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Author Topic: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities  (Read 16470 times)

broomstick

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Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« on: June 20, 2012, 07:36:15 am »
Hi all,

I really need to post here more, I've just been a little busy lately. Any way, I might as well jump in my question. I have been somewhere between an atheist and agnostic for the past few years now. I'm very skeptical on sunjects like gods, the paranormal, etc. To be honest, I do not really believe in any Pagan deities. I don't believe in any gods/goddesses really. I don't know if this would make me a Pantheist or what, but I have been drawn to the Pagan religion for the past year but am still learing. Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?

RandallS

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2012, 08:00:36 am »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?

I've known Pagans who did not believe the Gods were external entities but rather parts of their own consciousness or who do not believe in Gods because they believe everything is God, or they believe that they are God, etc.
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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2012, 09:30:48 am »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
...I don't know if this would make me a Pantheist or what, but I have been drawn to the Pagan religion for the past year but am still learing. ...

 
Keep in mind that Paganism is not one religion; it is made up of a group of religions that may or may not have anything in common with one another.
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MoonCrone

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2012, 10:19:55 am »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?

Definitions!  They are everything and nothing when it comes to Paganism in my experience... the main topic of discussion at moots, in forums, at open rituals, in covens and groves across the UK and at just about every other Pagan event I have ever attended, and trust me, there's been a few...
I know some Pagans who say Paganism isn't a Religion at all, let alone associate it with belief of Deity...!
Some say it is a philosophy, a way of life, their herritage, their culture and so on... while others say it certainly is a Religion, but I can't tell you who's right and who's wrong because in my opinion, it doesn't matter that much... but if pushed, I think I would be on the side that considers it not to be a Religion to be honest.
There are Witches who say they aren't Pagan, and Heathens who say they aren't Witches... Witches who say they aren't Pagan... some who say it's wicca with a little w, then you start getting things like wiccarish (or should that be Wiccarish?) and so it goes...!!!
We all seem so different, and I don't think that's such a bad thing.
I guess the great thing about Paganism is that there is this great freedom... freedom to think as we will, and freedom to believe what we choose, and freedom to practice our devotions exactly as we see fit, freedom to call ourselves anything.... and all under that one great umbrella term of Pagan...
I have known poeple who have been Pagan all their lives (getting on for 50) and prefer to think of a Supreme but faceless/nameless Sacred She and Sacred He, and I have known people who have enjoyed Gods and Goddesses in their lives but later on turn around and say they have become athiest...for whatever reason they may have had for that change of view - I never knew (although I have to say I find that one hard to take because if they did, and now say they don't, was it a lie? - but that's just my "take" on that particular point of view, perhaps I'm being harsh)  
Being Pagan generally comes with an acceptance of our differences, I think, and the feeling of "each to their own" or "live and let live".
Real Pagans won't judge you whatever you do or don't believe just because it differs from their own view point.
Well, that's what I have found, anyways.  :)
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 10:20:35 am by MoonCrone »
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mlr52

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2012, 01:43:56 pm »
Quote from: MoonCrone;60956
I have known people who have enjoyed Gods and Goddesses in their lives but later on turn around and say they have become athiest...for whatever reason they may have had for that change of view - I never knew (although I have to say I find that one hard to take because if they did, and now say they don't, was it a lie?

 
No it is/was not a lie.  As pepole learn more about themselves, the worlds around them (unseen, felt Etc...) their understanding of what is changes. My understanding of what I call GOD is not what it was when I was 5 years old.  

From my mid 20's to late 30's I told people that there was nothing, no GOD  (sometimes I wasn't there either).  One event cause me to relise that I did not cerate myself.  At the time I could not call what created me GOD, but something was there.  

Though the years since I have come to know (for me) that there is a GOD, and my concept of such has changed as I learn more, it may change again based on what I am able to accept and understand.
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broomstick

