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6 years ago  ::  Mar 07, 2009 - 12:11PM #1
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Please take a moment to introduce yourself!


For those of you just looking out of interest, you will find many different types of Pagans here in this community. If it is helpful, think of Paganism or Neo-Paganism as a broad movement from the 20th century that is mostly self-defined and therefore has a richness of diversity that can be rather bewildering – even for those of us who self-identify as Pagan!


For those of you who have resonated or been inspired or drawn to a source or sources describing Paganism, most members who regularly post here and all who identify as Pagans has been where you are as you start along your path of exploration. For some of us, it has been a while however so be patient with us as we ramble on….


Consider that you have stepped onto a path of spiritual exploration where you have to define what that path signifies and what you personally bring to that exploration. Start with what you believe in right now, with what resonates for you, what aligns to your current beliefs. You may find others who hold similar beliefs. You may find an established group or tradition (a unique set of practices usually shared) that aligns sufficiently for you to embrace. Or you like so many other Pagans may turn out to be amazingly unique!


Expect your beliefs, practices and ideas to change on some level as you grow and learn through experience and participation. Change is and remains an universal constant.


Remember that there is no one right way to be a Pagan or Neo-Pagan so if you go down a detour on that path that doesn't work out for you, you're not 'doing it wrong'. You haven’t made a ‘mistake or mistakes’. All that has happened is that you took a detour to get to where you are today. Tomorrow you may take another detour or carry on along your path, that is how one grows spiritually. Remember also that nothing we learn in life is ever really wasted.


So please ask your questions. They might have been asked before but that's ok. There will be at least one member who is willing to offer his or her perspective and more than likely, several with differing or depending on the question, conflicting opinions. Diversity is also an universal constant within Paganism!


If you can't find the questions you want answered, please create a new thread to ask.


You are welcome to join in discussions and if you truly believe in something, then stand your ground. Remember to be courteous in disagreement and also this. That you are entitled to your opinions and beliefs just like everyone else. No one can make you change what you believe about Paganism unless you decide to do so.


C.H.


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6 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 4:29PM #2
Teknmage
Posts: 332

Why thank you CreakyHedgewitch for the warm welcome. :)


So two questions.


First This area is open to all who can be respectful, correct?


Second, Is there a difference between Pagan and Neo-Pagan as you use it here?


A tip, stay away from the photo wizard in the profile, unless you'd like to experience the magic of a name change... (First letter capitalized all other turn into lower case)


I'm Dah, I've been around for a while, I'm a fundie and if I can help with a technical problem please stop by >Dah's User to User Self Support<

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 6:53PM #3
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Teknmage,


Correct, this area is open to all who can be respectful. If not, (duly warned) the Hosts around here come complete with broomsticks for cleanup!


As for Pagan or Neo-Pagan, it will depend on whom you ask whether there is a difference between these. For some, these terms may be perceived as synonymous and/or interchangeable. For others, the terms may be perceived as being opposing such as when Pagan is used to refer only to ancient beliefs, faiths and peoples who have been labeled as pagan (for various reasons) by later generations. While Neo-Pagan is used to refer to the 20th century movement from which evolved such faiths as Wicca, Neo-Druidism, Dianicism and religious Pagan Witchcraft Traditions, etc. Some Pagans simply dislike the term Neo-Pagan, others prefer it over Pagan. I often use Neo-/Pagan myself though some members take umbrage at even that...:P


C.H.


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6 years ago  ::  Mar 08, 2009 - 8:09PM #4
Teknmage
Posts: 332

So what I'm hearing you telling me is you need to know the person, to understand the meaning of the word? And perhaps even knowing the person is not truly enough to understand the meaning of the word? So lets add another two words to the mix here, what of Heathen and Satanist? How do they, fit within Pagan and Neo-Pagan or do they?

