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Author Topic: Other Pagan: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar  (Read 243 times)

kale_crtz_2018

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Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« on: November 06, 2018, 10:40:13 am »
Hi all:

I have recently introduced myself on the appropriate forum.

I am someone from a very diverse religious/cultural background (mostly Abrahamic). I am beginner of sorts (in contacting people actually) interested in learning more about paganism; however, as someone who is preparing to enter academia I have collected a lot of information about historical pagan religions and/or religions of Indo-European peoples (and languages). I want to take the more humble route and just say that even though I have quite a lot of academic knowledge collected (and some limited research experience), I know next to nothing about practicing any kind of spirituality like these in the real world. I am a complete beginner.

I am drawn to Vedic (very), Celtic, and Germanic religions (and broadly Proto-Indo-European) as well as the Hindu Goddess tradition of Shaktism. Previously, I had some experience w/ New Orleans African traditions. I had a Semitic pagan/Israeli friend (romantic interest/partner) recently of Russian Jewish ethnicity (self-identified witch) who was a very interesting person. My grandmother's family were (Quaker, Baptist, Presbyterian, various, but left), yet they had beliefs from the Gaelic ancestors that made no sense in the context of Christianity. I am fascinated, confused, and puzzled, and wonder where they originated. Beliefs like reincarnation, spirits, necromancy. My cousin is a woman in her early 20s of Persian/Iranian ancestry in addition to our Celtic, and a medium and witch (she seems to have embraced these ideas, but none of us know where any of this originates?). So my interest is piqued.

I have tried out various traditions but to no success. I tend now to be very science-minded, skeptical, even materialist. My "theology" if you could call it that is Jungian-like and Vedic materialist. I will say I am 100% convinced that Jesus is not the Messiah, that the God of Abrahamic Faiths does not exist (nor any kind of Satan or devil; not interested at all in any form of Christianity or Satanism, theistic or otherwise or magic/magick/occultism).

This is not to put down anyone else's belief. My perspective is narrow and not really the definitive one, I understand.

The Goddesses/Gods/Devas to me are not supernatural beings, but the mind's way of conceptualizing the forces of nature and the human body that we were dependent upon for most of our history. The Devas to me are human relationships to nature given fertile ground in our minds conditioned by cognitive development and evolution. We have the perfect mind for belief, even now. I believe that even though this is a material world and nothing beyond, we should get back to the way we were in outlook toward nature and supposed higher beings, with modifications for modernity, science, and education. A natural way of living not based on rule based ethics, but standard based ethics is what I advocate. Sexuality that is free (consensual and life-affirming) and in line with human nature. Feminine. To me this kind of stance is the healthiest and we have beautiful music, practices, and cultures which elevate the mind.

As someone who is from a Creole background (and significant German, Scandinavian, and Celtic) I want to learn a bit about these kinds of subjects, and I welcome helpful comments and constructive criticism. I am concerned about some of the racism I see in today's world associated w/ pagan movements and I wondered if someone could address this.

I am looking for comments from beginners and more experienced individuals alike, and any information you could provide on what kinds of traditions may appeal to me. I am investigating several other religions un-related to paganism as well.

Is there anywhere in these religions for someone like me?

Thank-you for reading,

K

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2018, 12:33:31 pm »


Is there anywhere in these religions for someone like me?

Thank-you for reading,

K

Hi K, both my spouse and I are of the bloodline. In my opinion, paganism is most suitable for those who emulate gods/angels. We're entering the era where man creates god in his own image (born from fire), so I might suggest the move to something more modern and up-and-coming. There's a group that calls themselves 'Schrodinger's Other Cat' that you might be interested in. If you want to know more about the roots, then Yazidism is the perfect religion but you cannot convert nor marry into it.

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2018, 01:37:32 pm »
I am drawn to Vedic (very), Celtic, and Germanic religions (and broadly Proto-Indo-European) as well as the Hindu Goddess tradition of Shaktism.

