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Switch to Forum Live View Pagans, share your practice if you feel like it?
2 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2011 - 9:58AM #21
Innerpoint
Posts: 1,067

Dec 9, 2011 -- 2:14AM, Bob_the_Lunatic wrote:

... But I imagine you are used to dealing with christians :)


>laughs< Ayuh, somewhat...

Dec 9, 2011 -- 2:14AM, Bob_the_Lunatic wrote:

So my faith is pretty small in the US, in my city, there are only 4 of us.  Point being-most of the time it is a very individual practice.  My practice does not require meetings... but it is useful to practice with others for a variety of reasons I won't blather on about.  But as an example:  Reciting the sutra all by one's self, day after day-one can slowly lose the proper rhythm, not noticing slight changes day by day... practicing with others can help avoid this, as well as mispronunciations, etc.


My area is pretty rural-let's put it this way:  My state has ONE House Representative.  I was wondering how many pagans here had the benefit of other pagans in their area, or not-and how the lack thereof affects their practice (if at all) or benefits it, etc.  


But only if anyone finds the question interesting-silence won't offend me.  In the meantime, I'll keep dusting.



I'm in Louisiana so that should explain a bit about my area.  I, too, live in a very rural portion although I'm not that far from the closest town.  I have four people in my immediate coven that I'm comfortable sharing a lot of things with but we also have a 'generic' Pagan meet-up group that incorporates those of various faiths and ways - and the sharing there is a little different.


There are some groups in other towns that we sometimes have some dealings with but since they're not Brit-Trad, the interaction is, at best, limited.  However, the interaction is there and when everything and everbody is counted, the number can run up into the thousands over the state.  So, yes, there are benefits, even if they are negative ones - at times.  Being able to share, in person, with someone else often gives us insights into our own practices - another view based on commonality of what we're doing and, perhaps, a chance to alter our own perceptions and find a new understanding - or, at least, another way that challenges our perceptions - to get us thinking beyond that little rut of 'habit' and back into the natural flow of what is supposed to be.


I've practiced both ways and I'm not sure which I prefer.  I was taught and trained in Europe in the Alexandrian tradition with a support group between towns, and countries, that ran up into some high numbers - though only a few were actually considered my mentors.  But, the sharing between everyone helped shape an overall view of my own tradition which, even among those that are Alexandrian, can be slightly different from group to group.  When you toss in the general mix of other Trads getting together for the Sabbats, that learning/observation curve can grow astronomically.  Now that I'm, kind of, out of the mainstream communities, I take the time to assess and evalute the various ways I've seen and figure out how they all fit into the grand scheme of community and practice.  I've thoroughly enjoyed B'net since its inception for the different people that I've met and talked to that I otherwise would have never known or come in contact with - many of whom I consider close friends.


I'm not familiar with your geographical location (I'm not asking) and you don't have to share that if you choose not to - but have you tried places like Witchvox.com or Meetup.com to see if there is anyone within a reasonable distance that practices the same thing you do?  Or anything similar - just to have a new perspective from someone else's point of view.  We have people travel, as do we sometimes, up to 120 miles just to have the experiences that come from a larger and more 'poly-faith' setting (and, individually, there are some that will travel from the east coast and Canada to share in established friendships and religious comeraderie, though not quite as often).


Community is important.  The sharing of ideas is paramount.  There's only so many things we can teach ourselves and varying perspectives are the things that make us question and doubt.  I've always been of the opinion that without doubt, there is no concrete faith.

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2011 - 1:15PM #22
Bob_the_Lunatic
Posts: 3,458

Hi Inner, 


I'm in Wyoming :)  Thanks for sharing, and I feel the same way to some degree-about needing others, or the benefits of others, for growth.


We have a good network, but I would say it sounds like my practice might be more "specific", for lack of a better word.  For example, I really have zero in common with say a "Tibetan Buddhist"-we would be speaking different languages.  Now I could learn something from them, but I would say the same about those christians frothing at the mouth, snarling threats at me.... everyone is my teacher.  


But I could not practice with them-it would be more of a "coffee shop" meeting.  However, my sect is very large, about the size of the Jews or Mormons and fairly prominent in the US... just not in Wyoming.  So practicing with others requires a lot of travel here-sounds possibly similar to your situation to some degree.


