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British Paganism is Dying. Why?

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Morgana Post number 23374 Posted: 20th April 2017     Subject: British Paganism is Dying. Why?
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British Paganism is Dying. Why?

A few years ago, I gave a talk to the OBOD Summer Gathering about the role of young people in Druidry. I began by pointing out that the average lifespan for an adult during the Iron Age was about 30 years – even if the sky-high rates of infant mortality were excluded. Today, we tend to think of elderhood as something reserved for those over 65; but to our ancestors, anyone over 30 would have been looked upon as an invaluable source of wisdom and experience. To accentuate the point, I invited the audience to stand up, and then asked all those over 35 to sit down again. If we were Iron Age druids, the majority of those seated, I explained, would be dead. Although the point I was making about the relativity of youth and eldership is an important one, this little experiment – getting anybody over 35 to sit down – revealed something else. Of a room full of 150 people, only about 9 were left standing. If this sample is taken to be indicative of the Order as a whole, that means only around 6% of OBOD’s members are aged between 16 and 35. By contrast, this age bracket covers some 26.4% of the UK’s general population.

This lack of young people at OBOD gatherings made manifest something that had been lingering in the back of my mind for some time; something that had previously only been whispered over campfires, on kitchen tables, late at night when the wine was flowing. Not only are few younger people coming to OBOD events, but some of my friends report that there seem to be fewer people of all ages taking an active role in organising events and rituals. While people are still coming to big public rituals at seasonal festivals, they are less and less inclined to volunteer to organise them, or to take on regular commitments of any kind. Moots are shrinking, it’s harder to fill up workshops, and getting enough volunteers to set up and run camps and gatherings is a struggle. For a long time, I suspected that this was confined to OBOD – Druidry, after all, has a powerful association with old white men with old white beards – but having spoken to friends of mine involved in other traditions, it appears to be more widespread, if not as extreme in other parts of the community. I’ve been told that the number of registered members of the Pagan Federation has gone down for the first time. At the Harvest Moon Conference in 2016, Melissa Harrington confessed that she felt that this decline in active participation was indicative of Paganism “going underground” again. Most of the Pagan Federation events I’ve been to recently have shown a similar demographic spread to OBOD ones.

All this is developing in the context of our experience of the most recent UK census in 2011. Ronald Hutton calculated in Triumph of the Moon—published in the mid-nineties—that the number of initiated Pagans was around 17,000 – 20,000, with a larger number of “active engagers” of about 120,000; people who may revere Pagan gods, practice magic, and mark seasonal festivals, but are not initiated into any Pagan group. When the 2001 census recorded some 44,000 Pagans across Scotland, England, and Wales, this figure attracted considerable press attention, both positive and negative. Hutton speculated that if 44,000 people were sufficiently invested to identify themselves as Pagan on a census—double his figure in Triumph—the number of more loosely affiliated “active engagers” could have doubled too; creating a figure of 250,000 people.

In advance of the 2011 census, major Pagan organisations in Britain led the Pagan-dash campaign, encouraging people to identify themselves as Pagan on the census. However, the number who reported themselves as “Pagan” increased to only 56,620 people—and depending upon how broadly one defines “Paganism, ” the number of those identifying as a member of a Pagan or esoteric tradition increased to around 80,000 people. As Vivienne Crowley pointed out, this indicates that the meteoric growth of the 1990s had slowed. My concern is that the declining number of young participants in the Pagan community in Britain, and the general diminution of those taking an active role in the community as a whole, indicates that that growth has stalled. British Paganism—as a subculture and as a movement—is in trouble.

