Jump to content
Galaemar Laerareon

Welcome Guest!

Welcome to UK Pagan; The Valley

Like most online communities we require you to register for an account before we give you access to read and post.

Only a small number of our forum areas can be read without registering for an account.

Please consider supporting us to help keep our Website and Facebook groups online. Become a Patron!

Basic Points About Paganism


Guest Yarrow
 Share

Recommended Posts

[i have put this in starters orders as I thought that it could be useful for people new to Paganism. I wrote this to be used as a handout when giving a ‘What is Paganism?’ presentation at the Earthier Religions Society at uni (basically a Pagan society - I strongly disapprove of the societies name and pentacle logo, and I do let this be known). When printed it fits on a single A4 sheet of paper. I have written a single paragraph for each point which have been kept concise so that the reader does not feel put off by a large wall of text. Each paragraph has a heading stating what it is about and the key point of the paragraph is highlighted in bold, thus at a glance the reader get some idea of Paganism. On the second page is a recommended reading list and websites, these more or less reflect my tastes in reading material and will be adjusted once I have had input from others. My non-Pagans flatmates who read it found it informative, and the Pagans in the society liked it with some suggesting that I write for the society website. So what do people here think?]

 

 

What is Paganism?

 

Paganism (also called neo-paganism) is a modern religious movement that draws inspiration from pre-Christian and non-Christian religious cultures as well as folklore, mythology, anthropology and a variety of other sources. It is this binds that Paganism together as one religion, not a shared scripture or theology. There are many denominations of Paganism such as Druidry, witchcraft, Wicca, shamanism and Asatru to name just a few.

 

Origins of the word ‘pagan’

 

It is commonly held that the origin of the word ‘pagan’ is ‘paganus’ meaning ‘country-dweller’ however the French scholar Pierre Chuvin argues that the notion that the word ‘pagan’ meant ‘country-dweller’, despite the romantic imagery, could not work as when the word was coined most town-dwellers were pagan. Instead, he argues that the word means followers of the religions of the ‘pagus’ or locality i.e. the old, rooted faiths instead of the new universal one (Christianity).

 

Paganism and Nature

 

Paganism is often labelled as a ‘nature religion’. Although some Pagans describe themselves as worshiping or revering Nature, ‘nature religion’ in the above context does not refer to this nor is ‘nature’ being used to refer to the dualistic view of nature being all that which is not man-made and urban. Instead ’nature’ is being used to refer to the physical life and world as opposed to the divine or transcendental realties that tend to be the focus of many other religions; as put by Graham Harvey: “Paganism is a ‘nature religion’ because it is defined by practices that root people in ‘nature’ - the physical, sensual worlds within which human are embodied participants. Belonging and behaving appropriate are prioritized rather than, as in some other religions, anticipating a postulated alternative spiritual reality”.

 

Paganism and Gods

 

Attitudes regarding gods and the divine vary greatly Pagans can be just about anything whether it be theist, polytheist, pantheist, animist, agnostic or even atheist. There is also variation amongst those who believe in gods with regard as to what gods are; some see gods as literal beings whereas others regard them as symbolic archetypes created by the human conscious whilst still performing acts of devotion to them.

 

Paganism and Magic

 

Within Paganism there is a widespread, but not universal belief in what is called ‘magic’; this is sometimes spelled ‘magick’ in order to differentiate it from the stage show variety. Conceptions as to what magic is, what it is used for, and how it functions vary amongst Pagans as does the importance placed upon magical practice. For some it is central whereas for others magic plays a minor role, or even have no belief in magic what so ever.

 

Paganism and the New Age

 

It is often assumed that Paganism is part of the New Age. Paganism is a diverse religion that draws from many different sources of inspiration; it is not part of the New Age movement although it may draw from some of the same sources of inspiration. Pagans are often critical of the New Age and the ways in which differs from Paganism are numerous. Perhaps one of the most significant differences is the New Age places emphasis on the idea that the world’s meaning is to be found in spiritual realities, whereas Paganism emphasizes the this-worldly, with the spiritual as embedded in nature; the living sensual world is integrated with the spiritual not denigrated in the latter’s favour.

