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Switch to Forum Live View I am interested in learning more about Paganism
5 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2009 - 6:13AM #1
UU_Nirvana
Posts: 14

I am interested in learning more about Paganism and I know that there are many different types of Pagans. My question is...do you know of any good books that go over the different types or maybe even a website. I have a bunch of books on pagan based religions and i have tried to do as much study as I can but I still feel I have learned nothing. Many of the books contradict eachother or I just don't understand what their talking about. I really have liked Silver Raven Wolf's books but after reading countless reasons on why I should not read her material i am a little confused on what I should read then. What attracts me to paganism is the ritual. A relationship with god(s) is very important to me and I find that I feel closer to the "Source/god(s)" when in ritual. The only thing that turns me off from paganism is some of the things I have read one must do in ritual (at least in some of the wiccan books I have) like casting a circle and these many steps one must take. I guess I just feel that one should not have to cast a circle because all places are sacred. It just seems like there is so many steps one must take during ritual that I find rather anoying and distracts me from what I am really setting out to do. Maybe thats only in wicca, I guess Im not sure. Anyways, my question is if you know of any good books or websites that could help me find the right pagan path for me. I would like a path that I can practice alone, I want a path that has more focus on the god(s) than on magick and a path with ritual that won't take me three hours to perform but instead will make me feel closer to the god(s) and strengthen my connection with them.


Ok, one more thing....I have read that many pagans believe in only one god that is both male and female and that when they speak of the different "gods" they dont really believe in many but that all these different gods are just different manifestations of the one supreme god. Is this true for most pagans? I'm asking because thats how I view it myself. I feel there is only one god and everything that is in this universe including the earth, everything on it and ourselves are manifestations of him/her. I feel we all are apart of the divine.


Thank you in advance for your help and for reading such a long post...thanx. :)

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2009 - 11:43AM #2
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

There is not really any concensus on the forms of deity among people who identify as Pagan, it ranges from panentheism, henotheism, duotheism, hard and soft polytheism, universalism, and so on. It varies depending on the specific religion or path within Paganism you're looking at, although monotheism is rather rare.


As far as instructional materials and sources go, there is so much information available out there, that you may wish to narrow the scope to a specific religion or tradition before advancing. I'd certainly suggest you go through the older threads here, as you may find some answers or further sources.


A few websites which are (generaly) held to have some good information:


www.witchvox.com/_x.html?c=trads, a good collection of general information essays on a huge number of Pagan traditions, although some are a bit older and so many have been refined since publication, I'd advise that if you find a specific tradition which appeals to you, to find more material on the subject, or try getting in contact with a member of that tradition.


en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neopaganism, in such a case, the neoPagan wiki is also not a bad place to get an overview, as well as information on some of the more established religions.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2009 - 11:49AM #3
John_T_Mainer
Posts: 1,658

 


Paganism is not a religion any more than Africa is a country.  Paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses dozens of faiths, even as Africa is a continent that contains dozens of nations.


Many Wiccans beleive in archetypes, a male and female aspected divinity and feel free in using god names interchangably for these aspects.  Other faiths like my own Asatru, or the Celtic and Hellenic reconstructionist paths know the gods and goddesses as seperate and knowable entities.


Each faith has its own traditions, rituals, mythology, ethics, and arts for understanding and interacting with the gods.  If you want to understand Asatru, Diana Paxsons Essential Asatru is the best starte, followed by the Poetic Edda.


www.amazon.com/Essential-Asatru-Walking-...


www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ISBN=02927649...


 


This will not help you to understand Celtic reconstructionists, Hellenic reconstructionists, Roma Mater followers, Zoroastrians or Mithrans.  To learn what each of these beleive, you will have to seek out the writings and teachings of each.

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 15, 2009 - 1:14PM #4
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

UU Nirvana,



why is your thread title so long? Was it the new format here on Beliefnet or did you intend to make it that long? If the latter, a shorter subject title is far more effective. <...removing Host Hat...returning to being a member>


 I approach Paganism as a modern 20th century Movement that encompasses sufficient diversity so that one should expect to find contradictions galore. When you don't, it is someone's specific self-definition at work, i.e.: SRW.


 So here is some basic suggestions as you have indicated that you intend to practise alone.


