April 2012

The Magical Worldview

And Magical Thinking


Pagan religions are religions of magic, religions of the symbolic and mythic and wondrous. Psychologists and “scientific fundamentalists” frequently speak of magical thinking as an irrational approach to life, or even a symptom of a mental disorder. From that perspective, paganism is just an incoherent set of superstitions, based on a fallacy of assuming causality where there is none. But there's another way to look at it.


A movie about Hypatia


Agora is a new movie about the pagan philosopher and martyr Hypatia, who was murdered by a mob of Christians in the latter days of the Roman Empire. Hypatia is sometimes taken as a martyr of science and thus a hero for atheists, but in reality she was a deeply religious person. Specifically, she was a Neoplatonist, which was a powerful late pagan philosophical and mystical movement. None of her writings have survived, but she was universally considered to be an important philosopher.


A Religion of Mythopoeia


Westernesste is an interesting and unusual neopagan religion founded by Maerian Morris, a former priestess of the Church of All Worlds. What makes Westernesste so interesting is that they are more interested in fiction than history. Most pagan groups in the present day are focused on reviving something from the pagan past, though usually with large doses of fantasy, wishful thinking and misinformation.