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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 1:58AM #1
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Alright so the sites been kind of slow, but you're all still here, lets do something about it then!


What do you want to talk about? I'm sure we can come up with better things to do than respond to week old posts?


There are all sorts of things going on in the "Pagan" world, surely?


 


How about a discussion about the growth of Paganism in the face of overall religious decline in the US via the ARIS report?


What about sharing some poetry, devotionals, chants, songs, etc?


Are you doing anything for Easter (if you have Christian realitives, spouses, children, friends, etc?)? Do you have anything you'd like to say about Eostre?


The Spring has finally come (despite several days of snow and cold where I'm from anyway, but thats Canada in April for you.) have you gone for a walk in a park, looked for the budding of the trees, noticed the grass getting greener day by day? Have you gotten a chance to get reaquainted with the natural energies which have lain dormant for several months?


These are just off of the top of my head at 2 am! Surely you (all) can do better than a sleep depraved insomniac? ;P

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 11:33AM #2
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Hmm, well today as I get a vacation day because of the Christian legacy of Easter, I'd be interested in discussing the ARIS report. Mind you, it is American, I'm not but still, there isn't a Canadian equivalent that I know of other that Stats Canada.


My concern with describing the growth of 'Paganism' is that Paganism isn't a religion in itself. It makes sense to me as a Movement but the mileage of others varies on this.


So from my perspective, I would ask what is growing? People who self-identify as Pagan? Which can mean and represent.....a lot of different things.


I noted in the copy of the 2001 ARIS Report I pulled up that there were separate categories listed for Pagan, Wicca, Druid and even New Age, though I don't consider the last (as I define it) to be part of modern Paganism. Unitarian/Universalist might also be 'included' under the Paganism Movement. So might Other Unclassified. It only looks at 18 or over so the report excludes the 'teenybopper' Pagans as well.


I liked Thomas Luckmann's description quoted in the report of an 'increasingly de-institutionalised form of religious identification, which may or may not apply Paganism. His conclusion of 'the modern sacred cosmos legitimates the retreat of the individual into the 'private sphere' and sanctifies his (or her) subjective autonomy' sounds a lot like UPG.


The report also talks about the difference between identification as a state of mind and heart and affiliation as a social condition, which has ramifications since we are talking about Paganism. Some parts of modern Paganism can be affiliated to as they (such as the Religion of Wicca) have an organisational structure for share worship - in other words are recognisable as a religion. Much of modern Paganism however can't be affiliated the same way.


The report also says: "For some, religious identification may well be a social marker as much as a marker designating a specific set of beliefs. For others, it may be a reflection of a community or family anchor point to one's sense of self. For others still, it may be the 'gut response' evoked by the question, "what is your religion, if any?" without any wider emotional, social or philosophical ramifications.


I also found the age demographic interesting, that the older one is, the more likely one is to consider oneself to be religious rather than somewhat religious. Factors such as economics, immigration and the aging of baby boomers like myself also seems to have contributed to a rise in changing or religion shifting as the report calls it. The report however doesn't provide any further data on how many switched to Paganism or anything relevant to this in any of the other analysis because the tables only reflect the mainstream 'religions'.


So interesting report but what exactly do you consider it to be telling us about Paganism?


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 12:22PM #3
EyesoftheWorld
Posts: 1,707

I have to ask; what is the ARIS report of which you speak?

What Fatal Flowers of Darkness Bloom from Seeds of Light!
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 12:22PM #4
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666

Good Morning Creaky!


Happy Easter (or as I like to say, "Happy Annual Cultural Fertility Festival!).


I've had some thoughts of all the different traditions being lumped together under the banner of Pagan as of late, since I've been asked "so, what do Pagans believe".


My daughter (Methodist) who is very protective of me and my spirituality also comes up a little short for words (saying something for a 16 year old girl) when she says "my dad's a Pagan" and she gets asked "what do Pagan's believe in?".


The Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc have it kinda easy in that they have a practiced script for responding (Apostle's Creed, etc).  I usually have to launch into a disertation on 1) Pagans as "umbrella term", 2) Pantheism (of which I identify with), and 3) How what I value as a Pagan is in sync with what they value as a Christian/Jew/Muslim/Buddhist/Pastafarian.....


