I write this on Beltane eve, later than I hoped.A bout with some bug has laid me low and I will not be up to my usual activities this Sabbat.But perhaps my enforced period of solitude has enabled me to think a little more deeply than I might have about the meaning of this time.
Beltane and May Day comprise one of the two most important Wiccan Sabbats, the other, Samhain, being six months away.For Wiccans and most other NeoPagans Beltane marks the beginning of summer.We believe every basic dimension of physical existence is sacred in its own way, and seek to honor each at that time of the year when it can be most powerfully symbolized in ritual and celebration.Beltane and May Day so honor summer.
I have a real problem with capitalism. I get this little twitch whenever I see it in action, an urge to rise up and say, "NO! This is wrong!" Each year that passes I see capitalist forces making deeper inroads into our culture, and at times it's simply infuriating. Of course, given the mind-boggling diversity within the Pagan movement, capitalist forces see opportunity around every corner, and seize every opportunity that presents itself.
I fear that we are losing to the capitalists, and I think it's time to rise up and loudly denounce everything they stand for.
This is part III of what will be a three or four part series on the social implications of Pagan religion.
Some Pagans probably found my previous essay on alternative forms of economic organization,such as the Mondragon workers cooperatives, far removed from a strictly Pagan site’s expected interests.At first glance it does seem far removed.Here is why I think it is not and in fact goes directly to who we are.
Capitalism seems invulnerable today not because anyone likes it, informed decent people do not, but because it is hard to imagine a realistic alternative. State socialism failed, and failed in a horrible way.Going back to the land is impossible for more than a relative few of us.Markets work better than explicit controls and markets seem inevitably to generate capitalism.We seem trapped.
But markets are not as predictable as economists claim and most economists confuse their theoretical categories with the real world of men and women. Consider the Mondragon cooperativesin the Basque country of northern Spain. In September, 2012, I had the opportunity to visit these cooperatives in September of 2012 as part of an annual study group organized by the Praxis Peace Institute.Given all that I had heard, I felt that while I could not easily afford to go financially, I could not afford not to go intellectually.
Every religious tradition stands in some tension with its society, legitimizing some things in terms of a larger eternal context, but in the process challenging others, sometimes deeply.As NeoPagan religions increase in America this same pattern is developing. This essay explores how the logic of Pagan religion leads us to question the legitimacy of some important contemporary institutions, particularly the joint stock corporation, and with this questioning, the way our society views the world.
More deeply than most religions, NeoPagans legitimize and honor the goodness of this world, the sacred immanence that shines through all things.Consequently, from a Pagan perspective living well in our world requires observing appropriate ethical and moral relationships.This insight cannot help but lead us to criticize attitudes treating this world as noting but a means for human ends.