I’ve been a pagan now for about 20 odd years, over half of my life now. Two decades. Some of the Pagans in the community that I interact with have been Pagans for 25, 30, or more years. That’s a whole generation. Prior to us, there were the Pagan pioneers of the 1960’s-70’s, who laid the foundations for modern Pagan practice and got the ball rolling for societal acceptance of Paganism in the mainstream. So, with around 60 years of Paganism now, can we stop being “resurgent” or “coming back?” Please?
I’m not kidding either. This has been a firm part of reporting on Paganism from both the mainstream media and Pagan generated media reporting on Paganism since I started do this path 20 odd years ago. A quick search for “paganism coming back” gives immediate results for 2015, 2013, and 2010. The BBC’s “Paganism at a glance” page was last updated in 2006, and the Wicca page in 2002. Over the whole of my Pagan experience, we’ve been poised to “comeback” or “ready for resurgence”. But we already have, and now this narrative is holding us back.
Narratives, in the sociological context, are the stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world around us, our place in it, and the places of others in it. They can be truthful, or completely fictitious. Most float around between the two. The narrative that “Paganism is making a comeback” is hurting our community. It puts us in a perpetual state of flux, and subordinates Pagan faiths to the “mainstream” by forever denying that Paganism that next step into the mainstream. It’s the scene in a comedy where a group talks about how prepared they are and how much they’re ready for the next stage in life, but instead just keep doing what they’ve been doing instead of taking that step. By constantly repeating this narrative, as Pagans we deny ourselves out own place in the societies we live in.
I’d argue that right now, Paganism is no longer a “fringe” culture. It’s no longer the domain of counter-culture groups, or the “alt” crowd. It’s not “poised to make a comeback”. It has comeback, but nobody noticed. Permanent temples and hofs have been erected. Communities publically advertise their existence, and offer lessons and introductions. Paganism is no longer ready to comeback. It’s back. Period. End of story. Time to catch up our narrative.
There are many signs that Paganism is poised for something though. To take the lead in religious practice in the coming years. In the USA, Wicca grew 143% in numbers from 1990 to 2001. It was declared the fastest growing religion in the USA by major statistical analysts. In Canada, that number was 281% growth in the same time frame. There are reportedly over 20000 people of Pagan orientation in my home province of British Columbia. News media in the UK runs articles about why its time to take Paganism seriously (except the Daily Mail, because the Daily Mail). All signs indicate that Paganism is the going to do nothing but grow in the future. Which is why we need to stop this narrative.
Paganism is the dynamic future for many people. Perpetually placing ourselves as “almost there’s” only weakens us a group, and acts to help prevent the formation of larger, more stable communities. So please, please, stop saying the Paganism is making a comeback. Paganism is back, let’s make sure it stays.