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Paganism as a Whole

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Paganism as a Whole

Postby Queen of the Dead » Tue Dec 16, 2014 4:51 am

Can we just all agree right now that Paganism isn't actually a religion?

I mean really.

It isn't a religion.

It's a group of polytheistic religious traditions.

Paganism does not include Hinduism, Buddhism, or Native American traditions.

Why? Because Hindus, Buddhists, and Native Americans have said that they don't want to be called pagan.

The more you know.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Xiao Rong » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:08 am

Generally speaking, I see Paganism (with a capital P*) as a modern movement that encompasses a number of spiritual and religious paths, including polytheistic religious traditions, Wicca, non-theistic paths, Goddess spirituality, earth-centered paths, and more.

I agree that a key characteristic of Paganism is self-identification. I have come across a few people who consider anyone outside of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam a "pagan" since this is the "historical" definition of paganism, but I strongly disagree since it seems useless to lump Hindus, atheists, Buddhists, and others with Pagans when they consider themselves to be totally separate from the modern Pagan movement (I also would like to think that Paganism stands for something, rather than as not-something, and I see no need to define myself from a Christian-centric viewpoint).

* Little "p" paganism is frequently used to denote historical religious traditions, although most little "p" pagans would not have called or considered themselves "pagans".
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Sakura Blossom » Tue Dec 16, 2014 10:43 am

It all depends on who you talk to. While I agree that Buddhism, Hinduism, and so on aren't Pagan religions, some people prefer to call themselves strictly as Pagan and have that as their religion. Then you have those who fall under the Pagan "umbrella" who don't necessarily call themselves as "Pagan" either because they don't view themselves as one, or they follow Wicca or another defined path. So to some people, Paganism is a religion, while to some it's simply an umbrella term for the movement that Xiao is speaking of above. (: It all depends on the view point, as there really is not "right" or "wrong" way to view anything, especially with something as subjective and still-growing as Paganism.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Queen of the Dead » Tue Dec 16, 2014 5:53 pm

Thanks, Xiao, for the note about capitalizing/not capitalizing! I didn't know that.

I mean, people do call themselves Pagan, but it isn't quite accurate. However, since a bunch of people call themselves that, the meaning has been slightly rearranged. Most people who just call themselves "Pagan" are actually Neo-Pagans or reconstructionists by definition. But I guess if they want to call themselves that, they don't have to fall under the label of Neo-Pagan or anything. I don't make the rules, so I don't really know. *shrugs*
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Xiao Rong » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:29 pm

Thanks, Xiao, for the note about capitalizing/not capitalizing! I didn't know that.

I mean, people do call themselves Pagan, but it isn't quite accurate. However, since a bunch of people call themselves that, the meaning has been slightly rearranged. Most people who just call themselves "Pagan" are actually Neo-Pagans or reconstructionists by definition. But I guess if they want to call themselves that, they don't have to fall under the label of Neo-Pagan or anything. I don't make the rules, so I don't really know. *shrugs*


I find the distinction that only polytheistic religious traditions that presumably have a continuous unbroken line throughout history (since you're lumping reconstructionist with Neo-Pagans) to be somewhat arbitrary and exclusionary. I am speaking as someone who is a panentheist, Goddess feminist, and my particular path is undoubtedly new, although it draws significantly on older pagan practices and sources. And I consider the idea of Paganism as a movement to be important because the various paths have needed to work together in the past to win legal recognition and attain political significance in a way that no single tradition, with possibly the exception of Wicca, could (for instance, recognition of Pagan holidays, Pagan chaplains in prisons, and Pagan symbols on military headstones).

This is probably the best working definition of the modern Pagan movement: The Three Centers of Paganism, which are Deity-Centered, Earth-Centered, and Self-Centered (which isn't to say ego-centric, but rather the union of the self with the greater universe). (He also adds a possible fourth center of Paganism, which is Community-Centered).

