The Wild Hunt “spoke” via email with Reverend Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary and Robert Schreiwer of the Troth. This exchange concerned trends within the greater Pagan communities in 2018, expectations for 2019, and Pagan visibility in the media in 2018. Each spoke as an individual.
Trends among Pagans in 2018
Rev. Fox and Schreiwer agreed that growth of Paganism formed one of the major trends in 2018. Rev. Fox mentioned the continued growth of Paganism in the US, the UK, Iceland and some other parts of the world. According to Rev. Fox, research studies have confirmed this growth. In 2018, the media took note of this growth. Schreiwer felt part of this growth reflected declining belief in dominant religious traditions. He traced this to a disillusionment. with “certain mainstream monotheistic religious denominations.”
Rev. Fox also reported increased Pagan use of the social media site, Instagram, in 2018. People use that site to share videos, photos, and live streamed events.
A quick search of Instagram on December 31, 2018 supported Rev. Fox’s statement. The hashtag “#WitchesofInstagram” had 2.2 million posts. The hashtag “#Pagan” had 2.6 million posts. The hashtag “#Witch” had 7.4 million posts. Other parts of the Pagan community had less visibility on Instagram. The hashtag “#Druid” had only 237,387 posts. The hashtag” #Heathen” had only 370,661 posts, but some of those posts contained Christian fundamentalist messages.
These differences could indicate that fewer people are following the Druid or Heathen path than are following the Wiccan path. It could also indicate that people in different Pagan traditions differ in their social media preferences.
Schreiwer found an intra-Pagan “culture war” issue to be a major trend in 2018. He noted the “growing gap between groups that are inclusive and groups that are exclusionary based on race, ethnicity, etc.” He felt that this trend reflected “issues within our wider society.” Heathens Against Hate presented on this issue at the Parliament of the World’s Religions. The Wild Hunt covered this on November 14, 2018.
Rev. Fox and Schreiwer noted the increase in the number of Pagans attending interfaith events. In particular, large numbers of Pagans attended the 2018 Parliament of the World’s Religions. Rev. Fox reported that this marked the largest Pagan presence at the Parliament in 25 years.
Schreiwer said that many Heathens and Pagans attended the Parliament. He stressed that this Pagan presence had an impact on non-Pagan attendees. He said, “Our presentations and workshops were attended by many people from outside of the Heathen/Pagan community.” The Wild Hunt has written about the Parliament of the World’s Religions on May 4, 2017, January 18, 2018, June 25, 2018, and November 14, 2018.
Trends expected among Pagans in 2019
In 2019, Rev. Fox expects to see increases in Pagans involved in “Greening the End of Life.” She mentioned Green Cemeteries and Death Midwifery. This includes both counseling and ritual work.
Besides end-of-life issues, Rev. Fox expects to see increases in knowledge about past Pagan practices. She believes this will result from archaeological discoveries of ancient sites. She mentioned the potential of two new archaeological technologies: LiDAR and Photogrammerty.
LiDAR (Light Detection, and Ranging) uses laser light to create 3-D scans of a geographic region. This non-invasive technology leaves the area examined intact. It can detect features buried underground and hidden by vegetation. For example, LiDAR found more than 60,000 man-made structures in the Maya Biosphere Reserve in Guatemala. The discovery has caused archaeologists to change their estimates of the size of the Mayan population.
Photogrammetry uses measurements from photos to identify surface points. Archaeologists use it to record exact location of material found in archaeological digs. It can also record location of potential excavation sites. Both LiDAR and photogrammetry are integrated with GPS systems. These two technologies can identify potential excavation sites more efficiently than traditional methods can.
Rev. Fox also expects Pagan art forms to flourish. She also expects the larger world to take more note of Pagan culture. She said “In 2019, there is likely to be more ancient and contemporary Pagan themed lore and imagery in popular culture bringing inspiration, instruction, and delight.”
Schreiwer felt that all the current trends will continue into 2019. He hopes to “see more cooperation and less political divisiveness among the inclusive Heathens and Pagans.”
In 2018, Pagan culture, at least in the US, had more, and less negative, media visibility than before.
Schreiwer feels that visibility has helped the Heathen and Pagan traditions to grow. He did note a potential danger though. He reported that “Troth sales of ‘The Sagas of Ragnar Lodbrok’ have been high ever since ‘The Vikings’ began to air. This is generally a good trend, but it can also result in conflation of mythology with entertainment.” That conflation “lead to mis-perceptions about the original mythologies.”
Rev. Fox noted the extensive coverage this year of the Pagan roots of Christmas. She said this occurred “in press, radio, television, and other forms of public and social media.” Her favorite media coverage of Pagan issues took place on CBS ‘s “The Morning Show.” On that national TV show, historian and author, Kenneth C. Davis said “Christmas is really about bringing out your inner Pagan.” Rev. Fox expects that this increased Pagan visibility will continue into 2019.