Since the mid-1990’s, thanks in part to the work of several notable Pagans, Paganism has become a public religious movement in South Africa. I use the phrase ‘religious movement’ because, in keeping with the global emergence of several distinct Pagan religions, Paganism in South Africa is a collection of diverse theologies, religious practices, and peoples.
There is no single dominating theology! There are many equally valid theologies, belief systems and religious practices.
There is no single primary national Pagan leader or leadership! Whether Pagans hold a position of leadership in public Pagan organisations, or insular Covens, Groves, Clans, or serve as familial patriarchs or matriarchs of their own folk or family traditions, there are many Pagan leaders, of all genders, all equal to the task of offering support, guidance and leadership.
Some of us have, over the past 23 years or more, learned that more can be achieved through mutual cooperation, rather than competition; that consultation need not mean consensus, and that participation, whether in an insular, regional or national community, is entirely voluntary.
We are a united national community in our shared identity, even if we don’t always agree with each other on theology, politics, social advocacy or custom. That is as it should be. Modern Paganism is not a totalitarian or authoritarian religious movement, and it should never become one.
Some of the earliest covens and groups have survived the test of time, some have not. Several new Wiccan and Asatruar groups have been established. Some are leaving an indelible mark of achievement and influence on their respective communities. Many individuals have emerged from the movement, some not connected to any insular group. All, in their own way, are contributing towards ‘Pagan nation’ building.
Their contributions to the evolving character of modern Paganism in this country are noteworthy, and they should be congratulated and encouraged. You all know who you are! Thank you.
As I observe the bale-fire of Beltane, I give thanks for the blessings of my brothers and sisters in spirit, everywhere. I wish for you all, strength of character, courage of heart, and success in all that you do for others.