collapse

* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.  (Read 3306 times)

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« on: September 20, 2013, 12:55:57 pm »
Here are the observations of a Celtic, Germanic with a dash of First Nation Pagan with nature orientation seeking to understand paganism.
   
I thought it might be interesting to present some observations of someone trying to understand paganism and see if others have had similar or different views.  These are my observations and my knowledge is restricted mainly to Celtic, Germanic, and to some extent First Nation. I hope that someone else in this forum will find this interesting. My first one was going to be that Pagans do not like anyone trying to define paganism so I will make it clear I am not trying to define what paganism is but rather describe how it appears to someone trying to understand what religion they believe in.

1.   First observation – There is no manual.
Our Northern European Pagan Ancestors did not leave an instruction manual. There is no sacred text that you can point to and quote to prove you are correct about how to believe.  That is not to say there is not writings you can explore, rather it is awareness that there is no single book or even books that are definitive like the bible or Torah to follow. This has many important consequences with respect to the religion with the most obvious being that there is no one correct way to do things. This in my opinion is one of its greatest blessings yet places a greater burden on a Pagan to sort through all that is available to learn about their faith.  

2.   Second observation – There are many flavors - Paganism celebrates diversity.
This is not entirely unique to paganism since even Christianity since the reformation has diversified but it is clearly characteristic of paganism. The difference between Christianity and paganism can be summed up that Christians have learned to tolerate diversity while pagans celebrate their diversity thus among pagans we can find many flavors like Wiccan, Druid, Celtic, Germanic, Slavic, Finnish, Greek, Roman, Egyptian, First Nation/Native American, Heathen, Asatru, Eclectic, Feri, Gwyddons, Hellenismos, Kemeticism,  Senistrognata, Thelema , Church of All Worlds, Mithraism and evidently many others.

These are the first two observations I thought I would start with and more to come. Hopefully if nothing else whether someone agrees or disagrees they will stimulate some reflection on what is means to become pagan.

veggiewolf

  • Adept Member
  • ********
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 3105
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2013, 01:38:05 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122449
...

Just for the record, it is First Nations rather than First Nation.

Also, here at TC we do have a definition for what constitutes a pagan religion - as noted in our Pagan Primer, a Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2013, 01:38:40 pm by veggiewolf »
Fluid Morality - my spiritual blog
Eating Monsters - my mental health blog

"Religion does not define a deity- it defines the human approach and interpretation of deity." - Juni
"I hate magical thinking in my magic." - Darkhawk
"...a baseball club; a soccer unkindness; a hockey murder; a football team..." - Cecil, Welcome to Night Vale

Nyktipolos

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • *
  • Posts: 1498
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2013, 02:17:03 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;122453
Just for the record, it is First Nations rather than First Nation.

Also, here at TC we do have a definition for what constitutes a pagan religion - as noted in our Pagan Primer, a Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan.

 
Seconding what veggie has said. First Nations is a Canadian term for Aboriginal people that do not fall under Inuit or Metis; it's a very, very large group of nations (hence why it is plural) who are diverse in language, culture, history, and religion. However the history of the term is debated, and it's not continuously used up here (we fluctuate between First Nations, Aboriginal, the nation's actual name in their language, and Indian; the latter is still the legal term in federal documents here).

Also, Native people are not pagan. I understand it LOOKS like it's pagan, but an important part of many definitions of pagan (and paganism) is about self-identification. While I am certain there may be Native people out there who identify their cultural background and religion as pagan, they are the exception rather than the rule. The word "pagan", along with "heathen", was used by colonial settlers to define Native practices as being lesser, unclean, and something Proper Civilized Folk Did Not Do, so many Native people avoid the term because it's negative connotations is very recent in our history.
"Though my soul may set in darkness, it will rise in perfect light;
I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night." - Sarah Williams
On the Rivers

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4849
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 729
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #3 on: September 20, 2013, 02:42:45 pm »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122449
2.   Second observation – There are many flavors - Paganism celebrates diversity.

