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What on Earth (or elsewhere) is Paganism?


Moonsmith
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One of the issues of long membership here is that we oldies - sorry, long serving members - have given answers to a lot of the questions raised here many times.  That’s not a bad thing and if I look back to 2009 I can see that my Paganism might have shifted but my way of expressing it is vastly different.

 So: 

Something that hasn’t been asked for a bit.

Something that everyone can answer however new or established.

 What IS Paganism in 2021?

 Why are we Pagans at all?

 Do we have anything in common?

“We” is all of us, with or without labels or groups.

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I knew I'd seen this  during the week but then somehow mislaid it...

What is paganism?  I have come to the conclusion that I really don't know, save to say that it is what you want it to be.

As a "bottom line" I would say paganism is any non-abrahamic path.  But some might baulk at a definition that includes Buddhism as a form of paganism (though why not...?) 

I am attracted to the idea I've heard MS express that a pagan is someone who takes responsibility for his/her own spirituality.  That does not, necessarily, mean rejecting structure and organisation, but it would entail not relying upon doctrines and teachings.  But some might baulk at a definition that may be seen as challenging their group identity.

Why are "we" pagans?  I'm not sure a generic answer is possible.  For me it's a combination of rejection of organised religion and historical accident - or divine intervention, depending on one's viewpoint.  I had a "gutsfull" of people telling me what to believe and being so entrenched  that they would not listen when an alternative viewpoint was advanced.

Do we have anything in common?  Perhaps a tendency to disagree?

Perhaps also a tendency to become comfortable and entrenched, committing the same error that I reject in organised religion.  Which is a matter that needs some consideration on my part, at least.

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2 hours ago, Ellinas said:

But some might baulk at a definition that may be seen as challenging their group identity.

To my mind it depends how members approached the group in the first place.  If someone takes an early decision to be - let’s say a Druid or a Witch then yes they may adapt their identity to that of the group.  This worries me.  I don’t like the idea that some people might express a belief in order to fit into a group.  They might adopt a belief without considering alternatives or even suppressing what their own intellect and experience is telling them.

I don’t know how many times we have said here - don’t put any name to your beliefs until you’ve worked through just what they really are.  Only then, if you find like minded people, consider joining them but hold onto your own hard won beliefs.  That route makes the individual and the group stronger.

(I can only hope that…)  Pagans believe what they really believe.  It’s the ultimate mystery - a personal discovery.

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I believe that it is a belief path and not a taught religion. I belive in the fact that what we can see, touch and feel gives our belief. we dont listen to books or preaching saying this was created by.

I know that the mother provides all our neades, the farther provides the warthm and energy to grow, and the lady provides the yin and yang of difference balance in life o the planet.

paganism is for an individual with an open mind and not a person to be taught or lectured. 

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Paganism is formally meant to comprise the spiritual paths which don't derive from the revealed religions - Christianity, Judaism, Islam and others.

It is an unfortunate definition as it doesn't help to specify anything about the content of a particular path which is counted as pagan. Pagan paths outnumber and outvary the Abrahamic religions.

21st Century paganism? Any and all beliefs and practices of folk who draw from non-Abrahamic ways.

 

Edited by Earthdragon
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16 hours ago, Earthdragon said:

Paganism is formally meant to comprise

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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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?

Edited by Moonsmith
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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. 

Edited by Nettle
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1 hour ago, Nettle said:

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. 

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😄

Edited by Moonsmith
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5 hours ago, Moonsmith said:

Once Catholicism meets Voodun you’d be hard put to create a definition that divided the practice Catholicism from Paganism

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.

 

3 hours ago, Nettle said:

I am not as learned as most here when it comes to paganism and even religion.

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"

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16 hours ago, Ellinas said:

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"

The significance of the old farts on the bench is that they are too engrossed in their own thinking and tend not to leave room for the kid with the ear buds.

