Pagan Ritual Practices and Religious Celebrations Dedicated to an Evolving Concept of ‘Nature’
Michael York
Bath Spa University

The present-day growth of Contemporary Western Paganism (CWP) owes much to the widespread popular perception of climate change, industrial pollution and over-population that is threatening the ecological sustainability of the planet Earth.[1] A recent and typical pagan effort to address this issue has been “The Draft Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” engineered by John Halstead. In the focus on pagan ritual and the ceremonial circle that follows, I shall also discuss some of the nuances of the Statement and the ramifications of the effort in connection to pagan ritualistic practice and pagan understandings of and concern with nature. I will address the topic as ‘paganism’ rather than ‘Paganism, and while the fuller reasons for my preference in lower case lettering may be found in York (2016:7f), succinctly the paganism upon which the focus is here is the spontaneous folk and vernacular development that may be understood as a broader subject than any particular big-P Paganism or such sectarian formulations as Wicca, Heathenism, Druidism, Hellenism, Kemeticism, etc. These last may be understood as having developed out of the largely unarticulated, non-transcendental sentiment that is both atavistic and naturally subliminal and in itself is non-institutional.[2] This is not to deny that Contemporary Western Paganism (CWP), in both its quotidian and denominational forms, has indeed grown out of Western Esotericism which finds its own origins in Rosicrucianism, Swedenborgianism, Mesmerism, Spiritualism, Theosophy, Christian Science and New Thought as well as Freemasonry, the Neo-Templar movement and the modern-day practice of ceremonial magic.[3]

Pagans have frequently subscribed to the attribution that much of the mismanagement of the terrestrial environment has been sanctioned by the biblical injunction of Genesis 1:28 to subdue and dominate nature. While it is also reasonable to assume that pagans would recognize the influence of enlightenment thought, industrialization and the modernization project as the causes behind the mismanagement of the terrestrial environment, the Dominion Mandate vis-à-vis the earth is frequently held to have legitimated humanity’s use of nature as a resource rather than a sanctified presence that requires respect and protection first and foremost. The necessary ‘harmony with nature’ approach in opposition to a Judeo-Christian sanctioned ‘dominance over nature’ sentiment has been expressed by many Contemporary Western Pagans including Margot Adler,[4] Starhawk and Charlene Spretnak[5] as well as such environmental academics or green spiritual activists as Lynn White Jr.,[6] John Seed[7] and Jonathan Porritt.[8] Adler for one, in her remarkable Drawing Down the Moon, refers not only to White but also to a 1972 Arnold Toynbee article in The International Journal of Environmental Studies in which the religious dimension to the worldwide environmental crisis is related to both the rise of monotheism and the Genesis verse that serves as a warrant “delegating to man plenipotentiary powers.” The gist of White’s Dominion Mandate argument is that, by destroying pagan animism, Christianity encouraged the exploitation of nature in a mood of indifference to the feelings of natural objects.[9] As Adler (1986:293) discovers, however, “Until the late 1960s the word [Paganism] had been used to designate either an ancient or indigenous tribal religion or an irreligious, immoral approach to life.”[10] The centrality of environmentalism to paganism only emerged when Tim Zell – now Oberon Zell-Ravenheart (Church of All Worlds; Green Egg) – broadened the designation ‘Pagan’ as an application merely for Craft into one that signifies an environmental movement network that included both Feraferia and witchcraft groups. This same transformation of the earlier emphasis on witchcraft to a more inclusive and comprehensive affirmation of not only other pagan denominations but also nature spirituality is to be witnessed with Britain’s Pagan Federation when the name of its journal was changed in 1994 from The Wiccan to Pagan Dawn. Consequently, while enlightenment secularization and the overlapping development of magical orders have certainly been contributing factors to the rise of modern-day paganism, it can at least be argued that this rise has been inspired by an underlying realization that heedless industrialization and mindless modernization have been encouraged as well as justified in the kind of thought conditioned by the biblical imperative of Genesis, reputedly, God’s very first words to Adam.

