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Paganism
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/1/08
So, I figure since there's now a thread on Wicca, why over look all the other pagan religions?

I've been a pagan for 10 years now, going from, "Well, I still like Jesus, but I would consider myself Wiccan" to "Nope, just Wiccan" to "Wait, what do you mean there's initiation? Mysteries?" to "I'm eclectic pagan...I think?" to finally "I'm going back to my educational roots and becoming Hellenistic...now how do I get about that ritual sacrifice and this piglatin speak?"


For those who aren't aware, paganism isn't a religion in of itself, but a category that includes varying religions (some dead in practice, some relatively new and some being reconstructed, like my own Hellenismos). These religions are typically defined as being any religion that doesn't follow the god of Abraham (e.g. is not Judaism, Christianity or Islam), though there are many religions that fit this definition that aren't considered pagan by its followers (such as Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, and Hinduism to name a few). Some prefer alternative titles, like Astruar preferring to be called "heathens" rather than "pagans".

The word "pagan" comes from the Latin "paganus" and literally means "country dweller" or "high lander" as the term originally was used to refer to the religious practices of peasants outside of the major cities of early civilization. As the monotheisms spread into major cities, the older religions of Europe got this title from the continuing practices in the countryside. This is actually represented pretty well in the novel the Mists of Avalon, though many of the practices themselves aren't accurate.

Neo-Paganism has been on the rise with the New Age movement, typically dominated by Wicca, Neo-Wicca and Reconstructionism (dominantly Celtic and Astruar, but there are Hellenics and Kemetics as well).
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27 / M / Los Angeles, Cali...
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Posted 3/1/08
paganism is awsome.

you could call me a pagan, if you had to call me something. i write symbols on all sorts of stuff, especially sleipnir's on my tests when i think i'm not gonna do very well (Odin is the god of wisdom) . i find it very interesting, but there is no group of heathen's around for me to learn more about it from, so i'm stuck with the internet. next year i'm gonna try to celebrate the solstices and yule with my friends, and i have to find out what other holidays to celebrate.
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M / In Memphis, with...
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Posted 3/1/08
I do believe this thread needs a little bit more information, before people start arguing about the 'Uchiha clan' and the 'satanism within paganism.'

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paganism
http://www.allaboutspirituality.org/paganism.htm
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/1/08

MEMPHADON wrote:

paganism is awsome.

you could call me a pagan, if you had to call me something. i write symbols on all sorts of stuff, especially sleipnir's on my tests when i think i'm not gonna do very well (Odin is the god of wisdom) . i find it very interesting, but there is no group of heathen's around for me to learn more about it from, so i'm stuck with the internet. next year i'm gonna try to celebrate the solstices and yule with my friends, and i have to find out what other holidays to celebrate.


Asatru is really cool. I almost entered it, as I like Odin and the Ring Cycle a lot, but in the end it just didn't resonate well for me. The resources for Asatru are growing, though, beyond runes, Beowulf and the the Eddas. Two books to avoid like the plague, though: Rites of Odin and Norse Magic. I got Celtic Magic ages ago, and then saw Norse Magic and bought that two. They're the same book. I asked about Rites of Odin on some of my pagan groups after that disappointment and was bombarded with negative reviews of that book as well. I do suggest Furthark: a Handbook of Run Magic if you're interested in runecraft, though, and Essential Asatru seems pretty well recommended.
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27 / M / Los Angeles, Cali...
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Posted 3/1/08
cool, i'll check them out

thanks
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29 / M / Sellout Town
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Posted 3/1/08
im not exactly sure theres anything to respond to here...so im gonna have to go with my instincts on this one and bs a little

My sister got into wiccan a few years back and i didnt get where she was coming from at all. Of course i can pretty much say with certainty now that she was only doing it to react against my very Christian mother. From what i remember of their many arguments at the time, a lot of what my sister had to say seemed to focus on things like "the yule log was a pagan deal" and claims of that nature.

so if im right and you're asking us to comment on what we think of paganism and how legitimate (or not) we think it is id have to say that to me any and all arguments i have heard seem to present it as a way of not being Christian, probably because that isn't "cool" or something like that.

