Green Paganism

Fern has a nice blog post on green living, and how what we consider low impact is in fact “lower” impact, and our society still uses a ton of resources:

She brings up a great point. But there is an implication in her connection between green living and paganism that has always bothered me.

I flatly reject the notion that pagan have a religious obligation to be “green.” In fact, throw that whole nature worship crap out the window. That does not define my religion.

I worship the gods of ancient Rome. Those gods rule over the forces of nature, and entreat with spirits immanent in that nature. This is not “nature worship.” I don’t really think that qualifies what I do as an “earth religion.” I acknowledge and honor the spirits and cycles of nature, but as with most ancient pagan religions, the goal is to win their favor and/or hold them at bay, so they don’t kill me.

That is not to say I don’t have a connection with nature, or revere it and the spirits that live in it. But my gods place much more of an emphasis on furthuring civilization and improving the standard of living. I like those earth-killing things like a warm home, clean clothes, modern medicine, and fast transportation, and everything I know about my gods says they do to.

Conserve. Follow your need to advocate environmental reforms. That’s fine, even if I think what you are advocating is a return to more primitive lifestyle we have struggled to leave behind. (And I should emphasise I’m not picking on Fern, as I respect her opinion, and agree with a lot of what her post says). But please don’t take what is essentially a political position and conflate it with a religious one. I like my modern life, and I’m no less pagan for it.


6 responses to “Green Paganism

  1. Actually, I totally agree with you that traditionally Pagans weren’t ‘green’ at all. I was reacting to the claims by neopagans that they are of ‘earth religions’ and ever so mindful of Mama Gaia. You’re right that I was focused on their claims to being green rather than Pagan history.

    In fact, one of the earliest industrial dumps – that still doesn’t support any plant life – is outside of Hallstadt and was created by the Celts. Who also tell of how their Gods fucked up the environment of Ireland by removing the trees to put in crops.

    I say that every religion on Earth is, by definition, an ‘Earth Religion’. Because this is the only place we know. Doesn’t mean anyone ‘honors’ it in any real way, just that this is where we are.

  2. I’m a pantheist and a druid, so I’m certainly on the side of earth religions, but *everyone* should be green, regardless of religion, by virtue of being human. If you wish to further wise civilization and mankind, poisoning yourself and our descendents with the toxic detritus of fossil-fuel and chemically-engineered modern industrial culture is demonstrably not the way to go. There is nothing about warm homes, clean clothes, modern medicine or fast transportation that are inherently earth-killing – that’s just how we’re implementing most of those things now, and it is entirely because it’s cheapest for corporations to do it that way. The ever-increasing statistics on cancers, anthropogenic reproductive problems, etc. testify to how anti-human and anti-civilization modern culture has become.

    • I don’t see how a political ideology that demands a decrease in access to high standard living, along with a powerful centralized authority that regulates the minor details of people’s lives furthers civilization. But that isn’t what I’m getting at …

      The green movement is political. Paganism should be religious, not political. If your religious tenets dictate your politics (or vice versa), fine, but I resent anyone who wants those tenets to dictate *my* behavior. When you start dictating that everyone should comply with your religiopolitical views, you become a zealot.

      Do your own thing. Make a case if you’d like to convince me. But I resent those who define my religion according to what they think I should believe. I don’t have to be green if I don’t want to, and I am no less pagan (or human) if I’m not.

      • Well, that’s the problem with your assumptions. There is nothing about what I said that requires either a decrease in living standards or a centralized authority, although that is certainly what the corporate interests like to claim as a way of getting out of paying what they owe. I’m actually a libertarian, so a big government presence is not something I am rooting for – it’s less corporate welfare and laws written by those corporate interests to favor practices that are killing us and the planet’s ability to support human life. You may not be less human for being ignorant, but we humans are all paying the price for corporate greed. There is a nice aboriginal village in Canada right now, where the birth rate is 2:1 female:male, due to a multitude of nearby power plants and chemical plants. Miscarriages are off the charts, as are cancers. Those of us with enough money to live further from such blights don’t have such obviously correlated problems, but the rise in hundreds of health problems are attributable to the same chemicals. My bees are dying because somebody within a 2 mile radius is using pesticides from Bayer. There are literally thousands of examples of how being defiantly anything-but-green is hurting you and everybody you love, if you have the integrity to look at them. That’s not religion. That’s science.

      • Your stances are political. Your zealotry is religious. My whole point is that I don’t need someone else to tell me what I believe (or should believe), or what I should do. And you insist on doing so, while engaging in some pretty standard tropes, like subject hijacking (I’m not out to debate Green policies here), misreading my statements and asserting my belief (never said I was anti-green at any cost), claiming to espouse conflicting ideologies (how are we going to enforce green policies without intrusive regulations, Mr. Libertarian?), and asserting your own enlightened status above anyone who might disagree with you (curse those ignorant unwashed who refuse your wisdom!). Because you feel the to assert what I *as a human* should be obligated to think or do.

        I am sure you are a wise and just and benevolent master, but I still don’t need one. You haven’t the right to tell me how I ought to think or act (and as a self-professed Libertarian, I’d hope you’d have understood that). So in short, go your way, let me go mine, and stop insisting my way *must* conform to yours.

      • Sooo…my not wanting another person to poison me for money is religious zealotry?
        Be consistent. If you ask for someone to make a case for something, and they do (without once telling you what to do), then don’t cry that somebody told you what to do. I could assert the facts phrased “as a carbon-based lifeform, you probably want to survive”, but I guess that would be telling you what you should think too.
        Frankly, if I was a religious zealot on the issue, I wouldn’t be talking to you about it at all. I was making the simple case that if you say your religion talks more about civilization than the natural world, you would still have a reason to be green, from religion, because there are many examples of how green policies are more pro-civilization than non-green policies. I also pointed out how you don’t need to make a case from religion, since you are apparently against such things, because green policies tend to be healthier for carbon based lifeforms on an objective, scientific level. But the fact is, you don’t want to debate the arguments – you just want to rant about how nobody can tell you what to do. That’s easy too – just turn comments off, like I’m turning you off now.

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