As Adler (1986:308) put it, “Neo-Paganism [is] a response to a planet in crisis.” In a similar vein, while focusing on what can be described as the midwife to the revival of the Old Religion, Starhawk (Simos, 1979:2f) presents Witchcraft as taking “its teachings from nature” while reading “inspiration in the movements of the sun, moon, and stars, the flight of birds, the slow growth of trees, and the cycles of the seasons.” Nevertheless, in the wake of awareness to the planet’s ecological crisis, the centrality of the biblical mandate can especially be discerned through the many attempts by Christian commentators to defend, mitigate, deny and/or reinterpret it.[11]

CWP is also closely interrelated with the feminist movement, but the second wave of feminism that appeared in the mid-1960s was not itself concerned with the environment in particular. According to Wendy Griffin, it was instead the Lesbian land movement with its back to nature ethos that began to link feminism and Goddess spirituality with environmentalism.[12] This would have been reflected further with the first Earth Day in 1970. By the mid-1970s, it was the radical feminists who most clearly associated environmental concerns with Goddess-centered paganism. It took longer for liberal feminists to become interested, but with the publication of Susan Griffin’s Woman and Nature in 1978 this began to change. Following from this and from both Carol P. Christ’s 1978 essay “Why Women Need the Goddess” and Carolyn Merchant’s 1980 landmark The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution, by around 1990 eco-feminist books began to appear on a regular basis – beginning with Irene Diamond and Gloria Feman Orenstein’s Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism (1990) which presented the possibility of earth-healing through an interweaving of feminism, environmentalism and goddess spirituality. Henceforth, ritual goddess worship and earth-centered spirituality became predominant features of Contemporary Western Paganism.

A typical expression of these varied strands of CWP was made by Shirley Ann Ranck (1993:4), author of “Cakes for the Queen of Heaven,”

In the modern world it has been increasingly difficult to defend a god who is “in heaven,” out there in space, not part of “his” creation. Such a myth no longer resonates with our worldview or our science. The divine is no longer a mythical being somewhere beyond our material world, but is perhaps the life, the potential for goodness and for death embodied in each of us, female and male.

Although Ranck is speaking here specifically about Universalism and claims that it “helps us to widen our identities, so what had been most despised, namely women and the Earth, could once again be included within the circle of the sacred,” her words are equally applicable to the melding of goddess spirituality and environmentalism with paganism. 

Consequently, “The Draft Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” represents simply a more recent manifestation of the interface between both paganism and CWP with ecological anxiety. This environmental proclamation project in which I was invited to participate was begun in September 2014.[13] The resulting Statement is the product of small group discussions, eleven being proposed originally to occur between various pagan community members covering the problem of “Climate Change” paired successively with “Religious Faith,” “Interfaith,” “Crisis,” “Eco-System Balance,” “Disaster Relief,” “Economic Disparity,” “Gender,” “Environmental Racism,” “Water and Food,” “Economics” and “Ecological Despair and Grief.” Eventually, the working groups divided between approximately forty persons were reduced to six, and each in turn addressed the following:

1) Working definition of Paganism and/or of this group
2) Emphasizing the importance/sacredness of Nature from a Pagan perspective
3) How we are an aspect of Nature, i.e., one species among many
4) How we are damaging our ecosystem
5) How we can repair the damage as Pagans
6) How we can improve beyond repair as Pagans

These discussions occurred through the venue of Facebook, and each discussion group focused for three weeks on each of the six topics reviewing the work already done in the rotation. The group effort began in November 2014, and the preliminary Statement appeared in March of the following year. This was released (on on 30 March 2015 (to avoid April Fool’s day) for public comment in advance of Earth Day (22 April). Various tweaks and changes were made before the 1424 word document was released (and re-titled) as “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment.” The subsections of the Statement are now


Because the process of developing the Statement among pagans is akin to an attempt to herd a bunch of cats, the final product is itself an achievement. Apart from changing the title from “The Statement” to “A Statement,” a clause was also introduced in the first paragraph to signal that the work was only the opinion of “we, the signatories” and not necessarily an affirmation of the entire pagan community – reflecting the current pagan community’s insistence on non-hierarchy and complete individual independence. Translations of the Statement have been made or are scheduled to be made into Spanish, German, French, Lithuanian, Polish, Italian, Portuguese, Dutch, Arabic and Hungarian.

