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I Joined Uk Pagan For Some Guidance


Guest Kitten
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I came to this forum hoping to get some guidance and advice, and to learn some new things.

Although I was brought up within a Roman Catholic church (my Mum is a non-practicing RC), and attened RC schools, it never felt completely right for me. From a young age I began to question and doubt the things I was taught in school and my part in traditions such as my First Holy Communion were purely ceremonial for me. A rite of passage, more than a decleration of my beliefs. But then, I was only a child.

Since I can remember I've known there is more to the world than the God I was taught about and felt in my heart that there is a broader picture. Many organised religions seem to put humans at the centre of the universe, which makes no sense to me...we're surely only one miniscule part of one incomprehensibly massive universe? I find it difficult to believe any sentient being/s that do/es exist care about little me - personally - and what I get up to.

I guess what I'm saying is that I'm going through a period at the moment where I'm grappling with my thoughts and beliefs and I'm unsure whether I have, inadvertently, set myself on the path of a paganistic following.

 

I don't find the idea of heaven or a promised land believable - I feel that all life is only borrowed for the time being and must always be returned eventually. Energy can't be destroyed - only recycled, exchanged - death is simply a changing of hands. In that sense, my body is only a shell and my life a precious gift that eventually must be given back. I don't think that after death I will go on to some other place - its all very confusing and I'm curious what others believe.

 

I'm aware that many of you believe in Gods. Who are these Gods? What do they do?

Many of you take part in ceremonies, rituals - I'd like to learn more!

 

Rambly post...sorry. I'm trying to find my way.

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A lot of what you’ve said sounds very familiar, to me and probably to many others here and elsewhere. I’ve said on another thread that for many new Pagans, the feeling of “coming home” is at times overwhelming, the relief of knowing that you’re not mad or bad, that there is another way and that you have found the path for “you” is quite incredible :)

 

Specifically you’ve asked about personal beliefs and Gods – well, we’ve a lot of threads on the subjects so I’m sure you’ll have plenty to mull over when you read through them, but I’m a hard polytheist animist witch, which, translated, means I believe that all the gods are distinct individuals, that all things in nature are alive, and I’m a witch. I’m loosely Religio Romana which means that the gods I honour are from the Roman pantheon. Many of us honour/ have attachments to the same gods, but we’ve a broad spectrum of pantheons and deities across the site, and what each God does varies from God to God as it would from person to person. So it’s impossible to answer your question about what they do – they’re all different and do different things, you’d need to narrow it down to specific deities for any kind of answer, and even then it’d be such a broad brush approach – the Gods have “jurisdictions”, main areas that they look after, but most Deities have a myriad of attributes and what they show to their humans depends on the relationship between the Deity and human.

 

The same (non) answer goes for the ceremonies and rituals – it depends on person to person, belief to belief. Not all Pagans believe in Gods – we’ve a fair few Atheist Pagans on the site, and not all Pagans participate in Rituals etc. It varies from person to person. For example, I do a ritual to Vesta every year, but I’m probably about the only person on the site who does, but many of us do something for Beltane. Or not. Depending on our path.

 

I know this is probably really unhelpful when you’re looking for a single “here’s what we believe” kind of reply, but it’s so vast and varied a response, you could do worse than immersing yourself in the Magick and Ritual, Gods and Goddesses, and Starters Orders forum, to get a real flavour of the vastness and variety of beliefs and practices which fall under the “Pagan” heading. :)

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Hello :) I have heard the book Pagan Paths by Pete Jennings recommended many times for people unsure of where they are headed or if they wish to be heading in a Pagan direction at all. My advice would be to learn as much as you can so you can make an informed choice, read lots on the forums and take your time choosing your path you may find one that speaks directly to you or you may find you prefer to take bits from many and form your own path. The beauty of Paganism is that there are no fast rules unless you wish there to be. I cannot advise on Goddesses or Gods as I am an atheist myself but if you search the forums there are many others views on them and maybe you'll find something that fits your own beliefs. Most of all enjoy the journey :) blessed be, Becky (i think we all ramble on here lol)

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As far as the gods are concerned... there's hundreds! Pagan is a broad term which, as a group, we still haven't really found a definition that we can all agree on. But suffice to say Pagan as a term encompasses, amongst other things, several ancient religions such as the beliefs of the Romans, the Greeks, the Norse, the Celts, the Druids... as well as several others, and more modern paths like Vodun and Wicca, all with their own deities, and some without. What the gods do,,, depends largely on which specific path, if any, a given Pagan follows (some are eclectic and blend faiths, others follow no path), whether their faith is reconstructionist or allows for more UPG, and so on! :D The same is true for ceremonies. A Wiccan circle would look very different, and be imbued with very different meaning, to a Heathen Blot.