 

[on page 2]

 

Recommended Reading

 

Contemporary Paganism: Listening People Speaking Earth by Graham Harvey

 

Introduction to Pagan Studies by Barbara Jane Davy

 

Triumph of the Moon: A History of Modern Pagan Witchcraft by Ronald Hutton

 

Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain by Ronald Hutton

 

Witches, Druids and King Arthur by Ronald Hutton

 

Shamans: Siberian Spirituality and the Western Imagination by Ronald Hutton

 

Druids by Ronald Hutton

 

Blood and Mistletoe: The History of the Druids in Britain by Ronald Hutton

 

Ten Years of Triumph of the Moon Ed. by Dave Evens and Dave Green

 

Pagan Paths by Pete Jennings

 

Way of Wicca by Vivian Crowley

 

What do Druids believe? by Philip Carr-Gomm

 

Websites

 

The Pagan Federation: http://www.paganfed.org

 

The Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids: http://www.druidry.org

 

The Wild Hunt: http://wildhunt.org/blog

 

The Witch’s Voice: http://www.witchvox.com

 

BBC Religion: Paganism: http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/paganism

 

The Druid Network: http://druidnetwork.org

 

The Troth (Asatru): http://www.thetroth.org

 

Foundation for Shamanic Studies: http://www.shamanism.org

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Please consider supporting us to help keep our Website and Facebook groups online.

OK

 

But no one should read the above as definitive.

 

Its just one of the many views that have been, are and will be expressed here.

 

Yarrow I think you are very well aware that many of us here will not agree with this declaration but the starter forum is no place for contentious issues or argument.

 

It might be better moved to where it can be debated without alarming newcomers and first time enquirers.

 

I [without any authority] invite enquirers to look at the threads that precede this one in the Starter Forum.

Edited by Moonsmith
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I'm going to disagree :D. Not about Yarrow's post - that's something I don't agree with - bits of it anyway - but I'm quite relaxed about debating in the Starters' Orders forum. After all, if we agree that there is no "definitive" in Paganism, how can we expect the Starters Orders to be representative of that unless we debate and allow people to make up their own minds? :) :D

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the problem I have spotted is the difficulty of using religion and athiesm within the umbrella of paganism. Many people associate religion with gods etc and not athiesm. Not that I actually disagree with you its just that as newcomer it might sound confusing or at least challenge how they define relgion fr themselves.

 

Its strong point is that there is an emphasis on diversity within the umbrella term 'paganism'. I also like how you have tried to dispelsome of the confusion surrounding paganism and I think you could develop that more, although obviously that would increase the word length, which may or may not suit your purpose.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK

 

Then as this particular forum is our shingle:

 

I will point out to the new enquirer that should they wish to join us they will find long debates about whether or not Paganism is a religion or a religious organisation. I am amused by the words organisation and Paganism appearing together; please that is not in the least spiteful it is a reflection of one of the much loved and most frustrating aspects of Paganism :)

They will see that we are not agreed, with large factions on both sides of the discussion. They will see that we are able to discuss everything openly and remain friends throughout.

 

They will find exciting threads led and answered by those who DO hold many and widely dispersed religious views. They will find an equal balance of those who do not.

Edited by Moonsmith
Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK

 

But no one should read the above as definitive.

 

Its just one of the many views that have been, are and will be expressed here.

 

Yarrow I think you are very well aware that many of us here will not agree with this declaration but the starter forum is no place for contentious issues or argument.

 

It might be better moved to where it can be debated without alarming newcomers and first time enquirers.

 

I [without any authority] invite enquirers to look at the threads that precede this one in the Starter Forum.

374673[/snapback]

 

Would you have preferred that I just bombard people with ‘do what feels right for you’ (which I always thought was bad advice), ‘follow your intuition’, ‘be true to yourself’ etc?