I was watching a show on Discovery or History Channel the other night that looked at the Christian Council of Nicea, and the consolidation the differing Gospels and therefore the identity of the religion as a whole...


I forsee a time, as we increase in numbers, when we Pagans of the various traditions will have to do something similar to identify who/what ideas we want identified with us and what not.


Right now, a group of pedophiles could conceivabley call themselves a Pagan religion and molesting children is a part of their worship and we would get lumped together in the media (and therefore the public consciousness) with them and suffer the consequences.


We don't have a collective voice to counter this except for a few publicly outspoken individuals to speak out for the rest of us.


Our culture as a whole doesn't listen to individuals as much as we like to pretend we do.


Hypothetically, having the "American Council of Wiccans,  Canadian Council of Astruar and the Mexican Council of Druids unanimously condemn the following....." carries a lot more weight than "some Wiccan, Astruar, and Druids have post their protests on-line".


The problem with not identifying oneself is that it leaves it open for others to do it for one....

peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 2:06PM #5
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

ARIS - American Religious Idenfication Survey.


Use ARIS as a keyword search.


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 3:18PM #6
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Good afternoon Samhain!


Blessed Full Moon to you as well.


What you are describing I think might be related back to the difference between identification and affiliation that the report alludes to.


When we speak about what Pagans believe in and do, we are talking about identification.


When we speak about how 'we' are perceived and who can speak for 'us' and be taken seriously, we are talking about affiliation.


Pagans have and continue to be affiliated in various groups, federations and organisations seeking legal or religious recognition (religious tax shelters or conducting marriages/funerals/counselling). The Wiccan Church of Canada for example has been seeking legal recognition (not sure if they made it as yet) as a religious institution under Canadian Law. They are perceived as credible representatives on a high level for that Religion but they don't represent or speak for all Wiccans in Canada. The WCC isn't so much about defining what is or isn't Wicca for all Wiccans in Canada as they are about representing what those affiliated to them define as being the Religion in order to secure those legal rights.


For example, a Druid, a Wiccan and an Astruar may be able to work together at a high level to lobby in a national, political or legal jurisdiction for religious recognition and rights but then what? For example, as a non-Wiccan Dianic Witch/Priestess, Wiccans, Druids and Astruar gaining the right to perform legal marriages isn't relevant or applicable to me. We may all be Pagans but religiously there are fundamental differences between us that may nullify the useability of such legal rights. For some Pagans, might not matter, for others it would. Even if the gained recognition was such that any Pagan (clergy) could marry legally, then one gets into how are such clergy recognised, accredited and by whom. How do those who are legailly accrediting them (like the government) determine who qualifies and who doesn't? Paganism doesn't have a hierarchy or a central body of authority or validation they can check with. So being affiliated doesn't necessarily translate back into an useful identification of 'what we (all) believe as Pagans'.


Affiliation is also what you seem to be addressing when you talk about having 'accredited' representatives for Paganism who would or could respond to the public consciousness of media. Only that would also require affiliation, supporting and adhering to a shared consensus and therefore a limited definition being represented as valid Paganism. When Pagan beliefs conflict or oppose each other, who is excluded from that validation? Who has the authority to make that call? Does the one/ones excluded then get ousted from the affiliation? Take just deities for example. Can any affiliation provide representation to deliver a clear and consistent message on what all Pagans identify with where deities are concerned? Polytheistic? God and Goddess? Just Goddess? An uberdeity? Archetypes? Pantheons? An ethnic pantheon? Mixed pantheons? What about the Pagan Witches who have no deities at all?


These last questions to me all relate back to identification not affiliation. Identification is important and I agree, in the absence of, people fill in the blanks but what happens when identification conflicts with or can't be encompassed by the benefits of affiliation?


C.H.


 

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6 years ago  ::  Apr 10, 2009 - 4:48PM #7
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666

 


Apr 10, 2009 -- 3:18PM, CreakyHedgewitch wrote:


Good afternoon Samhain!


Blessed Full Moon to you as well.



Thanks Creaky.


Please excuse me if I've started derailing your thread.


What you are describing I think might be related back to the difference between identification and affiliation that the report alludes to.


When we speak about what Pagans believe in and do, we are talking about identification.


When we speak about how 'we' are perceived and who can speak for 'us' and be taken seriously, we are talking about affiliation.



