How “Earthy” Is Your Religion?

The Los Angeles Times brings us another edition of the ever-familiar “meet the Pagans” article. It has many of the usual “clever” lines journalists use when reporting on Pagans, allusions to Stevie Nicks, allusions to Harry Potter, Pagan Witches don’t all wear pointy black hats, you get the idea. But Matthew DeBord’s article rises from mere mediocrity into truly bad journalism thanks to some outright falsehoods and bizarre assumptions.

“Contemporary paganism doesn’t draw its inspiration from the multiple-gods worship of ancient Greece and Rome so much as from less classical, earthier antecedents (although pagans can and do worship different gods and goddesses). Think Druids, or the shamanistic traditions of Native Americans. Satanism, being associated with the post-Christian world, is not usually considered part of the neo-pagan movement although neo-pagans, being exceedingly tolerant, would probably not object to Satanists being allowed to do their thing, as well.”

Really? What does that mean for members of Feraferia, Hellenismos, the Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes, and Nova Roma? What about the large swathes of modern Pagans, including the Druids, who engage in “multiple-gods worship” (we call it “polytheism” round these parts). I also love that shamanism is somehow “earthier” than “classical” paganism. I wonder how one measures the “earthy” quotient of a spiritual/religious system. Is their an earthy hierarchy I’m missing out on?

I’m not sure if DeBord’s assumptions are born from misinformed interview subjects or his own preconceived notions, but if your sweeping statements can’t pass the Wikipedia test, then it’s time to reevaluate your journalistic abilities. Then again, maybe modern Paganism has been taken over by earthy Druid-shamans and nobody told me.