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Moonsmith
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This is in Starter's Orders in case it interests an enquirer or someone unsure of taking an early step within Paganism.

First and foremost, there is absolutely no need to adopt any name for your belief at all.  Many, maybe a majority of Pagans just do their own thing.

 

Back at the turn of the century I stepped out of my Pagan isolation and attended a moot and for the first time knowingly met Pagans.

After some hiccoughs I became a regular attendee at the meetings and Gorsedds [rituals] of a Druidic group called Earthworks.  While they seemed pleased to see me and I was able to contribute I didn't call myself a Druid or even a druid.  I certainly did not want to adopt a course of study.  I had forged my own Paganism over a period of some thirty years, it was robust and worked for me.  Over about three years in which I read a lot of my own choosing, I realised that belief is a highly individual process, not just for me but for everyone.  My beliefs had sufficient in common with elements of many of the other members that I was indistinguishable from those around me in conversation about things spiritual.

I passed a form of Turing test.  A Witch, Shaman or Heathen would suss out immediately that I wasn't one of them but to Druids and others I'm a Druid.

Now:

I do not say all the things that Druids say.

I do not do all the things that Druids do.

I do not even believe all the things that Druids believe [if Philip Carr-Gomms book is to be believed]

I am what Druid is.

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Oh this is a mess!

The last bit of the above was.......

So:

To what extent do feel that you need to conform in your thinking before you start telling people that you are a [..... insert belief here ]????

To what extent would you require that a postulate conforms to your thinking before recognising them as a member of your belief set [.............]????

Edited by Moonsmith
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Labels are convenient but, ideally,  flexible.

I feel no need to conform to anyone's thinking, but I sometimes find it helpful shorthand to be able to say "I am a ...." - it usually shortens the amount of breath required to explain a broad outline of one's position.

But there is never any requirement for a label, nor any rush to acquire one.  And, if the label starts to become a restriction in some way, it's time to ditch it.

Edited by Ellinas
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Dear Moonsmith,

I hold beliefs, rather strong beliefs actually, but never felt any need to conform to the beliefs of other Pagans before publicly identifying as a Pagan. There are beliefs in Paganism but I've never felt Paganism is primarily about beliefs.

I'd be suspicious of anyone, postulant or not, who appeared to be trying to conform to my thinking in order to be recognised as something or other. Somebody who wanted to argue with me would probably be much more interesting. In presentations on Paganism, I sometimes joke that we tend to get uncomfortable if we appear to agree with each other too much. While  intended as humour, I think there's also an underlying truth there.

BB,

John Macintyre

 

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Now you have surprised me John, and you may have shown up a fundamental flaw in my understanding.

Is it not central to Wicca to believe in a God and a Goddess?

To what extent must a Heathen believe in the Norse Pantheon in order to be accepted by other Heathens as such?  How important is Valhalla?

How significant is a belief in magic [of whatever spelling] to some belief systems?

These are some of the elements that I had heretofore thought of as requirements and which influenced some of my choices early in my Pagan life.

 

Edited by Moonsmith
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1 hour ago, JohnMacintyre said:

In presentations on Paganism, I sometimes joke that we tend to get uncomfortable if we appear to agree with each other too much. While  intended as humour, I think there's also an underlying truth there.

That is one of the reasons that Druidry is so acceptable to me!:biggrin: Related image:biggrin:

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Dear Moonsmith,

21 minutes ago, Moonsmith said:

Now you have surprised me John, and you may have shown up a fundamental flaw in my understanding.

Is it not central to Wicca to believe in a God and a Goddess?

To what extent must a Heathen believe in the Norse Pantheon in order to be accepted by other Heathens as such?  How important is Valhalla?

How significant is a belief in magic [of whatever spelling] to some belief systems?

These are some of the elements that I had heretofore thought of as requirements and which influenced some of my choices early in my Pagan life.

 

 

In my view "belief" is not central to Wicca. It's an experiential Mystery tradition, not a belief system. As a polytheist I believe in many Gods and Goddesses, and also many forms of divinity that cannot be so characterised. So I seem to fit into Wicca pretty well, because lots of other Wiccans think like that too. Many Wiccan rites involve the worship of a God and a Goddess. Across Wicca many, many distinct Gods and Goddesses are worshipped, but also across Wicca there are many, many diverse views of the nature of the deities and of the relationship between the human and the divine. I came into Wicca because I believed in the old Gods and Goddesses and sought to honour them in company with like-minded folk; not because anyone asked me to believe anything, still less to conform to something.

In Wicca, in modern Paganism generally, I've seldom heard anyone ask another if they believe in the Gods, and that makes sense because in the ways of thinking that seem very common among us, it would almost inevitably lead to a nuanced discussion of what we mean by the Gods, and by belief, rather than to any Yes/No answer.

