What is paganism? - Mothering Forums

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Old 12-07-2002, 05:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Obviously paganism encompasses many religions and or paths, but do you think there are any core beliefs?? If so what are they to you?

Are these core beliefs of paganism?

All paths are right?

All pagans are polytheists?

All pagans walk their own path?

All pagans believe in an afterlife?

All pagans practice magic?

Those are just off the top of my head, and I don't neccessarily agree with them all. What do you guys think. I know there has been alot of debate in the pagan community regarding pagan unity. SO I'm just wondering if there is anything that all pagans could agree define paganism.
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Old 12-07-2002, 06:02 PM
 
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I think there is validity in all spiritual paths. It's only right it if it's right for you

I don't think you have to be polytheistic necessarily to be pagan. For instance, I consider Eastern theories like Buddahism and Taoism to be pagan in nature.

I do think that pagan al walk their own paths, but don't all Christians, Jews and Muslims as well? I guess I just believe that this is true for all people.

I don't think all pagans believe in an afterlife

and I definately don't believe that all pagans do magic.

I haven't really formulated an idea of "core beliefs" for Pagans, or not one that I can articulate anyway, btu I am curious to what others will say.
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Old 12-07-2002, 06:23 PM
 
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i am going to be really interested in hearing the responses and discussion here.. i do not call myself a pagan, but since i've been reading a little about it here on these boards, i definately feel that much of the beliefs of paganism resonate with my own views of things.. i'd be interested in hearing more about the different paths, what makes them different, etc.. (or maybe i should start a new thread for that? )
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Old 12-07-2002, 07:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I've heard many different interpretations about what is paganism. One of them being that if you aren't part of the big three (judaism, christianity or islam) then you are pagan. I know many traditional Buddhists and Hindus would not consider themselves pagan and I won't be telling someone that they are if they don't say they are. I figure if you define yourself as pagan that is enough for me.

As far "walking your own path" there are narrow and wide definitions of that. The wide version (IMO) being that we all do it a little bit differently. Yeah we do, but I believe more in the narrow version of the definition. There are some that while they may walk their own path do it in as limited a way as possible. Many of the traditionalist and recon members would probably say that is what they do. It isn't "whatever works for me", it's " I'm doing the best I can to practice in a historical way with the knoweldge I have". Those are two very different things.

I sometimes wonder if there ever can be pagan unity when one group insists if you don't do it my way then you are blasphemous and another group says Hey I can do whatever I want, what's your problem?

mamabeard I will bump the pagan paths thread we had, it's a couple pages back by now I think.
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Old 12-08-2002, 03:33 PM
 
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Pagan is a dirty word. It means country person, as does heathen.

(Little pun--as country people, eg: farmers, get their hands dirty.)

Moving on. Today the "pagan" community is reclaiming the word pagan, no? As gay people have reclaimed queer, the hip hop community has reclaimed n----r (I don't dare type it tho), and hippies reclaimed freak.

Pagan is a generic term. How could we have pagan unity when there are so many different ways to be pagan?

Indigenous religions of all nations: are they pagans? What does a Bantu have in common with a Lakota? A Maori with a Tibetan monk?

It seems, nowadays when you say pagan, people think Wiccan, which is kind of trendy right now, with high visibility in the pop media. But once you study paganism a little, your definition broadens. So some may call Hindus pagans, but then, when you study that, you realize, Hinduism doesn't really exist, or it didn't until the English colonialists invented it in the 18th-19th century. India did not exist either, nor did Africa, until white men created them out of dozens of independent nations.

So to just call their native religions paganism, kind of belittles them, IMHO.

Then if you read my favorite book: The Jesus Mysteries, whose subtitle is: Was the "Original Jesus" a Pagan God? the question just broadens, the distinction blurs. Their thesis argues that Jesus was an invention, a myth, created to be a framework for deep spiritual truths. It was brought together in the early centuries BCE and the first century CE, by Hellenized Jews (the Therapeutae, the Essenes), who had studied Plato and were familiar with the common gnostic mystery cults of the day. So here is paganism again, in this case, the dusty classic paganism that is not in vogue today.

