Paganism is On the Rise in the U.S.
I recently saw an article published by National Geographic called Paganism Is On the Rise – Here’s Where to Discover It’s Traditions. And after reading it, I thought “Wow, there is so much missing from this article.
What is Paganism?
First of all, we probably need to define what Paganism even means for those who don’t know. It simply refers to religion (or beliefs about the Divine by whatever name) other than Christianity, Judaism, or Islam, otherwise known as the Abrahamic religions. So, if you believe in anything and your beliefs extend beyond the Abrahamic Religions, you are, by definition, a pagan.
“I looked in temples, churches, and mosques. But I found the Divine within my heart.” ― Rumi
People who resonate with the statement by Rumi often considered themselves pagan.
The article mostly talked about a huge surge in people interested in Wicca, witchcraft, and the tools they use including crystals, tarot cards, and the like.
Witches Aren’t the Only Ones Who Use Spiritual Tools
What it failed to convey is that witches aren’t the only ones who use tools like crystals, pendulums, tarot and oracle cards, and candles. Wicca and witchcraft (which are not the same things) are a subset of a much larger group of people who consider themselves to be spiritual rather than religious.
Some Popular Forms of Paganism
It failed to mention the massive number of people who study and practice many different forms of Shamanism, Eastern belief systems like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, and many others that may or may not end in “ism.” Channeling, seeking assistance from angels and other beings beyond the veil, was also missing from the article.
And lets not forget the Goddess movement that began to surge in the 1970’s. New Age bookstores started popping up right before that time as well.
Besides using the words pagan and spiritual, some prefer to say they are interested in metaphysics, occultism, esoteric or paranormal studies.
Years ago, I read a lot of definitions of various spiritual belief systems trying to find the one that most resonated with me. I love Taoism and have studied and practiced it in depth. The same holds true for Buddhism, Shamanism, and a few others spiritual paths I’ve felt guided to walk … at least for a while.
What I resonate most with, though, is Mystic.
To be a mystic means to be a seeker of truth and enlightenment. It doesn’t pigeonhole a person into a specific set of beliefs and practices. It allows for the person to seek truth wherever they can find it.
And, at least for me, where I find it changes and evolves as I do.
Occultism began to be more widely practiced in the late 19th / early 20th century and when figures like Dion Fortune and Aleister Crowley from Britain and Israel Regardie and Paul Foster Case from America were publishing books and newsletters. Their publications continue to sell well even today. Another surge happened in the 1960’s and 1970’s. What we are experiencing now is just another wave of something that has been going on for quite a long time.
Spiritual Locations and Sacred Sites
The article spent time talking about Sedona, Arizona and Salem, Massachusetts. There are many more places where people go to enhance their spiritual journey and feed their soul. Santa Fe, New Mexico, Asheville, North Carolina, Mt. Shasta, California, and Ashland, Oregon come immediately to mind. I’m sure if I thought about it very long, I’d think of several more.
Places like Sedona have become so commercialized, many of us who went there 20 to 30 years ago, tend to avoid it now. But of course the same can be said for many sacred spots when they become popular.
Certain practices that focus on enlightenment from an eastern perspective continue to grow. Paramahansa Yogananda found the Self Realization Fellowship in California in 1925 and published Autobiography of a Yogi in 1946. That organization continues growing all the time. Sri Swami Satchidananda was the opening act at Woodstock in 1969. He later founded an ashram in Virginia in 1980 and thousands of yoga teachers throughout the U.S. and abroad were trained there.
When I “woke up” spiritually in 1993, yoga was not nearly as commonplace as it is today. Deepak Chopra was not yet a household name. Now, yoga studios can be found in even the smallest of towns. Some of them only focus on the exercise and stress relief benefits. Many, however, address the body and mind.
Thanks to the Beatles, meditation in America is booming. It’s a practice I’ve personally done every day for the past 30 years. My first meditation teacher was directly trained by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi who developed and brought Transcendental MeditationR (TM) to the U.S. Millions of people found out about TM because the Beatles, and many other celebrities, practice it. Over the years, I’ve practiced many different forms of this truly life changing practice called meditation. I even have a bestselling book on the subject of meditation.
Focusing on Body, Mind, & Spirit
The Body, Mind, Spirit category is the third largest category of books sold. Centers such as Omega Institute, Esalen Institute, and many others including Heart of the Goddess at Magnificent U offer classes on all things body, mind, and spirit.
There are many other spiritual paths of course. This article simply presents an overview of many of the most popular ones.
Of all the spiritual paths mentioned in this article, which do you most resonate with?
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