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Article Specs

Article ID: 8918

VoxAcct: 151679

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,378

Times Read: 6,067

On the Need for Pagan Structures

Author: Jemma Hawtrey
Posted: January 23rd. 2005
Times Viewed: 6,067

Dateline: 12th February 1964
Location: Shipboard en route to Lebanon

An unassuming English Gentleman dies at breakfast. Not really a piece of world news, until you realise that this man was Gerald Gardner, the father of the modern Pagan revival.

And thatís about the only thing modern Pagans agree about him. For someone who would, in any other religion, be seen as something between a prophet and the anointed God thatís a bit of a surprise. Isnít it?

Well no, not really. Currently the Pagan community is the best scientific demonstration for Brownian motion known to humankind (or at least those parts of humankind that think it exists) . Many of us bounce from stance to stance faster than a mongoose on speed. True, it can make for some very interesting conversations down at the moot about life, the universe and everything but sooner or later it is going to cause us a problem.

Itís not a complex problem now, but it soon will be. The problem is one of history. The first generation Pagans are effectively from the pre-World War II generation. They are dying, as all things must. With them, if we are not careful, will go all of the remembrances and anecdotes and facts about who we are and where we have come from. Worst of all, we may loose sight of where we are going.

The most important influence on our present and our future is our past. Well-known political figures knew that, from Winston Churchill to Joseph Goebbels. They knew that even a falsified history could have a powerful and long lasting effect. We as, effectively, second generation Pagans, have a need to preserve history. Back in the day this would have been done by oral tradition, but these days we donít seem to be able to mentally hold on to our grocery lists let alone a progression of events spanning almost 60 years and covering numerous places and people.

So how are we going to do it?

In my opinion in two ways:

By investing time in creating organisations that speak for all traditions, which is happily underway as I speak with agencies like the Pagan Federation and others.

The second way is somewhat different but itís not new. In many communities and traditions there has been the idea of a person whose entire life purpose is to record the community they are part of. I am thinking maybe of the unknown monks who wrote the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. A more modern orator on this particular stage would be Anne Frank, a girl whose story is truly heartbreaking, but who has given us a valuable insight into her time, from a normal personís point of view.

It is my worry that we are at peril of losing a lot of information on the personalities and places of the early Pagan revival. A community is not in dates and times, itís in what was said and what wasnít, itís in the writing, itís in the home that someone made while they wrote that epoch-changing book.

Thatís what we stand to lose and I for one would feel bereft without it.

I would call therefore for a group to be created from all paths and all traditions and all countries. Funded within the Pagan community its entire remit is to preserve the sites and history of the Pagan community, be it finding and saving Gardnerís letters or purchasing or having preserved places of importance. I for one would like to see a little blue plaque celebrating the fact that ďGerald Gardner Lived Here!Ē

Dateline: 26th December 2004
Location: Indian Ocean Coastal Regions

I donít need to tell you what happened, do I? The entire world is still reeling from it. Upwards of 150, 000 dead and in the UK at least a possibility of 1500 people who have just disappeared without trace.

We all want to give all that we can, but alone we have limited ability. Together we could accomplish anything and everything.

But there is something far subtler at stake here. Here is an example: A member of a coven or a solitaire Pagan goes to volunteer without saying who or what she is. She does good work, making things that little bit easier for the suffering, and then she goes home having learnt that whatever life throws at her, itís not that bad!

Then out of the blue she gets a call from a Christian aid worker whom she worked with asking her to help them with another situation. During the conversation she mentions sheís Pagan. Suddenly the other party has to go and the invitation seems to shrivel away. Our Pagan is surprised and not a little hurt; after all, there was no problem when they were both together in Sri Lanka.

Neither of the people in the story had changed. It was simply the fact that time had reinforced the stereotypes and separation between the two.

What might have happened if our Pagan had been open? It might have been that others would have seen that sheís a hard worker and a good listener. Others might have realised that Pagans are no different from anyone else, not people to fear.

With this tsunami and the disaster we have a real chance to get in there and get working with other faiths before their and our stereotypes manage to get a hold back on our minds. Will we take the best chance we have for acceptance? Or will we squander it like we have before?

I would call for a concerted and long-term effort to put a community-wide structure together for aid and charity work. I know there are some glimmerings of this beginning, but we need to move faster if the opportunity within the disaster for our community is to be realised.

Dateline: 10th January 2005
Location: Newmarket, Suffolk, England

Where are we going?

How are we going to get there?

Will it be easy?

Those questions are so easy to answer:

I donít know

I donít know

Not a chance!

Helpful arenít I?

None may pass the gates of the present, but we can plan and work so that what we most dearly wish may, barring disasters, come to pass.

The Pagan community does need to become more structured and organised. There are several reasons for this. We can react faster, we can spread information in a planned way, and we would have better ability to communicate.

The question is, how organised? The creation of any structure or organisation runs on a knife-edge. Too little and piecemeal and we get none of the benefits; we are still going round in circles with duplication of effort and no progression. Too much and we might get the benefits but we are stifled by process and regimentation.

The organisation is not the hard thing, itís the in the balance where we may find or need the magic.

But first we need agreement and the willingness to give; something the human animal isnít all that good at, and that sadly includes Pagans.

These are just two examples and my thoughts on them. I hope they make you think.


In this Paganís view we need to become more structured. I am not calling for a Pagan Church in every street and a Grove in every wood. Thatís not what we are about and it just wouldnít happen. There should be structures that allow us rigidity of action but fluidity of viewpoint. They have to be there, but if they arenít for you, then thatís fair enough. After all, itís better to have and not need, than need and not have.


Jemma Hawtrey

Location: Colchester, England

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