 
It is worth explicitly noting that paganism does not "celebrate diversity", but rather that a word that basically means "the none of the above box" is going to contain a lot of diverse things.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2013, 02:12:44 am »
Quote from: veggiewolf;122453
Just for the record, it is First Nations rather than First Nation.

Also, here at TC we do have a definition for what constitutes a pagan religion - as noted in our Pagan Primer, a Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan.

 
I know about the definition and I am not trying to change or disagree with the definition that has been provided.  I hope I will not be seen while writing the posts as trying to define it but rather to explore the ideas of paganism to better understand them. These are my impressions and not meant as anything official. I was just looking for anyone else who was interested in discussing more about their impressions of different aspects of paganism. I do not expect anyone to necessarily agree with me but finding differences is another way of learning.

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2013, 02:22:53 am »
Quote from: Nyktipolos;122455
Seconding what veggie has said. First Nations is a Canadian term for Aboriginal people that do not fall under Inuit or Metis; it's a very, very large group of nations (hence why it is plural) who are diverse in language, culture, history, and religion. However the history of the term is debated, and it's not continuously used up here (we fluctuate between First Nations, Aboriginal, the nation's actual name in their language, and Indian; the latter is still the legal term in federal documents here).

Also, Native people are not pagan. I understand it LOOKS like it's pagan, but an important part of many definitions of pagan (and paganism) is about self-identification. While I am certain there may be Native people out there who identify their cultural background and religion as pagan, they are the exception rather than the rule. The word "pagan", along with "heathen", was used by colonial settlers to define Native practices as being lesser, unclean, and something Proper Civilized Folk Did Not Do, so many Native people avoid the term because it's negative connotations is very recent in our history.

 
My apology for the inclusion. I know of some Native Americans who call themselves as pagans but that may be a rare exception.  I did not intend to imply that in general Native Americans or First Nations are pagan so you post is due noted. The last comments are interesting because of the use of the word Pagan in European derived people. It was used as a negative term but has now been turned around as an expression with pride. There are many words which have shifted like this but I can also see why someone would not like the term.

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2013, 02:35:40 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;122457
It is worth explicitly noting that paganism does not "celebrate diversity", but rather that a word that basically means "the none of the above box" is going to contain a lot of diverse things.

 
The definition of the word as presented on this website does leave you with that answer which could mean a huge number of things and to me is unhelpful yet for the operation of a website might be important to be non-exclusive. But I was referring to my impression of paganism by what I have learned as well as what has been presented in this forum. My previous experience with Christianity prior to becoming pagan was that Christianity tends toward uniformity. The more Christ like you are the more you can identify as Christian. Since I like diversity and feel there is no one way to connect with the goddesses and gods of our world I feel more comfortable with paganism. This is just my observation about pagans thought I am sure there might be those pagans who believe in conformity. I would like to here from either if they have any thoughts about this.

Aster Breo

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2826
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 48
    • View Profile
Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #7 on: September 21, 2013, 03:13:06 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122492
The definition of the word as presented on this website does leave you with that answer which could mean a huge number of things and to me is unhelpful yet for the operation of a website might be important to be non-exclusive.

I think what Darkhawk was getting at was not about whether there is diversity in paganism or whether pagans in general prefer diversity to conformity, but, rather, about your characterization of paganism as celebrating something in particular -- implying that "paganism" is one unified thing or has one unified viewpoint about any topic.  

As I'm sure you know, "paganism" is an umbrella term that includes a huge variety of incredibly diverse paths, many of which have nothing in common with each other except for practitioners who self-identify as pagan.  So, to say "paganism celebrates _________" (fill in the blank) gives the impression that all pagan paths have the same view on ________.

This is a lot like the discussion that comes up regularly when someone tries to describe paganism as earth-based or focused on nature, or says that all pagans revere nature.  While it's true that some pagan paths and some individual pagans are earth-based and/or do revere nature, that is not true of all pagan paths.  The earth doesn't even figure into some pagan paths, beyond the fact that we all live here and so can all be said to be "earth-based".

There may well be pagan paths or groups that specifically celebrate diversity, and there are certainly individual pagans who do. The fact that many of us often go out of our way to point out that paganism is very diverse, and, therefore, can't be said to have a unified opinion on anything, demonstrates that many of us value that diversity.  Which is what I think you meant to say.

