noun 1. the doctrine or practice of vigorous action or involvement as a means of achieving political or other goals, sometimes by demonstrations, protests, etc.
2. Philosophy . a. a theory that the essence of reality is pure activity, especially spiritual activity, or process.
b. a theory that the relationship between the mind and the objects of perception depends upon the action of the mind.
What a crazy week it’s been for me! I meant to post something earlier but ended up in a political fight to save my children’s school against hostile elements in the local administration who do not support or understand alternative educational models. We were successful, faster than we expected, and their school is safe, for now. This fight however, has catalyzed our local community to jump into a more proactive, assertive position and advocate for systemic evolution of our failing school system, rather than trying to quietly pursue our alternatives and defensively fight off the constant attacks by the dying system.
The Internet was invaluable in our fight to save the school. Our campaign had just really got rolling when the administration unexpectedly caved, reversing their decision and reinstating the programs they had cancelled, and we did it largely with social media. We started a Facebook group which quickly grew to hundreds of interested people, we texted each other, and emailed school board members, the school superintendent, and others. We had a press conference and an investigative piece was going in the local paper. This global medium has already been changing our world, but most of that has been through the expanding ripple effect of advertising and the interests of a corporate capitalistic society. More recently, we (the people) are starting to learn to harness the potential of the global communication network to reach each other in a larger and more profound way, to share information, organize and act. Human rights abuses have been brought to light by digital video uploads. Criminals have been caught and lives saved by the quick ability to spread information. Politicians, governments and police find it harder and harder to get away with things (whether a verbal gaffe or murder) when every crowd contains a number of digital video camera equipped smart phones that are live streaming their actions to the Internet. Societies are changing through this media use and we are learning that more than ever we have the ability to be at the wheel, guiding that change. We can see that power at work in the Arab Spring and the global Occupy Movement.
This brings me to the issue of activism’s role as it applies to pagan spiritual matters. Pagans are a minority, and often face attacks on our beliefs, whether just rude comments from the ignorant, or direct attacks of the adult bullying and hate crime sort. As a result, we often are hiding in our “Broom Closet” and not very open about our beliefs in order to protect ourselves from social backlash. Again here, the Internet has been tremendously instrumental in helping to change hearts and minds with regard to pagan beliefs. Information sharing and networking websites like The Witch’s Voice ( http://www.witchvox.com/ ), online schools and informational websites, Pagan blogs, videos on YouTube and so forth have done a huge service to our faith by raising awareness, reducing ignorance, connecting isolated practitioners and allowing them to become a more unified voice. We now have national and military recognition and growing acceptance.
Beyond simply raising awareness of our faith itself, what kinds of activism serves a spiritual purpose for Pagans? Well the obvious answer for a faith which finds it’s divinity in nature is support for environmental causes. Whether it’s saving your local city park from developers, supporting local, organic food, protecting old growth forests, or risking life and limb getting between whalers and their prey, there are innumerable causes on the environmental front because, as we all know, our environment is under attack by corporate interests. Besides environmental causes, we also have the same beliefs as most other faiths: in justice, equality, protection for the helpless, sharing with and helping the needy and spreading peace. All of these are also worthy Pagan activism causes to become involved in, whether you are protesting or ladling out soup.
Working for causes in line with our beliefs, like magic and spellwork, is a type of active prayer, turning thought and emotion into right action. I also want to point out that, according to the Threefold Law, the law of returns or other karmic principles, you will get back what you put out into the world. With that in mind, I suggest that you do at least as much, if not more, supporting as protesting. The lesson we had reinforced from our fight with the school board, and by the Arab Spring and Occupy Movements, and by the information sharing on Pagan websites, is that being on the defensive is a position of weakness. Protesting what we see as wrong is important, but we also need to be proactively working to manifest the world we want, by supporting and encouraging right action, instead of just reacting to and protesting against what we don’t want. Pagan sympathetic magical principles teach us energy attracts it’s like. So in order to manifest the world we want for our future and serve our spiritual beliefs at the same time, we need to find our causes, and then find ways to work in active supporting roles, manifesting positive change and spreading love and truth.
I believe that we are now in a time of great societal change, and the end decline of the industrial age. I don’t know what the future will look like in terms of technology, because I cannot predict inventions and discoveries, but I do believe that we (of necessity) *must* be moving into a more sustainable future, with technology in balance with people and the earth, but that this transition is not likely to be a smooth one, given the damage the old systems have done and the propensity of old systems to want to hold on for all their worth. I found a lot of great thoughts and suggestions in the essay linked below. It is from John Michael Greer of The Ancient Order of Druids in America, and it is his view on how Druids (and in my view modern Pagans in general) can best serve society as we navigate this great global paradigm shift.