In the months leading up to last year's Earth Day, a group of roughly 50 pagans gathered in a closed Facebook group to draft a collective call to action. On April 22, 2015, they published the "Pagan Community Statement on the Environment," which framed climate change as a global moral dilemma to which pagans and other people of faith must respond.
A year later, the statement has garnered more than 8,000 signatures, and its creators hope it will reach 10,000 signees for this year's Earth Day on Friday.
The statement outlines the dangers the planet is in if human beings continue to abuse its resources and see ourselves as somehow separate from the web of nature. It declares:
Fundamentally, we believe that a change in spirit is required, one that fosters a new relationship between humanity and other species and Earth as a whole. As Pagans, we believe we are well situated to help imagine and create a future in which humanity lives in greater harmony with the rest of our planet. We strive in our worship, work, play, and daily lives to connect to this greater harmony. We believe that recognizing our connection as part of Earth itself is a unique facet of what defines us.
The statement has been translated into 16 languages, from Dutch to Arabic, and has been signed by people from over 80 countries, including prominent pagans Starhawk, Selena Fox, Vivianne Crowley and others. The signatures also represent what John Halstead, founder of the statement's working group, described as an "incredible diversity of pagans and pagan allies."
"There are Witches, Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, Goddess Worshipers, Pantheists, Animists, Humanistic Pagans, Atheistic Pagans, Heathens, Polytheists, Reconstctionists, Buddho-Pagans, Christo-Pagans, Quaker Pagans, Unitarian Universalist Pagans, and many more," Halstead told The Huffington Post.
If there is any issue on which we Pagans should be able to speak harmoniously, it is in response to the desecration of the Earth." John Halstead
Paganism is a broad umbrella term for the family of spiritual traditions that can include all the paths Halstead listed and many others. Most are considered nature religions, which means they honor the sacred essence and power of the Earth. The traditions don't agree on everything and they don't always get along, but the diversity of paths represented in the signees demonstrates the centrality of this issue for pagans as a whole.
"Speaking in harmony does not mean everyone being of one mind or agreeing on every point," Halstead said. "It means temporarily setting aside our egos and prioritizing our individual disagreements when a collective voice is urgently needed, as it is now."
"If there is any issue on which we Pagans should be able to speak harmoniously," he added, "it is in response to the desecration of the Earth."
Halstead admitted he was surprised by the large response the statement garnered. In the first day after it was published, he said, it received nearly 1,000 signatures. Now the statement is just shy of 10,000 signatures, a mark Halstead hopes to reach by Earth Day.
"I hope that this helps demonstrate to the interfaith activist community that Pagans are serious and worthy partners in the fight to turn the tide of global climate change," he told HuffPost.