I was privileged to be asked to give a talk on Paganism, climate change and activism at Medway’s Interfaith Network yesterday. Privileged, primarily because the quality of speakers that I listened to was simply superb.
Speakers from the Jewish, Catholic, Muslim and Baha’i communities all spoke brilliantly and with passion, often diving deep into the spiritual aspects of their religions much of which you could read across between us all.
I spoke from a Druid and animist perspective obviously, making a clear point that individual experience is key in Paganism and that my words were personal to me rather than representative of Paganism as a whole.
Probably the main area of disagreement was the notion of stewardship, i.e. the Earth is given to us to look after as if we are above it. This feels paternalistic and puts us above and separate from Nature. Instead I talked about harm to the Earth being a form of self harm.
A few other points that I made:
- Animism can be viewed in polytheistic terms but also from a view of all encompassing spirit, everything is connected through life force and is part of a unified whole. [this point was made by one of the Muslim speakers too]
- Human people are just one type of people that are part of the Earth.
- Much of Paganism is Earth centred, i.e. the Earth is sacred to us.
- Having something as sacred as the Earth under attack from the actions of one of its peoples (humans) is deeply distressing
- When sacred things are openly attacked it triggers a set of reactions
- We have organisations such as The Warriors Call fighting fracking and protecting the Earth.
- Like most humans living in the western world, we are not great at walking the walk when it comes to sustainability. Pagans still fly, drive cars and so on, despite what I hope would be a slightly different relationship with the Earth than people of other faiths and none.
I finished by reading 3:23 by Drew Dellinger, the poem that keeps me going in my most despondent moments.