The environmental Statement continues with the understanding of the conceptual divide between nature and culture that Sigmund Freud articulated in his 1930 Das Unbehagen in der Kultur (Civilization and Its Discontents).[14] To address both the ecological threat and a desire to reconnect with a spiritual understanding that preceded the advent of the Abrahamic mindset to which – correctly or not – the de-legitimization of the earth has been attributed, contemporary pagans employ ritual as a central part of their practice and religious expression. The “Pagan Statement,” however, only mentions ritual in the following sentence: “Pagans can aid in the repair of our environment by teaching how we are part of life on Earth, sharing rituals and ceremonies that foster bonds between ourselves and the rest of the web of life, and instilling a sense of responsibility for how we interact with the ecosystem — all this creating cultures that can sustain our human society today and for generations to come.” As important and central as ritual is in contemporary Western pagan practice, it was deemed better to minimize overt religiosity in what was produced. Consequently, one subsequent complaint was that “it's entirely missing any reference to the gods.” In answer to this last, Adrian Ivakhiv argues that instead it “is refreshingly broad and inclusive (and at the same time politically incisive), to the extent that it can capture many who aren't actively involved in the Pagan community but who identify loosely with its spirit--which makes it an effective vehicle for spreading that spirit.”[15]

Nevertheless, geocentric ceremony remains dominant in present-day Pagan/Nature Religion religiosity. The contemporary Wicca casting circle is often used throughout much CWP (e.g., Wicca, Craft, Druidry, Heathenism and more generic non-specifically Wiccan ceremony) to demark sacred space in which magic is to be undertaken. According to the “Pagan Glossary,” the circle is understood as the “Sacred space wherein all magick [sic.] is to be worked and all ritual contained. It both holds ritual until the witch is ready to release it, and provides protection for the witch.”[16] Nevertheless, the pagan’s circle appears to derive its connection between the ‘elements’ of earth, air, water and fire and the cardinal directions from the gnostic orientation of Masonic ritual. According to Sacred Texts/Freemasonry, the north is understood as that “part of the earth which, being most removed from the influence of the sun at his meridian height, is in Freemasonry called ‘a place of darkness’. Hence it is a symbol of the profane world.”[17] Moreover, truth is defined as the object of Freemasonry, but it “is never found on earth …”[18] Consulting Mackey’s Encyclopedia of Freemasonry, we learn that for the Freemason each of the cardinal points has a mystical meaning. “The East represents Wisdom; the West, Strength; the South, Beauty and the North, Darkness.”[19] In his Outreach Ministry, Freemason John F. MacArthur identifies the north as the location of Lucifer – thereby implicitly associating the earth and physicality with evil.[20] Consequently, deriving their ritual circle from freemasonry, Wiccans identify earth with the north and darkness rather than, in the northern hemisphere, with the more expected direction of the fecund south with its fertility brought by light.[21] Religiosity that seeks to minimize or distance the practitioner from the earthly and material in the pursuit of the purely transcendental can render and confine, as in the freemasonic instance, the earth to the barren north rather than the fruitful and luxuriant south where vegetative and animal life thrive.

As a result, Wicca continues this model derived from freemasonry. Its ceremonial circle as a ritual device has come to be employed not only within Wicca and Witchcraft forms of paganism but also Druidic, Heathen and other contemporary expressions as well. What is important, however, is that its employment becomes nonetheless a means to ground the participant in a telluric orientation that assists in developing the so-named ‘Cone of Power’ used for purposes of healing – including healing of the planet – as well as connecting one to an immanent understanding of the divine in lieu of the transcendent comprehensions associated with more traditional religions. Few contemporary pagans appear to be aware of the theurgic and masonic origins of their ceremonial circle, and as pagans identify primarily as a nature religion, this last has superseded Wicca’s origins through such earlier esoteric initiatory societies as the Ordo Templi Orientis, the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn and the Fraternity of Freemasonry. Instead, the contemporary Western pagan understanding is expressed in the Pagan Community Statement of “Who we are”:

