Book review: Pagan Planet

Image from Druid Life.

Image from Druid Life.

Brown, Nimue (ed.) Pagan Planet: Being, Believing and Belonging in the 21st Century, Moon Books, 2016.

“What does it mean to live as a Pagan in this uncertain world of climate change, economic hardship and worldwide social injustice? What does it mean to hold nature as sacred when ravaging the land is commonplace? How do we live our Paganism in our families and homes, our communities and countries?”

These are the questions addressed in Pagan Planet, an anthology of Pagan writers sharing their ideas, beliefs, and practices to make a difference to the world around them. Each short article looks at one aspect of living as a Pagan and working towards, if not a “Pagan Planet”, then at least a world more connected and more in touch with nature, with justice and with human and non-human rights.

Whenever you get multiple Pagan writers together, it raises the usual question of what Paganism actually is. Mike Stygal, of the Pagan Federation, offers a useful definition in his foreword. Mike says: “Paganism is a collection of spiritual or religious paths that are largely rooted in indigenous traditions – mainly from Europe, and many of which could be said to focus on a reverence for nature”.

The writers in this collection are very diverse, spanning Druids, Witches, Wiccans, Eclectic Pagans, Polytheists, Agnostics, Humanists and even Christopagans. Yet it never comes across as disunited or divided by belief and path, indeed it feels that all these individuals, each in their own way, are working toward a shared vision of the world.

Some do so by direct activism, protesting, marching, campaigning or even standing for political office, and others write more of their focus on personal life-ways, recycling, ethical shopping, and spiritual approaches such as ritual, contemplation and meditation. The feeling from this collection I got was that no one way was “the right” way to effect change, and what some people feel called or able to do might be different from others. The world needs both “Wild Sistas” and “Contemplative Druids”, each doing different things, but each part of a global grass-roots Paganism that works for change in the world.

In light of recent online debates about spiritual turning inward and outward activism, Pagan Planet serves as a reminder why we need both of these things to create change in our world, our lives and ourselves.

Pagan Planet is a thoughtful and thought-provoking little book, and I reckon everyone who reads it will find plenty to inspire them, as well as more than a few things that infuriate them too, which in my mind is the mark of a good book!

In her closing remarks, Nimue Brown writes:

“We need this planet. It is our home. Where else do we belong, but here? It is all the future we have. It is our life, and our faith, and all that we hold sacred. We have a lot of work to do as a consequence.”