 

The good news is, this is exciting! :o_viking: There are so many new things for you to learn and explore, and you're pretty well assured to find some path or blend of paths that suits your personal beliefs. There are even many Pagans who blend Christianity in with their faith, so if there are aspects of your upbringing that you do feel attached to, you needn't abandon them. Just ask my tarot-reading Irish-Catholic gran-in-law!

 

The bad news is, when you're first starting out, Paganism can kind of seem like the only religion with homework! Especially if you turn towards certain paths.

 

Your best bet is to have a browse of the forums, and check out various websites. There are sites dedicated to providing information about Pagan paths, sites where people post their own articles, there's podcasts and places like the Pagan Fed, the OBOD, Witchvox and more where you can get some information about different ways to be Pagan. Interestingly, the BBC has a section on their site giving a broad and basic introduction to paganism.

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Thanks for your detailed responses.

I would be lying if I said I didn't feel a little relieved when you mentioned athiest pagans. While I'm interested in Gods and Goddesses and their roles etc, I don't actually believe in such dieties and I wondered if there was such a thing as a pagan following that did not honor Gods. To me, Gods and Goddesses are simply a focal point on which to concentrate - like a personification or embodiment of the less sentient aspects of nature (who I refer to as The Great Mother, and everyone thinks I'm a mad hippy). I believe that dieties and such are simply focal points to help us comprehend and use more abstract concepts.

 

(I'd add here that obviously these are just my own notions and I appreciate everyone's are different and I don't want to discredit or undermine other's beliefs).

 

I like learning how people honor the Mother and her seasons. You mentioned Beltane - I attended a Beltane festival years ago and absolutely loved it. But I am unsure if I am actually doing anything of value...is there a particular way in which you should mark Pagan festivals? Must you mark them all? I suppose not.

On Halloween (a holiday I've always loved and felt is as special and not just "commercial American rubbish", as I've heard), I carved the names of lost loved ones into candles and lit them in rememberance and left them to burn out, but I was unsure whether that was correct, or silly, or whatever. It just felt right to do.

 

And what of Magick? That's another thing I'm very curious about...

 

I appreciate your attempts to answer my unanswerable questions...I'm sure things will get easier. hehe.

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I tend not to use the word gods within myself but do use the term Old One's. I have no real concept who the old one's are other than they are something that as always existed & in the creation of magic, in casting a compass, can be tapped into.

 

I think a lot what you have written Kitten is correct IMO, the human race isn't the centre of the universe, we are important, but not as important as anything else. I don't feel we have dominion over the universe & to that matter over the Earth.

 

I think the concept of heaven & hell are man made as away of controlling the masses when the sword failed. I feel any afterlife would be neutral between good & evil, something that just is existing between time & space way before any big bang.

 

I would say from what you are saying you have a made a good start

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Ooh, the festivals! You can mark them as you wish, or not mark them at all. Not all paths recognise them, and many paths have celebrations of some sort on similar dates, but for different reasons. How you mark them is up to you! Over at my house, we had a mini-Blot, just the two of us, at Samhain. First time we've engaged in any sort of formal religious activity as a household, and it was really nice. Finding ways to incorporate your beliefs into the way you celebrate can be a lot of fun. For major dates like the Winter Solstice and the Vernal Equinox, there's the advantage that a lot of traditional activities for Crimbo and Easter have Pagan roots, so you can build a celebration that fits in with both what you were raised with and what you're moving towards.

