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Author Topic: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?  (Read 4519 times)

Faylie

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Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« on: December 04, 2011, 08:51:58 pm »
I have been wandering spirituality for a while, I wouldn't say I practice anything yet, I am still learning and feel like I am only at the very beginning of that.  

I believe that all things have energies that we can draw on, give our own energy to.  I do think things can have masculine or feminine energies, as I do with the elements, but I don't have the belief in deities as entities in themselves, to me at this point they are a representative of different energies.  I doe believe in drawing energies as in a circle, magic, that sort of thing although I haven't done it.  

I have done meditation and found a spirit guide in the form of a grizzly bear called Jupiter.  He has been with me for a few years now.  I also met another, a lady called Amaya who I have not talked with as often, but she doesn't come to me very often at all, I don't feel like I know her at all yet, she feels like she is of American Indian origin which I find very odd, as I really have no knowledge of or interaction with them, I am Australian with Western European ancestors and I have most of the little knowledge I do have based in the Celtic and Norse beliefs.  

I have used tarot and oracle cards, I have tried to use runes, but they have only been bought sets, I haven't made my own and tried to use them yet, but I don't think I know enough about them yet anyway, I would love to know more about ogham too.    

 I believe in crystal and their energies and ability to heal, I am starting to believe in the paranormal because of a few weird things that have happened.  I know there is more but can't think of what else to say at the moment.

So I don't know where I stand in my path, what sort of path I may be leaning towards, what I should be looking to learn next, but I would love some guidance.  I have come into contact with a pagan group locally which I would like to join, they seem like a nice group of people and I know I could learn a lot from them but I don't want to feel like an imposter as I don't have the same beliefs as they do, even if I am interested.  Something they are doing next year is a series of goddess worship workshops which I would be interested in, just from a learning standpoint, but I wouldn't want to be a hindrance in the more practical parts if it includes more practical parts like casting a circle which I have never done before and am not sure if I believe in.

Sorry if this is a bit ramble and doesn't make a lot of sense or if I have offended anyone.  But I would be very grateful for any replies and thoughts.

Valentine

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #1 on: December 04, 2011, 10:40:39 pm »
Quote from: Faylie;33129
I have been wandering spirituality for a while, I wouldn't say I practice anything yet, I am still learning and feel like I am only at the very beginning of that.  

I believe that all things have energies that we can draw on, give our own energy to.  I do think things can have masculine or feminine energies, as I do with the elements, but I don't have the belief in deities as entities in themselves, to me at this point they are a representative of different energies.  I doe believe in drawing energies as in a circle, magic, that sort of thing although I haven't done it.  

I have done meditation and found a spirit guide in the form of a grizzly bear called Jupiter.  He has been with me for a few years now.  I also met another, a lady called Amaya who I have not talked with as often, but she doesn't come to me very often at all, I don't feel like I know her at all yet, she feels like she is of American Indian origin which I find very odd, as I really have no knowledge of or interaction with them, I am Australian with Western European ancestors and I have most of the little knowledge I do have based in the Celtic and Norse beliefs.  

I have used tarot and oracle cards, I have tried to use runes, but they have only been bought sets, I haven't made my own and tried to use them yet, but I don't think I know enough about them yet anyway, I would love to know more about ogham too.    

 I believe in crystal and their energies and ability to heal, I am starting to believe in the paranormal because of a few weird things that have happened.  I know there is more but can't think of what else to say at the moment.

So I don't know where I stand in my path, what sort of path I may be leaning towards, what I should be looking to learn next, but I would love some guidance.  I have come into contact with a pagan group locally which I would like to join, they seem like a nice group of people and I know I could learn a lot from them but I don't want to feel like an imposter as I don't have the same beliefs as they do, even if I am interested.  Something they are doing next year is a series of goddess worship workshops which I would be interested in, just from a learning standpoint, but I wouldn't want to be a hindrance in the more practical parts if it includes more practical parts like casting a circle which I have never done before and am not sure if I believe in.

Sorry if this is a bit ramble and doesn't make a lot of sense or if I have offended anyone.  But I would be very grateful for any replies and thoughts.


There are no stupid questions!

