I was recently contacted by a student for an interview about Paganism. The questions made me pause and think about my views on where modern Pagan practices stand today as a new/old religion. Here are my answers to two of the questions she asked me.
Q: Has Paganism been changed or evolved by modernism (modifying traditional beliefs in accordance with modern ideas)?
Rayna: I would say that US neo-Paganism is a modern revivalist religion based, on perceived ancient Pagan ideas and known traditions. We have had to reconstruct most of our religious traditions, make up new practices, and piece together historical information. Many Pagans are avid historians and cultural detectives. Many of us, including me, share archaeological sites, new information about particular ancient religions. Many of us love arcane information that might shed light on ancient spiritual practices that could help us connect with the Divine/deity/Spirit/Nature.
Q: How has modernism affected Neo-Paganism and Shamanic Practitioners?
Rayna: I believe we have adapted well to modern culture and life. As a shamanic practitioner ( not a shaman) I trained and I work in a suburban/urban environment. I have had electronic and web-based access to teachers, books, other written materials, visual images, and videos and pictures that ancient shamans and mystics did not have. Many of us are able to travel and study with teachers all over the globe. Is our call and training as valid as someone who trained in an ancient tradition? I believe that it is. The roots of my heritage are with the ancient Celts, Gemanic and Norse tribes. I have tried to take advantage of the education and opportunities available to me to develop this skill, in this time place, as best I can. I then, as a teacher, feel I have a sacred responsibility to give this learning and what wisdom I have gained from others, back to the community.