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Switch to Forum Live View quiz result - neo-pagan
8 years ago  ::  May 29, 2010 - 3:48AM #1
Posts: 1

According to beliefnet, I am a neo-pagan.  Wow!  Interesting, as my upbringing is Catholicism.  Yet, I know my beliefs and practices are also aligned to Eastern philosophies.  Now, neo-paganism - that seems interesting as I am a Celt and actively practice Celtic Spirituality - all is One, the Earth, the Heavens, All - we are One - division is an illusion and lies within oneself.  So any info on neo-paganism would be gratefully received.  Thanks.  Marie

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8 years ago  ::  May 29, 2010 - 10:49AM #2
Posts: 1,244


Welcome to Beliefnet. While the Quiz is very useful for pointing out spiritual systems to explore further, it doesn’t tell anyone what they actually are. It is also based on generic questions slotted into generic answers so with regard to neo-paganism or Paganism as it is more usually called, the Quiz only intersects with part of the broad spectrum that is possible.

I’ve been a Pagan for nearly thirty years now and this is my experience of what that means to date. The mileage of others will and should differ.

The term Pagan originated from the Latin ‘paganus’ that meant a civilian used for any citizen of the Roman Empire that was not in military service. Early Christians used to call themselves 'soldiers of Christ', co-opting the power language within the Empire. Hence anyone who was not Christian came to be termed as paganus (plural pagani).  Since Christianity spread most rapidly in urban areas, the term eventually also came to mean those who lived in rural areas.

Paganism also refers to a movement in the 2nd century ACE of academics trying to align Christianity with Greek science. Unsuccessful for the most part.

Ramsay MacMullen in his “Christianity and Paganism in the Fourth to Eighth Centuries” also has a description on what we historically label as paganism during that period. “Apart from Judaism and, in due course, Christianity and Manichaeism, the essential characteristics of religion in the empire were…the acknowledgement of innumerable superhuman beings, the expectation that they might be benevolent and would respond kindly to prayer (all but those who might be bent to wicked uses by magical invocation), the belief that some one or few of these being presided especially over each place and people and a substratum of rites addressing life’s hopes and fears without appeal to any one being in particular. This religion had no single center, spokesman, director or definition of itself: therefore no one point of vulnerability. Everyone was free to choose his own credo: anyone who wished could consult a priest, or ignore a priest about how best to appeal to the divine.”(pp 32) MacMullen goes on to describe how words, acts and arts were woven into the deepest levels of daily life and culture, the secular included. “People circulated everywhere in the Empire” and “Over the course of many hundreds of years of peaceful stirring about, the mix became constantly more complex and intimate, at least in urban settings. Variety itself became a characteristic binding together of the whole fabric of religion into one whole…” Finally MacMullen adds, “A very resistant thing, then, this paganism – to anyone who wanted to do away with it.”

Down through the centuries, Roman and then vernacular authors would apply the term pagan indiscriminately to anything that was not Christian, lumping together a wide diversity of indigenous cultures and beliefs. This literary habit would influence later authors such as Margaret Murray or Jules Michelet (to name only two) into making unsubstantiated assumptions about the history of ‘paganism’.

Then there was a Second Paganism Movement, again of academics, this time striving to discredit the hold of Catholicism on European societies. While this movement had its roots back to the 16th century, it is circa early 19th century that a growing body of pseudo-historical books began to influence others. These would become potent sources evolving into a mythological history tied to the term paganism. Four literary definitions in particular were influential. The first, that paganism meant the Greek and Roman Empires as being quite admirable except for lack of Christian ethics or secondly, the Greek and Roman Empires as having joyful hedonistic religions, (they actually had state religions and a climate of mostly tolerance to other faiths). The 19th Romantic Movement added a third definition, that of an idealised, pastoral relationship between nature, mankind and religion equalling paganism. The Christian writers and those writing occult (very popular) used mainly the fourth definition, the barbarian who worships idols etc.

The 20th century, Britain….the Third Paganism Movement begins to evolve out of these earlier sources, influenced by movements such as the Theosophical, Occult, Romantic, Glastonbury, etc. and augmented by the 19th century Folklore and Victorian Revivalism Movements.