I don't consider myself much of a magician but such experience as I have of magic suggests that there too, belief isn't really relevant.

It may be that you and I are meaning different things by belief here. Even as I child I simply could not grasp the Christian concept that there was virtue in belief/faith, by which they seemed to mean accepting things as true on trust from others rather than through direct experience. As a Pagan I've come to see "belief" simply as useful shorthand for the memory of experience.

BB,

John Macintyre

 

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On 1/16/2018 at 4:00 PM, Moonsmith said:

To what extent must a Heathen believe in the Norse Pantheon in order to be accepted by other Heathens as such?  How important is Valhalla?

How significant is a belief in magic [of whatever spelling] to some belief systems?

These are some of the elements that I had heretofore thought of as requirements and which influenced some of my choices early in my Pagan life.

 

In answer to the first question - probably depends who you're talking to.  I'm primarily a polytheist who happened to be grabbed by a Norse god (followed by others - principally but not exclusively Norse) and found that she could identify as Heathen.  I've met Heathens whose "significant deity" is not Norse and who feel connected by other aspects - principally ethics and a moral code I think.  I've even met a couple of Heathens who are atheists.  I think it's up to them.  As far as I'm concerned if they identify as Heathen that's fine by me - I have no interest in laying down the law and making definitions.  Other Heathens may (do) feel differently.  :biggrin:  Whatever floats your boat.

I wouldn't say that Valhalla is very important at all.  Again, others may differ. :o_viking:

 

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    • Ellinas
      As I have said before, I knew on another forum, and maintain an occasional contact with even now, a person who was known to see himself as a Christian witch.  Pagan?  Well he was on a pagan forum and fitted in very well, and his concept of deity was not such as would be safely mentioned in many a Christian gathering.   Us lot, learned?  More like Moonsmith's favoured image of the "old farts" on a park bench.  If the concepts have no use to you, I'd leave them be - otherwise you are in danger of joining the realm of "Old Fartdom"
    • Moonsmith
      Up to you Nettle but I wouldn’t bother if I were in your place.  I think that your approach to your beliefs is where it needs to be right now.  This thread will move on and fade away.  I’ve done research because I give talks on belief and need to know from which end of my food tube I’m talking.  There are always Pagans in the audience who know their stuff.     What we believe is what we really believe - that might be as good a definition of Paganism as any.  There is no “truth” except our own.  Share what you will but never let it be a chore. I’m here in the Valley coz it’s fun😄
    • Nettle
      I am not as learned as most here when it comes to paganism and even religion.    Hence why I do not usually get involved in such discussions. It’s not that I don’t see value in someone analysing their belief system and tagging the most appropriate label. It’s just for me it’s not that important.    I don’t know what I am, and to be honest I am not really concerned. Yeah it assists in communication but it is not that important to me.    At one time I know I understood the meanings of polytheism/monotheism/atheism etc but I have forgotten what they mean. They have not stuck. And as such they are not required for me to engage with my path.   Lol I am getting older now and so find I have to purge information to allow for more information to be stored! Basically I empty my cup, keep what is useful to me and discard (“forget”) the rest.   However I will endeavour to reacquaint myself with such concepts as they seem to be important to other members here and so may be worth more investigating and gaining different perspective. 
    • Moonsmith
      I agree SH!  Some Irish, Polish and Hispanic versions of Catholicism (Inc. some of their priests) are very like Polytheistic Paganism.  Once Catholicism meets Voodun you’d be hard put to create a definition that divided the practice Catholicism from Paganism.  That said, the Christians in question would object to being called Pagan as I suspect a Voodunista might object to being called Christian but I don’t know that.  I’d keep definitions of religion well away from definitions of Paganism.  I certainly don’t have a religion and I’m Pagan.  The original use of the word Pagani - (those who lived out on the pagus; outside of citified civilisation = rustic) - distinguished between formal Roman polytheists who would be offended at being referred to as Pagani and the rustics who wouldn’t. I wonder if you can be Pagan and not know it?  Is it behaviour related rather than belief based?
    • Stonehugger
      Is it that kind of word though? Where would one find an authority about what it was formally meant to comprise? A dictionary will say how the word is used in practice, so that's not prescriptive enough. An act of parliament? A contract? Speaking in my capacity as humpty dumpty, I could use it to mean something that's not like Christianity, Judaism, Islam etc. It's a statement of difference but also perhaps of exclusion. I've never been a Roman Catholic but I imagine their attitude to the Virgin Mary could be a bit borderline-pagan sometimes, so I could therefore imagine a vicar advising someone that their understanding is "a bit too pagan for comfort."
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