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fizzyclare1

How Do You Explain Paganism - to someone who isn't.

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fizzyclare1

A person I know asked about my bf's pentacle and he declared he was pagan which nudged me into declaring I was (v. unusual for me, I hope I don't regret it).

 

Anyway, she was very nice about it but was very preoccupied with the word witchcraft and dark magic and white magic. bit frightening for her.

 

tried to reasurre her it was nothing to do with satanism. but was generally at a total loss at explaining something that was a really complex thing (although I did try to tell her there were many different paths and stuff).

 

Being so secretive (usually), I was at a bit of a loss as to what to say, any thoughts about what I might say next time i see her (because I am pretty sure she'll raise the subject again).

 

fizz

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Moonhunter

From what you say, she's more concerned about witchcraft than paganism? You could tell her that not all pagans are into witchcraft. That might lead into a genuine exploration of paganism, rather than witchcraft.

 

If she's really hung up on witchcraft, and isn't much interested in paganism, then she's probably more concerned with what you do. The only way round that is to ask her what concerns her, and try to talk about that.

 

One of my concerns with using terms such as "white" and "dark" is that it inevitably plants in people's minds a difference, and that there are therefore "good" and "bad" witches - more that there are "bad" witches out there. "Bad" witches = Satanism for a lot of people. To get round the Satanism thing, it's probably easier to explain that's a Christian thing i.e. pagans don't believe in the devil, like Christians, so the sort of thing portrayed in the media (if it exists at all - it's never been proved to exist), isn't paganism but more a sort of offshoot of Christianity. At any rate, it's not pagan.

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Guest pasher

There are just so many branches / varieties of paganism it is all but impossibe to explain just what it is.

I think Moonhunters reply is about as good as it gets without sitting with the person for a month, explaining every possible aspect of paganism.

It may be a good idea for you to print out a copy for her, of the introduction to paganism called "A Guide For Educators - You Have A Pagan Student In Your School" by Cecylyna Dewr, which I showed in my reply to Mothy's topic "Awkward, Know-it-all Brother" in the snug. ---HERE---

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Ffred_Clegg

I tend to start off by saying that Paganism has its roots in the pre-Christian European religions (which covers most of the field) but then go on to personalise it in terms of what _I_ do, rather than trying to come up with a common definition.

 

gwyn eich byd

 

Ffred

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Guest Kitchenwitch

There is a very good section in Kate West's The Real Witches Handbook. It is done in letter to a friend format but there are some good pointers in it. :unsure:

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Yarrow

When someone asks me to tell them about Paganism my answer can vary as it is dependant upon how much time I (and they) have, what I know about them (e.g. if they’re a sceptic, superstitious, religious etc.) and how interested/sincere they appear. How there are a few things I always say.

 

- I always begin by telling them that some things I tell them may be wrong; I can only speak of Paganism and its different branches in terms of my own subjective understanding and interpretation. I also tell then that amongst Pagans I can represent only myself and no one else; other Pagans may completely disagree with what I say.

 

- I explain that Paganism is an umbrella term that that covers such a wide variety of beliefs and spiritual systems that it is near impossible to pin down. I may also include what is a bit of my own thinking: There are as many varieties of Paganism as there are Pagan people; just as we are physically and mentally unique from one and other so we are spiritually* (depending on my mood I may throw in words like ‘solipsism’ and ‘existential reality’).

 

As it is a minority religion in the UK, whether I like it or not, when I discuss Paganism with people (who know I am Pagan) I become a representative Paganism and try to be conscious of this when regulating my behaviour; most of the time I am the first Pagan that many people have met and so naturally I seek to give them a good impression of Paganism.

 

I have yet to meet anyone who associated Paganism with Satanism so this has not been a problem for me. However, in my so far limited experience, there are two main problems that I have encountered. The first problem is when peoples first experience of Pagans has been the ,fluffy bunny/teen Wiccan, (by ‘fluffy bunny’ I mean the shallow sort of people who are Pagan for the sake of fashion, rebellion, being anti-Christian or getting attention, and believe every bit of pseudo-history they read in a book or on the internet then go on to rant at everyone about how Wicca is ancient, how all ancient people worshiped the goddess etc.) as I think I have said on a previous thread a friend of mine believed that all Pagans were of the fluffy bunny Wiccan kind before they met me. A second problem I have had is that many people have the set ‘stereotype’ of what a religion is i.e. it should have a God/gods, a clergy, it should lay claim to the ’truth’, it should have a ‘holy’ text, it should be dogmatic and it should be ancient, all its member should think alick and have the same beliefs - I think you get the picture) this makes it difficult in trying to get them to understand Paganism and/or take it seriously i.e. not treat it as though it is a passing fad or not ‘real’ (as if you can call any religion 'real').