To demonstrate the difference a little better, I'd ask a few questions:  Like would you say that most pagans are polytheistic?  Do most of them share some beliefs, even if only very general ones?  I don't know, these are not rhetorical questions.


In Buddhism-it's drastically different-you have no idea what a random sect would worship-could be a pile of buddhas and gods, could be a statue of some particular buddha, could be a mandala and among mandalas, could be circular, colorful, or in my case a scroll with writing on it....  Very diverse. Is paganism very diverse like this?  Moreso?


Point being-if the object of worship can vary so much, and drastically so in its meaning, this shows how diverse the beliefs as well are.  


Either way, interesting to hear some similarities of situation.  

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2011 - 2:09PM #23
Innerpoint
Posts: 1,067

 Everyone is a teacher... be it something that you can use and grow from or whether it's something that you reject as being non-sensical - we can and do learn from everybody.  I couldn't agree more!


And yes, our meet-up group would be classified as a coffee-shop round table, not a practicing group.  We have varying beliefs represented from the strictly traditional to the more outlandish eclectic practices - but it's all done in a spirit of community and sharing.  Now, with some of the other practicing Wiccan groups, things are a little bit different and when we meet with other Alexandrian groups, the meetings attain to yet another level. 


By the very definition of Paganism, we are all polytheistic.  Even if we don't honour all of the gods of a particular pantheon, we still recognize their existence and the existence of those gods that don't fall within our individual purview.  There are some Pagans who see all gods as manifestations of one god, one supreme power, and there are other Pagans who believe each god is an individual and separate being.  Within the general understandings of Paganism, there is a lot of leeway regarding the approach and honour of deity.


In the majority, Pagans do hold common beliefs as to the cycles of the year, passages within life, Sabbat observances, etc.  There is indeed a common thread that we can all recognize and discuss with other Pagans with the expectation that what is being implied, or said, will be understood and the thought process behind it recognized.  But, while there are similarities in the generalities, a Pagan who honours one cultural pantheon won't have the same specific practices or approaches as those who honour and use a different one.  Even with that, though, there is still the same 'base-line' of what is going on.


So, I suppose that while the individual ways may vary, the meanings are still basically the same and the understanding of what we're doing is almost a universal constant within our practices.  There are totally different ways but they only lightly touch within the parameters of Paganism, though they are still considered, by some, to be.


I noticed that you used a word in your post that not many Pagans will.  We don't so much 'worship' our gods and the other natural things around us as we do 'honour them'.  While that may be a matter of semantics and nuance, it does make a difference to us in our understandings of what we're doing.  I'm not calling you out on that, just making a statement of the general Pagan view.


I'm glad that you have the curiosity and the willingness to listen, learn and try to understand.  Thank you for that and I hope that we can answer your questions in a way that makes sense to you.  Always feel free to ask for further clarification in you need it.

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2 years ago  ::  Dec 09, 2011 - 2:52PM #24
Bob_the_Lunatic
Posts: 3,458

All very interesting-I didn't know the polytheism, seasonal cycle things, and so forth were all common to all paganism.  So you can at least make some connections at least on a shallow level with any other Pagan.  See, I couldn't say that about all other Buddhists-frankly many of them have beliefs that contradict mine at their core, completely.  Kind of an interesting contrast.


Also-on "worship", allow me to clarify (and thank you for teaching me :)  


I use the term very generically, same with "pray" or "faith".  My meaning of these 3 words for example, would be very little like a christians.


My object of worship is functionally a MIRROR-it is a blueprint of life, in its objective reality.  So when I practice (chanting/mantra) I try to fuse my life with this object, to awaken its reality inside myself.  Not really what a christian would describe as "worship' for example.


"Faith" to me, is something I KNOW with my life.  To deepen faith, I test-to gain additional knowledge.  again, this is a bit different from say christians who view doubt usually as a thing of evil-I see it as the primary tool for finding truth.


"pray" is not to some external entity, but more about focusing my lifeforce toward how I wish my life to change.  By changing the self, we change everything-just as a shadow follows the body.



