EREBOS. Do contemporary Witches exist? Does modern Witchcraft exist? Are some forms of contemporary Witchcraft a religion (a mystical nature-based religion or otherwise)? The answer to these three questions is “yes”. But none of these questions lead to an answer which may shed some light to the origin of modern Witchcraft(s). The correct question should be whether contemporary practices establish that a “pre-Christian religion based on witchcraft” existed, and if it did whether its traditions as currently propagated within much of Paganism actually were the foundation for the modern practices and religion of contemporary Witches (and many other Pagans). I believe that the foundations of contemporary Witchcraft – as understood within the Pagan community, and as it is utilised to explain it to outsiders – could be seriously flawed, and that the origin of practices in contemporary Witchcraft(s) may in fact lie somewhere else.
EREBOS. Central to most forms of contemporary Paganism are traditions and paths based on ancient European practices, but this ethno- and Eurocentrism could easily open doors to a dangerous process of differentiation based not only on ethnicity, culture and religion but also race. In a country such as South Africa, which has been marred by legislated racism in the past, contemporary Pagans should guard against any potential form of racism within the community. And Pagans should beware of racism wearing the cloak of culture and ethnically-based traditions.
EREBOS. Much of the basis for contemporary Paganism is based on the cultures and religions of a number of European cultures and tribes such as the Celts, Saxons, Scots, Irish, Germanic, Nordic and Greco-Romans, and although it may be true that these culture had developed social and religious structures, we should not ignore the fact that these ancient people were not “noble savages”. In reality, the “good old days” were not as wonderful as we imagine them to have been.
EREBOS. While most monotheistic religions tend to view time as beginning and ending, most Contemporary Pagan religions view time as cyclical – as such many Pagans do not consider as likely the possibility of an apocalyptic end to the world. Nonetheless, many Pagans seem fascinated by the purported 2012 Mayan end of times prediction – especially the shift in consciousness which may accompany it. The irony when it comes to this specific end of times prediction is that it has nothing to do with paganism or Paganism – Mayan or otherwise. In fact the 2012 Mayan prediction is pretty much a Christian fabrication which New Age authors and pseudo-scientists embraced wholeheartedly years ago.
EREBOS. The majority of followers of contemporary Pagan religions are not born into a Pagan path, and as such Paganism tends to be made up of individuals who have consciously decided to act on their spiritual call after coming to the self-realisation that spirituality is an individual choice. When as a Pagan you decide to make your new spiritual path known, you are most likely to face societal problems, and as such you should know that you are taking a step which will forever change your life, and the life of people you know and love. You should also realise that the choice to embrace a new, and at times rather innovative, spiritual and religious path is not an one-easy-step decision, it is multi-facetted, and involves much more than the coming out process.
EREBOS. This article was first published in October. Under my references I did cite: “On The Pagan Parallax: A Sociocultural Exploration of the Tension between Eclecticism and Traditionalism in Contemporary Nature Religions” by Léon van Gulik. However, Chas S Clifton is correct. Especially in the first two sections of my article, there are a number of paragraphs that are indeed too closely comparable to Van Gulik’s writings. It seems that I did indeed fail to fully acknowledge and credit Van Gulik’s work, and that some of the conceptual ideas I utilised in my writings were substantially similar to the originals. Although I did to some extent change the original words, and did cite Van Gulik’s work under my References, I did indeed failed to indicate where I utilised his ideas and failed to fully credit him when I did so. I hereby wish to sincerely apologise to Van Gulik and his publishers, and wish to assure them that I at no time intended claiming Van Gulik’s work as my own.
EREBOS. Many contemporary Pagans have the tendency to default to “Wiccan mode” when it comes to their practices, but ironically enough while Wiccan concepts, language, practices, structure and cosmology are utilised, if not exploited, many Pagans still refuse to acknowledge that Wicca has acted, and still acts, as the main gateway for most other Pagan religions. Wicca is often used as a catch-all religious and spiritual culture for contemporary Paganism (I exclude Nordic and some Reconstructionist religions), but not only has this resulted in the exclusion of the abundant diversity of the modern Pagan movement, but it also continues to feed the misconception that Wicca is generic. In fact the term Wicca/Wiccan has become so nonspecific that in many cases when a person identifies themselves as Pagan, the first reaction from outsiders is: “So you are Wiccan?”
EREBOS. I want to see Pagans have access to the same things other religions and spiritualities do. Chaplains, hospice-, child- and elder care, education, help for our homeless and jobless, counseling, spiritual and clergy training, etc. In the past I actually believed that all of this was possible. Surely if we – solitaries, covens, circles, small groups, large groups – can stand together… However, this is unlikely to happen without creating a contemporary mindset. The thing that seems to hold contemporary Paganism back is the very same thing which has always held it back, except that it isn’t even real as in many ways the growth of Paganism as a “religion” has and is being held back by a self-fulfilling prophecy, a “communal myth”. This “communal myth”, holds that contemporary Pagans are so independent that they can not, and will not, stand together to form a workable Pagan structure.