 

I'm afraid I can't speak to Magick, as the closest I get to any of the big stuff is making sure my bread rises well, knitting love and protection into clothes I make and studying herbs so I can have home medicines on hand when needed. I do enjoy a bit of divination once in a while, though. Terribly out of practice at it. Does ceremonial magic appeal to you, or do you think you might be more of a "Granny Weatherwax"? :D

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To be honest I know very little about Magick (or Magic? Is there a difference? haha)...I have no idea where to even begin learning about it...I had a friend in school who became very interested in Wicca and identified as a Witch. It turns out it was a bit of a phase as she lost interest in it after about a year (actually around the same time we parted ways), but she used to work a lot with candles and precious stones, tarot cards etc. She even had her own beautiful book in which she jotted her own spells.

I used to receive a weekly installment of a magazine called 'Mind, Body and Spirit' and through that collected a set of runes, some crystals, essential oils and coloured candles & ribbons to do spells with. Most of that stuff of mine has got lost of thrown out but now I'm curious about it all.

I guess what I want to know is do spells and such actually work and is there a special, particular way you should go about them?

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I guess what I want to know is do spells and such actually work and is there a special, particular way you should go about them?

 

No. There are "wiccan" ways (usually Wiccan-lite stuff found in books that bear little resemblance to what actually goes on in (for example) a Wiccan coven), and there are other traditions - all the various pre-Christian pagan religions had some magic that was unique to them. For example, my own religion - Heathenry - tended to concentrate on the use of herbs, but there were many more ordinary magical forms. There were about a dozen different types of magic, and we don't know what all the descriptions mean. :) But, to this day, we practice forms of magic, shamanism and divination not found in other religions.

 

Like Pomona, I'm a witch. that's rare in my religion. Most Heathens practise no magic of any kind.

 

 

is there a particular way in which you should mark Pagan festivals? Must you mark them all?

 

if you marked them all, you'd be celebrating most days. :lol:

 

Take my own religion - most Heathens tend to agree on two fesitivals, and one of those takes place according to the local weather, not on a fixed date. I've celebrated it three times in one year, in different parts of the UK. Other Heathens may celebrate more festivals - that's up to them. The Romans had many every month, and the Greeks had their own clan festivals, as well as state ones. The Kemetic ones are different again. Then there are the quasi-Celtic ones created (in their current form) in the 1950s as "the wheel of the year", by the shaper of Wicca and the head of OBOD (a druid organisation).

 

Basically - do what you feel comfortable with and calls to you. :).

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The k is added to magic to distinguish between witchcraft and card tricks (as a very basic explanation). I personally don't add a k to magic, but I have found other people get very confused so then I end up writing it as magic(k) hehe :P

 

As many other people have said Paganism is a very huge and vast umbrella term for a lot of different practices. In the dictionary it's defined as the none-Abrahamic faiths so that's the definition I go by, but if you take that definition you incorporate beliefs such as Hinduism and Buddhism which sometimes get offended by the association, in fact some people hate the word pagan even if you would personally identify them as such - it's all very confusing and it's best to give up with labels in the end. My personal belief holds that pagans are the people who don't identify with Abrahmic beliefs and decide to explore their own spirituality - It seems to work as a definition for most people but it's up to you if you adopt that definition yourself :)

 

Weirdly enough if you're interested in learning about magic(k) as a principle I would personally recommend reading Wiccan books. Now, do not get me wrong, I'm not actually a Wiccan (I'll go into why in another thread or PM if you want), and whilst you're reading up on Wicca you might even dislike the heavy God/Goddess undertones in a lot of Wiccan ritual since you seem to identify with atheistic type beliefs. BUT if you can look past the aspects of Wicca that you may/may not agree with I do think there are a lot of fundamental principles about magic(k) which can be taught that are common themes across many different paths. I'd defo consider it a good starting ground.

 

Magic(k) as a practice is something humans have been practising for thousands of years and you have to understand there are a great many differences between magic(k)al practices that have occurred throughout the ages between different cultures. BUT! In my opinion the great thing about Wicca is historically it formed during the early 20th century. A particular point in time which is key, as just before that the British Empire had spread throughout the world, and Victorian occult groups had gathered all sorts of magic(k)al philosophy from every corner of the globe. When Wicca came into fruition through a man called Gerald Gardner he had access to this vast Victorian Library of occult knowledge - So in my personal opinion, for those reasons Wicca is a very good starting point for magical philosophy! :)

 

Don't take my word for it of course, I would explore every avenue open to you ^^

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If you want to understand Magick from a athetic viewpoint, the best way to describe it is that a magickal ritual is tuning your sub-concious into a wavelength. If that wavelength is to 'Find Love' for instance, then the act of ritual and ceremony tells your brain that something positive has happened towards that goal, and you will therefore in future begin to look for love.