Good point. Once you mentioned it, I understood the difference. I just never made that deliniation in my mind when thinking about it before.


 


Pagans have and continue to be affiliated in various groups, federations and organisations seeking legal or religious recognition (religious tax shelters or conducting marriages/funerals/counselling)


The Wiccan Church of Canada for example has been seeking legal recognition (not sure if they made it as yet) as a religious institution under Canadian Law. They are perceived as credible representatives on a high level for that Religion but they don't represent or speak for all Wiccans in Canada.


The WCC isn't so much about defining what is or isn't Wicca for all Wiccans in Canada as they are about representing what those affiliated to them define as being the Religion in order to secure those legal rights.



 


Thanks for the example. I understand why having one body attempting to define what is or isn't  Wiccan, or anyother spirituality for that matter is problematic (sometimes violently so). A forest is healthy when it is diverse, that applies to humanity as well.


I just wonder if there is a way communicate to the rest of the non-Pagan world basically that we are just like they are (just as boring as they are). Could go a long way toward heading off some of these battles in city councils that seem to pop up when ever one of us wants to participate in the governance of our own community, live in peace, practice our beliefs in peace, contribute to the local food bank without having our offerings rejected, etc.


I guess I live too far into the Bible belt. I see the organized Evangelicals all around me and I feel like a porkchop in a dog pit sometimes. Exposed and powerless.


 


Affiliation is also what you seem to be addressing when you talk about having 'accredited' representatives for Paganism who would or could respond to the public consciousness of media. Only that would also require affiliation, supporting and adhering to a shared consensus and therefore a limited definition being represented as valid Paganism.



 


Yes, that's pretty much what I had in mind. I see the problem that comes along with coming up with a consensus of belief. 


Question for mulling over; would it be more practical to have a common consensus of values, positions such as "we honor the rights of each individual to explore their spirituality to the extent that it doen't interfere with another or harm's themself".


I do acknowledge this raises the question of who gets to decide and who holds the authority to make this stand.


Don't have an answer, just a lot of questions.  Maybe it will boil down to "who ever shows up and yells the loudest". Unfortunately, that is what it seems to be sometimes.


That's why I cringe when ever I see some of the over-aged goth-kids (yes, I will admit my own middle-aged bias) that seem to pop up when ever the media is looking for a "Pagan angle" on something, usually around Halloween. 


I think, "Hey! what about the bald, middle-aged suburban dads that look funny mowing their yards like me?".


 


These last questions to me all relate back to identification not affiliation. Identification is important and I agree, in the absence of, people fill in the blanks but what happens when identification conflicts with or can't be encompassed by the benefits of affiliation?


C.H.



 


Good questions. I don't have any answers.


The more I write the more I suspect many of my questions come from a need to belong. Though many of us self-select to be solitaries, it is nice to point at a group and say "yep, that's us (i.e. that's the tribe I belong to)".


I went to our local Pagan Night Out a while back and haven't been back since. I didn't feel like I fit in (they spent a lot of time Christian-bashing rather than exploring faiths and how to act on them, etc).


I will defer to you Creaky, as I think I'm getting off subject here.

peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2009 - 1:11PM #8
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244
Teknmage's thread, not mine. So far on topic.

Living our ordinary human beings forms part of our self-identity. I don't have your experiences, Samhain. I live in a multi-cultural metropolis in a country that refused to vote in the last politician who ran on a Christian platform. Unfortunately still a MP but religious politics remains distasteful to a lot of Canadians.

So long as Paganism/Pagan continues to have multiple identifications/definitions valid in differing contexts, communicating to the rest of the non-Pagan world I suspect will remain problematic. The food bank that rejects someone's offerings because 'they identified themselves as Pagan' is operating with a (to them universally) valid negative definition. The Pagan therefore who did the self-identifying is seen as being affiliated to that which is held to be negative. Yet are not both sides equally responsible here? What is considered more important? The needs of the food bank or trying to force others to change either way?

Participation as a religious-new-kid-on-the-block within established governance structures, that would seem to go back to affiliation again as in representing others, speaking for others as well as stating that such affiliation should be acknowledged on a par with others. That requires the participation and commitment of others towards that affiliation.

"Question for mulling over; would it be more practical to have a common consensus of values, positions such as "we honor the rights of each individual to explore their spirituality to the extent that it doen't interfere with another or harm's themself"."