read on...
https://godsandradicals ... s-dying-why/
Ursus Post number 23380 Posted: 22nd April 2017     Subject:
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I think that paganism isn't dying in Britain or elsewhere. I think that it is simply formal organisations which are dying out. Even as little as 20 years ago organisations, along with pagan/occult/mysteries-related magazines and alternative bookstores (which often had bulletin boards where people could post notices) were key in bringing people together. If someone lived in a small city (not to mention a small town or rural area) it might have been next to impossible to find out about other pagans. Large organisations provided a way for people to stay in touch with the rest of the pagan community. Now... with the help of Google you can find more pagan related websites than you'd have time to read through. A lot of groups, even small ones have social media pages, particularly on Facebook. A quick search on the internet can bring anyone in contact with other people who share their specific belief (religious and otherwise) in as soon as it takes for them to sign up on a forum or mailing list, or to post an email to the contact person of a group that meets in person. Given the ease at which we can find other pagans and "talk" (chat, face time, etc.) it's not surprising that people are no longer dependent on formal groups. I think that group membership becomes a lot more fluid when people know that there are always other options. One of the main things that I've noted about pagans in general, regardless of their religious affiliation, is that they tend to follow their own beliefs. They may pick and choose between what other pagans say or believe but quite clearly what they follow are their own beliefs. From what I've observed of remnant pagan beliefs and practices (primarily in Europe), I would guess that this is how it has always been. So, considering this key characteristic of pagans, it's not surprising that people aren't heavily interested in formal organisations. I think that the apparent aging is linked more to an older generation which got involved with organisations back when that was the main option, and to the younger generations which use the internet a lot more. If I had to guess, I would say that the internet has probably done a lot more to bring pagans together and provide them with information than any organisation ever has.

Just my thoughts on the matter.

Christine Brigantia Post number 23415 Posted: 9th May 2017     Subject:
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This is a very interesting topic for sure. I wonder if in this world of false news and invasiveness to personal information whether people are simply less open to disclosing their choice of practices. I think you make a valid point Ursus but I think that it over simplifies things a little. I did a quick google search for pagans in my own area, and it's not the first time that I try this. I found two groups or what seem like covens to me but neither is a valid link anymore. I find more dead links than anything else.
Now I did come across an upcoming gathering that will involve camping but I suspect that this is the annual event that I'd heard about at university. It does look interesting but I'm not much into camping myself and being so new to a lot of things related to paganism and the various forms of it, I had to look up a few terms after looking at that website.
Myself, I am not so comfortable with the internet and my own personal beliefs intertwining. There is an open Facebook page for pagans in my city but I wouldn't actually "like" it at this time in my own journey. For me, that is too public. Had I found a closed group or knew of a "secret" group on Facebook, I would have considered it more seriously
I will keep looking for opportunities closer to home and may ask at the New Age shop that I frequent if they are aware of moots. I would love to attend one.
As a solitary practitioner, I would qualify as an "uninitiated" for sure. [Smile] While my husband is aware and supportive, I have not discussed this choice with my family. I think it would be easier to come out as a member of the LGBTQI group, maybe, than to admit that I've moved away from my traditional belief system to one that is so poorly understood by the average person.
I am one person who would welcome opportunities to learn and take courses or workshops online, if they became available and were affordable. [Smile]
Brutus Post number 23421 Posted: 11th May 2017     Subject: My opinion
I was talking to a man at work. He said one time his son came out of his room. He had been there all weekend.
Father asked him where he had been. He said; "I have been with friends."
Me as of the older generation do not understand this. I understand my brother better.
He says: I don't write anything on the facebook. I'll be thinking of it all day putting myself down.

Today authority is very much fictional. The Internet and the technology.
People just can't seem to keep their mother be gothening authority.

The older generation have been afraid to show their authority because they where putting down the authority of the generation before. So the young don't get theirs.
The autority is not gone, but the autority is of a different realm making it harder to break trough.
Sitting here like anima. Where is the persona of being alone.
I think people are loosing this persona. This is why they are not gathering.
We need to get the autority and the persona into the 21th century,
or else it will be like Adolf Hitler is still alive.

Edit: 11.05.2017
What she said and that which is missing; Seniority of age.
I am still myself trying to respect this. To become aan adult.
It is harder when you don't have children.
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