I do wonder, though, why you would want to be some flavor of pagan without any particular interest in the tenets or divinities of any of the standing pagan religions.  (There are quite a few different religions under the "pagan" umbrella.  Some of them don't have very distinct concepts of deity, and some have very sharply defined notions.  Some involve mystical or witchcraft/folk magic practices like you're describing, and some don't.)  The beliefs and practices you've described all seem to work quite well under a sort of vague New Age banner, and there's nothing wrong with that.  You don't have to be pagan to do ritual magic or witchcraft or divination or communicate with spirits.

I guess my question in response to your question is:  What about "paganism" attracts you?  What are you hoping to get out of it?
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Faylie

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2011, 12:10:45 am »
Quote from: Valentine;33143
There are no stupid questions!

I do wonder, though, why you would want to be some flavor of pagan without any particular interest in the tenets or divinities of any of the standing pagan religions.  (There are quite a few different religions under the "pagan" umbrella.  Some of them don't have very distinct concepts of deity, and some have very sharply defined notions.  Some involve mystical or witchcraft/folk magic practices like you're describing, and some don't.)  The beliefs and practices you've described all seem to work quite well under a sort of vague New Age banner, and there's nothing wrong with that.  You don't have to be pagan to do ritual magic or witchcraft or divination or communicate with spirits.

I guess my question in response to your question is: What about "paganism" attracts you?  What are you hoping to get out of it?

 
I'll start with the easier questions; what about "paganism" attracts you?
I like the earth aspects of it, the elements, being close to nature, the small rituals, the dedication.
 
What are you hoping to get out of it?  
Guidance, peace, spiritual growth, knowledge, wisdom, self discovery.

I don't think I am against deities, it's more that I feel like a lot of the ceremony that is often in books where they are included about the different sect's rituals feels more show than substance.  I think I am a bit of a natural sceptic, I need to feel / see them before I can believe, which I think in something like this isn't easy.  There have been things that have made me start to wonder and question, but I don't think I am to the point of belief so at the moment I prefer to say I don't believe and say how it is for me at the moment, even if it does change.   I would like to be convinced otherwise, but I do wonder if it is more of a case in which you have to believe before they will show themselves to you.  Can you ask them if they exist or will they just laugh and think if you doubt then why should they waste their time with you?  If so, how do you ask?  

Sorry, I am feeling really foolish and like I must be rather frustrating here, but  I do want to learn, even if it isn't something that I believe now or if I never do it has interested me for a very long time, I have just never really taken it further than reading and one or two little things which I haven't really asked for anything, (one was simply a way for me to honour the passing of a cat) as I haven't been sure of my beliefs.  

Thank you for replying and I hope I am not coming across as a waste of time for you.

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2011, 01:28:04 am »
Quote from: Valentine;33143
I guess my question in response to your question is:  What about "paganism" attracts you?  What are you hoping to get out of it?


Because things of the non-deific have called me.  Very much not gods, or anything with the kind of scope described by folks who work with deities, but (to my meager human eye) powerful nonetheless, and worthy of honor and reverence.

Quote
I do wonder, though, why you would want to be some flavor of pagan without any particular interest in the tenets or divinities of any of the standing pagan religions.


Sometimes there's a new religion (or system of beliefs, or whatever).  Sometimes people are called to things that aren't attached to an existing paradigm.  Sometimes people create a framework for these beliefs.  And sometimes they fall under the broad umbrella of neopaganism.

Brina

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2011, 02:12:57 pm »
Quote from: yewberry;33149
Because things of the non-deific have called me.  Very much not gods, or anything with the kind of scope described by folks who work with deities, but (to my meager human eye) powerful nonetheless, and worthy of honor and reverence.

Sometimes there's a new religion (or system of beliefs, or whatever).  Sometimes people are called to things that aren't attached to an existing paradigm.  Sometimes people create a framework for these beliefs.  And sometimes they fall under the broad umbrella of neopaganism.

Brina

 
Brina, I know these things.  I wasn't asking hostile or rhetorical questions.  I was genuinely trying to sound out what the original poster was looking for and what their own answers to these questions were, because that's relevant.  Some people want to start a new belief system, some people want to join an existing one; some people want to fit into something established, and some feel fine going it relatively alone; and as I said in my post, there are pagan-y traditions and belief systems that don't do deity, really, but I wasn't sure if the OP was asking 'Is there a deityless way I could do this?' or 'Is belief in deities a test for membership?' or 'Which flavor of neopaganism would fit best to what I already do?' or 'I don't have this experience but would like to, thoughts?'  
I wanted to ask what the original poster wanted, because that affects what information is most helpful to provide.
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Valentine

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2011, 02:26:48 pm »
Quote from: Faylie;33146
I'll start with the easier questions; what about "paganism" attracts you?
I like the earth aspects of it, the elements, being close to nature, the small rituals, the dedication.
 