Well, I am a Hindu, and I practice Sri-Vaisnavism, which is closely tied to the Shakti Godess tradition, and I used to practice Tantra directly, so I should be able to help you with that. I can also give you some insight into Vedic practices, as Hinduism retains a lot of them, and Vedic gods are still worshiped by many Hindus.

I have tried out various traditions but to no success. I tend now to be very science-minded, skeptical, even materialist. My "theology" if you could call it that is Jungian-like and Vedic materialist. I will say I am 100% convinced that Jesus is not the Messiah, that the God of Abrahamic Faiths does not exist (nor any kind of Satan or devil; not interested at all in any form of Christianity or Satanism, theistic or otherwise or magic/magick/occultism).

The Goddesses/Gods/Devas to me are not supernatural beings, but the mind's way of conceptualizing the forces of nature and the human body that we were dependent upon for most of our history. The Devas to me are human relationships to nature given fertile ground in our minds conditioned by cognitive development and evolution. We have the perfect mind for belief, even now. I believe that even though this is a material world and nothing beyond, we should get back to the way we were in outlook toward nature and supposed higher beings, with modifications for modernity, science, and education.

Well, I'm personally a pretty convinced theist, but there is precedent for an atheistic and materialistic view in the Indian religious tradition. The practical, praxic, day-to-day practice isn't particularly different either way; in Hinduism, what you do is far more important than what you believe.

I am looking for comments from beginners and more experienced individuals alike, and any information you could provide on what kinds of traditions may appeal to me. I am investigating several other religions un-related to paganism as well. Is there anywhere in these religions for someone like me?

Certainly. Hinduism is compatible with your beliefs, and many forms of paganism are as well. You don't have to be a theist to be involved with religious traditions.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

Eastling

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2018, 02:08:03 pm »
I want to take the more humble route and just say that even though I have quite a lot of academic knowledge collected (and some limited research experience), I know next to nothing about practicing any kind of spirituality like these in the real world. I am a complete beginner.

Time to get started! The advice I give most people is to pick a few simple rituals and start doing them regularly, even if it's just meditating for five minutes every day, or taking a spiritual purification bath once a week. You can always modify them later.

Quote
I have tried out various traditions but to no success. I tend now to be very science-minded, skeptical, even materialist. My "theology" if you could call it that is Jungian-like and Vedic materialist. I will say I am 100% convinced that Jesus is not the Messiah, that the God of Abrahamic Faiths does not exist (nor any kind of Satan or devil; not interested at all in any form of Christianity or Satanism, theistic or otherwise or magic/magick/occultism).

I don't think this has to be a problem. There are plenty of pagans who take a similar approach, including some on this board (I believe Altair, for example, is very into a more metaphorical practice). Personally I am an avowed believer due to my experiences in the past couple of years, but most people don't have my story.
Utterly Pure, a virtual shrine in progress to Ariadne; Someday Comes Back, my general mysticism/pop culture blog.
Everything dies, baby: that's a fact. But maybe everything that dies someday comes back.
--Bruce Springsteen
The words of Dionysos and Ariadne from the mouth of their beloved son: Rule with your heart; live with your conscience; love and be free.

kale_crtz_2018

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2018, 06:27:54 pm »
Well, I am a Hindu, and I practice Sri-Vaisnavism, which is closely tied to the Shakti Godess tradition, and I used to practice Tantra directly, so I should be able to help you with that. I can also give you some insight into Vedic practices, as Hinduism retains a lot of them, and Vedic gods are still worshiped by many Hindus.

Well, I'm personally a pretty convinced theist, but there is precedent for an atheistic and materialistic view in the Indian religious tradition. The practical, praxic, day-to-day practice isn't particularly different either way; in Hinduism, what you do is far more important than what you believe.

Certainly. Hinduism is compatible with your beliefs, and many forms of paganism are as well. You don't have to be a theist to be involved with religious traditions.

EnderDragonFire:

Thank-you for your kind and informative words.

