masaman has over 337,000 subscribers, and he did several polls. The pictures below the ALDSIDU pic, are his. While Masaman states clearly that his polls are only based on a sample size of those who took part in his polls in 2017 and 2018, the numbers he documented are still pretty interesting. Two interesting items I did not picture from Masaman: a Germanic/Scandinavian Heathen is 20 times more likely to embrace National Socialism than a member of the general public, and 40% of Euro-Americans who take part in European forms of Pagansim are "European Nationalists." This implies to me, that not only are SJWs joining Pagainism due to socio-political reasons, so is the extreme right. Despite the fact there is a hard right in Paganism, Pagans in general lean towards the left, not the right, politically. I would really recommend Masaman's YouTube. I do not think it is 100% accurate on all facts, but for a secular guy, he is a great example of how the majority of people in the world perceive Pagans.