An update

Just a quick update about what I’ve been doing.

I decided this month to get back into the OBOD and BDO Bardic Courses again. I had not been impressed with the OBOD one and had done little since May, but this time I decided to approach it from a less rational critical point of view and it seems to be working – I am getting more out of both the OBOD and BDO courses which compliment each other nicely. It has had the effect of making me want to explore my bardic/ creative side more. I don’t see myself as very creative so I resisted this, but after buying a Stephen Fry book on writing poetry, I sat down yesterday and actually wrote a Poem for the first time in years. It was very basic but I felt quite proud of it, and feel like maybe I have a creative side after all. I would love it if this exploration of the bardic path really did make me into someone who can regularly write poetry and be a bard.

I have also been doing a lot of reading and writing the ADF courses. I have submitted and passed two of the courses for the Generalist Study Path, and I have written a third but that will need editing once I get through Stephen Pollington’s The Elder Gods. I’ve decided to focus on the Bardic Studies course next so hopefully around the end of October I’ll have four of the ADF GSP courses done.

Finally, I had planned to launch a course on Building a Local Paganism, by Lughnasadh but it hasn’t happened as I have had little time to get it written. I am also probably going to change it into a book and publish it sometime in 2018 but I’ll keep everyone updated on that.

Now, its September so it’s time to go gather some sloe berries to make sloe gin, elderberries to make an elderberry tonic for keeping the flu away in winter, and for preparing for “nutting day” so collect hazelnuts.

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.




A New Year

OK, its nine days into the new year but I didn’t really have much to write about on 1st so I’m doing a blog post today.

Since returning from traveling in October, I have felt quite lost inside and unsure where I want to go with my life. I have already achieved the two big dreams I had when I was younger so now I’m not sure what to do, where I want to live, or what I want to get out of life or do for a job (could also be that I’m coming up on my 30th birthday and that’s making me more reflective). I started a new job last week but dislike it already and will look for something else. I think once I get sorted with a job I don’t hate, I will feel more settled and be able to focus on developing some new goals for my life.

awenOne thing I have got clear in my mind though, is the desire to spend the next few years developing my Paganism much more deeply than it has been. I have joined OBOD and the first part of their Bardic course came today – it looks pretty good and hopefully I’ll learn a lot and develop spiritually. I have also restarted doing the NOD Bardic Grade which I had previously started when I first became interested in Druidry. And I plan to begin studying the Generalist Study Path of ADF. So a lot of courses running side by side but hopefully I’ll have time to do them all and learn a lot from them.

I am also trying to add meditation and prayers to my evening routine in order to develop closer relationships with the Kindreds.

After a year of my Paganism having to take a back seat due to travel and the lack of a set address, I want this year to be the year I dive back into things deeply and really grow spiritually. And maybe when I’ve got that foundation set in my life…the rest of it will start falling into place.

An Autumn Equinox Update

Happy Autumn Equinox/ Mabon/ Harvest Home/ Alban Elfed everyone. I am just writing a quick update about my plans. I know I haven’t been blogging regularly for the past year, but that is going to change soon. I have been traveling across Asia, Australia and now New Zealand, but my travels come to an end at Samhain and I will be back in England and ready to focus on this blog once again. I should end up blogging a lot more regularly from November, especially on the previously mentioned Through The Books series, and hopefully a few more articles on Pagan Monasticism too (and one on Daoism). I am also planning to join the OBOD Bardic course in November, as well as begin the ADF Generalist Studies Path (I will document my progress on my ADF blog linked above).

The Autumn Equinox is a traditional time for a Pagan thanksgiving, a time to remember what we are grateful for. So here are some things I’m thankful for this year.

  1. I am thankful for you, the readers of this blog, who inspire me to keep writing.
  2. I am thankful for the chance to travel to new countries and experience different cultures. And to learn lots about different religious traditions in those countries that can help me in my practice of paganism.
  3. I am thankful for the many other Pagans who regularly blog on the internet and help me to think more deeply about my religious path and practices.

Have a great day everyone.


What Pagans can learn from the Aboriginal People’s – How to re-enchant the land!

