MIAMI (TWH) – The Wild Hunt recently conducted a non-scientific survey of its readers. The survey asked how its readers felt about the recent solstice holiday season. Many people did not have positive experiences. Almost everyone reported that their family had multiple spiritual traditions.
The survey drew 282 responses. They do not represent a random sample of The Wild Hunt readers, let alone a random sample of all Pagans. As a result those responses cannot represent all TWH readers or all Pagans. Those responses could, however, provide a way to understand how some Pagans felt about the recent solstice holidays.
The first survey question asked people to select the option that came closest to describing how they felt. They had to choose among seven options. “Neutral” was the most popular choice.
The survey asked about three practices that could trigger feelings of marginalization: 1) Christian-Specific holiday cards, 2) Christian-Specific holiday greetings, and 3) Christian-Specific holiday music.
Christian-Specific Holiday Cards
The number of people expressing a negative response, 87, slightly exceeded those expressing a neutral response, 80, and those expressing a positive response, 76.
The Christian-Specific Holiday Greeting, “Merry Christmas”
The number of people expressing a positive response, 69, slightly exceeded those expressing a negative response, 64. The number expressing a neutral response, 125, greatly exceeded those with either a positive or negative response.
The number of people with a negative response, 81, exceeded those with a positive response, 56, and those with a neutral response, 76. A very large number of people, 55, however, rejected all available options.
Holiday cards and holiday greetings are supposed to induce feelings of friendship and goodwill. This data suggests that for some Pagans, those cards and greetings did not induce those feelings.
People engaged in many holiday activities, both traditional and creative. Many engaged in more than one. People reported exchanging gifts more than any other activity.
Almost 60 people wrote-in their own holiday tradition. Many celebrated Yule. Others held Slavic, Anglo-Saxon, or Saturnalia rituals. Some worked with Holly and Oak King mythology. Many feasted. One person planted a tree to compensate for the tree slaughter that supplies the Christmas tree market. Many baked. While enjoying chocolate, one person felt the presence of Orion and Herne the Hunter. Several went “within.” Those in the Southern Hemisphere observed the summer solstice. Some scattered seeds for winter birds.
Among respondents, 239 reported being in some type of family. Of those 239 people, 217 or 90.7 percent reported being in a spiritually mixed family. Unlike mono-spiritual families, multi-spiritual families have to work out an arrangement. This multi-spiritual arrangement may be reflected in the multi-spiritual activities that people reported in this holiday season. It may also blunt a mono-spiritual identity. That arrangement is consistent with a polytheistic approach.
Who responded to this survey?
The US was grossly overrepresented with 208 respondents or 81.6 percent of all respondents.
The respondents were largely Generation Xers or Baby Boomers. People in Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980. Baby Boomers were born between 1945 to 1964.
Almost 85 percent of people, 222, identified as European, of European descent, or White. Less than 4 percent, 10 people identified as either Black, Latinx, or Native American. About 10 percent gave more detailed answers. These more detailed answers reflected a stronger identification with specific ethnic cultures than with broader racial cultures. Some detailed answers stressed a mixed-race identity. Still others questioned the coherence of racial-cultural concepts.
Gender and sexuality data reflected changing concepts and labels. Not all respondents were familiar with terms such as “cisgender.” Cisgender refers to people whose current gender identity matches their anatomy at birth. No one identified as transgender.
About 11 percent of people wrote-in other gender identities. Some of these other gender identities suggested discomfort or unfamiliarity with some terms. Some people linked terms related to sexual behavior with terms related to gender identity.
Nearly half of the people, 126 or 48.3 percent, identified as heterosexual. The next largest group, 53 or 20.3 percent, identified as bisexual. Seventeen people identified as asexual. The total number of lesbians and gays also amounted to 17 people or 6.5 percent. A total of 24 people or 4.6 percent identified as either pansexual or queer.
People identified most strongly with two traditions, Pagan with 193 and Witch with 163. No other spiritual tradition came close to these two traditions. These figures will not add up to 282 because people could identify with more than one tradition.
Fifty-two people wrote in their own spiritual tradition. Thirteen identified as Wiccan. Nine people identified as polytheist. Others mentioned traditions such as Asatru, Catholic Conjure, German Roman Catholic, Hellenist, Kemetic, Left Hand Path Gnostic, Luciferian, Shamanism, Strega, Taoist, Thelemite, Women’s Spirituality, and Yoga. Several people mentioned distinct Wiccan traditions. Two people listed their tradition as Unitarian Universalist.
Issues with this survey
Some survey respondents had a negative response to this non-scientific survey. Some people perceived the survey as too focused on Christianity, even hostile to it. Many people objected to the options available. Others objected to collecting demographic data. For several questions, relatively large numbers of people rejected all the response options.
Again the results of this survey do not represent all readers of the Wild Hunt and certainly not all Pagans. It may help to begin to talk about how Pagans deal with a stressful time of the year.