 We need new thinking here in the Valley - before you get used to Valley-think!  New thinking does not have to be anything like established thinking.  Personal definitions, inspirations, doubts and conjectures are all most welcome.  Maybe more so if they aren’t based on established thinking.

(New old farts of all ages and odours are also welcome here!)

Edited by Moonsmith
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Lol points taken gentlemen.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand the terms on a surface level (dictionary definition level), but have not applied them to my way of perceiving and so do not understand them on a more deeper personal level.

Well considering you are “old farts” on a bench lol I see that interactions have started to open things up a little.  From intuitive leaps to seeking to understand more concrete concepts.

For me I did not really come here with a stereotype of what a pagan would be. Possibly I thought a typical member here would be more orthodox in approach in one of the more well known polytheistic belief systems (e.g. the Norse pantheon). Or even one of the more Witch orientated systems (not sure what they would be?). But I find that the more prominent members approach things from a more concrete basis. Somewhat philosophical in approach and informed by science. Which is fascinating and possibly more atheistic in approach?

That is why I was interested in learning what deities members recognised, if at all.

One of the greatest books I have read is “Memories, dreams, reflections” by C.G. Jung. It is a biography of Jung and really allowed me to open myself up to my own interpretation. To accept that my way is not wrong (as opposed to a more acceptable orthodox system). And to trust in self for gaining inspiration into self. It allowed me to be me via Jungs example.

 

 

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f!n? brilliant, lots of love. will post something soon as I'm now back for a while 😂😂😂

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2 hours ago, Nettle said:

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I understand the terms on a surface level (dictionary definition level), but have not applied them to my way of perceiving and so do not understand them on a more deeper personal level.

On the contrary - you are the world’s leading authority on Nettlism and Nettlery at all levels that you choose to explore.  Naturally you are free to apply those (or your own) terms as you see fit. Your thoughts on the subjects vastly exceed the authority of any other metaphysician.  You may well choose to consult others of course but hold onto your own core belief.  Accept illumination but not immolation!

i regret that we have given you the view that the site is science biased.  We have had Witches of many sorts,  Norse of many sorts, Druids of several sorts, various polytheisms, Religio Romana, atheists, a Voodunista and a Hellene, among many many others over the years.  Of course there have been untold numbers of “unlabelled“ and “dunno” members.  What you see is a transient current configuration as folk come and go.

i have always held that were one to obtain a metaphysical balance and put into one pan all the saints, prophets,  scholars, priests, gurus etc together with all that is written about beliefs, religion and faith and in the other pan stands a lone individual who is saying, ” I’m not sure but I think…..”

 Then the pointer on the balance remains central.

Edited by Moonsmith
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MS is right, both in his assessment that we are each the best and only authority on our own beliefs, and that in the past we had a very diverse set of members. But new points of view are always welcome, no matter whether fully formed or more intuitively grasping. I would argue that no matter how much we learn over however long; we are all still intuitively grasping at conclusions which remain just out of reach. Someone else putting their thoughts into words might just be the missing link in a logic train that helps shed light on our own understanding. 

Over the past 40 odd years my own Pagan beliefs have been adapted, added to and changed. I was taught very early on the premise that All Gods are One God, and all Goddesses are One Goddess. This has stuck with me. I suppose I think of deities as archetypes while also being powerful entities in their own right. Which are all facets of the Source which is beyond my understanding, which is why I think of them as discrete personalities. The Welsh Pantheon and Coelbren are the keys or touchstones or framework that I am familiar with and feel drawn to. It helps me to understand, in the same way that the Kabbalistic Tree of Life helps me get my head around the different realms and states of being. 

If that sounds contradictory and unnecessarily complicated, that's ok. I accept my understanding is imperfect. Yours will no doubt differ, and will be right for you based on your experience and intuition. 

 

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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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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.

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9 hours ago, Ellinas said:

Stonehugger, I think, recently said he had headed in that direction

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???"

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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.

 

Edited by Moonsmith
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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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