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6 years ago  ::  Mar 09, 2009 - 8:15AM #5
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Not exactly. Use the words as you understand them and if the other person defines them differently, usually he or she will mention this. Or you can ask them how they personally define these terms, which may elicit a longer response. Once you understand how he or she defines these terms, then you may know them a bit better. There are no simple straightforward this-word-means-only-one-thing within the world of modern Paganism. It is one of the delights and one of the frustrations of being Pagan.


Heathen is a term most commonly found amongst Reconstructionists, notably Northern European Reconstructionists. Some prefer this term as they do not see modern Paganism as being relevant to their faiths or because they dislike the stereotypes that go along with modern Paganism. Whether Reconstructionism/Heathenism are part of the overall Paganism Movement remains debated. Some of these ethnic based faiths that have been reconstructed from within their cultures began in the 18th and 19th centuries. Others draw inspiration and elements from the 20th century movement, reworked into their ethnic framework. We have several Heathen regulars here though they also have their own boards.


I doubt you will find many actual Pagans who would agree that Satanism is Pagan or Neo-Pagan though again, it depends on how one defines these three terms. If one uses some of the Christianised definitions for example where the originally Hebrew version has become a fallen angel incorporated into Christian theology, then Satanism might be defined as being Pagan as that which is 'non-Christian'. This label often traces back to the medieval and folklore definitions of witchcraft or the tendency to demonise any ancient or indigenous deities and associate these with the Christian Devil. There were also 16th to 19th century European movements that were described as Satanist such as Freemasonry that influenced Ceremonial Magic and from which later orthopraxic Wicca drew upon for ritualistic elements. Satanism was/is also a popularised fictional device as well as a frequent accusation for anything radically different or perceived as morally decadent. LeVeyan Satanism is atheistic and do not personify their symbolic Satan. There are Satanists who consider Satan to be a deity though only some of these are based on a reversal of Christianity. Luciferianism is also often mis-associated with Satanism, though it has more to do with Gnosticism and other ancient faiths. Basically, if one claims that Satanism does fit within Paganism or Neo-Paganism, they should expect to be disagreed with.


C.H.
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5 years ago  ::  Jul 30, 2009 - 1:25PM #6
Ciaociao5
Posts: 2

Hi  I know it been awhile since anyone posted a reply to this thread, but I'm new to the Beliefnet community. I am very interested in the Pagan faith and believe I might be Pagan. I just want to know more, and maybe how start down that path to becoming a pagan. I'm kind of at the beginning and just really don't know where to start.


Thank You

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 05, 2009 - 7:34AM #7
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

Ciaociao5,


My apologies. As Host as well as a member here, I usually pick up on all the new posts and try to respond but I missed this thread.


Welcome to the Beliefnet Community. We are starting over these days re our regular membership and summers tend to be slower anyway but there are still a few of us around.Smile


Now the answers you might receive are going to differ on what Neo-/Paganism is or isn't. Below are mine, hopefully that will be helpful.


Many authors (books and websites) speak of the Neo-Pagan or Pagan religion or faith. What I have found is that each seems to be speaking either generically (5,000 foot view) or as to how he or she uniquely defines being Pagan that is often presented as applicable to everyone else. There is no doubt that individual Pagans do identify their beliefs to be his or her religion and have and can/do create life-long and life-transforming spiritual faiths. The diversity of what means Neo-/Paganism can or does represent however results in an inability to define this as a singular faith. Even at 5,000 feet one can certainly put some structure around Neo-/Paganism but the details of what that means and the enactment of such are usually problematic from this height.


Based on my experiences as a Neo-/Pagan for 26 years, I understand Neo-/Paganism better as a 20th Century Movement that encompasses many different beliefs, traditions, religions and personal spiritual paths. I have identified only four commonalties across this Movement that seem to apply to all Neo-/Pagans and to date four generalities that apply to some Neo-/Pagans.


Commonalties


Individuals self-identify as Neo-/Pagan.


.....so starting down the path is to self-identify as such.


He or she self-defines what this means individually.