Paganism is a family of spiritual paths rooted in ancestral religions throughout the world and predating recorded history. As explained by the Pagan Federation, Paganism includes polytheistic and pantheistic nature-worshipping religions, and often includes deities of all genders, ancestor veneration, and celebrations in tune with our Earth. A full discussion of the many varieties of Paganism is beyond the scope of this statement, but we, the signatories, value life and the natural world as sacred. Thus, Pagan thought leads us to live in harmony with the rhythms of our great Earth.[22]

As a consequence, in the “Rites and Ceremonies” section of the Patheos Library (Hosting the Conversation on Faith) someone like Carl McColman can say that “Most expressions of Paganism are magical - which is to say, they promote the use of individual or communal ritual practices to effect personal and environmental change, particularly changes in consciousness.”[23]

This magical expression of contemporary Western paganism is to be found primarily in the spirituality’s concern with ritual. Ritual performance is one of the modern religion’s most noteworthy aspects. It is also one of the features that distinguishes contemporary paganism from New Age spirituality for which characteristically ritual per se is largely absent – New Age focusing more often on workshops, seminars and lectures in preparation for the practice of meditation. According to Robin Lane Fox (1987:36) in his Pagans and Christians, “In antiquity, magic was itself a religious ritual which worked on pagan divinities. It was not a separate technology, opposed to religious practice.” Even with its focus on Gaia or the earth, contemporary paganism tends predominantly to be less theifically oriented apart from its relatively vaguer concepts of The God and The Goddess. The use of ritual is nonetheless an integral part of its religious practice and is employed as an important vital tool. The utilitarian or instrumental development of magical ritual was originally a part of post-pagan theurgic practice that emerged for the Middle Ages from Neo-Platonic thought and prevailed in the use by witches and sorcerers of manuals or grimoires of magical spells and invocations. Central to theurgic and thaumaturgic practices is the employment of the ceremonial circle which contemporary Western paganism subsequently inherited through freemasonry and the late 19th/early 20th century magical orders. Vivianne Crowley (1989:83) has stated that Wiccan “rites always take place within a sacred and consecrated space called ‘the circle’.”[24] From Wicca, most modern pagan groups – though not all – employ the ceremonial circle or some variant of it.

In Voices from the Circle, Prudence Jones (1990:41-54) contends that the pagan ritual circle is understood in terms of “cosmograms,” icons and/or mandalas. In her magnum opus (Drawing Down the Moon), Margot Adler (1986:108ff, 159) distinguished the ritual circle as employed by ceremonial magicians from that of modern-day witches and pagans. For the former, the circle of defined space is conceived of as a device by which to protect the magician from that which is invoked - classically a demon. Although a witch's circle derives from the magician's, its purpose is rather one of protecting from external intrusion or disturbance - particularly from the mundane. As Crowley (1989:87) expresses it in Wicca, the Wiccan circle is an attempt to create what Mircea Eliade termed ‘sacred space and sacred time’ or a land ruled by “the timeless truths of the myths and dreams of the human psyche.” But this protection from the mundane could be construed to be at variance with the Neo-pagan emphasis on the earth and its ecological protection. Susan Greenwood (2000:41) in Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld recognizes instead that it is the intentionality of its deliberate and special creation that allows pagan space to be focused and directed. For most pagans, though again not all, the “circle is the prime symbol of harmony, a link between the otherworld and the earth.”[25]

