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Author Topic: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels  (Read 4750 times)

bobthesane

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #15 on: November 15, 2013, 12:46:43 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;129504
Secondly - I don't think it's impossible to make distinctions between two practices in one's personal life.  To use a rather mundane illustration: I can cook both Pakistani nehari, which my motherinlaw taught me how to make, and I can cook chicken parmesan.  Both of these are wonderful, tasty dishes in their own way.  But do I mix oregano in my nehari?  Would I think to add garam masala to my chicken parmesan?  No!  I know that these two dishes are best left to stand on their own, separately; and I am quite capable of making and enjoying them both separately.

Well, that's good that you feel you can keep things separate. However, keep in mind also that it's not up to you if you are invited to join in a group's activities. The group determines that. And if the group as a whole feels you would not be a good fit, well... likely you won't be asked to join.

That's not a slam against you at all. It doesn't make you or them bad people in the slightest. It just means that they get to be the arbiters of who is welcome to join them in what is a semi-private group activity.

I've personally invited people to join me in blot and sumbel who were at best 'wiccatru' because I liked them as people and wanted to hang out with them. (Incidentally I've also left groups that I felt were not 'my' kind of heathen, recognizing that I was not a good fit and vice versa.) But ultimately I and the members of my kin get to decide who eats our feast, who joins the ceremony, and who mingles their luck with ours.

This holds true for any group. If someone hails Loki in my house, they will likely be unwelcome to return. If I went into a Baptist church and started loudly hailing Thor, I just as rightly would be shown the door, never to return.

Back to the original point, though. Can you call yourself heathen even if you are an initiated Wiccan? Certainly you can. Can you call yourself a Theodswoman? Now it's getting a little stickier.

Aiwelin

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #16 on: November 15, 2013, 01:19:20 pm »
Quote from: bobthesane;129527
Well, that's good that you feel you can keep things separate. However, keep in mind also that it's not up to you if you are invited to join in a group's activities. The group determines that. And if the group as a whole feels you would not be a good fit, well... likely you won't be asked to join.

That's not a slam against you at all. It doesn't make you or them bad people in the slightest. It just means that they get to be the arbiters of who is welcome to join them in what is a semi-private group activity.

I've personally invited people to join me in blot and sumbel who were at best 'wiccatru' because I liked them as people and wanted to hang out with them. (Incidentally I've also left groups that I felt were not 'my' kind of heathen, recognizing that I was not a good fit and vice versa.) But ultimately I and the members of my kin get to decide who eats our feast, who joins the ceremony, and who mingles their luck with ours.

This holds true for any group. If someone hails Loki in my house, they will likely be unwelcome to return. If I went into a Baptist church and started loudly hailing Thor, I just as rightly would be shown the door, never to return.

Back to the original point, though. Can you call yourself heathen even if you are an initiated Wiccan? Certainly you can. Can you call yourself a Theodswoman? Now it's getting a little stickier.

 
All fair points!  I am a member of a local heathen group whose members are quite wonderful, and more 'open' than most (for one thing, we define the group as Heathen, rather than any specific tradition, which as you mentioned leaves the door open for many paths).  The main place I encounter derision or dismissiveness is at larger pan-Pagan gatherings, which makes me a bit wary to travel to Heathen gatherings like Lighting on the Plains; though I would love to enjoy the company of others who also honor the Germanic deities.  I think the attitude of the community at large (refering to all followers of a Heathen or Germanic or whatever path, not specific individual groups) to dual-practitioners is a problem - I argue it would be in the community's best interest to assume the best, and save dismissiveness or an escort out of the event until the guest proves they are not there to honor the spirit of the event or community.
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bobthesane

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #17 on: November 15, 2013, 01:37:27 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;129529
All fair points!  I am a member of a local heathen group whose members are quite wonderful, and more 'open' than most (for one thing, we define the group as Heathen, rather than any specific tradition, which as you mentioned leaves the door open for many paths).  The main place I encounter derision or dismissiveness is at larger pan-Pagan gatherings, which makes me a bit wary to travel to Heathen gatherings like Lighting on the Plains; though I would love to enjoy the company of others who also honor the Germanic deities.  I think the attitude of the community at large (refering to all followers of a Heathen or Germanic or whatever path, not specific individual groups) to dual-practitioners is a problem - I argue it would be in the community's best interest to assume the best, and save dismissiveness or an escort out of the event until the guest proves they are not there to honor the spirit of the event or community.

Hehe, to be honest *I* don't go to large gatherings in general, for many of the same reasons you listed :)

Any time you get a group of people together, much less an avowedly loud and opinionated group like us heathens, you will encounter those who like to play, as I call it, 'Heathener than thou'. This is one of our more obnoxious behaviors and is in fact one of the *primary* reasons I am a huge proponent of tribalist heathenry. The only people who get to have a say in whether or not I belong is the group I am trying to belong to, and that pertains ONLY to my local group (and any larger ones that I may identify with, which ain't bloody likely at this point).