I have quite a few temples in my area, and earlier this year I visited one associated with ISKCON. I spoke with some of the Sannyasi there. However, this tradition was not for me. It seemed interesting and the devotees were very balanced people unlike everything I have heard in my own tradition. I was able to speak with them about the Bhagavad Gita, which I benefit from reading (in the Sanskrit) and translating into poetic English for others to learn in my culture. The appeal seems to be far beyond the Indian Subcontinent for some, and the Vedic religion is very much connected to IE. I admire the people of India very much, and the fact that they have these traditions and often seem very willing to share them with foreign peoples (like me). In fact, the ISKCON temple was very diverse. Most visitors and residents were born Hindu and others adopted the ISKCON tradition from various cultures (and by extension a most of the Sanātana Dharma).

I will say that my perspective is that what the West calls Hinduism is not really one religion, but a group of religions (and as you indicate maybe not even religion in the Western understanding, but something identical to it, beyond, or qualitatively different, depending on one's perspective). That word 'religion' does not have a universal definition, even among scholars, as I learned as a university student studying world beliefs and practices. My Sikh and Hindu friends always tell me that it is a set of practices and way of life. As you know, 'Dharma' (a deity and concept) does not have a direct English translation, so therein lies the difficulty from the Western cultural perspective. However, pagans of the West (esp. Lithuanian and Latvian pagans) share quite a lot with Hinduism in terms of ritual and theology due to early PIE roots.

Shaktism is to me a perennial philosophy, containing both elements of IE religion (Vedic and otherwise) and elements of Indian philosophy and religion before the coming of the IE peoples. Maybe more that is found in the human heart innately. Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy even have a version of Shaktism (and some Protestant Christians have a degree of this as well) by which the Mother of God is the direction of prayer in order to sway her Son. Catholics call it 'veneration' not worship, but in practice it resembles a kind of Goddess worship. I always had a strong relationship with the Madonna/Mary/Maria during my practice as a Roman Catholic. However, elements of the practice in Catholicism don't seem in accord with aspects of femininity in the natural world (what I am trying to get back to). Russian Orthodoxy has an even more intense devotion to Mary. I have known a few Wiccans over the years who became Roman Catholic due to the Marian elements.

While I respect the Sanātana Dharma as a distinct tradition arising from a great world culture, I feel all 'religion' is really the same manifestation of underlying cognitive and human material reality (thought of as a perennial philosophy). When illusion is discussed in some forms of belief, my philosophical-scientific understanding is that this does not refer to a simulation/matrix/spiritual curtain or dream, or something like that, but the illusion our minds, still evolving, thrown onto a world of non-supernatural, material reality and our perceptions of it that exists objectively, independently of the human species or mind. The Devas, Goddesses, Gods, etc. every spiritual force seems to me to be a very big part of us, our minds, brains, whatever. My own Epilepsy has taught me that much of what I call mind or spiritual experience has its origins in the brain and is not at all supernatural (but a natural, neuro-electrical-chemical process shrouded in mystery/mysticism and wonder).

In addition to the Vedic religion, PIE religion, various other IE religions, Shaktism and other later forms of Hinduism (and really all forms of belief and religion around all parts of the world, or lack of it), I have found a few teachers within these traditions that interest me (Sri Ramakrishna and several deities). I will be studying a lot of theology, philosophy, and science in the coming years.

I look forward to learning from you and I am open to sharing resources.

Best,

K

kale_crtz_2018

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #5 on: November 06, 2018, 06:29:35 pm »
Hi K, both my spouse and I are of the bloodline. In my opinion, paganism is most suitable for those who emulate gods/angels. We're entering the era where man creates god in his own image (born from fire), so I might suggest the move to something more modern and up-and-coming. There's a group that calls themselves 'Schrodinger's Other Cat' that you might be interested in. If you want to know more about the roots, then Yazidism is the perfect religion but you cannot convert nor marry into it.

Bellero:

Thank-you for sharing with me. Latin was one of my first ancient languages. I will investigate what you have mentioned.