 

If you don't look properly, you won't find it.

 

On a purely logical, unspiritual perspective think of it as ceremonial placebo.

 

Thats not to say thats what I actually believe is happening 'in the other plane', but that is how science would currently describe it.

 

But yes, as Nathan says if you are interested in that aspect then a good starting point would be Wiccan literature, but just be wary that a lot of Wicca books are written for profit and not for the information.

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i dont follow any gods at all or carry out any rituals as such, although i do mark the changes of the seasons (cant explain it but that is very important to me) and also i like to remember my ancestors, usually when the mood takes me. i dont have a particular routine.

 

I used to alter my state of consciousness years ago, might have been a bit of a shaman of sorts, but because i never really linked up with any one in the know i never really developed it in any sort of path. its all been a bit haphazard but i have experienced some things that have been recognisable to others following discussions and stuff.

 

i used to love herbs (the closest thing to magic that i will ever get for me!) and growing things. and walks, lots of long walks.

 

i experimented alot when i was younger, from tarot cards, to astrology, crystals,,, you name it, cant beat experience.

 

I was never really drawn to any particular path (although there are a few that resonate quite strongly - heathenry and druidry in particular along with romano greco types of religions). which is an odd thing to say really cos i dont follow any gods. ho hum..life is full of inconsistencies...

 

...and any paths i am drawn to dont seem to hold me, its like i find the differrent paths interesting and meaningful, but to actually follow a specific path (like wicca, buddhism, or anything else) i bump into a wall and its a no go. but heres the contradictory bit, the path i am on is definitely pagan just not the ones i have discovered.

 

i think the closest i have ever got to a faith is probably remembering my ancestors but i wouldnt go as far as worship, cos i dont think they can come back and change things in a magical sense.

 

so i guess my message is this: dont worry about finding a particular path, if a faith/belief/idea comes along that you really connect with then go with that, but i suppose whats most important is that experience is part of of your life path. religion is only a part of life that is yet to happen, people (imv) make the mistake of seeing religion as a fixed set of rules, and i dont think that is right, its about exploration of ideas and if you believe in a god, that includes exploration of divinity and deity. whether you see that as being panthiestic, polythiestic duo/mono or whatever, i suppose its what you make of it that counts. rambled a bit there.

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Rambling is good - thank you for all of your thoughts. I'm really exciting about carving out my own beliefs from all these ancient principles.

I liked Seaxneat's ideas about magick and spells - more like meditative, visualisation exercises than actual magic (I'm reminded here of Derren Brown's 'Lucky Dog', in which he explores how the belief that something is lucky can produce 'luckier' results - catch that if you haven't).

 

I'd like to learn more about how you mark changes in the seasons, fizzyclare1, as that is definitely something I strongly feel should be acknowledged.

 

As for deities - I love them very much - but as I've already explored I don't believe they actually exist in the forms we know them through...I'm not sure I understand 100% myself but I definitely think icons such as the Gods and Goddesses are archetypes, examples, if you please. There's a lot to be learned from them and the stories surrounding them.

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hi!

 

its varied over the years but i have managed to come up with a few things that dont seem to change. one thing that springs to mind is that i try to stick to foods that are in season (bit more difficult now because i have to eat a superwholefood diet that comprises of quinoa and other stuff that we cant really grow here).

 

i also used to get out into nature as muchas i could watching the changes, trees losing their leaves, spring lambs, winter frost, etc....kicking autumn leaves!

 

I used to garden alot and there definitely was a distinct pattern as the seasons change, digging in spring, harvesting in summer and autumn, putting the gardeen to bed (like clearing up fallen leaves) before winter

 

its the little day to day activities and interactions that anchored me and put me in tune with the seasons.

 

today, its much more difficult for me to achieve but i can still see the changes whenever i look out of the window or go outside. because i am so disabled its really important for me to have bits of spring, autumn and summer in the house...winter i liike to keep out of doors cos its soooo cold! :D. more often than not it will be bits of stuff brought in the house (i have a very impressive collection of feathers!) and muddy paw prints are an everlasting reminder of wintry days!