What are you hoping to get out of it?  
Guidance, peace, spiritual growth, knowledge, wisdom, self discovery.

I don't think I am against deities, it's more that I feel like a lot of the ceremony that is often in books where they are included about the different sect's rituals feels more show than substance.  I think I am a bit of a natural sceptic, I need to feel / see them before I can believe, which I think in something like this isn't easy.  There have been things that have made me start to wonder and question, but I don't think I am to the point of belief so at the moment I prefer to say I don't believe and say how it is for me at the moment, even if it does change.   I would like to be convinced otherwise, but I do wonder if it is more of a case in which you have to believe before they will show themselves to you.  Can you ask them if they exist or will they just laugh and think if you doubt then why should they waste their time with you?  If so, how do you ask?  

Sorry, I am feeling really foolish and like I must be rather frustrating here, but  I do want to learn, even if it isn't something that I believe now or if I never do it has interested me for a very long time, I have just never really taken it further than reading and one or two little things which I haven't really asked for anything, (one was simply a way for me to honour the passing of a cat) as I haven't been sure of my beliefs.  

Thank you for replying and I hope I am not coming across as a waste of time for you.

 
You're not being foolish or frustrating at all!  These are important questions worth asking, and you've stated some goals and interests that are perfectly valid.  There's nothing wrong with not knowing everything yet, and skepticism is a totally valid and respectable standpoint.  
(I know I can sometimes be a bit of a snarkerton outside the beginner areas of this board, but there's no shame in being a beginner at anything.  Religions that don't have beginners fade and die.)

In my experience...it's not that you have to believe in something to run into it, whether it's dead folk or nature spirits or what we might call Gods?  Sometimes they're just there and brook no argument about it?  But the universe talks to us in our own language, a lot of the time.  

I have a dear friend who's Christian and she and I could experience the same phenomenon--and do, often enough--but she'll perceive it as her particular God communicating with her, and I'll perceive something else.  Rather than assume the other is "wrong" about what she's seeing, we just understand that whatever it is we're talking to, it leads us both to be better kinder people who do good work in the world, and, as her favorite fellow said once, you shall know a tree by its fruit.

We're in conversation with the universe all the time, whether or not the universe has anything like a God or a spirit in it, and I think our mediating frameworks matter:  everything we learn or interact with is filtered through the fact that it's us doing the interacting.  So openness to something existing might mean it's a face that will show up when you're trying to understand infinite things, if that makes sense, and at the same time, there's no problem with seeing it differently.

My wife is a nontheist.  (She's not quite an atheist.  More an agnostic who's never had what she'd call an experience of deity, or even of noncorporeal spirits like ghosts, but is open to believing that I have.)  To her, the universe speaks in terms that don't include those things, and she interprets the universe in those terms.  And that's fine!  She and I respect each other enough to recognize that we're both having valid experiences of the world, and that it's natural for us to see the world from different angles because we're very different people.  Maybe the world tells her what she needs to know through her experience of her art, and tells me by sending a jackal-headed God with a terrific deadpan, and we're both living in true worlds.  Does that make sense?
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yewberry

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2011, 03:10:10 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;33195
Brina, I know these things.  I wasn't asking hostile or rhetorical questions.


And I was simply answering your questions per my own experience as a non-deity-worshiping pagan.  You read tone where there was none.

Brina

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2011, 03:35:38 pm »
Quote from: Faylie;33129
There are lots of pagan paths and groups that don't include deities.  The greater pagan community is pretty broad and covers a lot of ground and a wide span of belief systems.

There are groups that view deity as an impersonal energy, those who view gods as being archetypes that exist primarily in our subconscious, and there are those who view the gods as very real discreet beings.  There are also those who have beliefs ranging all up and down the worship scale.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2011, 05:20:24 pm by SunflowerP »
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Maps

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2011, 05:23:01 pm »
Quote from: Fagan_the_Pagan;33203
There are lots of pagan paths and groups that don't include deities.  The greater pagan community is pretty broad and covers a lot of ground and a wide span of belief systems.