Yet that is a virtue or a value that still doesn't describe the nuts and bolts of such spirituality - as shared amongst those having common consensus - that would facilitate representation to those looking for nuts and bolts type identifications.

And I agree, who gets to decide and who is 'granted' the authority over others to decree what is or what isn't. If two of the commonalties that do exist are self-definition and experiential validation, then granting someone else authority to speak for one and even more so, authority to decide for one, kinda major issues there for many of us. In a Coven for example, limited authority may be granted by consensus to the HP/HPS (if Wiccan) or whoever is temporarily leading a Dianic Circle. That authority however is meant to be used for internal matters, dealing mainly with group dynamics, practicalities of conducting rituals or counseling and teaching. In a way these roles are like the CIO of a company. They deal with day to day issues, keeping the company on the right track, strategic planning and so on. When the company (or the industry that company is part of) needs to have a public 'face', someone that is recognized as speaking for that company, they want a trained and experienced spokesperson. It may be create, build or maintain a reputation or deal with a crisis that threatens the perceived reputation. Companies rarely chose the CIO as that 'face' unless he or she also happens to be one of those trained individuals. So authority and representation doesn't have to be the same but they do need to be aligned to the same message(s).

"That's why I cringe when ever I see some of the over-aged goth-kids (yes, I will admit my own middle-aged bias) that seem to pop up when ever the media is looking for a "Pagan angle" on something, usually around Halloween."

Yeah, I cringe too when I read the regurgitated 'Halloween is really Pagan' mythos that gets trotted out every year whenever reporters go looking for someone visually 'Pagan'. Of course, they get much the same mythos from Christians too but after all Halloween is just secular/commercial, not religious.  

The need to belong is one of the most powerful human instincts. We wouldn't have groups of any kind as a species if we didn't have this need. And yes, self-identification to Paganism definitely comes back to "yep, that's us (i.e. that's the tribe I belong to)". It also comes back to equally powerful need to feel safe too, I think. Being part of a group, a tribe, a family etc means we don't face the world alone. We all want that though it is answered in different ways.

Sorry you are getting off this discussion, your questions and insights are always thoughtful. I don't have answers either to these questions but wrestling with them makes one dig deeper into the issues.

C.H.


(Wish I could get quote function to work like you do....it just gives me grief every time I try)
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 11, 2009 - 9:21PM #9
samhainautumnwood
Posts: 666

Thanks Creaky,


I always appreciate your insight into things.


I didn't mean to imply I was leaving the discussion, rather I was worried I was starting to get off topic and was going to defer to you on the direction of the discussion.


 


 


FYI, I was having fits with the quote function as well. It still didn't do what I wanted it to.

peace,

samhain autumnwood.
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6 years ago  ::  Apr 12, 2009 - 12:35AM #10
Innerpoint
Posts: 1,070

I've not looked at the ARIS report, but I have been watching the American census reports.  It shows that there has been a slow, but steady, shift in religious affiliations for people since it was first started in 1948.


I, like Samhain, think that there will, sooner or later, be a call - a need - for some type of body to gather and start the ball rolling as to where Paganism, as a movement, is headed.  I'd love to be one of the Wiccan spokespersons at such an event.  It seems that Myst and I have been designated as the 'teachers' of our local Pagan gathering whether we wanted to be or not... and believe me, there are a lot of misconceptions regarding the various faiths and beliefs lumped under the grouping of Paganism. 


The only problem I see with such a gathering is an agreement between all individuals as to who we will let represent and speak for us.  Stop and think of who the better known representatives are (current spokespeople) for Paganism... then think about how many of them you (each of you) don't agree with.  When I said in the paragraph above that I'd love to be one of the Wiccan spokespersons, I had to smile.  There are quite a few Wiccans that wouldn't want to see me in that position, thinking that I only see things from the Traditional standpoints. 


Personally, I see Paganism as a revival of, or an acknowledgment to, the cultural practices and pantheons on which we've based our overall concepts.  I know, from personal experience,  that there are distinctly different definitions and practices from mine.  It's going to be hard to find that 'indisputable' common ground.


I had told myself that I wasn't going to post as much to the boards as what I used to but this topic caught my attention as it's something that I've been thinking of for quite a few years now.  Thank you for the platform and I'm now ready to turn it back over to all of you.

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