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Most people's practices incorporate two or more centers, although some tend to focus more on one center than others.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Sakura Blossom » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:31 pm

Queen, there really aren't any rules as people can be cled what they wish to be called. There may be some sub-groups according to some but to others they may not be something they consider as an actual title. There are many different definitions for everything as some view Wicca as ONLY being initiatory and having a different definition because of that while others view it as something that isn't lineage-based. Do you see what I'm trying to explain? I hope it doesn't come across as harsh. D: Religion isn't fully "set" as there's no true right or wrong as nothing's been proven one way or another. It's all subject to opinion or that's what I've come to understand as I've researched.

To each their own, as they say! (:
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Queen of the Dead » Tue Dec 16, 2014 6:38 pm

You're right. Sorry.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby AdastraJunction » Tue Dec 16, 2014 8:25 pm

Pagan or "paganus" in Roman times at the advent of christianity it was a military term to describe villagers or non-combatants. Christians picked up the term prior to "The Church" advent. It didn't get picked up as a term for pantheists until 1908 and used more recently as an umbrella term for anyone who was not of a monotheistic religion. If you want to get into the etymology aspect of the word itself, that is. It has just become the term to use when you do not consider yourself of a common monotheistic faith in this day and age. Call yourself what you will but I find it rather harsh and a touch rude to imply that someone should not refer to themselves as "Pagan" simply because you disagree with the use of the term or turn of phrase. If you follow Wicca then you are Wiccan, Buddhist, Taoist, Christian, Catholic etc... What does it matter? It's a label pure and simple, that is easiest to use in reference to a belief/ multiple belief system or way of life that does not conform to other common religious faiths. I personally do not use the term when referring to my own beliefs though others would, that is my preference. Others are more comfortable with it because it is the easiest response when asked what faith they are rather than get into a long explanation for what and why they believe in it.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Myrth » Tue Dec 16, 2014 9:26 pm

I identify Pagan. I am pantheistic, not polytheistic. I am a witch.

The thing that people need to understand is that language constantly evolves. To freeze the meaning of "pagan" to that used by early Christian is to attempt to deny that language, and hence the definition, has evolved. I know other Pagans who are pantheists rather than polytheists.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Queen of the Dead » Wed Dec 17, 2014 2:35 am

I am actually a pantheist as well.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby SnowCat » Wed Dec 17, 2014 7:11 pm

I'm a redhead.

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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Queen of the Dead » Thu Dec 18, 2014 11:09 pm

I can't really tell if people are angry at me for this thread???? I was just thinking of the definition of paganism. Like I'm not going to police people on what they call themselves or how they practice, but I just want people to know that BY DEFINITION, paganism doesn't include the said religions and is described as a "broad group of indigenous and historical polytheistic religious traditions," although it is also said that a pagan does not have to be polytheistic.

I'm just stating the definition, not telling people what to call themselves. I honestly don't care that much, I just thought that people might want to know what the definition is. I don't even care if someone decides NOT to call themselves anything.

I'm sorry that my first post started off pretty sarcastic.
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby Sakura Blossom » Fri Dec 19, 2014 12:15 am

Queen, I'm very sorry that you feel as if others are angry and I don't think they're angry with you but perhaps the way you phrased your first post was not the most beneficial for the point you were trying to make? Sarcasm is very difficult to detect over the internet as we are simply reading text and not hearing it in person. People will read words depending on the mood they are when they read them.

If you wanted to share the definition, perhaps rephrasing what you said would be more helpful? Such as "Hey, guys! I was just reading about the definition of Paganism and I wanted to share what the definition is!" or something along those lines. We try very hard to avoid saying anything that is too definite because we try to empower everyone's individual belief.

I hope this makes sense and helps you to see what we're trying to convey?
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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby SnowCat » Fri Dec 19, 2014 7:59 am

It seems that misunderstanding happens much more easily on the Internet than in a face to face conversation. We post something with good intentions, but since our avatars are incapable of reproducing the nuances of body language, some things literally get lost in translation.

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Re: Paganism as a Whole

Postby SnowCat » Fri Dec 19, 2014 8:04 am

The dictionary defines pagan as a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the world's three main religions. In that sense, I believe that most of us here do qualify as pagans.

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