Recently I wrote a post called – What Pagans can learn from Asia. It was a summary of the things I discovered about people’s religious ideas in Asia. Since then, I have traveled to Australia and as my time here comes to a close, I am reflecting on what I have learned here. Interestingly it appears that others are having similar thoughts.

For the past two months in Australia, I have taken a particular interest in the Aboriginal cultures. The aboriginal peoples have been here over 70,000 years and are one of the oldest surviving cultures on earth. Despite the best efforts of European colonisers to convert and “civilise” them, a lot of their culture has survived. I believe there are several lessons we can learn from them as Pagans and apply to our own religious practice.

The aboriginal people’s believe that in a period called the “Dream-time”, a time before time, ancestral beings such as the rainbow serpent traveled across the land and created the different parts of it – the land and rock formations, the rivers and seas, the plants and animals. Because they are created by the ancestral beings, part of the spirit of the ancestral beings remains (in fact they turned themselves into them) and these places are therefore sacred places.

Lesson 1 – Stories
There is a lot of talk in Paganism at the moment about “re-enchanting the land.” The question, of course, is how to do so? In my opinion the Aboriginal people’s offer the answer – tell sacred stories about the places around you. The aboriginal people’s tell stories of how each aspect of their landscape was created by ancestral beings/ gods. These stories not only contain the laws of the tribe, thereby preserving their culture, but also are the literal scriptures of the people – their stories are their scriptures and reading the land is reading the scriptures. So, as modern Pagans, what can we learn from this? The importance of stories! Research and find out the stories of your local area, of the significant events and places there, but more importantly, think about the gods, ancestors and nature spirits who were worshiped on this land, and look for the interesting features of the landscape, then write stories about those places. Write stories about how those places came into being. Did Thor fight an ice giant and throw that big hill down on top of him? Did that river come about because a goddess wanted to give water to her human lover who was struggling to farm? Did the sacred fox teach an important moral to his cubs under that tree? Meditate and write stories about the gods and spirits you worship, the local animals and plants, and the interesting places in your land. Then put them up on the internet or share them with your pagan communities. Connect with the land through discovering or telling new stories. Make the land an enchanting place again.

Lesson 2 – Land Management
The aboriginal people’s had a very close connection to the land and managed it very well for tens of thousands of years. Part of that is down to various religious practice they had. First was the principle of reciprocity (a very important one to modern Pagans too). The principle of reciprocity is give and take. It is asking plants/ trees/ animals before we take anything, but also giving something back in return. And giving thanks. If we get something from the land, or we want something from the land, then it is only fair that we give something back in return – it is simple “resource reciprocity.” Ideally something of equal or greater worth, which helps to ensure the land survives and benefits in perpetuity. Like the aborigines, we must realise that we belong to the land, that our story is written in the land, and that because we belong to the land, we are responsible for it’s well-being. There is also the aboriginal saying that “if you look after the water, you look after the land.” In other words, we should prioritise looking after our local rivers, streams and springs. It wasn’t for nothing that the ancient Celts saw their rivers as their mother goddesses, and their springs as inhabited by special spirits worthy of worship. We must look after our mother earth, and the best way to do so, is to look after the waters that sustain us. A third aspect of land management for some aboriginal tribes was giving each person a local totem plant or animal at birth. This helped them to connect with the land, but it also helped ensure that particular thing was protected and not over-harvested. Maybe this is something we can do too?

The aboriginal people’s have a lot of wisdom to share with us if we will listen. They can teach us how to re-enchant our land and how to manage it sustainably. We don’t need to appropriate their culture, we just need to learn a few of their wisdom lessons and it will help us in the rebuilding of our western Pagan religions once again.

What is Paganism?

Today I want to take a brief break from the “Through The Books” series to write a post on “What is Paganism?” I had planned to do this a long time ago  and make a Youtube video too but I never got round to making the video so I never wrote this post. Today I am going to do so.

So what is Paganism? How can we define it? People say that if you ask 10 pagans to define Paganism you’ll get 11 answers. And anyone who tries to define it will  invariably miss someone out. Well probably but I think we should try anyway. In my opinion, the best explanation of Paganism comes from the Pagan Federation. It defines Paganism as:

“A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.”

So a Pagan is someone who follows a pantheistic or polytheistic religion. Someone who honours multiple gods and/or nature. In my opinion, Paganism is based around five key areas – Pantheism, Polytheism, Animism, Ancestor Veneration and Localism. Not all Pagans will adopt all of these, but most will adopt most of them.

