I mentioned before that I define Pagan as a person practicing a nature based religion and who self identifies as Pagan. Nature based to me can be as simple as respect for nature and having some sort of ecology understanding and practice. Or it can be as heavy as nature as sacred or divine.
I am quite aware that not every self-identified Pagan reveres nature. Paganism is impossible to define and when you do someone gets mad.
But still, Pagan as follower of a nature, earth, indigenous religion is the definition I continue to prefer over the Non-Abrahamic one.
It does not have to be yours but here is my reasoning…
Why should ecology be apart of Paganism .
Because to separate The Pagan from nature is highly problematic.
The etimology of Pagan is of the land, rural, country dweller. Pagan also can means citizen. Which is interesting when you think how citzenship has been linked to land ownership in the West. ( note: even the history of the word Pagan is debated)
But what is important here is that Pagan is not a neutral simple word.
Pagan as a word has been use through out history as an excuse for appropriation, violence, colonization, genocide and enslavement.
Pagan was used as a code word for “they deserve what they get” , “must be saved by any means.”
Pagan was not only used against White Europeans. It was also inflicted on Black and Brown cultures to dehumanize.
Why does this relate to nature, and land?
Because Pagans were not just simply sought out because they practice magick or were not Christians. Many pagans were ( and by the way still are) hunted specifically because of their land.
Pagans, historically, were driven off their land, had their lands stolen, and/or enslaved to tend to the land.
Often, labeling people as Pagans was just justification for robbing them of their home. From their piece of nature. Or to ensure free labor , forcing people away from their own land to tend the masters.
Black Muslims slaves would have still be considered were Pagans like their counterparts because they had resources to steal.
Even when POC practiced Christianity is would not be considered real Christianity.
Colonization has alot to do with a lack of respect for nature. As land is something to be own or possess, to use to their own means.
Deep ecology , poltical ecology, Ecofeminism discusses the connection between all oppressions and environmentalism.
In other words, we view Women and POC and all marginalized groups in the same way we view nature. too be owned, used and abuse.
Also, from this point of view, we are ALL traumatized by our disconnection from nature.
Therefore, reclaiming the word Pagan as of the land has power to me as it implies uniting ourselves with our roots and having a practice that protects the earth and heals trauma.
It also seems wrong to me to remove The Pagan from land or nature, repeating the process symbolically now instead of physically.
Paganism as nature worshiper has a polticial, ecology, racial, feminist meaning.
Where Paganism as a open-ended thing lacks meaning. And what is the point of reclaiming a word without using it to empower?