There are groups that view deity as an impersonal energy, those who view gods as being archetypes that exist primarily in our subconscious, and there are those who view the gods as very real discreet beings.  There are also those who have beliefs ranging all up and down the worship scale.

 
Those are more along the lines of what I believe as far as "god" goes. Everything else are manifestations of parts of the cosmic machinery and cannot operate outside of it, though the universe is vast enough to the point where it might appear that things like magic and the supernatural can.

I think it's entirely possible, and it seems like there are lots of people that already do consider themselves pagans that don't believe in deity. I guess, from a philosophical standpoint, you would be relying much more on yourself, the land, and the forces of nature for energy/power/what have you.

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2011, 06:30:37 pm »
Quote from: Maps;33219
Those are more along the lines of what I believe as far as "god" goes. Everything else are manifestations of parts of the cosmic machinery and cannot operate outside of it, though the universe is vast enough to the point where it might appear that things like magic and the supernatural can.

 
I don't think of the gods, magic, and the "supernatural" as being "outside the cosmic machinery" at all.  I don't think they can actually BREAK THE RULES, they just know the game better, and know how to USE the rules in ways we don't.
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Maps

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #10 on: December 05, 2011, 08:10:03 pm »
Quote from: Fagan_the_Pagan;33234
I don't think of the gods, magic, and the "supernatural" as being "outside the cosmic machinery" at all.  I don't think they can actually BREAK THE RULES, they just know the game better, and know how to USE the rules in ways we don't.

 
Personally, I have a really hard time calling an entity like that a "god". I mean, not that I care what terms others use in reference to the recipients of their worship and veneration, but in my individual reality it doesn't work. At least, as far as I can tell~

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #11 on: December 05, 2011, 09:17:39 pm »
Quote from: Maps;33252
Personally, I have a really hard time calling an entity like that a "god". I mean, not that I care what terms others use in reference to the recipients of their worship and veneration, but in my individual reality it doesn't work. At least, as far as I can tell~

 
Do gods for you have to be omnipotent?  I just see lots of gods with various spheres of influence, and obviously they can't ALL be omnipotent.  I personally think that "God" (capital G) is the sum of the universe.  It may or may not have consciousness, but I don't see it as SEPARATE from the universe.  All the gods we know of, from the Olympians to the Aesir & Vanir, from the Tuatha de Danaan to YHWH are "gods" (lower-case g).  They have power in various realms, and different amounts of it, but QUALITATIVELY they are all the same.  Gods are advanced beings more powerful than us, but they are still a part of the universe and must abide by its laws.
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Maps

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2011, 09:28:43 pm »
Quote from: Fagan_the_Pagan;33267
Do gods for you have to be omnipotent?  I just see lots of gods with various spheres of influence, and obviously they can't ALL be omnipotent.  I personally think that "God" (capital G) is the sum of the universe.  It may or may not have consciousness, but I don't see it as SEPARATE from the universe.  All the gods we know of, from the Olympians to the Aesir & Vanir, from the Tuatha de Danaan to YHWH are "gods" (lower-case g).  They have power in various realms, and different amounts of it, but QUALITATIVELY they are all the same.  Gods are advanced beings more powerful than us, but they are still a part of the universe and must abide by its laws.


I haven't decided, to be honest!

If you'd like to get more into it with the whole no-deity stuff, there's this: http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?146-Deism-theism-panentheism-combinations-thereof

I'm afraid of hijacking the OP's thread, haha. Though I guess, Faylie, heading over there might give you a little insight too?

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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2011, 09:48:11 pm »
Quote from: Maps;33269
If you'd like to get more into it with the whole no-deity stuff, there's this: http://www.ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?146-Deism-theism-panentheism-combinations-thereof

 
A yes, I posted something there a while ago, but I guess there is always more detail to go into.
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Re: Can you be pagan and not believe in deities?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2011, 10:31:16 pm »
Quote from: Fagan_the_Pagan;33267
Do gods for you have to be omnipotent?  I just see lots of gods with various spheres of influence, and obviously they can't ALL be omnipotent.

 
The whole omnipotence/omniscience thing is something that I think only the monotheistic gods (and occasional branches of polytheistic systems that approach monotheism from a funny angle) actually claim.

I was actually once asked by an atheist "What's the point in worshipping a god that isn't omnipotent?"  I was too flabbergasted to come up with a response to something that alien.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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