Katharine Buljan and Carole Cusack (2015:130), correctly in my opinion, signal in Anime, Religion and Spirituality that “the main feature of modern Western Paganism and eco-spirituality [is] the sacredness of the Earth.” In Paganism Today, Jones (1995:37) concludes that the religious outlook that constitutes paganism is “Nature-venerating, polytheistic and recognizant of the Goddess.” In this statement, Jones obliquely circumvents an unresolved controversy within contemporary paganism, namely, the pluralistic/polytheistic affirmation by a growing number of adherents vis-à-vis the monotheistic/bitheistic notion of ‘The Goddess’. In A History of Pagan Europe, Jones and Nigel Pennick (1995:220) state that “other goddesses and gods are seen as ‘aspects’ of [the Great Goddess and the God],” while Starhawk (Simos, 1979:8) in her best-selling The Spiral Dance declares that “The Goddess has infinite aspects and thousands of names – She is the reality behind many metaphors.” An underlying interpretation that is often denied is that The Goddess may amount to being Yahweh in a skirt.[26] Circumventing any gnostic/transcendental implications, Starhawk (Simos, 1979:8) identifies the Goddess as “the world, and all things in it: moon, sun, earth, star, stone, seed, flowing river, wind, wave, leaf and branch, bud and blossom, fang and claw, woman and man.” This gnostic-pagan tension within paganism itself becomes ultimately subsumed within the recognition of contemporary paganism as ‘nature religion’ – one that, according to Ronald Hutton (1999:414) in Triumph of the Moon, legitimates “nature as the embodiment of divinity or sacredness.”

For Jones (1995:37) in her chapter on “Pagan Theologies,” “the divine, transcendent powers seem to be present within Nature itself” – thereby grounding, at least to some extent, the transcendental in the immanent, but she continues to explain that “by deliberate ritual and contemplation the devout Pagan can make contact with these [divine and transcendent powers].”[27] It is, consequently, the ritual practice of contemporary paganism that may be seen either as directly affirming the spirituality as a nature religion or as an operative means of translating the vestiges of its gnostic heritage into a corpo-spiritual understanding or both. It is through ritual, in fact, that the unresolved tensions of contemporary Western paganism are bypassed. The performance of group rites becomes a means by which its diverse practitioners can unite despite their conflicting perspectives. Ritual, in addition, allows pagans to celebrate what for them is ultimately the earth and/or the physical as the sacred mother of all life.

This dynamic of ritual is perhaps best discerned through an understanding of the etymology behind the term. The word ritual is cognate to that of art, and both derive from a root signifying something that is ‘put together correctly’. The implication here is supported by complexity theory that addresses spontaneous and/or non-linear self-organization in which the result becomes more than the mere sum of its parts.[28] We can see this clearly with a work of art. The parts might consist of canvas and paint or musical notes and rhythm, but the product exceeds these basic ingredients. The same principle exists with ritual. A ‘correctly’ performed rite is one that is designed to achieve an end beyond its mere performance – for Wiccans and pagans, the ‘cone of power’ or energy raised to heal, protect or cause the desired change.[29] The imaginary graphic is the idea of the ceremonial circle providing the base with the energy that has been produced through drumming, chanting, dancing, etc. assuming a cone-shape that is then directed to a specific target such as healing, protection, cleansing, consecration, divination, thanksgiving or community formation.

In an online reference to the ‘cone of power’, Patti Wigington mentions Gerald Gardner, the founder of modern-day Wicca, and the performance by his New Forest Coven of a ritual called “Operation Cone of Power” to protect Britain from invasion by Hitler’s troops. She continues, “Regardless of whether you call it a cone of power or something else, today many Pagans continue to raise energy in a ritual context as part of their regular magical workings.”[30] And it is true that pagan ritual at present is more concerned with the exercise of magic than it is in worship of deity per se. However, in keeping with Margot Adler’s recognition that contemporary paganism is primarily about what is done than in what is believed, its ritual is as much concerned with celebration – whether of a sabbat or holiday, a phase of the moon, the change of a season, or a rite of passage. In all these, it is nature that appears to be the underlying and unifying theme. As the Pagan Federation website phrases it, “Ritual is used to commune ever more deeply with the wisdom and love of the Old Gods and the Divine forces of Nature.”[31]