....you believe you might be a Pagan. That must be based on what you currently define as Neo-/Paganism, right?


Validation is almost always experiential.


...first-hand experiences in other words. Validatihng your faith will be up to you, not to any external sources or people or any kind of spiritual authorities.


No one to date can agree outside of limited consensus sufficiently to create a singular definition that fits all.


....within the Movement there are established religions (like Wicca) and Traditions (like other Pagan Witchcraft Trads) and small groups etc. They have to have enough consensus of definition in order to identify to each other and practise together. No one as yet has come up with any such consensus broad enough that applies to all Neo-/Pagans.


Generalities


Self-responsibility lies at the core of any spiritual path.


...self-responsibility is not about rules or laws or rigid doctrine. Rather it is the harder path to follow. When there is no rulebook, one must be the most moral of beings. One must evolve your self's response-ability. This includes accepting all consequences for one's actions, not passing the buck spiritually or otherwise or projecting blame/guilt/responsibility onto others/entities and dealing with any backlash/feedback from actions taken.


That learning is always experiential and that one takes validation and meaning from one's direct experiences.


...this includes that some things like mythological history, basic skills and generic rituals can be taught from second- or third-hand written sources where others have shared his or her experiences but that these sources are not divinely revealed sources of wisdom.


That the Divine or Source is essentially recognisable and more reasonable as being polytheistic rather than monotheistic.


...the diversity of what is Neo-/Paganism encompasses just about every definition of what the Divine might be. Even monotheistic definitions but Neo-/Pagans typically do tend to be polytheists of some kind or another.


That nature is not irrelevant to one's spirituality.


...because as human beings we cannot be considered separately from nature. This may mean a (Neo-/Pagan) faith that is mainly or greatly nature-oriented or -worshipping by being personified by nature. Or that nature should be respected both for its omnipresent impact/power and in how one enacts one's life within nature. Or that nature at the very least must be taken into account independently from human needs.


 


Now I would suggest that your next starting point would be to articulate (to yourself or here as well if you would like some feedback) what you self-define as Neo-/Paganism. Consider this as a working definition that will change as you grow.


From what you believe now comes also the start of your framework to structure how you can practise. There are no rules here about how formal or informal a practise should be only that your faith should be defined enough to enable you to enact your beliefs in your life in meaningful ways.


I hope that a) helped a bit and b) brought up more questions (always good) and c) wasn't too confusing.


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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5 years ago  ::  Aug 24, 2009 - 9:37PM #8
Ciaociao5
Posts: 2

Thank you very much for the reply as I too apologize for the late reply attributed to my infected computer. I really appreciate you taking the time to explain in such detail to me your opinions on the faith. While I'm not truly sure I am a Pagan just yet in my eyes I do see how authors on books can take Paganism into their own beliefs, and yet it is a faith where one has their own way to follow it. I do associate very much with the nature side considering human are a part of nature no more superior to any other living thing that the Divine has created to live on this earth. I am also thankful for all that nature has done for my life as a human on Earth.When I think of Paganism I guess I think of a faith where every livin thing is equal and blessed and having a spiritual journey. Another thing I feel is there is this extreme appreciation for life in Paganism from birth to death everything is worshipped; that we are just so thankful to be living and breathing everyday experiencing living in this world. This is just my basic personal views...


This is a journey for me trying to digest all of this after being out of practice of faith for so long and raised on a totally different faith. I really appreciate your love and kindness in helping I just need to do a lot of thinking deep inside. I just need a little place to start a little place to devote myself everyday as in prayer or such. Any ideas? Again thank you and I'll take anymore advice you have for me

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5 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2009 - 8:35AM #9
CreakyHedgewitch
Posts: 1,244

 Ciaociao,


I'm very glad something in all that was helpful.