Pantheism comes from two Greek words “pan” meaning all, and “theos” meaning god. In other words, Pantheists believe that all is god. Pantheists see the earth as sacred and the universe as divine. It is the foundation on which nature worship and veneration is built, and it is an important inspiration for environmentalism. Many scientists are pantheists, as can be seen from James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory. Pantheism can be both “naturalistic” or “supernatural”. It can see deity as personal, but more often views it as impersonal, more akin to a force like the Dao.

paganPolytheism comes from two Greek words “poly” meaning many, and “theos” meaning god. In other words, Polytheists believe in many gods. Polytheism itself can be split into three groups – hard polytheism, soft polytheism and archetypal polytheism. Hard polytheists are those who believe that there are many gods, that the gods are real, existing individuals with their own personalities, thoughts and plans. They are distinct from each other. Soft Polytheists are those who see the gods as aspects of one or a few gods. They might agree with the statement “all gods are one god”. Hinduism is a good example of this. Many Wiccans are also soft polytheists (duo-theists) who see the various goddesses across cultures as aspects of the one goddess, and the various gods across cultures as aspects of the one horned god. Finally Archetypal Polytheists don’t believe that the gods are supernatural existing individuals, but rather that they exist in the collective unconscious, that while they are bigger and more powerful than us, they are not separate from us. It is important to note that archetypal polytheists don’t see the gods as just symbols. When polytheists talk of their gods, they are not the same as the monotheistic god. The gods of polytheism are more powerful than humans but they are not all-powerful, all-knowing or benevolent. Polytheists also tend to be more tolerant than monotheists due to their ability to acknowledge the existence of other people’s gods without worshipping them.

Traditional animists believe that there is spirit or soul in everything, whether tree or sun, rock or clouds. A modern version, new Animism, interprets things a little differently and talks about “more than human  persons”. New animists argue that each thing has person-hood rather than spirit – in other words, there are human persons, rock persons, sun persons, cloud persons, hedgehog persons, oak persons, bee persons and so on. They have an inherent worth and we are naturally in relationship with them. We can build those relationships up. Interestingly some philosophers support a version called “pan-psychism” or “pan-experientialism”which argues that the ability to experience, or even some form of consciousness, exists in everything from the smallest electron to the largest universe. In ancient versions of Paganism we can see animism in their worship of the spirits of trees, plants and animals, in the spirits of home and place, in the belief in land-spirits, elves, dwarves, fairies and the Sidhe. Modern Pagans also honour these spirits.

Ancestor Devotion
Ancestor devotion is arguably one of the world’s oldest religious practices and it was important to ancient pagans too. Honouring ones parents, grandparents and ancestors
back through time is a vital part of Paganism. It teaches us important values, like familial piety, gratefulness and respect for others. Modern Pagans particularly honour their ancestors during the winter period. Our ancestors can also include all life forms back through time to the first living thing. There are ancestors of blood (our family), ancestors of place (those who lived in the same area as us in the past) and ancestors of spirit (those who have inspired us or our culture). Pagans today research our ancestry, have ancestral altars, and pray to them when we need help. For many Pagans, ancestors are the first point of call when we have a need because while gods are mostly interested in the universe and their own plans, the ancestors are much more concerned with their family lines i.e. us and can therefore be powerful sources of help and wisdom.

Finally we have localism. One thing I have discovered over the past 18 months of traveling is how difficult it is to practice Paganism when you are on the move.
Graham Harvey, in What Do Pagans Believe, argues that “pagans know their local landscapes and build relationships with it and the spirits who inhabit it.  “the original meaning of ‘pagan’ – ‘ an inhabitant of a particular place’ – has encouraged a new focus on locality in modern paganism. A classical pagan was someone who belonged, some one who celebrated where they lived, someone who knew their local shrines, springs, hills, trees and neighbours, and could trace their decent from local ancestors. These pagans lived in both urban and rural places; the important thing was belonging to an area.” Practicing Paganism is about knowing your local area, and connecting with the land and spirits there. It is about celebrating the seasons as they change there. It is about maintaining an altar there.