 

I'm going to disagree :D. Not about Yarrow's post - that's something I don't agree with - bits of it anyway - but I'm quite relaxed about debating in the Starters' Orders forum. After all, if we agree that there is no "definitive" in Paganism, how can we expect the Starters Orders to be representative of that unless we debate and allow people to make up their own minds?  :)  :)

374675[/snapback]

 

Care to volunteer as to what is you disagree with? It is important that what I write is fairly representative but to do this I need to know what you and others have to say. My attitude is (this is not aimed at you Pom, it’s just a general statement) that if you don’t stand up and be counted then don’t bitch and moan when you’re not represented.

 

I think the problem I have spotted is the difficulty of using religion and athiesm within the umbrella of paganism.  Many people associate religion with gods etc and not athiesm.  Not that I actually disagree with you its just that as newcomer it might sound confusing or at least challenge how they define relgion fr themselves. 

 

Its strong point is  that there is an emphasis on diversity within the umbrella term 'paganism'.  I also like how you have tried to dispelsome of the confusion surrounding paganism and I think you could develop that more, although obviously that would increase the word length, which may or may not suit your purpose.

374684[/snapback]

 

Thank you. Keep in mind that it is a handout and part of a talk. If it causes confusion and the readers’ conception of ‘religion’ is challenged then the main goal of the handout has been achieved.

 

OK

 

Then as this particular forum is our shingle:

 

I will point out to the new enquirer that should they wish to join us they will find long debates about whether or not Paganism is a religion or a religious organisation.  I am amused by the words organisation and Paganism appearing together; please that is not in the least spiteful it is a reflection of one of the much loved and most frustrating aspects of Paganism  :D 

They will see that we are not agreed, with large factions on both sides of the discussion. They will see that we are able to discuss everything openly and remain friends throughout.

 

They will find exciting threads led and answered by those who DO hold many and widely dispersed religious views.  They will find an equal balance of those who do not.

374686[/snapback]

 

I had an enjoyable and insightful discussion with Animystic concerning the ‘is Paganism a religion’ issue. If you have not read it already you might want to hunt it down. I won’t go into detail here by my view can be summed up thusly:

 

Paganism is a religion = Paganism is an umbrella term

Religion = umbrella term

 

All the various paths ( Wicca, Druidry etc.) denote the denominations found within Paganism.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is actually one of the better efforts that I've seen in trying to summarise what's essentially a very disparate and difficult thing to delineate.

 

[i have put this in starters orders as I thought that it could be useful for people new to Paganism. I wrote this to be used as a handout when giving a ‘What is Paganism?’ presentation at the Earthier Religions Society at uni (basically a Pagan

society - I strongly disapprove of the societies name and pentacle logo, and I do

 

Do you? The thought of our being an "earthier religion" brought a smile to my face!

 

There are many denominations of Paganism such as Druidry, witchcraft, Wicca, shamanism and Asatru to name just a few.

 

If writing for a Ukanian audience, I wonder if Heathenism rather than Asatru would be more meaningful?

 

Within Paganism there is a widespread, but not universal belief in what is called ‘magic’[/b]; this is sometimes spelled ‘magick’ in order to differentiate it from the stage show variety. Conceptions as to what magic is, what it is used for,

 

Not sure whether I'd agree 100% with that one.

 

Historically, a "conjurer" was someone who used magic (as we understand it in a Pagan context today) in a social context - normally for seeking out lost or stolen objects, unbewitching, and the like. The first "stage conjurers" were satirising, in an era of growing "rationalism", beliefs in magic and its practitioners, something which was at first very daring, but later became the kind of stereotype that's familiar to us in a modern context, someone who uses sleight of hand to amaze us.

 

The social context of "magic" is what has varied over the centuries. I'm not aware that anyone before Crowley put a k on the end...

 

gwyn eich byd

 

Ffred

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This is actually one of the better efforts that I've seen in trying to summarise what's essentially a very disparate and difficult thing to delineate.

374710[/snapback]

 

Thank you Ffred

 

[i have put this in starters orders as I thought that it could be useful for people new to Paganism. I wrote this to be used as a handout when giving a ‘What is Paganism?’ presentation at the Earthier Religions Society at uni (basically a Pagan

society - I strongly disapprove of the societies name and pentacle logo, and I do

 

Do you? The thought of our being an "earthier religion" brought a smile to my face!