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2012, 05:02:17 pm »
Quote from: MoonCrone;60956
Definitions!  They are everything and nothing when it comes to Paganism in my experience... the main topic of discussion at moots, in forums, at open rituals, in covens and groves across the UK and at just about every other Pagan event I have ever attended, and trust me, there's been a few...
I know some Pagans who say Paganism isn't a Religion at all, let alone associate it with belief of Deity...!
Some say it is a philosophy, a way of life, their herritage, their culture and so on... while others say it certainly is a Religion, but I can't tell you who's right and who's wrong because in my opinion, it doesn't matter that much... but if pushed, I think I would be on the side that considers it not to be a Religion to be honest.
There are Witches who say they aren't Pagan, and Heathens who say they aren't Witches... Witches who say they aren't Pagan... some who say it's wicca with a little w, then you start getting things like wiccarish (or should that be Wiccarish?) and so it goes...!!!
We all seem so different, and I don't think that's such a bad thing.
I guess the great thing about Paganism is that there is this great freedom... freedom to think as we will, and freedom to believe what we choose, and freedom to practice our devotions exactly as we see fit, freedom to call ourselves anything.... and all under that one great umbrella term of Pagan...
I have known poeple who have been Pagan all their lives (getting on for 50) and prefer to think of a Supreme but faceless/nameless Sacred She and Sacred He, and I have known people who have enjoyed Gods and Goddesses in their lives but later on turn around and say they have become athiest...for whatever reason they may have had for that change of view - I never knew (although I have to say I find that one hard to take because if they did, and now say they don't, was it a lie? - but that's just my "take" on that particular point of view, perhaps I'm being harsh)  
Being Pagan generally comes with an acceptance of our differences, I think, and the feeling of "each to their own" or "live and let live".
Real Pagans won't judge you whatever you do or don't believe just because it differs from their own view point.
Well, that's what I have found, anyways.  :)


Thanks mooncrone! All of you have given very helpful answers but I really enjoyed reading this. In the past when I became interested in Paganism, I felt that I was a Pantheist, and still do. It is my understanding that Pantheists simply consider the universe and nature and all in it to be connected and one. I wouldn't consider that a God, but I guess if you really wanted to call it that you could. The more I learn about the Pagan religion the more I like. You can pretty much mold it into what ever fits you. My library has no books on Paganism (but seem to have it one every other religion lol), and I can't really buy any right now for a few reasons (I live in a Christian home, you know the story). Does anoyone know of some good articles or pages online about Neopaganism and what it's like, what they do, etc? Thanks!
« Last Edit: June 20, 2012, 05:03:30 pm by broomstick »

Shine

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2012, 09:31:29 pm »
Quote from: broomstick;61018
Does anoyone know of some good articles or pages online about Neopaganism and what it's like, what they do, etc? Thanks!

 
The term "Neo-pagan" is pretty broad. You might try the Pagan Primer on the Cauldron's main page (http://www.ecauldron.net/newpagan.php) if you haven't read it already. Practices range from "whatever feels right" to "this is how the ancients practiced it and by gosh darn, so are we."

I, too, used to live in a Christian household and I found it stifling. You have my sympathy.

On the subject of belief in deities vs no belief in deities in paganism, I agree with everyone else. Most people aren't going to judge you on belief or disbelief.
Leave your darkness with me, and I will make you shine.

Amethyst

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2012, 10:47:21 pm »
Quote from: broomstick;61018
My library has no books on Paganism (but seem to have it one every other religion lol), and I can't really buy any right now for a few reasons (I live in a Christian home, you know the story). Does anoyone know of some good articles or pages online about Neopaganism and what it's like, what they do, etc? Thanks!


If you're interested, try looking in your library for books on ancient religions - Egyptian, Norse, Greek, Roman, Celtic, etc. It will help you learn more about the backgrounds of many (but not all) neo-pagan religions. And one of the gods may call to you - I, for example, am still figuring out my exact view point on deity, but I am very drawn to the Irish gods as well as the Greek.

For a good starting point (and I know this seems against academic research) try the Wikipedia page on Neo-Paganism. It will introduce you to a lot of religions and concepts that you can research more fully elsewhere. There are also external links and references to explore.
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MoonCrone

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2012, 05:38:13 am »
Quote from: broomstick;61018
Thanks mooncrone! All of you have given very helpful answers but I really enjoyed reading this.


You are very welcome!  :)  Glad to be able to share!

Quote from: broomstick;61018
The more I learn about the Pagan religion the more I like.


That's great!  I'm very happy for you :)

Quote from: broomstick;61018
Does anoyone know of some good articles or pages online about Neopaganism and what it's like, what they do, etc? Thanks!


Have you come across the Sacred Texts website yet?  

http://www.sacred-texts.com/pag/index.htm
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MoonCrone

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #9 on: June 21, 2012, 05:40:35 am »
Quote from: mlr52;60992
No it is/was not a lie.  As pepole learn more about themselves, the worlds around them (unseen, felt Etc...) their understanding of what is changes. My understanding of what I call GOD is not what it was when I was 5 years old.  


