Pagans are not a Community nor a Tribe — Not Yet

The lively discussion at The Wild Hunt over “moving on from Paganism” should put an end to the notion that Pagans constitute a “tribe” or a “community.”

Not yet, anyway. We are still part of modern society with its cafeteria spirituality.

Many Pagans, such as Emma Restall Orr in her book that I recently reviewed, are fond of the idea of “tribe.”

Jews, for example, are a tribe (or several). A Jew might never cross the threshold of shul, synagogue, or temple–may even be an avowed atheist–but he or she is still a Jew. Only conversion to one of the other Abrahamic faiths might change that fact — after a time — and even then, you still have “crypto-Jews” popping up. (Everyone wants to be special.)

A Navajo Indian might follow traditional religion, Mormonism, some kind of Christianity, or the Peyote Road, but is still a Navajo.

What we have is a network, not a community nor a tribe. Maybe in a few generations that will change, who knows? (For you anthro and sociology majors, it is the Gemeinschaft / Gesellschaft issue, no?)

Everytime I hear someone going on about “the Pagan community,” I say to myself, “Not yet.” Not when you can walk in and walk out so easily.