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The Three (or more?) “Centers” of Paganism

Celebrating Nature, Working Magic, and Honoring Deities

By John Halstead

Imagine that the Pagan community has not one, but multiple “centers”. Imagine each of these “centers” defines Pagan identity and authenticity differently. To begin with there is what I will call “earth-centered Paganism”. I realize this is a problematic term, because “earth” is a cultural construct and means different things to different people, but it remains a useful category, I think. Earth-centered Paganism would include those Paganisms concerned primarily with ecology, those more local forms of Paganism that I would call “backyard Paganism” or are sometimes called “dirt worship”, and many forms of (neo-)animism which view humans as non-privileged part of an interconnected more-than-human community of beings. The Pagan identity of earth-centered Pagans is defined by their relationship to their natural environment. Authenticity for these Pagans is defined by one’s ability to connect with the more-than-human world. Of course, there are many whose spirituality might be called “earth-centered” by this definition, but who reject the label “Pagan”. Some of the rejection of the Pagan label by those who might otherwise be called Pagan is due to the association of the label with the other two groups (with whom they do not identify).

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