Thank you for your point of view - I take it on board.  :)
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Aiwelin

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #10 on: June 27, 2012, 11:26:17 am »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?

 
As I saw someone else recently post on this board, and I completely agree, is that religion and philosophy are separate for a lot of people.  Philosophically, I identify as something of an animist or pantheist; but religiously I practice both a Wiccish nature-reverence and a kind of Druidry that has pretty specific ideas of deity.  I don't feel that these things are mutually exclusive.  No, I don't believe in literal Gods or Goddesses (and in fact, the deities I work with come from a fantasy pantheon), but conceptualizing Them in that way is very helpful for me.
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Christy

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #11 on: July 17, 2012, 11:57:40 pm »
Quote from: broomstick;61018
Thanks mooncrone! All of you have given very helpful answers but I really enjoyed reading this. In the past when I became interested in Paganism, I felt that I was a Pantheist, and still do. It is my understanding that Pantheists simply consider the universe and nature and all in it to be connected and one. I wouldn't consider that a God, but I guess if you really wanted to call it that you could. The more I learn about the Pagan religion the more I like. You can pretty much mold it into what ever fits you. My library has no books on Paganism (but seem to have it one every other religion lol), and I can't really buy any right now for a few reasons (I live in a Christian home, you know the story). Does anoyone know of some good articles or pages online about Neopaganism and what it's like, what they do, etc? Thanks!

 
Hi there.  I'm so glad you posted this question because I have been wondering the same thing!  I also found a site (don't laugh) that offers 'schooling', the information is interesting to read and it appears to be free thus far.  It is a website called "Magicka School".  You may find some of the information there informative about Wicca and its history.

Materialist

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #12 on: October 12, 2012, 11:50:30 am »
Quote from: broomstick;60948
Hi all,

I really need to post here more, I've just been a little busy lately. Any way, I might as well jump in my question. I have been somewhere between an atheist and agnostic for the past few years now. I'm very skeptical on sunjects like gods, the paranormal, etc. To be honest, I do not really believe in any Pagan deities. I don't believe in any gods/goddesses really. I don't know if this would make me a Pantheist or what, but I have been drawn to the Pagan religion for the past year but am still learing. Is it possible to be a Pagan without the belief in any deities? Deos anyone share these beliefs? Also, if I didn't believe in any deities, would that simply make it a philosophy?


In my view, it's not a matter of belief, regarding gods, because you can believe anything about anything. Rather, it's about whether you accept or reject the facts that something exists or doesn't exist.

The evidence of reality dictates to me that gods are symbols, idealized goals of human potential, like Superman. All arguments to the contrary by hard polytheists I've read come across to me as silly. Reality also says to me that paranormalism, supernaturalism and other stuff also does not exist.

There is a religion, started in England, called the World Pantheist Movement. It's a scientific naturalist/materialist/physicalist whatever you want to call it religion that is pure reality. No afterlife, spirits, gods, magic and whatnot. The goal is to live in harmony with the universe.

Historically, pre-christians could also be atheists. There are records of such people going back to forever. Religion doesn't require theism, just ritual.

Gilbride

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #13 on: October 12, 2012, 12:49:32 pm »
Quote from: Materialist;76460
The evidence of reality dictates to me that gods are symbols, idealized goals of human potential, like Superman.


Then there's the perspective of mysticism, which is neither "hard" theism nor atheism. There's no way to briefly summarize such a nuanced viewpoint, but one way to put it would be this: "yes, the god is nothing but a mental construct, something like a dream. But so am I. So the god is real in exactly the same way as I am, and unreal in exactly the same way as I am." Polytheist forms of mysticism would then go on to assert that devotion to the god can help you wake up from the dream and realize your true spiritual identity with absolute reality (or what a pantheist might call God).

Materialist

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Re: Being a Pagan without believing in Pagan deities
« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2012, 06:20:46 pm »
Quote from: Gilbride;76461
Then there's the perspective of mysticism, which is neither "hard" theism nor atheism. There's no way to briefly summarize such a nuanced viewpoint, but one way to put it would be this: "yes, the god is nothing but a mental construct, something like a dream. But so am I. So the god is real in exactly the same way as I am, and unreal in exactly the same way as I am." Polytheist forms of mysticism would then go on to assert that devotion to the god can help you wake up from the dream and realize your true spiritual identity with absolute reality (or what a pantheist might call God).

 
Thanks for reminding me why I like studying Christian mystics-a materialistic interpretation is so easy: just substitute "earthly" for "heavenly."

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