So these things define how I see Paganism and all are important elements to my practice and worldview as a Pagan.

Four years and some changes

Today is a special day because it marks the 4 year “birthday” of this blog. I started the blog in June 2012 as a way to document my spiritual journey and it has been a very interesting ride.

As time has gone by, my spiritual path has changed. I went from being a Christian to an Atheist (prior to starting the blog), to a Naturalistic Pantheist and then to a Pagan. I still consider myself a Pantheist and a Pagan. In particular my interest has been in Druidry and I have joined ADF, the British Druid Order and the New Order of Druids. Over the past few years I have also become interested in Heathenry and I now call myself an Anglo-Saxon Druid, because I combine elements of Anglo-Saxon Heathenry with Celtic Animistic Druidry to create my path. I honour my ancestors, the spirits of nature and the Anglo-Saxon gods.

For a long time I have been a naturalist, viewing the gods as archetypes rather than real distinct beings, but recently I came to the realisation that I fall better into the agnostic camp. I can’t tell you I’ve had religious experiences nor seen scientific evidence to convince me of the reality of the gods, so I can’t say I’m a firm believer in deity. But neither can I dismiss the religious experiences of millions of people around the world, even if science suggests that we should be careful about arguments from personal experience. Therefore I feel it better to simply say, I just don’t know. However, I am going to start acting like they do exist. Why? Because I want to, because I like doing so and because I think it will make me a better person.

Over the next few months you will notice changes to my blog as I move to make it more reflective of my Anglo-Saxon Druid  stance. I’m also still traveling so new blog posts are likely to be intermittent. I have a few blog posts planned including one on Daoism and at least one more on Monasticism which I will hopefully get around to writing soon.

What Pagan Monasticism could look like!

In my last post, I talked about the fact that I think Paganism needs a Monasticism. I talked about the New Monasticism movement that has inspired me with their dual commitment to a life of disciplined contemplative spiritual practice and radical service to the poor and needy in society. A vision I believe should be the foundation of any Pagan Monasticism. In this post I want to explore what some Pagans are currently doing, as well as outline some of my initial thoughts about how such a Monasticism could work.

Perhaps the most advanced work currently undertaken by Pagans in this area is the work of the Order of the Horae. They have produced a Book of Prayer so members can pray the daily office (set hours and prayers each day), a set of Prayer Beads, A Rule of Life based around 12 principles and more. This is the sort of thing any Pagan monastic group needs to have in place. Less advanced are groups like the Order of the Sacred Nemeton, Druid group AODA’s Gnostic Celtic Church and the outgoing ArchDruid of ADF who has been working towards developing a monasticism there too. There is also some interesting work going on by an OBOD member. All these attempts show there is a hunger and a drive to create a more monastic and contemplative space within Paganism. But there is one area these groups have not yet built into their vision – social justice and service to the poor and needy.

For me, Paganism has got to matter in the real world too. It can’t just be about our personal spiritual practices, it has got to have positive effects on the world around us. If we want to see Paganism grow, be accepted by society as a legitimate religious option and, importantly, be able to challenge those aspects of society which need changing, then a Pagan Monasticism can’t be about withdrawing from the world, it needs to be about engaging with it, showing the world a better way of life, and making it a better place. This means a Pagan Monasticism needs both elements of the vision – the disciplined contemplative spiritual practice and the radical service to the poor and needy. This is why Pagan monasteries should not be out in the countryside but should be deliberately placed in run down urban areas and communities. And if we want access to greenery, then maybe teaching local people guerilla gardening might be a way forward.

So let’s move on to considering some elements of how this Pagan Monasticism could work. For that I will look to the book by Greywind, The Voice within the Wind. In this book he sets out 9 strands of the Druidic identity and I believe these strands can help us to form a vision of what a Pagan Monasticism might look like.

druidThe first aspect is history and culture. The ancient Bards were historians, the keepers of the lore and culture, of story, of genealogy. A Pagan Monasticism should offer access to and study in the lore and aspects of Pagan culture. Pagan monasticism should make study an important element of their practice. They should learn and share the stories of ancient times. Genealogy is also important, the Pagan monks should research their own ancestry and offer services for others who want to do the same. Related to this is the importance of honouring ancestors and Pagan monks should set an example by doing this..