And just in case you think I'm coming at this with only one experience to back up my claim, i should point out that i read the material in the links above^ before launching into this

as to people trying to legitimize "paganism" by trying to connect themselves to some existing or even extinct tradition, i would like to point out that they still go to the effort of calling themselves "pagan," which, as has been stated, does not represent any one religion or even necessarily a specific set of practices and beliefs, but does represent a term coined by Christians.
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/1/08
Actually, I set up this thread to discuss paganism, be you pagan or if you simply know any pagans. I had no intentions of bringing up validations or invalidations, but thanks for that anyhow. As for the use of the word "pagan", the Wiki even says that people will still choose to use the word to describe several different religions, because any of the other substitutes only describe aspects of certain religions, and do not apply to all the religions under this umbrella. The word was also in use before the spread of Christianity. It wasn't coined by Christians, but adapted.

And actually, your sister is mostly right: the Yule log originated in pre-Christian culture. Several Christian holiday celebrations are continuations of pagan practices, usually that of the Germanic tribes. http://www.noelnoelnoel.com/trad/yulelog.html
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29 / M / Sellout Town
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Posted 3/1/08
no problem always happy to hear myself talk

"the Wiki even says that people will still choose to use the word to describe several different religions, because any of the other substitutes only describe aspects of certain religions, and do not apply to all the religions under this umbrella."
---maybe im just a little bleary eyed tonight, but im not sure i have any idea what youre saying here, is there any way you could re-phrase that?

and as to adoption or adaption or whatever word youd like to put to it, it still seems to me that the whole business smacks of trying to get back to roots that at the very least arent likely yours to begin with, and also seem to follow the same vein as things like unitarianism, in that they dont actually accept any specific mythos or religious tradition as officially "theirs."

ok, now to put the lie to myself (bear with if you will) I notice some talk of Odin in above posts, assuming they mean the same fellow i remember from reading norse myth and thor comic books, we're talking about a specific set of folks, but in that very vein i can say with some strong degree of certainty that the vikings, who were big fans of the norse gods and had no great love for Christianity in their day, did start to willingly abandon their gods when they started intermarrying into and/or settling the places they captured in Europe, which was predominantly Christian.

What im driving at here is that at least some of the things modern pagans are adopting seem to be based solely on their mystique and the impression they have on the person, regardless of beleivable or legitimate the religion arguably is; almost as though their choice of religion was made in the same way that one might choose a favorite song after listening a while to the radio...
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29 / M / Sellout Town
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Posted 3/1/08
looks like i got a little carried away and forgot to address the last part...

I just wanted to add that as to the yule log business, and any other adopted/adapted traditions being or not being adopted/adapted, I really have no opinion (hell if i know what a tree in my living room has to do with jesus...) other than to say that I don't think who does some specific ritual first proves in and of itself that said religion is "true" or [insert substitute for the word true that-makes-it-sound-legitimate-but-not-overbearing that you prefer]. I do think though that you can see some interesting historical reasons why Christianity might have adopted certain rituals, but again, i don't think that legitimizes Christianity either.

and yeah, i know im fixating on this legitimacy thing, but thats what i think of when i hear about a religion that is trying to revive something...almost as though it was dead and gone and needed defibrillation. (this correctly spelled word dutifully looked up for you today by nodysseus; courtesy of wikipedia.com)
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/1/08
Here's the clarity you wanted:


The term "pagan" is a Christian adaptation of the "gentile" of Judaism, and as such has an inherent Christian or Abrahamic bias, and pejorative connotations among Westerners,[2] comparable to heathen, and infidel, mushrik and kafir (كافر) in Islam. For this reason, ethnologists avoid the term "paganism," with its uncertain and varied meanings, in referring to traditional or historic faiths, preferring more precise categories such as polytheism, shamanism, pantheism, or animism, however others criticize the use of these terms, claiming that these are only aspects that different faiths may share and do not denote the religions themselves.


