(Author’s note at bottom)
As in most things in life, there are varied and diverse views on Paganism. Not everyone is inclined in their nature to entertain all the opinions and stances in the greater sphere of the Pagan community.
Some of us, have sincere concerns on if we have lost our way from what was taught by our ancestors.
I often wonder if we have fallen too far from our roots, and if the rapid growth of the greater Pagan community is simply a bubble that will burst.
For a large sector of the community, there is a lack of observational sincerity and a lack of spiritual commitment to live a devoutly Pagan life. People have forgotten what we can do for our faith and strive to apply what the faith can do to part one from their coin for self-enrichment. The most basic of rites and rituals are often held behind a paywall of admission, and not on the donative capacity of those in attendance opting to support the faith. The most basic services of varied paths often have a price tag attached. For some, Paganism has become a profitable business model more than a system of beliefs full of paths for spiritual enrichment.
I wonder, have we sincerely lost our honest connection to the Gods, Goddesses, and Nature?
One should not serve the faithful as the coin is willing, but instead as the faithful need in a religious capacity.
I contemplate if we can ever find these roots in our modern society. Bringing reverence back to Paganism. I faithfully believe it is worth trying to aspire for.
I believe the first step is in the liberation of Paganism from Abrahamic influences. Doing so will bring our focus back to our roots. Giving the attention in devotion to Deity and Nature as reverence requires.
Most who come to Paganism in this modern age are on a spiritual journey, shedding away a faith they left behind to find and embrace their spiritual truth. If one leaves a faith, it is reasonable to attest it did not serve their spiritual truth. It will not allow one to grow on their spiritual journey to cling to it.
I believe another step is eliminating practices that paywall basic religious services and working in a spirit of donated support. We need to make room for the faithful. I believe if we honestly provide for the needs of the faithful, they will provide in volunteering and monetary donation what is needed to serve them diligently. We need to open general access to religious observances as donation optional when held at paid admission events. We do not want to send a message that the least of us, the poorest of us, are unworthy to practice our faith collectively. Charge what you may for the non-religious aspects of such events but serve the faithful regardless of their ability to pay for religious aspects. Accept donations optionally for such religious aspects.
I believe in evaluating what kinds of services there is a need to charge for and what services are for hire that should be a duty of the Clergy to freely give the faithful.
I too often see people charging for simple Altar blessings, for simple divinations, for healing, for spiritual meditations, and other things of these natures. Often these individuals are in no way clergy of a vetted religious institution. Many of the faithful seeking such practices need spiritual guidance, therapy, and medical care. They should not be so exploited. We should be well qualified to offer such services, and able to coordinate additional professional services and integrate into a holistic care continuum for the overall health and wellbeing of the faithful. Some of these aspects have no rationale or basis of charging a fee. We should be mindful of what time, energy, and services are of honest cost, and any fee should go not to one’s enrichment but into the community enrichment of being able to support the overhead of operating a religious institution.
I do not anticipate everyone to agree with these notions, especially those it challenges who make a living doing these things. But for the majority who do believe in these notions, they are worth trying to make work. I think deep down we all have a calling to come closer to our roots within our respective or eclectic paths.
These are guiding notions at our Sanctuary, and we hope other Sanctuaries will consider these things as well. I don’t think there is a fix-all approach to this problem in our greater faith community, but it is worth trying to adapt to come closer to our roots. Many of these issues came to be out of the great difficulties we had in getting religious institutions in Paganism recognized as Tax Exempt. We had to be creative in figuring out ways to financially sustain the faith. We are now in a time where such difficulties are no longer the case. We have a choice on if we are going to compose ourselves as a legitimate faith for spiritual enrichment, or a business model under a Pagan mask for self-enrichment.
We choose to inherit our roots, and bring an honest and lasting legitimacy to Paganism.
~Dr. Joseph “Odin Wynd” Keck D.Div – High Priest of Sanctuary of the Phoenix
This Article was first published by Green Egg Magazine in their 2020 Spring Equinox/Ostara issue.
I want to make a clear that this article is directed towards Sanctuaries and individuals who engage in dishonest practices. There are many Pagan Businesses who are provisioners, providing skilled trades, and artisans. Many of us rely on such businesses in our faith to acquire or create items that are otherwise hard or improbable to procure. We will always need such provisioning. Such work is laborious and honest.
This article is intended as a conversational piece for Sanctuaries and individuals to consider some of the deeply problematic activities that some choose to engage in.
I am also bringing to discussion religious institutions acting as a for profit business. The mentions of business models are in relation to such Sanctuaries. I see too many Sanctuaries out there, even reputable ones, paywalling access to their religious services at events and conventions. There is a difference between fundraising, unrelated business, and blatant exploitation. Some Sanctuaries do not seem to understand the differences.
I fully respect that some business do offer religious services at no cost, or work with religious institutions to provide a space to conduct services. This is a way we have done things in the community for a very long time and is respectable. I am merely suggesting that with a change in times, legalities, and perceptions comes new opportunities for religious institutions themselves to strive to be independently self sufficient.
If you do not agree with these views, that is your freedom of will. I know many people who agree and disagree with these views I have long expressed, I think no less of anyone. Not everyone see these aspects as an issue. Some of us do. That is the objective of an opinion piece in a controversial topic. It is to get the reader thinking by being exposed to a view they may not have or be familiar with and the rationale behind it.
At the end of the day I just want to advance Paganism, plain and simple.
I think that is what the majority of the faithful all want.
I so happen to believe this can be done liberated from Abrahamic influences and free from exploitation of the faithful.
For other articles and musings by other great authors, please check out Green Egg Magazine!