Secondly is Art. Bards were not just historians, they were musicians, poets, storytellers, actors and more. A Pagan monastery is the perfect place for a Pagan culture of art to flourish, and for the artists within the Pagan community and community at large to find a place to fit in and grow in their talents and abilities. Pagan monasteries could have rooms dedicated to art and music, a place for local young people to hang out and learn new skills, a place for performances to the community. Perhaps this would evolve into a way to help make the monastery financially sustainable too.

Third is healing, the realm of the Ovate. Ancient Ovates would have been skilled in herbalism and healing, and perhaps modern Pagan monasteries could offer the same – healing for both physical and psychological issues through herbalism, counseling and so on (assuming the right skills and training were in place). Another important aspect of this healing would be healing with the “more-than-human” world – healing the abandoned and forgotten places, showing people how to regenerate the land and honour the spirits of the land.

Fourth is metaphysics – studying the spiritual aspects of the cosmos and the inner self. This includes learning about how the ancient Pagans viewed their universe e.g the three realms.

Fifth is Seership – studying and offering divination services.

Sixth we move on to the realm of the Druids. The were the Ritualists. A Pagan monasticism needs to celebrate rituals, whether the eight high days, the phases of the moon or rites of passage. Monks would follow a rhythm of life set by nature and the cycles of the year. The monks would become skilled in the art and practice of ritual and celebrate regularly. Rituals must be public and open to the community, although personal ones such as for weddings/ funerals e.t.c could be offered to select groups of people. Related to this is the importance of regular daily practice. A Pagan monasticism would be committed to regular disciplined and communal ritual, prayer and meditation at set points each day.

Seventh is the study of natural philosophy. Druids and other Pagans studied nature. They studied philosophy and they were committed to finding truth and wisdom. The same should be true of modern Pagan monks. They should study the external world – the nature around them (including a practice of spending a regular daily period of direct contact with nature so they develop a bio-regional outlook) and philosophical wisdom from a variety of sources.

Eighth is Teaching. The ancient Druids were teachers. They taught their societies moral, wisdom and more. They were often the school teachers. Modern Pagan monks can also teach others whether through conversations, writing or formal teaching. They can teach people old skills (re-skilling), they can teach people the wisdom and stories of the ancient world and they can teach people how to live sustainably on the earth.

Finally, we come to service. The ancient Druids served their communities, as lawyers, doctors, political advisors and more. They were known as peacemakers who could walk between armies and stop battles. They believed in service and making the world a better place. Like the ancients, modern Pagan monastics can serve their communities too, committed to nonviolence and working to effect peacemaking and conflict resolution in society. Or inspired by the ancient legal roles, offer advice and help to those who need to access services of debt relief, social benefits and so on. Or inspired by the ancients role as political advisors, they can speak truth to power and offer a prophetic voice against those in power.
I hope this gives some idea of the type of Monasticism I want to see Pagans develop – one in which people are committed to a disciplined lifestyle of daily regular contemplation, ritual, offerings and prayer to the gods and ancestors. A lifestyle committed to following a rhythm of the year based around times of celebration but also fasting. A lifestyle studying nature, wisdom, philosophy and lore, and then teaching that to others. A lifestyle of creativity in art and poetry. A lifestyle of living in bioregional harmony with the earth. And a lifestyle committed to service to the community, whether through offering ritual, divination, conflict resolution, advice, counseling and fighting for social justice. In our next post we will explore this issue of service, and particularly peacemaking in more detail.

I want a Pagan Monasticism

Please note that this will be a series of articles exploring the theme of Pagan Monasticism. In this first one I want to simply set out the foundation stones of my thinking.

monk1Today I want to write about a dream of mine, I’ve had for a long time, and it started back when I was a Christian. It is monasticism. From the age of 16 I started questioning Christianity and it led me through various different denominations and ideas until eventually I left Christianity completely 6 years later. However, some things stuck with me during that journey. I was a very conservative Christian for a long time, but as I started to research I became more and more liberal, both theologically and socially. I read books like “God’s Politics” by Jim Wallis, which opened my eyes to the fact that that Jesus wasn’t an arch-conservative but that his words in the Sermon on the Mount and parable of the sheep and goats were the heart of his message (obvious I know, but much of the time we only see what we want to in religious books).

