This past week I’ve been mostly bed-ridden with the flu. No, not the swine flu, thankfully! But my condition has been unpleasant enough anyway: dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, headache, lightheadedness, and a few other unmentionable symptoms.
It seems a good time to pose a question that’s been on my mind for months now. Does it seem to you, as it does to me, that the pagan movement has rather a lot of people with chronic health problems? Many of these problems are physical, and include diseases like diabetes, arthritis, severe food allergies, various STD’s, and obesity. Many are also psychological, such as anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress, clinical depression, learning disabilities, substance addictions, and mild schitzophrenia. It seems to me that as a fraction of the total, there are more sick people in the pagan movement than there is in our wider society as a whole.
I’m not a statistician, nor an anthropologist, so I’m not in a position to provide any hard numbers about the rate of health problems inside v. outside the pagan movement. I also know that some of these aforementioned problems are epidemics for the whole of our society anyway: obesity is an example. But nonetheless, it does appear to me that many of the people I meet at pagan events, who describe themselves with the vocabulary of freedom, light, spirituality, and empowerment, are also people who require numerous medications daily, and are physically incapable of doing some of the pagan movement’s most distinctive ritual activities, such as dancing. And I meet more of these people in the pagan events I attend, than I do in the rest of the world.
Having experienced pagan culture in nine different countries now, I also observe that the pagans in Europe tend to have far fewer health problems than those here in Canada, or in the U.S.
Well, everyone, here’s my question: Has anyone else noticed this? What might be the explanation? Is there something about paganism that attracts people with chronic health problems? What, if anything, can or should be done about it?