 You have to self-define what you mean when you say Paganism. Anything written is just someone else's second- or third-hand experiences not gospel or doctrine. It isn't an established religion with expected ways of doing things. There is NO MUST OR HAVE TO just because some author wrote that or wrote as if there was. There is only you choosing what is right for you.


Ritual is not copyrighted to anything labelled as Paganism. IMO, faith-based ritual evolves not out of the words of an author but out of the underlying definition of the Divine, what I call the non-negotiable core belief of a religion, faith or individual belief system. Start there with your self-definition. Let that determine what you need to include or not. Write your own rituals. What is essential to you? What puts you in closer contact or connection to the Divine as you define such? That is what you include. If you are not sure what will work, try whatever part or type or aspect of a ritual resonates for you. If it works, keep it. If it doesn't, adapt and try it again and if it still doesn't work, don't use it.


Only you and your 'Gods' can decide what is valid or not within your practise/relationship. If you start looking externally or need to have recognition or acknowledgement or approval from others, then your practise has become more than solitary.


Wicca is only ONE of the established religions within Paganism although Wicca had and does influence directly or indirectly what many define today as being (generically) Pagan. All Wiccans may be Pagans but being Pagan doesn't make you Wiccan. If you are not Wiccan , then Wiccan practises including their RITUAL formality is not binding on you to use.


 Magick is not copyrighted to being Pagan or to witchcraft for that matter either. Oh books and websites available today do go on and on about Pagans (Wiccans..Witches) have to practise magick. One doesn't. It is a choice including what of the many systems of magick one might also choose from. If one is a properly trained Wiccan, then the only magick that one uses AS a Wiccan is an adaptation of Ceremonial Magic for those religious rituals. What Wiccans do privately is up to him or her where magick is concerned. Even Pagan Witches don't have to use magick although he or she does need to be familiar with at least one system of magick. Bottom line. It is simply up to you as a solitary practitioner whether you ever practise magickal anything.


So keep your rituals simple. Short and to the point. You don't need fancy tools or robes or elaborate set-ups. That is all to focus your senses and help you concentrate. Instead focus on what is important to you. Only your Gods will be looking over your shoulder to see what you are doing in those rituals.


To modern (and Reconstructionist) Pagans the Divine or Source is essentially recognisable and more reasonable as being polytheistic rather than monotheistic. You will find some other Pagans who do hold to an ubergod. Though rare, there are even some Pagan traditions that do center on a single uber-deity although usually female in gender. Generally to most Pagans, being told that one's Gods are part of someone else's ubergod can be as distasteful as being told by Christians that their (Pagan) Gods are really just Jehovah as the only valid god that there is. Kinda what one would be actually saying, isn't it? Something to consider.


Likewise, many Pagans IME would tell you that all gods may be valid to at least one person but not to all people. For example, I (being a Dianic Pagan whose Tradition focuses on a pantheon of feminine deities) would tell you that Jehovah is a valid god but that He isn't part of my religion/tradition nor do I follow Him. Others however do believe in Him and hold a covenant with Him. Thus it would be disrespectful for me to 'not believe' in His validity than it would be for me to not believe in the validity of Odin or Zeus or The Horned One. This tends to get a bit confusing for monotheists who may hold that if one believes in a deity's validity, that this must equate to worship or following or including a deity within ones faith. My response generally is that my Tradition's pantheon are all modern Goddesses yet I believe in the validity of all goddesses throughout the world, historically or worshipped today. None of Them however are included or worshipped in the Tradition I follow.


 The male and female gods found in some but not all parts of the Paganism Movement are not mandatory, required or understood to be the same to all. They may however be traced back at least in part to the earlier influence of Wicca. This religion has had and continues to have a pantheon of male and female deities. However from its conception in the 1930's, Wicca was and is meant to be a mystery faith with identification of that specific pantheon as part of the oathbound orally transmitted knowledge that prepared a Wiccan for experiencing those specific Mysteries. If you were not or are not part of a lineaged tradition, you don't get to know who They specifically are. Gerald Gardner obviously could not Name Them to anyone else either so in a written comment about whom he considered the most important of the Wiccan Pantheon, he simply refers to Them as the Lord and the Lady. This lead to non-lineaged traditions and solitary practitioners and authors to identify These two as 'the' pantheon of Wicca (although they are only part of such) and to substitute Names as they wish, often from throughout a global pantheon. From this generic Paganism has borrowed as it has most things, bringing in even greater diversity as well as mono-opinions. I however don't agree with John that many Wiccans believe in archetypes, although it may be a difference in how we are defining that term.   I have found in my interactions with experienced and properly trained Wiccans that the Gods of Wicca are held to be real and valid in Their own rights. Archetypes as I define it...Neo-Wiccanesque beliefs perhaps.