You really are fixating a lot on the legitimacy issue and a pagan vs. Christianity issue, which is irritating to be honest. I have no personal dislike for Christianity beyond the fact that I don't believe in it. I chose to be pagan, because when I started my interest I was interested in natural cycles as part of living with what is divine, and that concept stuck with me, even when I shifted in the religious practices themselves. I choose to stick with what I have because I believe in the tenants of my religion.

The fact is that you can't legitimize any religion, only how honest one is about their religion, which is why your fixation on it is so irritating. I know that because the pagan religions aren't the norm, people use them like a fad. It's not surprising that your sister did what she did to rebel, but that doesn't mean that people who enter them will drop it to want to be "normal" again, or that they only follow it for some fascination with something seemingly mystical and different.

Also, because I noticed this:


it still seems to me that the whole business smacks of trying to get back to roots that at the very least arent likely yours to begin with, and also seem to follow the same vein as things like unitarianism, in that they dont actually accept any specific mythos or religious tradition as officially "theirs."


Wait, what? In the case of roots, if you're talking about decent from a certain culture, I don't think that ethnic heritage should have anything to do with religion. When I was talking about getting back to my roots with Hellenismos, I said "educational roots", meaning my long study of the classics and how they pretty much interconnect with the rest of my education and much of our modern culture. With the unitarian conclusion, I can only guess this is the result of your sisters dabbling with Wicca. I think I need to stress the fact that she was dabbling. Wicca actually does have it's set of religious tradition and mythos, but because it's an initiatory mystery tradition, there is actually little accurate information on what Wicca is, leading to the fad converts to mix a whole bunch of other things into their little piss pot concoction that they think is Wicca. I have a whole rant on that subject over here:

http://www.crunchyroll.com/forumtopic-113176/WiccaWiccans-.html?pg=1
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29 / M / Sellout Town
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Posted 3/2/08
aah so i take it you mean to say that because these other names do not appropriately describe your religion you don't like them. This i understand...but that still leaves the question of just why do pagans use a derogatory term from some other religious tradition(s) to describe themselves instead of having a name of their own...?

As to not being able to prove any religion as legitimate or not (if that is indeed what is being claimed) i think that its far too braod a statement to make. Now i will grant you that at the very least in most cases a religion cannot be proved true or false without some kind of..well...proof, but this does not mean that said proof is impossible to find. i could show you people who claim they have had legitimate experiences with spirits in another realm and know them to be real. I cant say i believe in it, but they do, and they go to great lengths to prove themselves, even inducing trances in others to try to help them have spiritual experiences too. What im getting at here is that if you ignore the issue of legitimacy entirely and simply cast it aside as impossible, you basically have to assume that no religions are going to come into conflict or ever disagree with eachother.
--this is where the babbling gets really intense--
i can understand how there are any faiths out there that accept the existance of other faiths and even other gods as acceptable, but in the not inconsiderable monotheistic traditions, there is no room for anyone else, and so proving who is right and who is wrong is t them of paramount importance. the fact that you seem to not agree does not matter to the overall picture as long as there are people out there who are willing to disagree.
now all thats purely academic, but what really is important is that if you (not you personally) want to ever get someone to believe that your way is right, you absolutely have to make some kind of effort to prove your religion is true, whether it be through reliquaries or elaborate mythologies or trances or anything you please.

if you dont care if anyone else believes in anything other than pure atheism as long as you still have your faithfullness, then thats fine all by its lonesome, but i cannot for one second really believe that something could call itself a religion, unless perhaps a tailor made religion of one, if it did not make some efforts to at least make its existance known in the vague hope of attracting new followers...
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29 / M / Sellout Town
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Posted 3/2/08
and since i seem to be seriously absent minded at the moment ill do another double post instead of efficiently covering everything in one:

as to ethnic heritage, there are many examples of things like shamanism making just such a claim of land to heritage to people to religion connection, but that was only tangentially related to what i was getting at. The thing is, unless you're talking about my example of 'radio religion' being a-ok then you have to give specifics on what your faith really is all about.