 

374710[/snapback]

 

Lol I had not realised that I had put Earthier Religions Society, it sound like the name of a mixed religions eco society (an idea maybe?). The society name is 'Earth Religions' not earthier, niether earth nor earthier describe or what the soiciety actually is or does.

 

There are many denominations of Paganism such as Druidry, witchcraft, Wicca, shamanism and Asatru to name just a few.

 

If writing for a Ukanian audience, I wonder if Heathenism rather than Asatru would be more meaningful?

374710[/snapback]

 

If giving a talk I can say about the Heathenism/Asartu thing. I chose to put Asatru and not Heathenism to reduce the chances of misinterpretation , to some people 'heathen' means 'secular atheist'.

 

Within Paganism there is a widespread, but not universal belief in what is called ‘magic’[/b]; this is sometimes spelled ‘magick’ in order to differentiate it from the stage show variety. Conceptions as to what magic is, what it is used for,

 

Not sure whether I'd agree 100% with that one.

 

Historically, a "conjurer" was someone who used magic (as we understand it in a Pagan context today) in a social context - normally for seeking out lost or stolen objects, unbewitching, and the like. The first "stage conjurers" were satirising, in an era of growing "rationalism", beliefs in magic and its practitioners, something which was at first very daring, but later became the kind of stereotype that's familiar to us in a modern context, someone who uses sleight of hand to amaze us.

 

The social context of "magic" is what has varied over the centuries. I'm not aware that anyone before Crowley put a k on the end...

374710[/snapback]

 

I'm talking about magic now and not it's history. Although I would very much like to.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If giving a talk I can say about the Heathenism/Asartu thing. I chose to put Asatru and not Heathenism to reduce the chances of misinterpretation , to some people 'heathen' means 'secular atheist'.

 

 

Asatru probably is better - Heathenry is becoming to mean "recon Asatru". Already we have heathens telling other heathens that they aren't proper heathens because they aren't recon-tru enough. (Yes I think it's stupid too ... & I say that as a recon heathen)

 

Marcus

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreeing with Fred. Definitely one of the better attempts..... and, if we're honest, there will ALWAYS be disagreements about one aspect or another when this kind of work is attempted. Indeed, it is my feeling that a final rider along the lines of 'not all Pagans will agree with all the information in this document' is a useful addition. :)

 

BB

 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agreeing with Fred. Definitely one of the better attempts..... and, if we're honest, there will ALWAYS be disagreements about one aspect or another when this kind of work is attempted. Indeed, it is my feeling that a final rider along the lines of 'not all Pagans will agree with all the information in this document' is a useful addition. :)

 

BB

 

Mike

374763[/snapback]

 

 

That's all it would have taken. :)

 

All the various paths ( Wicca, Druidry etc.) denote the denominations found within Paganism.

 

Ever told a Christian, Muslim or Buddhist Druid that? :lol:

Edited by Moonsmith
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If giving a talk I can say about the Heathenism/Asartu thing. I chose to put Asatru and not Heathenism to reduce the chances of misinterpretation , to some people 'heathen' means 'secular atheist'.

 

 

Asatru probably is better - Heathenry is becoming to mean "recon Asatru". Already we have heathens telling other heathens that they aren't proper heathens because they aren't recon-tru enough. (Yes I think it's stupid too ... & I say that as a recon heathen)

 

Marcus

374712[/snapback]

 

I think it's better to use Heathen/Asatru as I find that 'Heathen' tends to be used in the UK and 'Asatru' in the US. It may be that some people are using other hairsplitting definitions, but it's probably better to stick to the more general terms. :lol: Certainly, within the UK, I find Heathens do not (generally) nitpick about loremastery in the same way that is done in Asatru/the US. Obviously, other people's MMV, but that why ISTM to be better to use both terms. :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I had an enjoyable and insightful discussion with Animystic concerning the ‘is Paganism a religion’ issue. If you have not read it already you might want to hunt it down. I won’t go into detail here by my view can be summed up thusly:

 

Paganism is  a religion = Paganism is an umbrella term

Religion = umbrella term

 

All the various paths ( Wicca, Druidry etc.) denote the denominations found within Paganism.

