Editorial: A look ahead into 2022

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Happy secular New Year from The Wild Hunt! We hope that 2021 brings many blessings to all of our readers.

As we look to the new year ahead of us, the events of 2021 are still unfolding, lingering. I’m still asking, as the Cranberries did in 1993, “Do you have to, do you have to, do you have to let it linger?”

Even with that lingering, it has become our tradition on New Year’s Day to start a dialogue of themes and events that may be important to the collective Pagan, Witchcraft, Heathen, and polytheist community.

So then, let me don my Cassandra’s hat and predict where our editorial attentions will turn in the year to come.

Cassandra by Evelyn De Morgan (1898, London); Cassandra in front of the burning city of Troy [Public Domain]

Theme One: The Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic will remain the main story across the world, at least in the short term. All data is suggesting that the pandemic will get far worse because of the omicron variant.  It might be better to say that the pandemic will expand due to omicron – some outlets are predicting a COVID “tsunami” rather than the previous “waves.” I’m not surprised.

As I wrote last year, vaccinations end pandemics, not vaccines. The omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 likely emerged in an immune-challenged patient as the virus evolved ways to avoid that person’s immune system. But the amplification and spread of omicron and the subsequent wave is a combination of vaccine hesitancy, lack of vaccine availability, and plain scientific illiteracy.

Despite all of that and the non-evidence-based actions of governments like baseless travel bans and oppressive lockdowns, the pandemic seems likely to fade in 2022. Not only are there new variant controlling vaccines just a few weeks away, including a new, comprehensive vaccine against all COVID and SARS variants, but also treatments for COVID like Paxlovid by Pfizer and Molnupiravir by Merck. These are pills: oral antiviral treatments given at the first sign of infection and expected to cut the serious risks of COVID by about 90%. They are hard to find now, but as production ramps up there will be an at-home treatment to hopefully ward off severe diseases.

These medications expand the arsenal for COVID management, reducing the likelihood of future serious waves that threaten health systems.

These will mean more interaction between formerly isolated communities and the return of festivals and other gatherings. We will be on the lookout to tell the stories of further re-openings and the challenges that await those organizations looking to resume in-person activity.

Theme Two: The Climate Crisis will become visible

Even now, there are individuals – mostly non-scientists – who choose not to believe that climate change is occurring, let alone accelerating. Their beliefs won’t matter.

As I write this, Colorado is ablaze from an extraordinary windstorm and wildfire combination.  Last month, the Mediterranean region faced cyclonic storms, so-called “medicanes,” that resemble tropical cyclones. These phenomena have all happened before, but their frequency is increasing. The same is true for dangerous flooding and longer, more intense, fire seasons, as happened in Greece.

People are noticing the difference between weather now and the weather they knew in the past. Many have seen the shift, everyone from gardeners to hikers to insurance agents. There are reports of flowers blooming as far north as Ohio in January. Even individuals disconnected from the seasons are noticing that something seems wrong, like northern heatwaves in late December.

As the climate crisis accelerates and becomes both prevalent and obvious, there will undoubtedly be political implications. I suspect, perhaps counterfactually, that the political shift will be toward conservativism because it is far more seductive to sound powerful and fearless than to recognize the Earth is far stronger.

I think people will vote more to hold on to the way it was than the way it might be. There will be a reckoning and dialogue, and I suspect it will begin this year. Pagans have been at the spiritual forefront of this conversation and will continue to be.

Theme Three: Speaking of Voting

The US Congressional elections will occur later this year.  All members of the US House of Representatives are up for election and so is one-third of the Senate.

Long before the actual tallying of the votes on November 8, there will be a long line of events shaping the political climate of the United States. Among those events will be the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision on abortion rights, legislation on LGBTQ rights and voting rights, immigrant rights, and our ongoing reconciliation with the fact that the U.S. economy was founded on slavery, which continues to shape racial inequities for Black Americans today.

There are many individuals who flat out reject parts of the sentence above, and therein lies the issue. The U.S. political system has become a sport, and with it comes the bread and circuses required to fuel angry disinterest when confronted with reality.

I suspect more, not less, divisive dialogue is on the way, along with an overall strengthening of the patriarchy. There are elections in Japan, Italy, and China this year as well. Regardless of political ideology or inclination, we will all be politically fatigued by the end of 2022.

The question for us will be how Pagans, Witches, Heathens, and polytheists will fare throughout. I suspect we will weather it well but we will have some stories to tell.

There are other events that will inspire us in 2022. We will hopefully see the James Webb telescope unfurl in 2022 and look into the deepest past. Queen Elizabeth II will celebrate her platinum jubilee with celebrations as she becomes the longest-reigning monarch in British history. Meanwhile, the U.K.’s former colonies will mark major milestones of their own, as Egypt celebrates a century of independence and India and Pakistan celebrate 75 years. The Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing.  Wakanda Forever, The Northman, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Thor: Love and Thunder are among the films scheduled for release in 2022. Art exhibits and museum events are returning, as is fieldwork in archeology and new research on spirituality from various sciences.

Many Pagan festivals have announced plans to re-open in 2022, and a few new ones are in the works. Pagan and Witchcraft stores are planning their full re-openings, and readers of all kinds are seeing an uptick in their clientele. This is all good news for our community. We will do our best to cover it all and more – always from a Pagan perspective, the core mission of TWH.

Beyond the news, we hope to surprise you with new features in 2022.  We will start rolling them by Imbolc, our traditional date for our rededication to our TWH mission and implementation of new activities.

As always, we invite you to share your insights, your news tips, and your press releases with us. We thank all of you for being here – our readers, our supporters, and our detractors. We appreciate you correcting our reporting, sometimes critiquing our editing, occasionally copy-editing,  and, always, sharing our stories. The complaints, the concerns, and the praise speak to us about being one community in support of one another.

We are grateful to all of you and thank you again for joining us through another year.

Happy New Year!