Anyway, not trying to pimp my beliefs here, just trying to make connections and make sure we understand each other's meanings.  And thank you as well-I almost always enjoy speaking with pagans :)


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2 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2011 - 9:03PM #25
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Dec 9, 2011 -- 2:09PM, Innerpoint wrote:


In the majority, Pagans do hold common beliefs as to the cycles of the year, passages within life, Sabbat observances, etc.  There is indeed a common thread that we can all recognize and discuss with other Pagans with the expectation that what is being implied, or said, will be understood and the thought process behind it recognized.  But, while there are similarities in the generalities, a Pagan who honours one cultural pantheon won't have the same specific practices or approaches as those who honour and use a different one.  Even with that, though, there is still the same 'base-line' of what is going on.



I must disagree with you on this one IP, there are any number of self identified Pagans who do not follow the "wheel of the year", which, since we are generalizing, encompasses the majority of the Reconstructionist side of Paganism. Certainly the woty does incorporate holidays from a number of different cultures, this does not mean that the significance behind them, or their meaning in their respective cultures, is universal. I think you make the mistake of glossing over the finer points, nor do I even agree that there is the same "baseline".


]So, I suppose that while the individual ways may vary, the meanings are still basically the same and the understanding of what we're doing is almost a universal constant within our practices.  wrote:

So, I suppose that while the individual ways may vary, the meanings are still basically the same and the understanding of what we're doing is almost a universal constant within our practices.  There are totally different ways but they only lightly touch within the parameters of Paganism, though they are still considered, by some, to be.



I disagre with this as well. By what basis do you make such an assertion?


]I noticed that you used a word in your post that not many Pagans will.  wrote:

I noticed that you used a word in your post that not many Pagans will.  We don't so much 'worship' our gods and the other natural things around us as we do 'honour them'.  While that may be a matter of semantics and nuance, it does make a difference to us in our understandings of what we're doing.  I'm not calling you out on that, just making a statement of the general Pagan view.



Perhaps you're a little hung up on some modern, and pejoritive, use of the term "worship", but it simply means "to honour, or hold in high esteem". I've no problem with the term myself.


And this is why I take issue with the idea of there being some "general Pagan view". Neo-wiccan or Wiccanesque, eclectic for sure, but you've ignoring a considerably significant swath of paganism out there.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2011 - 9:14PM #26
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Dec 9, 2011 -- 2:52PM, Bob_the_Lunatic wrote:


All very interesting-I didn't know the polytheism, seasonal cycle things, and so forth were all common to all paganism.  So you can at least make some connections at least on a shallow level with any other Pagan.  See, I couldn't say that about all other Buddhists-frankly many of them have beliefs that contradict mine at their core, completely.  Kind of an interesting contrast.



To interject a divergent viewpoint, no those things are not common to all of those who self identify as Pagans. Polytheism is, to a large extent, a dominant approach to understanding the nature of the divine, but it is by no means the only one. Added to this the concept of duotheism, pantheism, panentheism, "all gods are one god" and so called "soft polytheism", and there you have as significant a difference as one would have between a pagan and any other religion. Likewise, there is difference in regards to seasonal cycles, or the significance of why certain days are celebrated, and this has to do with cultural specificity. So aside from the standard western seasonal cycle being the standard for understanding the seasons (which is no different than it would be for a Christian, Buddhist or Atheist), I would not say this is true at all.


There is an very good essay which was published quite some time ago, called "The Pentacle and the Hammer", which provides a comparison of two Pagan religions, Wicca and Asatru, and explores the significant differences between the two. Keeping in mind that each author is but one member of a given religion, and so personal biases will colour their examination, I still find the article to be most helpful in understanding the differences, and why those differences are not things which can simply be (or ought to be) glossed over.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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2 years ago  ::  Dec 13, 2011 - 10:09PM #27
Sacrificialgoddess
Posts: 9,496

Thanks for the essay, Gorm. I really appreciate it.

Dark Energy. It can be found in the observable Universe. Found in ratios of 75% more than any other substance. Dark Energy. It can be found in religious extremists, in cheerleaders. To come to the conclusion that Dark signifies mean and malevolent would define 75% of the Universe as an evil force. Alternatively, to think that some cheerleaders don't have razors in their snatch is to be foolishly unarmed.

-- Tori Amos
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