There’s a lot of back and forth about a particular topic in Paganism, but I’m not sure how often it gets talked about- temples of worship. Churches. Every religion has a specific place to go and worship together, a place to see a religious leader and ask questions and hope to get answers.
There are those who oppose the notion of a physical destination (whether it’s a building or tent space) for Pagan worship, and those of course who seek it. And there’s a lot of valid points to be made for both sides! Let’s take a look at them.
For a church
- New Pagans looking for a designated leader to pose questions
- A safe place outside of the home to worship
- To be part of a large group that gathers in the same place, at certain times
- A place to study or learn the faith, structure
- A more permanent place to demonstrate seriousness to the public
- A place for the public to come, ask questions, and learn about Pagans.
- A place to meet other like-minded people, make friends
Against a church
- Paganism and it’s branches are meant to be worshipped in the wild
- Wanting to meet people who are friends that happen to be Pagan (as opposed to making Pagan friends who happen to do other things in life)
- Paganism is a religion carved by the individual- difficult to come to a specific worship practice that fits all
So there’s a bit for each side, and of course this isn’t an exhaustive list, only arguments of what I’ve seen myself. And there’s counter arguments for many of them, playing devil’s advocate. For instance- paganism IS a faith where you are encouraged to develop your religion as it fits your life. Some people worship certain gods and goddess, some revere others, some don’t believe in any gods or goddesses at all. The beautiful thing about Paganism is how personal it can be. That’s not to say other religions are not personable! So it can be difficult to get a bunch of Pagans together and worship in the same fashion or to the same gods/goddesses. I personally like non-specific devotionals, liturgies, and prayers for this reason- it takes care of all the name-calling. But even in Christianity people may pray differently (e.g. Judaism, Catholicism, Southern Baptist, Mormon, etc). They have their own churches, still Christian, but a sub-faith of Christianity, like Paganism and then all the others under its umbrella (Wicca, Heathen, Druid, Kemetic, etc). Many Christians don’t attend church, but still pray at home and keep the faith too.
The numbers of Pagans are definitely low, lower than Christian and all the other big players, so the numbers giving their faith to each sub-faith is even smaller. It’s hard to get a church together for the 11 Wiccans that may be in your entire county. But even a Pagan church in all its undefined and eclectic glory could benefit so many, if not nearly everyone.
About myself, I have some strong social anxiety. I get stressed and scared when friends text me and ask if I want to go to lunch. I make a lot of excuses to not turn up or go to things all the time. I don’t know why I’m like that, but it is what it is. Anyway, what has always appealed to me are churches, schools, places where there is some structure like Christians (I like to use them as examples, but it could be Muslims too) have. They have certain days and times they go to church, pray there and listen to teachings and thoughts of their spiritual leader. Many people take notes on the sermons and study them later. It’s a place to gather with others who are also on the road to salvations, have fun, organize things, and whatever else! As someone with anxiety, my stomach is in knots just thinking about attending a Meetup group for Pagans because it’s not a guaranteed thing- two people might show up, and I have to reveal that I know nothing about my faith yet, and it’s too one-on-one for me. I prefer to watch first, be part of a large crowd unseen to learn and figure out where my place is. Christian churches (because that’s all I’ve ever had around me) always appealed to me because of that. In my search for faith I’ve always hoped I could be part of a religion that had that backbone and support system, but then I found my calling with Paganism and it dashed my hopes just a little bit. Hahaha. Paganism has its support mostly online because of our small numbers, but the support is there.
There was a two-part series written by The Wild Hunt about Pagan temples and the successes and failures of some of them. Very interesting, inspiring, and grounding. Building Pagan Temples and Infrastructure: Part One
The bottom line is that if I want a Pagan temple, I’ll have to build one and construct everything that goes with it. Will I one day? Or will I take the advice of the new moon and take a chance, get out there, and meet those two people who are the only ones that show up to the festival? I’ll think about it.