NOT an ‘Earth Religion’?

Hello friends,

So thanks to the wonders of Facebook I came across this article about the voyage of the Plastiki, a catamaran that is largely made from recycled materials and is sailing the ocean to highlight the dangers of over-fishing and ocean pollution.  This is how I learned about the Eastern Garbage Patch.

“The ocean’s fragility they witnessed in the place where much of the world’s discarded plastic ends up, the “eastern garbage patch”. This, the focus of their voyage, is a floating “continent” of debris. Nothing that the crew had read in advance could prepare them for what they found navigating an area twice as large as the North Sea. “You don’t see it at first,” De Rothschild says. “But when you get into the sea, and under the water, you realise that it is all like a soup, millions and millions of tiny fragments of plastic, suspended in the water. It is mostly microscopic, but once your eye adjusts you start to see the reflectiveness of some of the larger pieces. The red fragments stand out most clearly.”

The garbage patch was first identified 12 years ago within the “North Pacific gyre” – a vortex where the ocean circulates slowly because of light wind and extreme high pressure systems. Oceanographers have since suggested that perhaps 100 million tonnes of plastic are held in suspension in these waters. One of the things that the Plastiki voyage has demonstrated is just how durable modern polymers are: the pressurised bottles of its hull have hardly been knocked out of shape, let alone broken up by the 8,000-mile voyage. “That’s why just about every plastic bottle that has been made still exists,” De Rothschild says.

The voyage has been overshadowed by the more graphic pollution of the BP oil spill, but even that is dwarfed by the scale of the problem the Plastiki highlights. While the deaths of seabirds and marine life in the Gulf of Mexico are still being measured in the hundreds, according to the UN Environment Programme, plastic debris causes the deaths of more than a million seabirds every year, and more than 100,000 marine mammals. Back in 2006, the UN concluded that every square mile of ocean contains 46,000 pieces of floating plastic. Since then the problem has only grown.”

~ from the Tim Adams article at observer (full article here)

Its odd, but I was having a very good and deep conversation with some Heathen friends of mine today and one of the topics that came up was the definition of Paganism as an “Earth Centered Religion” and how that does not always theologically apply to all forms of Contemporary Paganism.  It was a great discussion and some fascinating points were made.  Although it’s a very good thing I hadn’t seen this article first or I would have probably been a lot more pissy on the topic…

This evening…

(or is it morning? I think it shall NOT be evening until I’ve had some sleep no matter the clock hour.)

… anyhow my mind, upon reading the article above, began to turn back over the years to the many times I have seen both online and in person various members of our Pagan community sneer and whine when some Pagans define Paganism as an ‘earth centered religion’.

Not the engaging and a reasoned and reasonable discussion of earlier this evening, nor the less frequently encountered but entirely reasonable “Well, so and so is making very big blanket statements about Paganism….”; no, I meant the knee-jerk “So-and-so (often Starhawk) doesn’t speak for me…” or “(insert name of whiner’s Tradition here) isn’t centered on the Earth it’s centered on the Gods”  or “Well those neo-Pagan fluff types can drum and chant about the Earth all they want I’m going to do the real Paganism over here…”

Usually involving/followed by a lot of noise and flouncing to the effect that their Paganism is concerned with The Gods and the Ancestors and the really kewl [sic] stuff and doesn’t worry the Earth…

To which I would like to say,

“Why NOT?”

Setting aside, for now, the fact that the Earth is increasingly in trouble and it is the only home we have right now…

Does someone really expect me to believe that the Holy Powers and the Ancestors are HAPPY or PROUD at the way our societies treat this precious jewel of a world or ours?   There is a patch of floating plastic and debris floating in the Atlantic that is large enough to have earned a NAME!

Is it possible that you could stop your whining about how superior your particular form of Paganism is long enough to actually do something useful to your larger community (i.e. the world) that would both honor your Gods and your Ancestors and do something useful to help ensure that when We are the Ancestors that there is a healthy and beautiful world with enough nourishing food and clean water that our descendants may enjoy their lives rather than cursing our selfishness or laziness?

Now I would love to be able to say that I have been walking this talk for a long time.

I can’t.

I am learning to recycle, trying to shop smarter and reduce and re-use as well as recycle.  I am trying to figure out how to walk this talk and I for one am rather thankful that there are Pagans out there who are more experienced at this and are already putting thought and action into this sacred trust.

The other side of the coin, of course, is that we are not separate from the Earth.  Humans are a part of nature, despite what some of my more radically Earth Centered bretheren, that HUMANS are a PART of the Earth, Humans are OF Nature.   Not, or at least not solely, nature and the Earths enemy.

Try looking forward to a sustainable future featuring humanity shall we?

Just saying,


5 thoughts on “NOT an ‘Earth Religion’?

    1. Pax

      Not at all sweets!!

      Ours was the really cool conversation mentioned near the beginning. Besides, as I tried to indicate I have no objection to the genuine theological “uhm no not much….” that you and your Viking have been known to express, which is the true and reasonable point that not all Pagan theologies are “earth centered” even if it is a fairly useful short hand given the active relationship with place and the spirits there-of nature of Paganism over all; its the ones who get all flouncy and snotty and “you’re not the boss of me and your just a big neo-Pagan poopy head, I’m a real Pagan blah blah blah” about it and who seem to lose site of the seemingly basic responses I mentioned.

      Sorry if I wasn’t clear there!


  1. You raise some great points, and I’ve often had thoughts along similar lines. Of course, I’ll also admit that I tend to chafe at talk of Paganism being “earth-centered” is that some Pagans who use that phrase tend to use that phrase (1) tend to ignore all the other, equally nifty and important (in my opinion, at least) aspects of Paganism and (2) have some pretty weird (again, in my opinion) ideas about “nature” and the earth that don’t always line up with my experiences as a rurally born guy.

    Of course, I’m also inclined more to think about Paganism (at least as I experience it) as not so much “earth-centered” or as “life-centered” or “life-affirming.” To me, that incorporates the idea of doing what I can to keep the planet I live on a nice place to live (not to mention keeping it capable of supporting that life), but extends to other things (like nourishing community and all those other things that improve and enrich that life).

  2. Also, I’d just like to say that it amuses me to know end that I knew exactly who you had the conversation with as soon as I read that part of the post. 😉

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