The Case for Pagan Pacifism


Historically, Pagans have been warriors. Pagans have not been opposed to warfare in general, whether it was for the purpose of defending their territory against invaders, or for the less noble cause of cattle raiding, or the even less noble cause of being the invaders themselves. But for the most part, traditional warfare had little negative impact on the environment. Blood and human remains are biodegradable after all, and often times warfare was just a faster method of returning to the Earth from which we come. The only notable exceptions were the Roman practice of salting the fields of those they conquered, rendering them sterile for a hundred years or more; and of clear cutting the sacred Groves of the Druids.

Modern warfare is different. Modern warfare involves conflict not only between combatants but also between man and nature. Attacks on the environment have become more savage as technology has developed. Environmental destruction has become an inevitable result of modern warfare and military tactics. The nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons that have emerged during the late twentieth century present threats to life itself; but short of that apocalypse, modern weapons can cause or hasten a host of environmental disasters, such as deforestation and erosion, global warming, desertification, and long-term pollution of air and water.

Pagans, or “Neo-Pagans” as we are sometimes called, are drawn to this spirituality by the recognition that the Earth itself is a living, breathing, entity. We Pagans are therefore the caretakers of the planet; Priests and Priestesses of the Earth Mother, Gaia. In most aspects of our lives, Her well being is taken into consideration first and foremost. Additionally, we are charged with trying to reverse the damage that has already been done, and guarantee that future damage will not occur. This in essence makes all Pagans eco-warriors, fighting the good fight for the environment in the arena of politics on a local, national and global scale.

We must therefore, in the defense of the Earth Mother, renounce modern warfare, and militarism, altogether. Every weapon that is fired today pollutes the Earth, and the bigger and more impersonal the weapon, the more the negative impact on the environment. We must become pacifists, and like other religious pacifists, we must not allow ourselves to be drafted into military service. Although there are certainly opportunities in the military to effect the environment in positive ways, in the event of war, those opportunities become moot. Modern warriors directly pollute the environment. There is just no way around this, or we find hypocrisy staring us accusingly in the face.