Contemporary Paganism Celebrates its 50th Anniversary

Paganism is the moment when you are the most alive and aware of the world around you. Paganism is when that moment sweeps you away in to spontaneous ceremony and celebration of life within and all around you. Paganism is the place where you feel the most at home, where you connect to the natural living-world in deep and intimate ways. A Pagan is someone who looks for the sacred everywhere they go. A Pagan takes breath as sacrament. A Pagan is someone who feels with their whole being. A Pagan can be anybody at any time. — Glen Gordon

While the origins of some forms of contemporary Paganism, like Wicca and Druidry, go back further, the beginning of what is called the “Pagan movement” can be dated to 1967* — making this year the 50th anniversary of contemporary Paganism.

Paganism’s Beginnings

Fifty years ago, in 1967, three organizations were formed which would have a profound impact on the shape of contemporary Paganism: Frederick Adams founded Feraferia, a wilderness mystery religion; Aidan Kelly and others formed the New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn, an eclectic witchcraft tradition; and Tim (Oberon) Zell filed for incorporation of the Church of All Worlds, which was based on the fictional religion described in Robert Heinlein’s novel, Stranger in a Strange Land.

The influence of Church of All Worlds on contemporary Paganism was perhaps the most significant of the three. Official legal status was granted to the Church of All Worlds in 1968, making it the first Pagan state-recognized “church”. The Church of All worlds also began publishing the Green Egg newsletter in 1968, which became the most influential public forum for Pagans many years and was instrumental in the formation of an emerging identity around the word “Paganism” (or “Neo-Paganism” as it was called at the time).

Like the Romantics a century and a half before, the Pagans of the 1960s and 1970s saw in ancient paganism a cure for the spiritual alienation of modern…

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