To get unity, you have to understand that, literalists (pagan, xian, whathaveyou) will always argue dogma, rituals, books. Gnostics, those mystical magical persons, know there is an underlying truth, a perennial philosophy, that ultimately ties all belief systems together. But you have to look for inner meanings, not outer quasi-historical stories and laws written in stone.
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Old 12-09-2002, 12:19 AM
 
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ok...I think Pagan is a term for one who believes in something besides the judeo christian Islamic God belief system.
That leaves alot of beliefs,
I could say many believe this or that way...but I dont think I could say all about any belief, Pagan or other.
What Daryll said about the history of the use of the word Pagan is relative I believe to my opinion also...it began as a word for those who lives in the country -outside the city, altho it perhaps doesnt fully encompass many belief systems simply to say they are Pagan it does help if one is trying to categorize or generalize.(in my humble opinion anyways )m
ps-English colonialists created Hinduism in the 18 or 19 century??
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Old 12-09-2002, 12:41 AM
 
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ps-English colonialists created Hinduism in the 18 or 19 century??
From the article I posted a few days ago. Hinduism was the term used when the Brits lumped all the various indigenous Indian religious practices and beliefs into one catagory, as if they were all part of a cohesive whole.

Pagan is a word which needs to be defined at the beginning of any given conversation so that everyone can be on the same page usage-wise--inconvenient as that conversation can sidetrack the intended conversation. The Celtic Traditionalists and such don't like to be called Pagan any more than the Native Americans or Hindus would. I personally don't mind since I think of it in the academic sense of non-Abrahamic.

The Traditionalists I've "met" online don't like the word because it is so strongly associated with Wicca, and they don't like Wicca because they see borrowing as cultural theft.

I think we can have "Pagan" Unity in that we all should be supportive of freedom of religion issues. But the minute someone tries the "one right way" bit it's Gone.

I wonder sometimes if there are core beliefs... I think there are: a general honoring of the Earth-whether through honoring the Gods/Goddesses or directly is the main one I can think of at the moment.

Not all are polytheistis, though even my use of language may make it seem I am. Not all are pantheistic. Some walk as close to a historical cultural path as they can. Others are almost making it up as they go along. Not all worry about an afterlife. Not all do magic...

We seem to have more differences sometimes than similarities, and yet, when I'm discussing things online I can relate to most on some level...

one of life's paradoxes???


"What will you do once you know?"
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Old 12-09-2002, 04:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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ok, yes I was playing with the polls again. So I came across this at the beliefnet poll (see the other thread I started regarding new age beliefs)

Here is belief nets definition (when compared to their new age one I see BFnets difference now)

http://www.beliefnet.com/story/80/story_8058_1.html

Belief in Deity
Some believe in a Supreme Being. Many believe in God and Goddess--a duality. Many believe there are countless spirit beings, gods and goddesses, in the cosmos and within all of nature--God is all and within all; all are one God. The Great Mother Earth, or Mother Nature, is highly worshipped. Divinity is immanent and may become manifest within anyone at any time through various methods.


interesting....................
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Old 12-11-2002, 12:16 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally posted by DaryLLL
the hip hop community has reclaimed n----r (I don't dare type it tho),
T The hip hop community never disclaimed it, so there was no reclaiming to be had. "Black" Americans, as a group, have always used this word. And, always will, I'm sure.


I believe all nature-centered belief systems to be pagan. I'm not sure if there are any other core beliefs, tho. I haven't studied enough to feel comfortable labeling things to that extent.

Honestly, I think all religions are pagan. They're users are just guilty of malpractice.

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Old 12-11-2002, 12:31 AM - Thread Starter
 
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They're users are just guilty of malpractice.

Nopw THAT was funny, lolol and so astute
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Old 12-12-2002, 12:37 AM
 
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To be perfectly honest, "pagan" isn't the term I'd choose to describe myself. I tend to use it because more people know what it means than not. If I identify myself to people in the general public as a Druid (generically) or an Ovate (specifically), I am met with blank stares, "what the heck is that?" or references to Spaceballs. Using the word pagan just saves a lot of time (unless the person I'm talking to feels the burning need to tell me about her sister's boyfriend's cousin's college roommate who was Wiccan).

Having been raised by Wiccan parents, I've seen there is no such thing as a "pagan core belief." I generally identify people's religious belief as however one wishes to define onesself. I feel I have no right ot judge wheter someone really is pagan, or Wiccan, or Zoroastrian, or anything else. If one wishes to call onesself thusly, who am I to argue?
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