The pagan ritual circle usually begins with some kind of blessing of all the participants. Then the circle itself is cast, and the four quarters are called forth. The activity that follows once the sacred space is consecrated may consist of meditation, invocation, declaration, offering, etc., but it often culminates in the spiral dance – a weaving grapevine dance in which participants hold each adjacent person’s hands and follow a leader in successive counter-clockwise and clockwise circling. At the conclusion, the circle is dismissed and the guardians of the four quarters thanked. Cakes and ale are then shared by the members. But as common as the ceremonial circle is in contemporary Western pagan performance, it is not the only form that is employed in pagan practice.[32]

The Pagan Federation considers that most rituals undertaken in a pagan context for the purposes of magic will coincide with particular phases of the lunar cycle. Along with these, however, are rites de passage that celebrate such moments as marriage, blessing of the newborn, coming of age, initiation and death passage or crossing over rituals (wakes, funerals, burials, cremains distribution and memorial services). But along with rites of passage and magical workings, there are also most importantly worship celebrations of nature. With regard to this last, since for pagans in general, “the turning pattern of the seasons is a mirror in which to see reflections of the many changing faces of the Old Gods[, pagans] celebrate seasonal festivals to commune with Nature’s mysteries.”[33] Ritual performance for pagans can also be used as a political tool of expression such as when Selena Fox of Circle Sanctuary in the state of Wisconsin conducted a ritual on 26 March 2013 before the United States Supreme Court in support of Marriage Equality.

It would seem that in the performance of rituals of magic, it is for healing that most are undertaken. These can be dedicated to any individual or group of people (e.g., on behalf of the earthquake victims of Nepal in 2015), but dominant throughout the spiritual practice are those performed in concern to heal the planet and restore a harmonious balance of nature that is perceived to have been lost. For the individual, ritual becomes a means to re-attune oneself to the rhythms of nature and thereby regain one’s own natural balance. Both individual and group ceremonies can vary immensely – from those conducted in silence or quiet to those which are exuberant and noisy. Further, they can range

from simple to elaborate in scope and from casual to formal in style. A ritual may be performed by a single person or by many. Some rituals are done only after much planning, while others emerge spontaneously. Some Pagan group rituals are scripted, theatrical performances done by a few with the rest observing. Other group rites are interactive and improvisational, with all participants actively involved. Within some paths of Paganism, certain rituals have become standardized and repeatedly performed. Other Pagan rites evolve over time and are modified each time they are done to keep them fresh. Sometimes, Pagans create rituals for specific purposes and perform them only once. Pagan rituals may be short in duration, lasting only a few minutes. Or, Pagan rituals may be very long and extend over several days. Most rituals are between one and two hours in length.[34]

Selena Fox continues on Circle Sanctuary’s website with her description of pagan rituals by explaining that while some rites are imaginal and undertaken through visualization, most are colourfully physical and employ the use of one altar or more, special robes and jewelry or no clothing at all (what is termed ‘skyclad’), and the use of various tools from wands, crystals, pentacles and incense to chalices, athames and cauldrons. Dance, drumming and movement are common features. Moreover, pagan rituals might be public or private. They may occur at pagan festivals or in ancient sacred sites such as Stonehenge, Avebury or Delphi. They could be held in private homes as well as in public space, and they may also be conducted in virtual space through the internet.

Nevertheless, despite the centrality of ritual in contemporary Western pagan practice, a pagan pragmatics is to be seen as taking precedence. Through the eschewing in general any notions of transcendence and concerns with an afterlife, paganism as a spirituality today is preoccupied with the this-worldly and the here-and-now. Increasingly these preoccupations have come to focus on environmental responsibility and humanity’s interrelatedness with the natural world. In Religion Today, Graham Harvey (1994:40) discerns that “ecology is … the essence of Paganism as a spirituality of Nature.” Consequently, when it comes to environmental work and activism, in conformity to practicality, in such an important public document like “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” the mention of ritual can be virtually omitted and the ceremonial aspects of pagan practice be put to the side and not emphasized. Pagan consciousness has come to champion the idea that humanity is not the master of nature but simply a part of nature. Our role, accordingly, is both to maintain the ecological balance rather than impair it and to preserve our ability to survive on our planet through discarding outmoded, biblical and transcendent notions which could subvert that possibility. For pagans, beside protest, anti-litter campaigns and the like, and environmental awareness education, the relationship with nature is stressed religiously through pagan ritual. But when it comes to political activism, even this central activity, namely, the ceremonial circle and other ritual forms, can be and will be de-emphasized in Contemporary Western Paganism’s pitch to the wider global community. In its many varied expressions, both its studies and practice as well as its efforts to raise awareness of what it considers to be significant issues, paganism may be consistently witnessed to adhere to what Douglas Ezzy (2014:136) refers to as “practical pluralism.”