Honestly, larger gatherings have always seemed to me to be primarily an excuse for people to try and one up each other. I'm too grumpy to put up with that horseshit any more. And as for LatP, that is run by JB kindred, whose self-styled 'chieftain' is a luckless turd-ball who ROBBED HIS OWN MOTHER. Screw those guys. I want *nothing* to do with them.

My advice to you is: why worry about larger gatherings? Seriously, focus on your local community. That's where it's at.

dionysiandame

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #18 on: November 15, 2013, 02:11:31 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;127335
This is interesting.  Would you think of yourself as Hellenist if you did all the Hellenist things - worship the entire pantheon, etc - but still built relationships with other deities?  I am also a big proponent of Words Mean Things; but I wouldn't stop calling myself a Druid if I also joined a knitting circle, because that has zero impact on my identity as a Druid.  I view my participation in a local Wiccan group the same way - it literally changes nothing that I do in my Druid practice.


If I worshipped all of the Hellenic pantheon, attempted to live according to the Maxims, celebrated at least a few festivals a year from the "Official Athenian Calendar" , and fulfilled a deipnon more than two or three times a year? Totally.
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sailor

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #19 on: November 15, 2013, 03:41:14 pm »
Quote from: dionysiandame;129532
If I worshipped all of the Hellenic pantheon, attempted to live according to the Maxims, celebrated at least a few festivals a year from the "Official Athenian Calendar" , and fulfilled a deipnon more than two or three times a year? Totally.

 
Has Hellenist always meant Athenian or is that relatively new?  I don't remember it being that specific.

Yeah, Athens is the most documented of the ancient Greek practices, but does it lay claim to exclusive use of Hellenist?

I can definitely see most Hellenists going with the most documented set of practices, but that's a matter of ease rather than definition I'd think.

Fireof9

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #20 on: November 15, 2013, 09:30:40 pm »
Quote from: bobthesane;129527
Back to the original point, though. Can you call yourself heathen even if you are an initiated Wiccan? Certainly you can. Can you call yourself a Theodswoman? Now it's getting a little stickier.

Interesting points there....

I had this discussion one time with some other heathens (who's name shall go unmentioned in respect of Bobs blood pressure ;) ) who were kind of laying down the law on who could and could not call themselves heathens.

I am a Gwyddon, I tend to approach everything from that foundation. But that said I tend to relate better to Nordic Gods, I relate to most heathens world view, a lot of I read is heathen based literature, blogs etc. I try to live my life in honour of my Gods, my ancestors and I find the NNV to be a great guide line to live by.

But I refuse to call myself a heathen. There are elements of my personal approach that would not fit, there are beliefs that I have that would not fit and I don't think it would be fair to call myself a heathen. But that is just my take on it, my personal approach.

On that note I am not real fond of the term pagan either.
« Last Edit: November 15, 2013, 09:31:35 pm by Fireof9 »
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KendrikDmer

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #21 on: May 18, 2014, 12:37:09 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;127301
II attend a local Wiccan group quite often since they do the most organized and best planned Pagan things in the area.


I must say, I'm jealous you have a group at all. There is nothing active in my area at all.

Quote
I've met a few Heathens who have said I shouldn't be calling myself a Heathen if I'm also initiated in a Wiccan tradition, or working with a Druid group.


I just had a similar, albeit online problem. I was told I'm not Heathen because I'm not reconstructionist. I'm "fluffy" because I'm eclectic and practice how I see fit and what works for me. I understand the frustration.

I say, do what works for you. If it feels right and doesn't feel like something outright disrespectful to any deities you work with, and you aren't harming others, go for it.
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llwynog

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Re: Pagan Religions, Polytheism, and the Problem with Labels
« Reply #22 on: May 19, 2014, 04:14:35 pm »
Quote from: KendrikDmer;147880
I must say, I'm jealous you have a group at all. There is nothing active in my area at all.



I just had a similar, albeit online problem. I was told I'm not Heathen because I'm not reconstructionist. I'm "fluffy" because I'm eclectic and practice how I see fit and what works for me. I understand the frustration.

I say, do what works for you. If it feels right and doesn't feel like something outright disrespectful to any deities you work with, and you aren't harming others, go for it.

 
For someone starting out this is a big problem. Without any defining characteristics it can be hard for someone to identify. If I remember my Ancient history the Roman Christian Church solved this by eliminating all other choices which worked for while until the reformation. The reforming churches used the bible as their authoritative source to challenge the Catholic Church. Paganism does not have a dominant belief nor an authoritative book to define it. Evidently individual groups have tried to create some defined aspects but not without conflict.

The aspect of blending religions is another aspect of this problem. Without any authoritative source there is nothing to stop someone blending beliefs. But what about a suppressed  minorities beliefs as in the case of Native Americans which were almost eliminated by the majority population. Is it right for a member of the majority population to use native American beliefs and blend it with other and how is that different from blending any religion. I have long followed Native American beliefs and recently have been trying to blend it with my ancestry of the Celtic culture. To me they blend easily but is that right?

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