Anarcho-Paganism, Or How I Learned to Stop Worrying And Love Praying for the End Of Capitalism
“No Gods, No Masters,” goes the age old cry of the anarchist, and for good reason. Organized religion has been used to control people for thousands of years. The recent rise of fascist sympathy — “wrapped in the flag and carrying the cross,” no less — gives credence to Marx's old notion that religion is the opiate of the masses. However, much of the recent tide of Christian religious fervor has been directed at other religions just as much as it has atheists and agnostics, if not more so. The rise of Islamaphobia in the Western world is of particular note here. Also of particular note is the “New Atheism” movement, which has added fuel to the fascist fire rather than taking up arms with the anarcho-socialists. Simply removing religion from the equation is not enough, and, in my case at least, left me feling spiritually unfilfilled. Obviously organized religion still has many faults has which make it hard to join it with the aims of anarchy. But what about disorganized religion?
One of the things that drew me to the American neopagan movement was how diverse it was. Though Druidry and Wicca are the main varieties today, there are also movements such as Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionism, Hellenism, Stregheria, Religio Romana, and countless others, to say nothing of the solitary eclectics who blend practices. It's very decentralized on the whole, although large orders and covens do have a significant presence. Solitary practitioners and informal groups make up a large percent of the group, however, and I do believe there is potential for radical momentum within the movement as a whole. With that in mind, let's look at what the guiding principles of an anarcho-pagan movement might look like.
Some Anarcho-Pagan Principles and Shit
This list is just a general overview and by no means exhaustive. It's not so much a manifesto as it is just a few general points.
- We honor the Gods for the gifts they have given us, chief among which are life and freedom of will.
- Belief in the Gods is what makes them real. No one's Gods are more or less real than anyone else's.
- All people should be free to honor their Gods in whatever ways they choose.
- The state is the enemy of all worshipers, for it venerates capital, thereby subordinating the spiritual to the material.
- Centralized, organized religion is the weapon of the state.
- Decentralized, disorganized religion is a weapon against the state.
- Concerning magic:
- Magic is the realization of will in the material plane through mastery over the cognitive plane.
- The use of magic to bring forth one's desires is a radical act, while the use of magic to control others is an act of evil.
- Avoid causing intentional harm with magic if you can avoid it, but be willing and prepared to defend yourself. That “Do No Harm” shit will get you killed.
- In subordinating the spiritual to the physical, the state enforces a cognitive paradigm that denies the validity of magical practice. The primary goal of the magician should be to break through this cognitive paradigm and teach others to do the same.
By the way, consider the above flag to be licensed under a creative commons public domain license. I designed it using public domain elements, and make absolutely no claims to have any rights over the design whatsover. Seriously. Use it. Share it. Distribute it. I want to see it everywhere.
The Pitfalls of the Pagan Anarchist
I've been in the neopagan community for going on a year now, and I've seen some pretty nasty pitfalls that pagans can run headfirst into no matter how long they've been a part of the community. I'm listing them here to remind myself not to fall into them myself as much as to warn others about them.
- The Arrogance Trap: This one is of particular note to witches, warlocks, mages, and anyone else who uses magic. Confidence is one's skill is a necessary part of any magical practice. The more confident you are a spell will work, the more likely it is to work. Arrogance, however, will blind you to your own faults and lead you to do things that will get you into deep shit or turn you into one of those assholes who thinks messing with free will is totally fine. Remember: with great power, there must also come great responsibility.
- The Authenticity Trap: Paganism as a whole was pretty much completely wiped out centuries ago. Anything we can do right now is at best an attempt of reconstruction at old practices. We worship the Gods because we believe in them, not because they were revealed to us. Artistic license, personal touches, and blending of traditions should be encouraged. Personal beliefs are valid.
- The Appropriation Trap: On the flip side, while personal touches and blending of neopagan traditions is perfectly acceptable, please do not take the shit of cultures who have been historically oppressed. That just helps the oppressor eliminate the religions they don't like. Seriously, just don't do it.
- The Ancestry Trap: Getting in touch with the gods of your ancestors is cool and all, but racism is not. You're not better because you worship Odin. Nor is someone who worships Odin but isn't white less entitled to their beliefs. Need I say more?
- The Primitivism Trap: Last but by no means least, there is the idea of loving the Earth, and then there is thinking our ancestors somehow had it better than us. This idea ignores the incredible leaps in quality of life we've had over the centuries, especially for people with disabilities. Science and technology can be misused, but they are not our enemy. Neither is civilization. This is the hardest trap not to fall into for an anarchist with an ecological bent. Don't succumb to it.
This is just a brief overview of my philosophy, but I'm hoping to inspire more people with it. I want to do more posts and writings about paganism and occultism, and maybe delve into some magical techniques as well. In fact, I think next time I'll do a brief overview of my magical practices. I hope you'll tune in for that.