So if your read many pagan blogs you're likely familiar with Deo's Shadow, a popular pagan podcast, and the fact that it's two creators have switched to atheism. There are so many posts about this that it would take forever to link them. Just check out The Wild Hunt to find a few and that will get you on your way if you haven't already read about it. Apparently, this change in two apparently well-known pagans (that I've never heard of btw) has caused a little uproar. There's talk of folks outgrowing paganism and of paganism having no coherent community. Some have explained/complained that all the magic and worship and general weirdness of paganism is pointless. Some have said they couldn't get a scientific grasp on paganism and so left it behind them. And on and on and on. And some formerly die hard pagans have, for some reason, been hit pretty hard by this. They're feeling the need to re-examine their beliefs, or something like that. Personally, I don't get the big deal. So some folks who were pagan aren't anymore? Who cares? We are all walking a comparatively new path and there are bound to be dabblers who drift in for a while, some for shallow reasons, some with all sincerity, and eventually drift out. Why does this cause people to doubt themselves and their pagan path?
It makes me wonder how many of us have studied the early years of Christianity. If you haven't given that fascinating period in history a look lately, or ever, let me just tell you: it was a mess. People didn't understand what was going on because no one knew what they were doing. It was all new to them and they were creating a religion from the ground up. They started form scratch. They had less to work with than neopagans as we have a rich history of ancient paganism to study. The rituals of mass and all that didn't spring up out of the ground; they took years to become entrenched. The organization and power of the Christians didn't rise up from out of nowhere. People drifted into Christianity because it was different, because it was new or because it spoke to them. And not all of them stuck with it. And lookee at what those early Christians created: a religion that has dominated for 2000 years! I'm not saying neopaganism will do the same but what I am saying is that we've just got to expect these kinds of things. Just because these events are new to neopaganism doesn't mean they are new in the larger sense. Of course we don't have much coherence. Of course we don't have much of an established community. How could we? There are only a few of us and many of us are very far flung.
I imagine in big cities and in places like California there are a lot of pagan-y, magical people to form a community so maybe they have a different perspective. But, lest we forget, the greater part of this country is not very densely populated. Yes, I'm talking about the Midwest and the Bible Belt. I'm smack in the middle of it and I can tell you there are very few pagans around here. In my entire county there are maybe 6 pagans that I know of and probably not many more than that in the closet. We can't form much of a coherent community because, well, it's hard to galvanize a movement consisting of only 2 or 3 involved people. This is just a microcosmic example but do you see what I'm getting at? There just aren't enough of us yet to be called a movement in the true sense of the word. And I imagine that neopagans in other countries face the same lack of numbers issue that Americans face. We haven't been around long enough; there just aren't that many of us. Compared to the age of religions throughout history ours is still very young. Neopaganism is a child; we've got to expect some growing pains.