Adler, Margot. 1986. Drawing Down the Moon: Witches, Druids, Goddess-Worshippers, and Other Pagans in America Today. Boston: Beacon Press. (First Printing in 1979; Third Printing in 2007).

Baker, Eileen (ed.) 2013. Revisionism and Diversification in New Religious Movements. Farnham, UK: Ashgate.

Brady, Bernadette. 2006. Astrology: a place in chaos. Bournemouth, UK: Wessex Astrologer.

Buljan, Katharine and Carole Cusack. 2015. Anime, Religion and Spirituality: Profane and Sacred Worlds in Contemporary Japan. Sheffield: Equinox.

Capra, Fritjof and Charlene Spretnak. 1984. Green Politics: The Global Promise. London: Hutchinson.

Christ, Carol P. 1978. Heresies: The Great Goddess Issue 5: 8-13 – reprinted in Carol P. Christ and Judith Plaskow, eds., Womanspirit Rising: A Feminist Reader in Religion (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1979:273-87).

Collingwood, Robin George. 1945. The Idea of Nature. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

Crowley, Vivianne. 1989. Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Age. Wellingborough: Aquarian Press. (Reprinted in 1996 as Wicca: The Old Religion in the New Millennium by Thorsons/Harper Collins.)

Diamond, Irene and Gloria Feman Orenstein. 1990. Reweaving the World: The Emergence of Ecofeminism. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books.

Ezzy, Douglas. 2014. “Pagan Studies: In Defense of Pluralism.” The Pomegranate 16.2:135-149.

Fox, Robin Lane. 1987. Pagans and Christians. New York: Knopf.

Freud, Sigmund. 1991. Civilization, Society and Religion: Group Psychology, Civilization and Its Discontents and Other Works (The Penguin Freud Library 12). London: Penguin.

Greenwood, Susan. 2000. Magic, Witchcraft and the Otherworld: An Anthropology. Oxford: Berg.

Griffin, Susan. 1978. Women and Nature: The Roaring Inside Her. New York, Harper & Row.

Harvey, Graham. 1994. “The Roots of Pagan Ecology.” In Religion Today 9.3.

Horigan, Stephen. 1988. Nature and Culture in Western Discourses. London: Routledge.

Hutton, Ronald. 1999. Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Witchcraft. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Jones, Prudence. 1990. “Circles of Earth, Circles of Heaven.” In Voices from the Circle: The Heritage of Western Paganism (Prudence Jones & Caitlín Matthews, eds.) Wellingborough: Aquarian Press. Pp. 41-54,

            “          1995. “Pagan Theologies.” In Paganism Today: Wiccans, Druids, the Goddess and Ancient Earth Traditions for the Twenty-first Century” (Graham Harvey & Charlotte Hardman, eds.) London: Thorsons. Pp. 32-46.

Jones, Prudence and Nigel Pennick. 1995. A History of Pagan Europe. London: Routledge.

Merchant, Carolyn. 1980. The Death of Nature: Women, Ecology, and the Scientific Revolution. New York: HarperCollins.

Pearson, Joanne (ed.) 1998. Nature Religion Today: Paganism in the Modern World. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Porritt, Jonathan. 1984. Seeing Green: The Politics of Ecology Explained. New York: Basil Blackwell.

Ranck, Shirley Ann. 1993. “Universalism and the Great Goddess.” Pagan Nuus 7.1:4.

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Schaeffer, Francis. 1970. Pollution and the Death of Man. London: Hodder & Stroughton.