 

In the end I usually say that I can only give them a limited view of the Pagan movement and that should they wish to find out more I recommend a few books (Ronald Hutton) and/or websites (BBC)

 

*at this point possibly going off on a tangent about how the idea that we should be all of the same religion with identical spiritual lives is wrong and that many religions (e.g. CofE) encourage a sort of ‘spiritual laziness’ in that they allow the individual to be of a religion without truly understanding or appreciating what it means to be of that religion (I met a girl who insisted she was Catholic because some priest performed a few rituals on her; she did not believe in God, Jesus, the bible or any of the teachings of Catholicism nor did she go to church yet somehow she was still a Catholic).

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Guest CornishShaman

Ive tried explaining it in the past, now I just dont bother!

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Guest Wulfric

It's not something that generally comes up in conversation, so I don't bother either.

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Guest Chorlton C. Hardy

I usually explain that I believe in lots of gods, and only worship some of them.

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Guest jape

I have more fun explaining it to so-called pagans and witches ... especially those who think it is a religion. It isn't. Never was, never will be and any who think it is rather undermine their own case of having the knowledge and ability to explain.

 

No-one ever asks me such questions, only those who are witches and are drawn or see what I am for themselves. That is the way I want it, so that is the way it is.

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Guest Birka

I don't.

 

If people actually ask it depends on the kind of person they are. If they are a bit of an idiot or if it's a pointless conversation I tell them it's got nothing to do with them and to mind their own. If they're pretty cool then I tend to just say that I follow a reconstructed form of Northern European Pre-Christian belief and link them to the Troth website or something.

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Guest Metacognition

I never usually discuss it these days, except with others who self-declare their fellowship.

 

If anybody asks me about my pentagram, my stock answer is that it "represents the Forces of Nature and the unity of everything", and then mention that I am an atheist.

 

I have an agree-to-disagree sort of thing with one of my best-friends and former flatmate after I lent him a book (which he "couldn't finish" because god told him not to read any further) which has convinced him that my belief system is evil.

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Guest Wulfric

I don't often wear my Thor's Hammer on display but when I do, or forget about it, most people when told it's a Thor's Hammer go "oh right," and loose interest, mainly because most people don't know what it is or represents.

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Guest cherryfalls

I normally say ''It's all about the elements!'' and leave it at that.

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Guest Quasizoid

I'd tell them to go to Iceland (and I don't mean some frozen food distributor) or the Canadian wilderness for that matter. It takes you back to that time of elementals as our ancestors understood them. A picture is worth a thousand words.

 

http://www.horolezec.cz/galery/a_gal_66/ic...galiceland.html

 

http://www.decadevolcano.com/photos/iceland/misc_1.htm

 

http://www.hickerphoto.com/canadian-wilder...50-pictures.htm

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Guest wolverine
I'd tell them to go to Iceland (and I don't mean some frozen food distributor) or the Canadian wilderness for that matter. It takes you back to that time of elementals as our ancestors understood them. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

 

http://www.horolezec.cz/galery/a_gal_66/ic...galiceland.html

 

http://www.decadevolcano.com/photos/iceland/misc_1.htm

 

http://www.hickerphoto.com/canadian-wilder...50-pictures.htm

238710[/snapback]

 

 

Stunning :rolleyes:

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Guest ~Rachel~

My mum recently asked me what is paganism. I tried explaining, but I couldn't. She thought I was part of a cult to begin with :P I gave her a shot of my Pagan Paths book by Pete Jennings... she still has it :rolleyes:

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Guest cherryfalls
I'd tell them to go to Iceland (and I don't mean some frozen food distributor) or the Canadian wilderness for that matter. It takes you back to that time of elementals as our ancestors understood them. A picture is worth a thousand words. 

 

http://www.horolezec.cz/galery/a_gal_66/ic...galiceland.html

 

http://www.decadevolcano.com/photos/iceland/misc_1.htm

 

http://www.hickerphoto.com/canadian-wilder...50-pictures.htm

238710[/snapback]

 

 

Thanks for those, they're beautiful

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Guest Lantern_Light

My usual answer is that there are lots of different sorts of pagans but that essentially its about honouring the turning of the year, recognising the seasons, loving and respecting nature and our planet, and finding and recognising a spiritual path or connection.

