Welcome to the official opening of the Pagan History Project site. It was a long time coming, with several false starts, usually hindered by finances and time. As you can see we are still adding information and content. In future blogs we’ll be giving you information how you can help. No story is too small.
It is appropriate that we open the site in time for the 11th Conference on Current Pagan studies for it was at the 8th Conference that this project was initially proposed.
Last year, 2014, was a record year for deaths in the wide Community. And, while this site’s purpose is not solely to commemorate those who have passed, it just brings forth the need to record our history, now, before we get too far from our primary sources.
All Pagans are storytellers.
My own story parallels that of the most seminal phase of the American Pagan Movement and, I think, may serve to illustrate some of the reasons we need to record our history. The methodology will be covered later in this article. I started in the Craft and Paganism, in Magic, in 1968. I watched the nascent Pagan Movement flourish and grow. As the years went on I saw friends and peers, teachers and storytellers pass on. My own experience, presenting a talk at PSG and Rites of Spring, on what a reconstructed Pagan Celtic tradition might look like, back in the early to mid-80’s and then watching the Celtic Reconstructionist movement become a major branch of the Pagan Tree made me think – what other stories are out there? Small moments and ideas that, planted in the fertile soil of the Modern Pagan movement, have gone on to change what was once a set of small spiritual communities into a growing social force. What became of the many people who were there at the beginning of the Modern Pagan movement? People I knew, friends and friends of friends, what had become of them? Some became well known, of course, but the story of this movement is made of many stories, large and small.
With the success of once marginal magical and spiritual Pagan books breaking into the mainstream, with major publishing houses behind them, the diversity of the movement risked being obscured by its brighter lights. With the advent of the Internet, the conversations of new aspirants to the Craft of the Wise, the Pagan traditions and all the diverse variations thereof, risked becoming trapped in an endless “now” that mostly seemed rooted in re-describing “Wicca 101”. Over and over. The roots and history of who we were was rewritten or in danger of being forgotten. Context was becoming lost.
I was involved in attempts to capture history in 1985 with a film project, in 1990 and 2000 with a written history project to capture the stories and experiences of our aging population – a proto ‘Pagan History Project’ if you will. These failed due to time and money, or the absence of appropriate technology for recording and making available this valuable information. An effort in the year 2000 was derailed by the collective tragedy of 9/11.
In 2010 after several community members who I knew passed away, it was again a time to get something going to preserve the history of the Pagan movement’s past, before we lost more members to age or disease. By this time, technology had risen up to meet the needs of the community in preserving our heritage – recording, storing and sharing our stories had become affordable, simple and easier than at any previous time in history. In 2012, I presented a talk at the 8th Conference on Current Pagan Studies, in Claremont, California, outlining The Pagan History Project (PHP).
This is our story.
Thanks go out to David, who made the site actually work and happen. To Jeffrey, who kept us on track and is the greatest friend and resource. To my wife and partner, Elizabeth, for keeping me on track when things looked bleak. To Sabina, our Academic Advisor and liaison. And to Macha, who besides knowing everyone, put together and maintained the Honored Dead pages.
Blessings of the Gods and Non-Gods upon You.