As to the esoteric aspects of wicca, obviously i have nothing to say because im not a member, but what ive seen of some other esoteric traditions (gnosticism being an excellent example) i havent heard anything tha sounds very encouraging in terms of a connection between the ancient past and revivalists of today
I think all i can really do here is ask for specifics on just what kind of historical carry-over wicca claims to have down the centuries, and where it claims to have gotten its start, but i suppose im expected to do that ground work on my own eh?
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/2/08
We still use the term pagan, because there is no better word for what we are. If we were to say Non-Abrahmic, we'd include several religions that aren't really related much with the other religions. There were no names for these religions when they were originally in their practice, much less a term for them collectively. We use what scholars called our religions before they decided to get all politically correct. We aren't going to get all miffed because the word was used negatively by certain people. If stonewall riots can shout out, "We're here, we're queer," why is it so confusing for us to call ourselves pagans and heathens, especially since that word wasn't always a derogatory term (Tertullian used it to mean "citizens")?

If you're trying to define a religion's legitimacy by how much they try to get converts, then this is ridiculous. While religions have killed off other people for being in their territory and not following their own religion, there are, in all my studies on religion (independent and in college), only two religions that actively seek out converts: Christianity and Islam. If it's in how well that religion thrives, many pagan faiths justify their survival in the fact that our historical documents and literature, the spirit of the religions we follow and several of their traditions haven't been snuffed out entirely, so that those who want to take it up again can rebuild. Most religions don't need a sense of proof to anyone other than those who want to follow it. Hell, many don't even believe in the exoteric part of their religion (the one's that typically need "proof") to be anywhere as important as the esoteric. My specific religion isn't even based on an absolute truth that there is to profess, but the seeking out of personal truth.

As for not making ourselves known...how are we not? There are many books on paganism and full congregations for different religions. Just because we don't want to grab anyone with a pulse and say "Hey, our way is absolute truth! Join us!" doesn't mean that we aren't looking for people who honestly want to become part of our religion. We just don't choose to be flashy about it, that's all. Most Neo-Pagan religions look at what being flashy did to Wicca's public image and cringe.
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30 / F / LI, NY
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Posted 3/2/08
Also, since you posted that as I was writing my response, Wicca is only roughly 70 years old. Most of it's early claims on historical legitimacy are based on debunked works, and most Tradtional Wiccans aren't afraid to admit that. Neo-Wiccans are a different story on that, though. Again, most of that info is in the other thread, which is for Wicca specifically.

As for what my religion is about, I can't talk for other pagan religions (obviously), but Hellenismos (aka Greek Reconstructionism) is all about the pursuit of personal excellence, the avoidance of hubris and sorrow at death and striving to be like the gods.

And I know about the Native American tribal practices being all about keeping it restricted to their own people; I've actually had painfully extensive discussions on the subject. My actual ancestral people do the same with their beliefs and practices (so no, I'm not ethnically Greek, but we joke that it wouldn't matter as our way of thinking and doing certian things has permiated most western culture). There are rare exceptions, though, particularly with adoptions and the like. I don't think it should matter with the ethnic background, which the Natives in the discussion agreed upon, but on the culture. The pagans in the Philippines wouldn't reject me because I'm not of the same race, but because I'm American. Natives do the same with people who are only a small percentage Native and didn't register themselves as Native until they suddenly took interest.
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32 / M / Kraków. Poland
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Posted 3/19/08
I'm slavic neo-pagan since 2001. And I think that neo-pagan religions are more spiritual than another ( eg. Christianity ). When someone wants to read about this, here is the link:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slavic_Neopaganism
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