The rise of Paganism
by Jonathan Skinner
From teenager books on spells and magic to ‘neutral’ exercises like yoga and meditation, pagan practices are hitting mainstream.
The religious and spiritual outlook of our generation is undergoing seismic shifts undreamt of a few decades ago.
British people feel that the church has failed them and yet are becoming spiritually hungry. So they are delving in areas almost unknown for at least one, if not two, thousand years. Citizens of the Western world are revisiting paganism in phenomenal numbers.
Spells for teenage witches
My local bookshop has replaced the section once called ‘Religion’ with one called ‘Mysticism’ – and this is no mere window-dressing. Instead of anything like Bibles, commentaries and volumes on Christian living, or even books on the world’s religions, these shelves are weighed down with the most peculiar fare.
If you want the hairs on the back of your neck to stand up, think about such reading material as Spells for teenage witches or White witching and angel healing. Another book on the market is The real witches’ kitchen – spells, recipes, oils and potions from the witches’ hearth. The Harry Potter books and films have, at least to some extent, popularised an interest in paganism.
Another book is on numerology – the flyleaf tells us that ‘Numerology is perhaps the easiest of the occult arts to understand and use’. It claims to give guidance to ‘determine the best time for major moves and activities in life’, as well as to ‘decide when to invest, when to marry, when to travel, when to change jobs, relocate and much more’.
Alongside this – at a level any child could reach – is Dreams; hidden meanings and secrets. This book claims that it can help the reader ‘discover the secrets of your sleep’ and ‘find out what your dreams are trying to tell you’.
And then there is The truth about Neo-Paganism – The magical worldview. The introduction to this publication makes the following claim: ‘Rising from the ashes of 5,000 years of oppression and banishment to the religious underground, Neo-Paganism is now emerging as a viable body of transformative spirituality’. This book alleges that Neo-Paganism is the ‘world’s fastest growing religion’.
One popular volume for sale in many supermarkets, The healing energies of the Earth, states that ‘The Earth is a living organism’ that has the capacity to heal, energise and hold memories. It claims that you can heal yourself and the Earth using such things as dowsing, feng shui, and health garden and building practices.
One lady I met was seriously thinking about moving her bed around the house – so that she could tap into positive ‘energy fields’ and therefore sleep better. The lady is a qualified science teacher!
Connecting to The Force
Major national newspapers like The Times run ‘Body and Soul’ magazine supplements, which (if you read carefully) promote not only healthy living but many New Age spiritual practices.
The health magazine is a publication given out free at many doctors’ surgeries and pharmacies. Although most of it deals with legitimate health issues and contains much wholesome advice, sandwiched within it are some very ‘alternative’ perspectives.
Many martial arts are linked to pagan ideology – not a million miles away from that portrayed in George Lucas’ Star War films. At higher levels the trainee is encourages to ‘connect’ into something very similar to The Force that Jedi knights are taught to use. This is not surprising as Lucas based the whole idea of The Force on eastern pagan beliefs.
Many large companies send their employees on business training seminars which, beneath the surface, are discernibly pagan or New Age. Some of the most significant ones are Impact Seminars, Est, The Forum, Actualisations, Silva Mind Control and Life Dynamics.
One company, Transformation Technologies, claims that its clients include 25 of the Fortune 100 companies and that its eight-week Executive Excellence programme ‘has attracted executives from one of the largest companies in the world’.
Meditation and yoga are probably some of the most influential ways that pagan thinking has sneaked into the consciousness of normal people.
My new book, The Rise of Paganism – the re-emergence of an old ideology*, tackles this movement head on. It investigates and uncovers the evidence that shows how the current rise of pagan thinking is infiltrating many areas of contemporary life.
It then examines more closely the thinking and assumptions that lie behind Paganism, analysing why so many disparate movements – including religions, ideologies, therapies, political thinking, science, counselling techniques and environmental pressure groups – can all hang together.
No moral teaching
Why is paganism dangerous? For a start it offers false hope. For example, in areas like alternative medicine, although some practices may produce legitimate results, most are not scientifically tested and have not been proven to work.
More than that, the rise of paganism is largely subversive in that people are being exposed to religious beliefs without their realising it. Who would suspect that yoga, many alternative therapies, martial arts, business training seminars, and some environmental groups all have a similar world-view?
A particular danger is that people are exposing themselves to spiritual realities that can destroy their lives. Demons and evil spirits are not just referred to in the Bible but by almost every world religion – the forces of spiritual darkness are real (Ephesians 6:10-12).
The essential problem with paganism is one of evidence – it is totally lacking. But more than that, one of the most startling things about modern paganism is its almost total lack of moral teaching. There are no real ethics.
A fast growing movement affecting large sections of our society, yet which is devoid of any moral framework, is dangerous in the extreme. Western civilisation is being undermined, and most of us are ignorant of the fact.
Worst of all, Paganism blinds people to their need to believe in Jesus Christ that he might save them from their sins. This is a wake-up call.
*The rise of Paganism is published by Evangelical Press, price £8.95 (ISBN: 9780852346242)