I think of all spiritual journeys as wisdom walks, where each person must define what wisdom means and what that walk entails for them. They may be aligned to an established faith or parallel to such or just a walk into uncharted territory. If you think about walking down a path within a forest, what is involved? Well, usually you can't see the end of the path unless this is very short. So you set off on the longer path with faith that you will end up somewhere even if you don't know what that somewhere looks like yet. On the path, you usually take one step at a time. If you are being mindful of the path itself, you watch where you are putting that next foot. You try to stay balanced on the remaining foot each time. The scenery around you at each step will change, subtly or dramatically as new vistas open up. A crossroads may suddenly appear that requires you to decide to go forward or off into another unknown that may be another direction entirely or just a detour. All of these are part of any spiritual journey, when you are starting or still decades later...Smile


A daily ritual of some kind is an excellent practice although the term ritual could be intimidating. It doesn't have to be something formal but rather meaningful and if possible reasonably repetitive.


A physical path one takes every day on the way from A to B but walked in awareness and meaningfully. See how nature is everywhere, acknowledge the beauty and wonder around you, remind yourself that your human life is just one strand woven into so many others.


In the bathroom in the morning (water being the essential element of life on earth) using the water at hand to meditate on the interconnections of life. Sometimes a ritual in the shower is all one can have time for on harried mornings! Wink There is a video on Google titled Apa...look up the keywords of water video Apa. It is about an hour and a half long but you will never look at water the same way again!


Find a time during the day (like first thing in the morning or last thing at night) when you can sit quietly (start with a minute and aim for five or ten minutes) and center then ground. Centering is thinking and feeling deeply inside and sorting out what is you and what is influencing you. Each of us has a core, a center that is uniquely us. The more you connect to that, the more quickly you can recognise it again if anything overly influences you in life. Think of it like the balancing foot on the path as you go to take a new step. Grounding is visualising having roots out your feet that go deep into the earth below. It doesn't matter if you are in a high rise or whatever, eventually you will reach the earth itself. This is both feet firmly on the path, stopping to connect to everything around you.


If you need something visual, put whatever is beautiful to you on a bedside table or a tray or the corner of a dresser or whatever works for you. Even into a lunch bag that you can take out and put away when you are done. A rock with a history for you, a picture, a feather, a shell, a string of beads, a scarf in nature's colours or fabrics, something you can hold and touch and visually connect to as a focus for your thoughts. For example I use small flat bowls of sand from places that are meaningful to me, sometimes with rocks or shells but visually and to the touch, my sandbowls work as focus points. I draw in the sand, I move the rocks/shells around or let the sand run over my hand, visualize walking over it, think of the journey of each tiny grain to where I can touch it, whatever in that specific ritual is meaningful. To other eyes, these simply look like decorating. Or put a few small stones in a glass and fill it with water and visualise standing in a stream or river as a mediation.


If sitting quietly doesn't work or isn't working today, try something artistic like painting or sketching or just doodling or journaling with stream of consciousness thoughts. I know a Witch who knits while she does her daily ritual!


Just keep whatever you do simple in outcome, simple in enactment. Try whatever. If something doesn't work, try something else. There is no failure with something not working. There is just finding what works for you. Aim for something repetitive if you can as this deepens over time but change whatever you do as needed on the day.


Some ideas. Hope something clicks for you.


C.H.

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care.
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5 years ago  ::  Feb 09, 2010 - 6:22PM #10
Sue
Posts: 3

Hallo I am new here


Hallo to all, especially Creaky our host,


I am here to introduce myself, I don't know if this is the right place really. I wouldn't have a clue how to start a thread.


I am a middle aged ex christian, with baggage: now attracted to the pagan path but with no very definite beliefs.


I have been reading your very interesting threads and finding out lots about paganism, I have read a few books with goddess, wicca etc themes,


one book by Vivienne Crowley ages ago was probably the first, in that she said the pagan gods are not jealous gods, they dont mind if we chase after other gods and come back, or words to that effect, it was definitely helpful to me at the time, true or not.


As I said, I have baggage, it would be nice to dump it!!


 

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