 

I do like to greet the new year and the time some people call samhain. mostly through watching the rising dawn and in the case of samhain when the mood takes me and when i feel a sort of presence, an urge or something. sometimes i will light a candle, although i dont have a specific altar - if you like the closest thing i had to an altar were two countryside spaces, one local (and the place of my childhood) and another not so local, ilkley moor. i found the carvings fascinating as well as the small waterfall

 

....as youve probably gathered i am a fairly bog standard pagan....

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haha 'bog-standard Pagan' - there's a forum title if ever I heard one :o_youpi:

 

I had a loooonnnnggg conversation about all this with my Brother last night, well into the early hours. He's a pretty steadfast athiest and at the beginning of our conversation he kept giving me that look of 'Yup...you're a crazy hippie' (I'm sure you know the one), but once I'd properly explained myself he realised that he understood my following a lot more than he thought he did.

Because I am essentially athiestic - I don't believe in literal beings such as deities - he identified with my reverence for nature and science. I explained my view that science and unexplained phenomena are simply nature's magic(k) tricks and not airy-fairy or mystical in the least to me.

It was particularly difficult to explain that, to me personally, figureheads like Gods, spirit guides etc are tools for reflection, insight and focus, as opposed to actual beings that exist in the ether. Its a fairly abstract idea but one I am comfortable with.

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It was particularly difficult to explain that, to me personally, figureheads like Gods, spirit guides etc are tools for reflection, insight and focus, as opposed to actual beings that exist in the ether. Its a fairly abstract idea but one I am comfortable with.

 

Some people do believe that my dear. Others see deities as aspects of nature and to talk to them is as you would if you are talking to that aspect of nature.

Many pagan gods and goddesses are pretty interchangable.

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It was particularly difficult to explain that, to me personally, figureheads like Gods, spirit guides etc are tools for reflection, insight and focus, as opposed to actual beings that exist in the ether. Its a fairly abstract idea but one I am comfortable with.

 

Some people do believe that my dear. Others see deities as aspects of nature and to talk to them is as you would if you are talking to that aspect of nature.

Many pagan gods and goddesses are pretty interchangable.

 

Well that's the sort of nice thing about Paganism. It's not dogmatic, we haven't got to pray 5 times a day, we are not going to rot in hell because we are naughty & we don't have to listen to anyone else. We can do our own thing, have any relationship or not with any God irrespective with they choose us or we choose them. I think the other nice thing about Paganism is that it's something I live with day to day, like a virus checker on the computer, it always running in the background & not just certain times of day or once a week.

So basically it can be whatever we want & if any other pagan you meet tells you otherwise, tell them B*****ks

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Thanks, guys :)

I'm enjoying learning more about various peoples' beliefs and customs for this time of year.

Christmas is easily my favourite time of year and its fun to learn what everyone enjoys about it.

 

I've always considered the festive season from a human perspective - what I mean is - focussed on the beautiful aspects of humankind like good will, kindness, generosity, and giving back to society such as by giving to charity.

This year I'm also turning my gaze out to The Mother - starting small by giving a lending hand to the local bird population :)

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Many pagan gods and goddesses are pretty interchangable.

 

heh. Not to some of us ;)

 

thats why i said many and not all. I am talking more of the ones who seem to have been stolen from others like artemis and diana. really the same goddess but with a differant name....no....maybe not...................bummer!. :o_headscratch: :o_wink:

 

 

 

Look i cannot be perfect all the time...

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  • 3 weeks later...

Just wanted to thank everyone who contributed to this thread, some wonderful advice and perspectives, and Kitten, it sounds like you're pretty much where I am and I consider myself atheist, pantheist and pagan, so how's that for a ramble? ;)

 

Sidebar: whenever I see the word "ramble" I think cross-country walking. Just me?

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Nope, not just you :D

 

I think it perfectly describes my contributions to many threads: I kind of know where I'm going, but I'll end up taking detours, wrong turns, putting my foot in things I wish I hadn't, tripping over things (usually my own feet :P ), and sometimes falling flat on my face :D

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    • 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.
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