British Paganism Isn’t Dying

So recently there have been a few articles out about British Paganism. As a British Pagan I feel the need to comment on the issues raised.

To get started here are three very thoughtful blog posts looking at the issues that I’ve seen so far –

I have to disagree with the author of the first article. Key here is his evidence for the claim – which consists primarily of anecdotes. The one piece of good evidence – the census, actually disputes the claim and shows Paganism (including esoteric traditions) almost doubled in 10 years to 2011. I’ve noticed a big surge in particular streams of Paganism over the past few years – Asatru/ Heathenry is growing quickly and the Asatru UK facebook group now has over 1500 people and are even running a festival this year. In Devon, the county where I currently live, there are 500 people in the local Pagan facebook group from a range of traditions. And I come across more and more Pagans all the time. The author of the third article above, Ryan, points out that he has witnessed a whole range of people from different age groups, including young people, at Druid Camps. So there doesn’t seem to be a need to ring these alarm bells. I feel that maybe the author of the first article wanted Paganism to be dying, to fit into his anti-capitalist narrative. I don’t mean this as an attack as I am just as guilty of only seeing things through the lens I want to, too. And in this case, the last thing I want to see is a narrative developing that British Paganism is in trouble when the evidence doesn’t support that.




3 thoughts on “British Paganism Isn’t Dying

  1. Thanks very much for engaging with my article! It’s always good to get responses 🙂 I hope you won’t mind if I offer a couple of thoughts of my own to your brief – but excellent – piece here.

    Firstly, a methodological point. You say here that most of my analysis rests on “anecdotes”, which are “bad” data, except for my discussion of the census, which counts as “good” data. This a frequent criticism of qualitative research made by those familiar with the “hard” (or, at least, quantitative) sciences, and is a bit of a caricature. The usual view in the social sciences today that both “anecdotal” evidence (what people say is going on in a community; the personal experiences of ethnographers like myself in that community) as well as quantitative facts (like census data, membership figures) are needed to get a full picture of what is going on.

    I’m not in the least bit surprised that your experience with Heathenry is rather different to that I have had with Druidry. Heathenry, I’m told, has many features – such as encouraging children to follow the faith – that make it a quite different case to the organisations I’ve mentioned above; indeed, it’s probably more similar to the communities on the continent which are growing. As I said in my original piece “I’d also stress that the scope of my observations above is necessarily quite limited… Are there thriving covens and groves, recruiting many members under 30, out there in the UK somewhere, that I have yet to meet? Very possibly… it’d be fascinating to learn how they’ve managed to buck the trend that I’ve observed in my own experience of the British Pagan Movement.” I’m interested to know: what is it that you guys are doing differently to the established Druid orders and witchcraft traditions?

  2. Pingback: Ash, Oak and Thorn: Clarification on the Death of British Paganism – GODS & RADICALS

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