 

From there if they ask more questions i can usually explain better.

 

BBs LL

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Guest icebleu

I usually explain the spiritual side first. I am new to the pagan way of life and constantly got comments about devil worship, jumping around naked in woods etc..

 

I point out that paganism is the oldest religion and includes so many varations. It is about individual choice and our paths that flow together.

 

Once I start with this, they seem to understand. Have even found 2 converts..

 

Jay

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Guest wolverine
I usually explain the spiritual side first.  I am new to the pagan way of life and constantly got comments about devil worship, jumping around naked in woods etc..

 

I point out that paganism is the oldest religion and includes so many varations.  It is about individual choice and our paths that flow together.

 

Once I start with this, they seem to understand.  Have even found 2 converts..

 

Jay

242272[/snapback]

 

Nowt wrong with Devil worship :lol:

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Guest drakpete
A person I know asked about my bf's pentacle and he declared he was pagan which nudged me into declaring I was (v. unusual for me, I hope I don't regret it).

 

Anyway, she was very nice about it but was very preoccupied with the word witchcraft and dark magic and white magic.  bit frightening for her.

 

tried to reasurre her it was nothing to do with satanism.  but was generally at a total loss at explaining something that was a really complex thing (although I did try to tell her there were many different paths and stuff).

 

Being so secretive (usually), I was at a bit of a loss as to what to say, any thoughts about what I might say next time i see her (because I am pretty sure she'll raise the subject again).

 

fizz

231558[/snapback]

 

I just don't bother any more. Let 'em look it up on Wikipedia, are they stupid?!

If they are, I don't wanna talk to them, if they aren't they'll have looked it up.

And I'd take issue with your satanism point. Why not say "kick me in the teeth"? I'm not a satanist, nor would I recommend that path to anyone, but I do have more respect for them than for luv-bunnies.

 

-Peter

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Guest lilblu

 

It can be difficult sometimes. Some people can make you feel like you have to explain yourself!

Do Christians have to account for there beliefs? or Catholics? so why do we?

 

I believe each persons faith/beliefs are personal to themselves, with varying manifestations and interpretations unique to us all. Ask 50 "Pagans" and each answer will vary as it would with Christians, catholics ect.

 

Sorry if that sounds harsh but it can be tiring being treated like a weirdo sometimes.

 

Bright blessings to all

 

Lilblu.xx

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Guest Tappara
I don't.

 

If people actually ask it depends on the kind of person they are. If they are a bit of an idiot or if it's a pointless conversation I tell them it's got nothing to do with them and to mind their own. If they're pretty cool then I tend to just say that I follow a reconstructed form of Northern European Pre-Christian belief and link them to the Troth website or something.

237984[/snapback]

 

Yup me too short and sweet answer .. I have had to explain enough to various people down the years now I just can't be bothered to explain and ultimately end up defending my beliefs .. So I leave off the way and what and stick to the very basics. If they are interest enough there is loads of information on the Internet they can look up.

You tend to know the sort of people you can enter into a meaningful conversation about the subject.

Telling my mum was quite hard my grandmother was a chapel going, god fearing type.. bless her ;) . I chose to keep myself to myself until after she passed away. I think my grandmother would have been fetching the priest to perform an excersisum on me if I had told her. My mum still thinks I have joined some strange cult but I have convinced her I am not a Satanist .. which is nice. :D

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Guest maybell

Usally i just get bull shit, like everything is people are set in their ways they wont care what you say, i tend to say something along the lines of look if i as powerful and scary as you think i am do you really think us pagans wouldnt have taken over the world by now and do you really think if i could fire lightning bolts out of my arse you would be still standing their asking stupid questions.

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Guest Satanistwithwit

Satanism is bad. Who said that it was bad. I am a Satanist, I ain't bad.

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Snufkin

You do realise this thread is eight years old, don't you?

 

Also, nowhere in the thread does amyone say that satanism is bad... they are just explaining the problem of confusing Paganism with another religion.... for example if someone saw your inverted pentagram and assumed it was a star of David and believed you Jewish.

 

I think it may be a problem if you see persecution in every corner.

 

 

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Pomona

To be fair Snufkin, we do encourage thread necromancy ;)

 

But, indeed, SWW (you don't mind if I abbreviate your name do you?) - offence is not necessarily the best form of defence... Keep your powder dry, eh? :D

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