Seed, John, Joanna Macy, Pat Fleming & Arne Naess. 1988. Thinking Like a Mountain: Toward a Council of All Beings. Philadelphia: New Society Publishers.

Simos, Miriam (Starhawk). 1979. The Spiral Dance: A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Great Goddess. London: Harper & Row.

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[1] This opening statement is not to imply that CWP is only a derivative of environmental concern. For the ongoing tension within contemporary paganism between an otherwordly and self-development focus versus the more ecological and nature orientation, see the two contrasting chapters by Vivianne Crowley and Susan Greenwood in Pearson (1998). For the environmental aspects of paganism themselves, see the works of Andy Letcher ( - accessed 8 March 2016).
[2] For the related notion of ‘pagan’ and ‘human’ as synonyms, see York (2016:4).
[3] See e.g. Melton in Barker (2013:202).
[4] Adler (1979/1986).
[5] E.g., Capra & Spretnak (1984).
[6] White Jr. (1973). See also Mark Stoll, “Review Essay: The Quest for Green Religion”: (accessed 5 March 2016).
[7] Seed et al. (1988).
[8] Porritt (1984).
[9] Schaeffer (1970).
[10] Adler (1986:293), citing from Green Egg, allowed that in 1968 Paganism was only a “life affirming religion without supernatural elements, such as were the Dionysians, the Epicureans, the Stoics, the Druids, the Transcendentalists, the Existentialists.”
[11] E.g.: Steve Bishop, “Green theology and deep ecology: New Age or new creation?”:; Elizabeth Theokritoff, “The Orthodox Church and the Environmental Movement”:; Joel Mcdurmon, “Is There a Dominion Mandate? Discussion: The Dominion Mandate: Yesterday, Today, and Forever”:;  Harlow, Daniel C. “Creation According to Genesis: Literary Genre, Cultural Context, Theological Truth”: ; Saul Berman. “Israel Environment & Nature: Jewish Environmental Values – The Dynamic Tension Between Nature and Human Needs”:; Lee Canipe, “Rethinking Dominion in Genesis 1:27-28”:; Leo Hickman, “The US evangelicals who believe environmentalism is a ‘native evil’”:; John Oakes, “A Theological-Hermeneutical Approach to Genesis 1-2”:; Joel Garreau, “Environmentalism as Religion”: All accessed 6 March 2016.
[12] Wendy Griffin, personal communication (6 March 2016). Nevertheless, for a long established association of women with the land and the domination of both, see Bill Phillips’ “The Rape of Mother Earth in Seventeenth Century English Poetry: An Ecofeminist Interpretation,” see (Atlantis 26.1:49-60 – June 2004) – accessed 9 March 2016.
[13] See, e.g.,
[14] Freud (1991). For the notion of the ‘othering’ of nature and the Enlightenment distinction between the natural and social worlds, see (accessed 10 March 2016). See further Collingwood (1945), Williams (1976) and Horigan (1988).


[15] Pagans Group on Facebook. Available at: (accessed 7 May 2015).
[16] Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014).
[17] Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014).
[18] Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014).
[19] Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014).
[20] Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014).
[21] See also: Common Elements in Freemasonry and Neo-Pagan Ritual. Available at: (accessed 12 December 2014.)
[22] (accessed 9 March 2016).
[23] Available at: (accessed 7 May 2015). My italics.
[24] See also Crowley (1989:83-110).
[25] Available at: (accessed 10 May 2015).
[26] Spretnak (1982:xvii) and Raphael (1998).
[27] My italics.
[28] Waldrop (1992). Brady (2006:163-7) provides a useful “Glossary of Chaotic Terms.”
[29] Rhea Shemazi. Available at: (accessed 11 May 2015).
[30] Available at: (accessed 12 May 2015).
[31] Available at: (accessed 12 May 2015).
[32] For an extensive list of pagan rituals and their various purposes, consult (accessed 12 May 2015).
[33] Available at: (accessed 12 May 2015).
[34] Available at: (accessed 12 May 2015).