By Andrew Brooks
Oberlin campus heard calls on Sunday night for resistance towards the infiltration of the United States government by a new neo-conservative Christian movement. This time, however, it was from Sam Webster, a Pagan priest and keynote speaker for last weekend’s Beltane conference.
In his lecture “Pagan Restoration,” Webster called for action and solidarity among Pagans of the European tradition to organize and defend their spirituality from being swallowed by the Christian onslaught.
In his second visit to campus — he expounded a year ago on the main ideas espoused by Paganism as it has manifested in the United States — Webster warned of the disappearance of Pagan thought, spirituality and ritual, including Beltane, the Pagan “Bright Fire” festival that was held Saturday afternoon in Tappan Square. He then gave strategies for its revival and global restoration.
Interspersed with Pagan prayers and quotes from “Klingons” of the popular television show Star Trek, Webster spoke on the virtues of Paganism and the history of its persecution by the Catholic Church.
“Paganism is an earth-, nature- and magic-based spirituality, not just a religion. Paganism produced what we know as astronomy, architecture, mathematics, medicine and all the ‘classes’ of study that we have today.”
But since the early years of the common era, said Webster, it has been in retreat.
“In the fourth century, Constantine authorized the burning, pillaging and murder of Pagan villages and priests. He declared Christianity the world religion, outlawing Paganism.”
Comparing early Catholic monks to Adolf Hitler’s “storm-troopers,” Webster gave countless examples of destruction of art and architecture by monks acting under the orders of higher church officials.
He then moved on to the present, giving a recent example of Pagan persecution.
“The Helms Amendment,” he said, “would have limited Pentecostal, Pagan and Taro spiritual rituals. But a telephone network of Pagans and Pentecostals [organized very quickly] got Helms to retract his proposal.”
Webster said in reference to Jesse Helms, a former Republican Senator of North Carolina, “There are millions [like Helms] and they are trying to take over the world.
“I am not using scare-tactics,” he said. “It is actually happening.”
He gave several strategies for protecting Paganism.
“Use the Internet. Learn about it,” he said. “Those old dinosaurs [of America’s Christian culture],” he said, “don’t know that they have created the sword that will slay them.”
Another tool, he said, is Masonry. American Freemasonry, he explained, led to the founding of the occult Pagan movements, instituted good rules and regulations, and provided the basis of American democracy.
Finally, he said, the most important way to revive Paganism is to practice it.
“Make a space,” he suggested, “[and] have conversations with deities. Find your own way to communicate — offer to the gods that which gives you pleasure. Tune your soul to the cosmos. It will speak to you.
“When you get two hundred Pagans together working magic together, dancing around a bonfire together…special stuff happens,” Webster said in his conclusion.
“We have a vital place in contemporary, ancient and recent past history. We can rebuild this civilization.”