Best,

K

kale_crtz_2018

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #6 on: November 06, 2018, 06:41:11 pm »
Time to get started! The advice I give most people is to pick a few simple rituals and start doing them regularly, even if it's just meditating for five minutes every day, or taking a spiritual purification bath once a week. You can always modify them later.

I don't think this has to be a problem. There are plenty of pagans who take a similar approach, including some on this board (I believe Altair, for example, is very into a more metaphorical practice). Personally I am an avowed believer due to my experiences in the past couple of years, but most people don't have my story.

Eastling:

Thanks for the direction. I appreciate the interest I have received today from so many.

Your story sounds very interesting. I appreciate the heretical Jewish perspective, as the woman who I was involved with was a Semitic Pagan from a Russian Jewish and Israeli background. I always felt that the Canaanite religion may be misrepresented in modern times. It is hard to look backward with modern eyes and judge. That is why it can be difficult to embrace every aspect of criticism of ancient religions from the atheist. Dawkins and his ideas have an important role in my opinion, but I feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding and a little too much vitriol for me at times. I am horrified by ideas and/or some stories from the Hebrew scriptures personally, but I am not sure of what was really going on there. My godfather in the Roman Catholic Church was a theologian who studied at Notre Dame in the PhD program and has a background in archeology and anthropology. He was fascinated with the Canaanite peoples and languages and I learned a lot from his research. I also studied Hebrew through a Protestant seminary with a professor from Hebrew Union College.

Regarding rituals, I am continuing research. But I do chant from the Vedas every morning in Sanskrit. Agnihotra and other forms of yajña are also something that may center my practice. I will also take your advice on meditation. My doctors have been wanting me to do that.

Do you have any suggestions on books to read or scriptures (esp. considering my background and present views)?

Best,

K

EnderDragonFire

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2018, 02:14:37 am »


Yeah, Hindusim is very diverse. There are many schools of thoughts, ritual traditions, and written texts within the umbrella that is Hinduism. I

As for ISKON, they are really great people, very friendly and helpful for beginners, but probably not the right denomination for an avowed skeptic or atheist. Their beliefs are based on something close to monotheism, and they are very much focused on worship and prayer, and personal theistic belief. ''

I was kinda-sorta Hindu before I encountered ISKON, but not really. I was mostly just appropriating symbols and ideas and constructing a religion based on what I read on Wikipedia. I wanted to be a Hindu, but I didn't really understand how,

It was only after I met ISKON missionaries that I started reading authentic Hindu religious texts and performing traditional Hindu religious practices. Without them, I never would have developer the practices I have right now; even though I ultimately ended up rejecting the ISKON interpretation of the Gita and other texts, I must nonetheless admit I wouldn't have found those text at all without their assistance.
"The worshippers of the gods go to them; to the manes go the ancestor-worshippers; to the Deities who preside over the elements go their worshippers; My devotees come to Me." ... "Whichever devotee desires to adore whatever such Deity with faith, in all such votaries I make that particular faith unshakable. Endowed with that faith, a votary performs the worship of that particular deity and obtains the fruits thereof, these being granted by Me alone." - Sri Krishna

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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2018, 09:16:34 am »
The Goddesses/Gods/Devas to me are not supernatural beings, but the mind's way of conceptualizing the forces of nature and the human body that we were dependent upon for most of our history. The Devas to me are human relationships to nature given fertile ground in our minds conditioned by cognitive development and evolution. We have the perfect mind for belief, even now. I believe that even though this is a material world and nothing beyond, we should get back to the way we were in outlook toward nature and supposed higher beings, with modifications for modernity, science, and education. A natural way of living not based on rule based ethics, but standard based ethics is what I advocate. Sexuality that is free (consensual and life-affirming) and in line with human nature. Feminine. To me this kind of stance is the healthiest and we have beautiful music, practices, and cultures which elevate the mind.

Eastling already talked about this a bit, but I think it might be worth calling out a bit more specifically.