374702[/snapback]

 

 

I totally agree with you here. This is how I view the "is Paganism a religion" issue. I personally don't specifically identify with Wicca, Odinism, Druidry etc, my views are very eclectic... almost bits from many... as such I use the wider definition of Pagan and Paganism to describe my beliefs.

 

As for Paganism being an organisation, that is almost a ridiculous idea (in my view), as in my experience/opinion it is almost the opposite! :lol:

 

I mean other than the obvious like the PF, there is very little in the way of organised anything!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

As for Paganism being an organisation, that is almost a ridiculous idea (in my view), as in my experience/opinion it is almost the opposite! ;)

 

I mean other than the obvious like the PF, there is very little in the way of organised anything!

375259[/snapback]

 

Perhaps we should use a new collective noun for Pagans- a 'Disorganisation of Pagans'

has a certain ring to it. :o_embarrased:

 

BB

 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps we should use a new collective noun for Pagans- a 'Disorganisation of Pagans'

375374[/snapback]

 

Sorry Mike, I have to disagree with you. Not because you are wrong, but because we are both Pagan.............. so I literally have to disagree with you (even if I don't).

 

Mike

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If giving a talk I can say about the Heathenism/Asartu thing. I chose to put Asatru and not Heathenism to reduce the chances of misinterpretation , to some people 'heathen' means 'secular atheist'.

 

 

Asatru probably is better - Heathenry is becoming to mean "recon Asatru". Already we have heathens telling other heathens that they aren't proper heathens because they aren't recon-tru enough. (Yes I think it's stupid too ... & I say that as a recon heathen)

 

Marcus

374712[/snapback]

 

:) As one of those recon Heathens, I have to say that recon is very much misunderstood by non-recons. It's not so much a case of nitpicking about loremastery as just wanting some honesty from the community in general about rituals and beliefs. We don't care if a group uses the hammer rite because they like it or believe that they're going to go to their patron's hall after death - just so long as those folks don't try to pass their ritual or beliefs off as being ancient in some way. There is nothing wrong with saying 'we know this isn't ancient, but it works for us/me.' We're just trying to do in Heathenry what Hutton has been doing in Paganism.

 

It's also not so much lore mastery either because we don't just look at the lore. We examine lore but also laws, legal documents, archaeological finds and contemporary accounts in order to try and glean as much of the worldview of that period as we can and then we either fit what we find into our lives or just decide to reject that from our group's or personal practice. It's more than just an academic exercise for us too, it's a passion and a form of respect to the people of the pre-Christian period to find out as much as we can about them and the way they saw the world rather than just engaging in the 'plug in and play' spirituality that's become so common nowadays. Rather than actually learning the worldview of the folk back then, too many folk simply just take it and apply it to their current worldviews...which, as products of modern, Judeo-Christian, urbanized culture, also tends to be modern, Judeo-Christian and urbanized.

 

A friend of mine said something about recon Heathenry that perhaps goes against what most people think of recon Heathenry but that I've found to be true as a recon:

 

"The beauty of Heathenry is really in the stark simplicity. The more one reads and becomes a "lore-whore", the more evident the simplicity of the world-view becomes."

 

Everyone things we complicate things, but we really don't. We just chop out the newage.

 

As for basic points about Paganism...kind of related but not really.

 

My friend (another one) asked how she could describe Paganism to her son's teacher as he had been asking. One of the folks that replied said 'tell him it's like hinduism but without the elephants'. I thought that was pretty awesome ;).

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Perhaps we should use a new collective noun for Pagans- a 'Disorganisation of Pagans'

375374[/snapback]

 

Sorry Mike, I have to disagree with you. Not because you are wrong, but because we are both Pagan.............. so I literally have to disagree with you (even if I don't).