But you'll find that Cauldronites tend to insist on precision in language.  Because words mean things. Otherwise, we can never be sure we're actually discussing the same thing.

So you might get more of the kind of response you're looking for with your observations if you're careful about how you phrase them, so we understand what point you're making.
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10172
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 254
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #8 on: September 21, 2013, 08:41:30 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122492
The definition of the word as presented on this website does leave you with that answer which could mean a huge number of things and to me is unhelpful yet for the operation of a website might be important to be non-exclusive. But I was referring to my impression of paganism by what I have learned as well as what has been presented in this forum. My previous experience with Christianity prior to becoming pagan was that Christianity tends toward uniformity.

"Paganism" doesn't tend toward uniformity for the simple reason that it is not a religion, it is an umbrella term for a large number separate religions (often with their own separate Gods, myths, etc.) that often have very little in common. Christianity, on the other hand, is a group of closely related religions that share the same deity and mythology.  Wicca is a subgroup of Paganism that is similar to Christianity in that it is a group of closely related religions who share a very similar concept of deity (some type of Lord and Lady) and similar mythology, but even so Wiccan religions are not as closely related as a group as Christian religions.

Pagans have little interest in religious conformity because Pagan A may be a Wiccan, Pagan B may follow the religion of Classical era Athens (which has little or nothing in common with Wicca), Pagan C may follow the religion of ancient Egypt (which as little in common with Wicca or with the religion of Classical Era Athens), Pagan D follows yet another religion, etc.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

Darkhawk

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 4849
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 729
    • View Profile
    • Suns in her Branches
  • Religion: An American Werewolf in the Akhet; Kemetic; Feri; Imaginary Baltic Heathen; Discordian; CoX; Etc.
  • Preferred Pronouns: any of he, she, they
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #9 on: September 21, 2013, 11:14:28 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122492
My previous experience with Christianity prior to becoming pagan was that Christianity tends toward uniformity. The more Christ like you are the more you can identify as Christian.


If you actually point to a specific religion or family of religions, you'll find that it looks like itself, much like if you point at a cat, you'll find that it tends to be furry, have pointed ears, whiskers, and an annoying tendency to steal your lunchmeat.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #10 on: September 22, 2013, 02:56:02 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;122493
I think what Darkhawk was getting at was not about whether there is diversity in paganism or whether pagans in general prefer diversity to conformity, but, rather, about your characterization of paganism as celebrating something in particular -- implying that "paganism" is one unified thing or has one unified viewpoint about any topic.  

As I'm sure you know, "paganism" is an umbrella term that includes a huge variety of incredibly diverse paths, many of which have nothing in common with each other except for practitioners who self-identify as pagan.  So, to say "paganism celebrates _________" (fill in the blank) gives the impression that all pagan paths have the same view on ________.

This is a lot like the discussion that comes up regularly when someone tries to describe paganism as earth-based or focused on nature, or says that all pagans revere nature.  While it's true that some pagan paths and some individual pagans are earth-based and/or do revere nature, that is not true of all pagan paths.  The earth doesn't even figure into some pagan paths, beyond the fact that we all live here and so can all be said to be "earth-based".

There may well be pagan paths or groups that specifically celebrate diversity, and there are certainly individual pagans who do. The fact that many of us often go out of our way to point out that paganism is very diverse, and, therefore, can't be said to have a unified opinion on anything, demonstrates that many of us value that diversity.  Which is what I think you meant to say.

But you'll find that Cauldronites tend to insist on precision in language.  Because words mean things. Otherwise, we can never be sure we're actually discussing the same thing.

So you might get more of the kind of response you're looking for with your observations if you're careful about how you phrase them, so we understand what point you're making.