So the bottom line here from all these suggestions is that in your solitary practise, you may do as you choose whereas defining the Divine is concerned. If you are looking again for external validation for that definition, that becomes another matter entirely.


Hope something in that is useful,


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 16, 2009 - 6:54PM #5
UU_Nirvana
Posts: 14

Thank you all for your comments...it has helped a lot.


Laughing

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2009 - 2:56PM #6
Innerpoint
Posts: 1,068

You might want to consider looking at some of the reconstructionist practices.  These are based on the actual historical references of the gods and goddesses of a specific culture.  Unless you opt in for something like learning about, and acting as, 'priesthood' in one of these practices, there are no actual ritual aspects to any of them (not saying there aren't prescribed ways - only that there is no 'magic', 'circles', or 'theatrical' stuff).  There are festivals, observances, and holy days - but they are for the honouring of deity and ascribed aspects of such, not the 'I must do this in a certain way' frame of mind.


A good reference site for various thoughts and practices is www.sacred-texts.com.  This site has numerous texts for your perusal - all, normally, listed within a particular systems heading.  What I like the most about this site is that they also include older texts (as they've found them) and books from writers that are extremely hard to find, now.


For a Hellenic reference, try www.theoi.com.  This site is dedicated, strictly, to Hellenistic (Greek) theology, mythology and deities.  There are many proven factual points there - as well as conjecture based on numerous findings of murals, vases, urns, etc.


Good luck on your search.  I wish you the best - and always know that there are always people here to give you 30 answers to one question.  And, that's just from one person!!


Wink

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2009 - 2:58PM #7
Innerpoint
Posts: 1,068
Hmmm... what happened to my avatar?  I'm more than just a crotch (I hope).
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2009 - 4:15PM #8
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Aug 17, 2009 -- 2:56PM, Innerpoint wrote:

You might want to consider looking at some of the reconstructionist practices.  These are based on the actual historical references of the gods and goddesses of a specific culture.  Unless you opt in for something like learning about, and acting as, 'priesthood' in one of these practices, there are no actual ritual aspects to any of them (not saying there aren't prescribed ways - only that there is no 'magic', 'circles', or 'theatrical' stuff).  There are festivals, observances, and holy days - but they are for the honouring of deity and ascribed aspects of such, not the 'I must do this in a certain way' frame of mind.


A good reference site for various thoughts and practices is www.sacred-texts.com.  This site has numerous texts for your perusal - all, normally, listed within a particular systems heading.  What I like the most about this site is that they also include older texts (as they've found them) and books from writers that are extremely hard to find, now.


For a Hellenic reference, try www.theoi.com.  This site is dedicated, strictly, to Hellenistic (Greek) theology, mythology and deities.  There are many proven factual points there - as well as conjecture based on numerous findings of murals, vases, urns, etc.


Good luck on your search.  I wish you the best - and always know that there are always people here to give you 30 answers to one question.  And, that's just from one person!!


Wink






I am unable, of course, to speak for all recon religions, but there is a semblance that orthopraxy is of some import. This has more to do with being less orthodoxic (correct belief), and thus performing the rituals correctly, in the mandated fashion (which again will differ from religion to religion, and trad to trad). For example, as far as CR goes, many of the myths which describe ritualized occasions or function, have them done "just so", the doing of something the incorecct way could lead to misfortune, and even death. It is not so dire now, but it is something to keep in mind.

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 17, 2009 - 4:16PM #9
gorm-sionnach
Posts: 1,663

Aug 17, 2009 -- 2:58PM, Innerpoint wrote:

Hmmm... what happened to my avatar?  I'm more than just a crotch (I hope).






It seems the avatar size has decreased (and recentered) in the forums...

Truth in our hearts, Strength in our arms, Fulfillment in our tongues.
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 18, 2009 - 8:09PM #10
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

 


UU Nirvana,


I shortened your title down to the traditional length for a subject line. Hope that isn't too much of a  Surprised!


C.H.
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