 

Mike

375382[/snapback]

 

Sorry, but I think you're both wrong - it's an 'argument of pagans' :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Or as one of my Guncles says a Massengill of Pagans :) but he is quite cynical :)

 

 

Perhaps we should use a new collective noun for Pagans- a 'Disorganisation of Pagans'

375374[/snapback]

 

Sorry Mike, I have to disagree with you. Not because you are wrong, but because we are both Pagan.............. so I literally have to disagree with you (even if I don't).

 

Mike

375382[/snapback]

 

Sorry, but I think you're both wrong - it's an 'argument of pagans' ;)

375445[/snapback]

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think the problem I have spotted is the difficulty of using religion and athiesm within the umbrella of paganism.  Many people associate religion with gods etc and not athiesm.

374684[/snapback]

I think the mental challenge here is healthy. It reflects some of the not insignificant difficulties Buddhism has faced in the UK in terms of being recognised as a religion (for many years, Buddhist organisations were denied charitable status on the grounds of "religion" because they didn't fit the then current theist definitions in UK law)

 

I always held that theism and atheism are inadequate distinctions for encompassing the whole range of understanding that can be represented in neo-paganism (my understanding of animism for example, doesn't adequately fit in either box)

 

I had an enjoyable and insightful discussion with Animystic concerning the ‘is Paganism a religion’ issue.

374702[/snapback]

 

it was fun wasn't it :lol:

 

And for a broad perspective I think you have done an amazing job to fit that onto a sheet of A4. Any critique I could offer would only expand it, which I think would defeat the point ( I would like to see the argument that atheism and theism are not the only fruit expanded, for example, but hardly relevant in such a summary). I agree with the statement that

not all Pagans will agree with all the information in this document

374763[/snapback]

makes a useful rider. But all is quibble. Definitely one of the neatest summaries I've come across in a long time.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

yes, I think you are quite right, if used properly this hand out could bounce alot of conversation about - the sort of thing that i think is needed. so maybe its a strength. a sort of pause for thought and debate.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

A nice summary and if you would not mind I have been asked to to provide a talk on Paganism as part of my Youth Work, could I utilise that as the opener to my talk please? It would be an excellent jumping point :)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

  • Topics

  • Posts

    • Moonsmith
      I’ve posted a link (in links) to a BBC article in today’s news just to illustrate a bit of the colourful side of Paganism.  Perhaps it will do something to balance my prosaic take on the subject. i know little of Witchcraft but I enjoyed the article and like her approach.  
    • Ellinas
      👍 It's as good a position as any and better than quite a few.  
    • Stonehugger
      Yes, it was in Nettle's "Who are your deities?" thread. I said "I seem to have become an atheist. That was never my plan, but here I am." Veggiedancer later said it better than me - "I don’t exactly believe in deities as such. I think they come from  our minds. Archetypes, ways of identify or characterising the spirit/ magic/ life or whatever it is we sense around us. Ways our minds try to explain the unexplainable to us???"
    • Moonsmith
      I’m probably second guessing Nettle wrongly but it wasn’t all that long ago that you would have read posts about alters, magic, Shamanism, spells etc. I think it was either Teatimetreat or Drachenfach that had a hex on her handbag and her car.  When the car was stolen it crashed and the thief was caught. I agree and would very much like to see more of the colourful side of Paganism back here.  Quite right Ellinas.  I do not understand how anyone can claim to be Pantheist (or even pantheist) and atheist at the same time even though the most prominent Pantheists do exactly that.  As I’ve said elsewhere: why can’t they call themselves Panists.  The prefix “pan” means everything and everywhere as in “pandemic”.  The god’s name arose from the adjective so it wouldn’t necessarily mean a devotee of Pan. pee ess - it may be worth mentioning that there are a vast number of belief groups under the umbrella word Paganism.  Druids Witches, Polytheist and Shaman are only a small part of what the greater picture of Paganism depicts. Dunno and don’t care are probably the biggest groups.
    • Ellinas
      All the above, plus the impression of a preponderance of atheism is currently, as well as historically, inaccurate.  Certainly, I am no atheist.  I believe MS rejects the term as applicable to himself.  Stonehugger, I think, recently said he had headed in that direction, but I've not seen the other resident atheists for a while. However, our ideas of deity are not the same, necessarily.
×
×
  • Create New...