 
I understand your point and hopefully my posts will become more focused with time and more carefully stated. There are some basic concepts I want to understand better. I understand that there is not a single pagan religion nor one way to practice paganism, but there must be some things that connect people who become pagan.  The definition for this forum is clearly inclusive which is appropriate for the forum but it only says what it is not and especially for someone new it would be nice to know something about what it is. I guess the problem is how to describe what it is and at the same time to allow for differences which clearly exist. For

 In the midst of such diversity as there is in paganism there must be something or group of things that connect even a diverse group of people. From everything I have read or experienced (and I mean just from what I have learned so far)  there seems to be three things that are frequently cited as aspects to paganism. And unlike a religion such as Christianity where you have you have three aspects of god as the father, the son, and the Holy Spirit in which you are expected to believe in all equally, Pagans seem to draw from these aspects in different degrees. Some who only draw from one or two aspects while others from all three.  

The three aspects that I see frequently associated with paganism are nature, the goddesses and gods, and magic

Aster Breo

  • Senior Staff
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Posts: 2826
  • Country: 00
  • Total likes: 48
    • View Profile
Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #11 on: September 22, 2013, 05:16:10 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122557
there must be some things that connect people who become pagan.

*snip*

 In the midst of such diversity as there is in paganism there must be something or group of things that connect even a diverse group of people.

Why?

That's a serious question, not snark.
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Sunshine

  • Apprentice
  • ***
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 37
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #12 on: September 22, 2013, 07:02:54 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122557
In the midst of such diversity as there is in paganism there must be something or group of things that connect even a diverse group of people.


There is, per the site; we're not JCI. That's about the only thing I can think of. (And some people, including both my parents, would argue with that definition and consider themselves Christo-pagan, Jewish pagan, etc., with varying amounts of cultural and religious beliefs intermingling and coexisting in a way that works for them.)

Quote from: ethelwulf;122557
Pagans seem to draw from these aspects in different degrees. Some who only draw from one or two aspects while others from all three.  

The three aspects that I see frequently associated with paganism are nature, the goddesses and gods, and magic

 
But someone drawing from only one might not be at all interested in the other two. E.g. a nature worshipper who has no belief in individual gods and goddesses, or someone who practices explicitly Christian folk magic and might be offended by being lumped in with polytheists.

RandallS

  • Site Admin
  • *
  • Join Date: Jun 2011
  • Location: NE Ohio
  • Posts: 10172
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 254
    • View Profile
  • Religion: Hellenic Pagan
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #13 on: September 22, 2013, 08:29:39 am »
Quote from: ethelwulf;122557
In the midst of such diversity as there is in paganism there must be something or group of things that connect even a diverse group of people.


It's not much beyond "they consider their religion to be Pagan."  The official definition of "Pagan religion" for this forum is very general and vague (A pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan) because there is such a wide variety of Pagan religions than some have little more in common with some other Pagan religions beyond the fact that they are religions and they self-identify as Pagan. Adding more specifics to the definition starts leaving out religions that consider themselves Pagan.
Randall
RetroRoleplaying [Blog]: Microlite74/75/78/81, BX Advanced, and Other Old School Tabletop RPGs
Microlite20: Lots of Rules Lite Tabletop RPGs -- Many Free
OSR.SPACE: Old School Tabletop RPG Community

ethelwulf

  • Journeyman
  • *****
  • Join Date: Aug 2013
  • Posts: 241
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
Re: Observations of a Pagan seeking understand paganism.
« Reply #14 on: September 22, 2013, 09:58:10 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;122559
Why?

That's a serious question, not snark.

 
Why is just to better understand what we believe in. Being able to define something in positive terms of what it is helps to communicate to others to understand what you believe in. It just seems important to me to be able to say to someone what paganism is and not just what it is not.

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
12 Replies
2528 Views
Last post September 05, 2011, 03:51:56 pm
by Lokabrenna
12 Replies
1291 Views
Last post December 16, 2012, 07:26:50 am
by Rhyshadow
3 Replies
1038 Views
Last post April 05, 2013, 11:53:13 pm
by WindyCityWitch
47 Replies
3534 Views
Last post March 26, 2014, 01:04:52 am
by ethelwulf
54 Replies
13051 Views
Last post June 27, 2015, 01:49:06 am
by HarpingHawke

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 29
  • Dot Hidden: 0
  • Dot Users: 1
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall