I recently had something of a revelation. Western culture is becoming Wiccan.
I put this to a friend of mine who’s a practising Wiccan, and she just shrugged and said “sounds about right”. I was kind of hoping she’d say “how do you figure that?” so I could impress her with her reasoning, but then I remembered I have a blog for that.
I base my observation on three main points.
1) Who is referred to as the driving force behind the world? Once it was God the Father. Now it’s Mother Nature, the divine feminine, the progenerative principle. It’s just safer that way; none of the major religions worship a mother goddess as supreme... except Wicca. Choosing Mother Nature as a metaphor for the harmony we see in the world is the safest option, it’s not preferring Judaism over Catholicism or Hinduism over Islam. It’s something that can fit into just about any worldview, which is important in a pluralist society. It only matches Wicca in the generality, except that Wicca never really defines its Goddess, and so Wicca can be made to fit the concept of Mother Nature as easily as the rather fuzzy idea of Mother Nature can be made to fit Wicca
2) Wicca has only one rule; “An it hurt no one, do what thou wilt.” Is there a better match for the liberalist moral philosophy of freedom, non-interference and informed consent?
3) Wicca is becoming more popular. My parents have hardly heard of it; more of my friends are Wiccan than Christian, and I went to at Christian school.
Admittedly this is mostly anecdotal, but I think it’s an interesting observation nevertheless.
So what does it mean? Wicca has no creation story, its rituals can be made to fit into science (most Wiccans will admit that rituals are performed more to affect the person than to affect the world), and its Goddess can be easily fitted into ideas such as Pantheism and the Gaia hypothesis, both of which are heavily favoured by scientists. This leads me to suspect that the religion Dr Sagan suspected would come just might be here:
“A religion old or new, that stressed the magnificence of the universe as revealed by modern science, might be able to draw forth reserves of reverence and awe hardly tapped by the conventional faiths.”