The Role of Nature in the Construction of Ethics
A Study among Contemporary Pagans in Ontario, Canada
Keywords:Nature, Paganism, ethics, image-sets, Canada
To elucidate the concept of nature religion in contemporary Paganism, it is useful to contemplate the role nature itself plays in the process of Pagan formulations of ethics. To do this, I conducted focus groups with Pagans in Canada. I conclude that nature takes on, or is given, a variety of roles in the process of moral reasoning. This variety allows for multiple ethical perspectives from people holding more or less similar worldviews. Thus, my project does not allow me to come up with a singular Pagan environmental ethic or even a singular Pagan ethical process. Rather, a recognition of the complexity of roles nature holds for these particular Pagans leads to a caution to avoid simplistic labels of contemporary Paganism as ‘environmental’ and/or ‘nature-friendly’—labels which over the broad spectrum of eco-discourse are largely unhelpful.
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