The Wild Hunt explores the ancient tradition of animal augury and omen reading – from ancient Rome to current day Punxsutawney, PA – along with the rituals observed to ensure a proper reading.
Yesterday, columnist Ross Douthat wrote The Return of Paganism for the New York Times. As the essay’s subtitle commented, “Maybe there actually is a genuinely post-Christian future for America.”
As I read the article, what I find myself focused on is the incredible disservice this essay did to the – writ large – Pagan community around the world. Mr. Douthat reduces “Paganism” to a series of disconnected beliefs in spiritual and supernatural forces that focuses skeptically on moral standards, although he correctly points out that Paganism generally centers on immanent reality as a manifestation of the spiritual. At the same time, Mr. Douthat becomes trapped by the philosophical perspectives of pantheism of Nietzsche, Spinoza, and even Walt Whitman. He plays with the cultic aspects of a Pagan world, and finally does his greatest disservice by engaging in an ever-present, and frankly ignorant, need to link together “New Agers and neo-pagans [sic].” He exposes his ignorance of the Pagan and polytheist community by noting that he has “in mind the countless New Age practices that promise health and well-being and good fortune, the psychics and mediums who promise communication with the spirit world, and also the world of explicit neo-paganism, Wiccan and otherwise.” He ultimately laments that “there may soon be more witches in the United States than members of the United Church of Christ.”
Today’s column is by your humble weekend editor, Eric O. Scott, who has written for The Wild Hunt since 2012. The Wild Hunt is always open to submissions for its weekend section. Please send queries or complete submissions to firstname.lastname@example.org. Earlier this week, BBC News reported that a burial chamber designed as a replica of Neolithic-style long barrows had been designated as a Druidic place of worship. (The Wild Hunt covered the story in our regular Pagan Community Notes feature on Monday.) The barrow will eventually hold hundreds of urns, housed in dozens of small niches built into the walls of four burial chambers.
When I began to write for The Wild Hunt, one of the first things I was asked by friend outside the Pagan community was, “What exactly is ‘Pagan news?'”
My answer was, “You wouldn’t ask that question if the word ‘Pagan’ was replaced with ‘Jewish.’”
At least in my Miami circles, there’s no doubt what our Jewish newspapers cover: news about Jews and Judaism that comes from or impacts the Jewish community. That might include commentary about events and it might include some related stories, but every story emerges from or intersects with the Jewish community. That could be stories about sampling Ashkenazi DNA or a reflection about the Shoah and contemporary refugee crises or work-arounds for electricity use on different days of the week (In some Jewish denominations, the use of electricity on Shabbat is generally forbidden as interpreted they interpret Halacha). In our community, it could be stories about traveling to Iceland, representation of Witches in media, or Pagans are conducting food drives. How then could “Pagan news” be a confusing term?
Our Wheel of the Year is a path of constant transition. It reminds us, at times, how nature – all things in fact – are in flow. At times, it feels uncomfortable that flow is real; and, at times, unbearable, that change must happen. One of our deepest mysteries is how impermanence is our bedrock. My colleagues and I at the The Wild Hunt have been in dialogue about our transition for weeks, and yet, Heather Greene’s departure from the team still seems unreal.
ATLANTA – The editor and publisher of The Wild Hunt, Heather Greene, has announced her retirement as of October 31. Greene started with the organization in 2012 as a weekly news writer and took over as editor in 2014 from founder Jason Pitzl. After six years of service to the community as a journalist and editor, Greene has decided to step down in order to spend more time with family and pursue a new career path.
Or, that is how I imagine the news story would start if I or someone else were to write it in that style. But let’s try something a bit more personal. After six years of writing and editing for The Wild Hunt, I have decided to retire and hand the baton over to a new administration.