One of the things about many modern Pagan religions is that they are centered on shared practice rather than shared belief.

For example, take a coven in religious witchcraft, a small group of people who have worked together closely over an extended period of time. Let's say there are 10 of them.

You can ask that group of ten people about their beliefs in the nature of deity, what happens after we die, how magic and ritual work, why they matter, and you will almost certainly get (at minimum!) ten different answers. Chances are pretty good that you'll actually get more like 15 or 20 or 30, with a lot of "It could be X, it could be Y, that's an interesting intellectual discussion, but I do this thing because it works for me."

This is really really weird for people coming out of creedal religions to figure out how to cope with, a lot of the time (especially Christianity).

Here's the thing, though: those people agree on what they're doing (like a group of people in a music group or theatre production agree on what they're there to to do, and sharing the same general approach.)

I am very much a polytheist: I have had direct meaningful interactions with multiple deities that have made me evaluate my life and make different choices, and ongoing relationships these days with more than a handful. But I've also been in circle (in a small group setting) with people who were coming at it from more or less your perspective. It worked fine, b

(There are some specific practices where it can be a little more complex: the ritual work that in witchcraft is referred to as Drawing Down The Moon in the form where the deity speaks through a priestess or priest, obviously does not make as much sense as a practice if you don't believe deities have independent expression.)
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Re: Interest/Ideas from a Beginner/Indo-European scholar
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2018, 02:44:21 pm »
I appreciate the heretical Jewish perspective, as the woman who I was involved with was a Semitic Pagan from a Russian Jewish and Israeli background. I always felt that the Canaanite religion may be misrepresented in modern times. It is hard to look backward with modern eyes and judge.

I generally don't look backward with modern eyes and judge. I have minimal influence from the ancient "Canaanite religion," since I was raised in modern reform Judaism. I do observe some cues from the fact that many ancient Jews (or proto-Jews, depending on your view) worshipped "the Queen of Heaven" despite the admonitions of the prophets, but that's about it. For the most part, i am influenced by modern Judaism.

Quote
That is why it can be difficult to embrace every aspect of criticism of ancient religions from the atheist. Dawkins and his ideas have an important role in my opinion, but I feel that there is a lot of misunderstanding and a little too much vitriol for me at times. I am horrified by ideas and/or some stories from the Hebrew scriptures personally, but I am not sure of what was really going on there.

It's worth noting here that Jewish people have been offering complex commentaries (which often come to different conclusions) on the "horrifying" stories from the Bible for many, many years.

Quote
Regarding rituals, I am continuing research. But I do chant from the Vedas every morning in Sanskrit. Agnihotra and other forms of yajña are also something that may center my practice. I will also take your advice on meditation. My doctors have been wanting me to do that.

That sounds like a good start. I have found that the most important thing is to have some kind of regular practice that suits you and your path, regardless of whether it lines up exactly with "the lore." Often we can't exactly match our individual pagan practices up with some kind of exactly attested ritual for it, and new seekers may let that stop them from trying anything at all. It's good that you're trying to apply your research to active rituals, even if they seem like small things. The littlest routine can build up into something strong and meaningful if you do it for long enough.

Quote
Do you have any suggestions on books to read or scriptures (esp. considering my background and present views)?

If you would like to learn more about Jewish mysticism in the modern day, I recommend The Essential Kabbalah by Daniel C. Matt. It may give you some perspective on how Jews over the ages have seen our stories and philosophies in a mystical light.

That said, I don't really have a lot of resources on Indo-European lore, since my Hellenic path nibbles at the edges of ancient Greek religion where non-IE influences crept in (my primary Powers from there being Aphrodite and Dionysos, who are generally not traced to IE sources the same way as most of the others are).
Utterly Pure, a virtual shrine in progress to Ariadne; Someday Comes Back, my general mysticism/pop culture blog.
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The words of Dionysos and Ariadne from the mouth of their beloved son: Rule with your heart; live with your conscience; love and be free.

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