As well, there was a Reconstructionist Movement, notably in northern European cultures, reclaiming ancient faiths. With the Glastonbury Movement (source of revival of Arthurian mythos), this also came to include Celtic Reconstructionism. It depends on the modern Recon you ask but many do not consider themselves to be Pagans. Heathens is often the preferred term. Neo-Paganism also as a title requires something known as ‘paganism’ first to be defined as older or original. So choosing to use one term or the other tends to revolve around whether you consider the modern versions to be different than the so-called ancient versions.  Or whether you believe what I consider to be the mythological history and that there was an ancient version to begin with. That said, the mythological history is essential to the actual history, they are entwined and co-dependant. It is just (my mileage) that when the mythological is claimed as actual or visa versa, each is disempowered.

Pivotal to the evolution of the Third Paganism Movement was the conception of Wicca or British Traditional Witchcraft in the 1930’s in Britain by Gerald Gardner. This included Gardner re-defining witchcraft from its earlier almost universally negative meanings. BTW as it is also called has influenced much of generic Paganism but neither Wicca nor Pagan Witchcraft is the entirety of what is called Paganism. With publications and the Internet, the spectrum continues to grow ever more diverse. The name is used by established religions (like Wicca) as an alternate term. Autonomous groups use it as the name of ‘their’ religion. Individuals use it as the name of his or her ‘religion. 

Below are the common and general similarities I have noted over the decades. 
Common – applies to most Pagans.
    Individuals self-identify as Pagan.
    He or she self-defines what Paganism means on a personal level.
    Validation is almost always experiential – in the first person.
    No one can agree sufficiently outside of limited consensus mentioned above to create a singular definition that equals a singular faith shared by all.

General – applies to some or many but not all Pagans.
      Self-responsibility lies at the core of any spiritual path. Not rules or laws or rigid doctrine or projecting onto other entities but rather accepting all consequences for one’s actions and dealing with any spiritual backlash/feedback.
     Learning is always experiential and that one makes meaning from one’s direct experiences. UPG is another term, unverifiable personal gnosis. Written sources are always second- or third-hand as others share his/her experiences but these sources are not divinely revealed sources of wisdom.
     That the Divine or Source is more reasonable recognisable as being polytheistic rather than monotheistic. Paganism can include the all is one etc belief that you mentioned as well as those who believe in an uber-deity and even those who don’t believe in any deities. These are simply less common than being polytheistic, which comes in hard (my gods are real and not part of your great All) and soft (everything from archetypes, part of the All, facets or faces etc).
      That nature is not irrelevant to one’s spirituality because as human beings we cannot be considered separately from nature. A Pagan faith may be mainly or greatly nature-oriented or –worshipping by being personified by nature. Or nature is respected both for its omnipresent impact/power and in how one enacts one’s life within nature. Or nature at the very least must be taken into account independently from human needs.

Otherwise, being Pagan is all uniquely defined, consensually defined if Pagans do practice together and thus can be often contradictory in what one finds out there as ‘pagan’.

A fascinating journey and one that never stops changing or growing,

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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8 years ago  ::  May 29, 2010 - 7:07PM #3
Posts: 1,042

May 29, 2010 -- 3:48AM, Marieme wrote:

According to beliefnet, I am a neo-pagan.  Wow!  Interesting, as my upbringing is Catholicism.  Yet, I know my beliefs and practices are also aligned to Eastern philosophies.  Now, neo-paganism - that seems interesting as I am a Celt and actively practice Celtic Spirituality - all is One, the Earth, the Heavens, All - we are One - division is an illusion and lies within oneself.  So any info on neo-paganism would be gratefully received.  Thanks.  Marie

Hey, glad ta see ya. Good to have you here as a neo pagan. The test does not lie. I hope you becaome a neo pagan. I'm a pagan who also worships the devil. I'm both. Good to have ya here. Welcome to beliefnet. i have been here for about two years now. The system went throuh 4 new changes adding more to beliefnet every time and giving it a new look. I hope you consider a change to paganism. I'd warmly welcome you. I do warmly welcome you. The people here are fun, nice, and most wise.

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8 years ago  ::  Jun 01, 2010 - 8:27AM #4
Posts: 14,245

G'day Marieme:

Celt and actively practice Celtic Spirituality
Try the Celtic Religions forum.



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