Jim Wallis was involved with a movement called “Sojourners” which was essentially the “Christian Left.” And within that movement is a man called Shaine Claiborne. And he set up an intentional community in the USA called “The Simple Way” dedicated to living a “contemplative and prophetic life.” In other words, they are committed to two things – living a life of committed regular spiritual practice and living a life of radical service to the poor and needy in their communities (old testament style meaning of prophetic – calling people to live a better way through example). It was a vision that caught my imagination. It was the vision of a new movement called “New Monasticism.” Although protestant, it’s spiritual practices like praying the daily office, using a liturgy and following a rule of life, were inspired by Catholicism and Celtic Christianity. Shane wrote a book called “The Irresistible Revolution” talking about applying Jesus sermon on the mount to our lives and how this New Monasticism fitted into it. He was very clear in the book about the importance of people creating the Kingdom of God in the world here and now. This New Monasticism was not about withdrawing from life, but deliberately going into the most broken parts of society, places ravished by poverty and racism, and offering healing.

The members of the Christian New Monasticism movement dedicated themselves to 12 “marks” –

  1. Relocation to the “abandoned places of Empire” [at the margins of society].
  2. Sharing economic resources with fellow community members and the needy among us.
  3. Hospitality to the stranger.
  4. Lament for racial divisions within the church and our communities combined with the active pursuit of a just reconciliation.
  5. Humble submission to Christ’s body, the Church.
  6. Intentional formation in the way of Christ and the rule of the community along the lines of the old novitiate.
  7. Nurturing common life among members of an intentional community.
  8. Support for celibate singles alongside monogamous married couples and their children.
  9. Geographical proximity to community members who share a common rule of life.
  10. Care for the plot of God’s earth given to us along with support of our local economies.
  11. Peacemaking in the midst of violence and conflict resolution within communities along the lines of Matthew 18.
  12. Commitment to a discipline contemplative life.

In other words, it was a community committed to working for peace and social justice while living a disciplined contemplative life.

The Simple Way is an intentional community, that is, “A community that is a planned residential community designed from the start to have a high degree of social cohesion and teamwork. The members of an intentional community typically hold a common, social, political, religious, or spiritual vision and often follow an alternative lifestyle. They typically share responsibilities and resources.”

Recently I have come across another development within the New Monasticism movement – an inter-religious New Monasticism which has similar aims but is not limited to one religion but is open to the wisdom of many traditions. There is a strong influence of Buddhism in there too. It was inspired by a book by Raimon Pannikar called “Blessed Simplicity: The Monk as Universal Archetype” which talked about how the “monk” is an archetype that we can all have access to. This inter-religious New Monasticism has the following vows –

  1. I vow to actualize and live according to my full moral and ethical capacity.
    2. I vow to live in solidarity with the cosmos and all living beings.
    3. I vow to live in deep nonviolence.
    4. I vow to live in humility and to remember the many teachers and guides who assisted me on my spiritual path.
    5. I vow to embrace a daily spiritual practice.
    6. I vow to cultivate mature self-knowledge.
    7. I vow to live a life of simplicity.
    8. I vow to live a life of selfless service and compassionate action.
    9. I vow to be a prophetic voice as I work for justice, compassion and world transformation.

Wow. What a vision! Is there any reason this could not form the basis of a Pagan Monasticism?

I’m not sure traditional monasticism of withdrawing from the world fits particularly well with Paganism, but the world-affirming nature of these New Monasticism movements can and do fit well with Paganism.

If we look at history, it is likely that the famous Druid teaching schools of Britain and Ireland were almost certainly turned into the first monasteries and Druid’s probably became some of the first monks. It is interesting to note that Celtic Christianity primarily spread through a “monastic model” rather than a traditional Rome-inspired parish model. And eventually it came to dominate the faith of the people of Britain and Ireland.

If we look further afield to India, the home of the largest and oldest Pagan Polytheist religion in the world, Hinduism, we see that monasteries play a very important part in the faith and the daily lives of people. It is the same with the Pagan Polytheist religion of Daoism in China. So Monasticism can clearly work in Pagan religions. In fact, some Pagans have been beginning to do just that but we’ll talk more about that in my next post.