My Qustions about the Pegans

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by NoName, May 1, 2006.

  1. NoName

    NoName New Member

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    Okey, here what I would like to know and please forgive I say anything offensive

    1. Is it true Pegans pray to trees?

    2 how many gods do you worship?

    3 is it true the main god you worship is a Goddess and if so who is she?

    4 Do you really use magic?

    5 and if so, for what and why?
     
  2. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Hi there, and welcome to the Alternative section here on Comparative-Religion.com.

    I'm a Pagan who practices an eclectic form of Wicca. I'll do my best to answer your questions.

    Just for the record I don't consider there to be such a thing as a bad question. The only bad questions are the ones we think but don't ask. If you're wondering something chances are there are others who are wondering the exact same things and will appreciate that you asked them!

    Paganism is not a single religion but a term used to describe a large variety of diverse and quite distinct religions. There are a lot of different ways (sometimes conflicting) that the word Pagan is defined. Personally I tend to use the working definition that says Paganism is anything that is not Jewish, Christian, or Muslim. It's usually considered good manners though to not consider a religion Pagan if the people who practice that particular religion reject the association.

    So among the Pagan religions you'll find different and quite distinct religions such as Wicca, various Druid religions such as ADF (as well as others), Asatru, and many different reconstructionists religions that are attempts to produce modern versions of the various religions practiced in pre-Christian times in Greece, Egypt, Rome, and other societies.

    Even within specific religions such as Wicca there are a lot of different denominations with different philosophies and ways of doing things. Just like within Christianity there are lots of denominations which don't all do things or believe exactly the same way.

    Regarding whether Pagan worship trees, I'm sure that there are some who do, but there are also definitely some who don't. It all depends on the specific Pagan religion they follow, and the specific beliefs and practices of their particular denomination.

    There are some Pagan religions and philosophies that include animistic beliefs. Animism is the belief that the Divine exists in the physical realm, and depending on the specific philosophy might teach that the Divine is present in specific creatures or things (as in the belief that certain animals are Divine, or certain trees or mountains or places are Divine), or might extend this to teach that all things contain the Divine.

    Druids in particular were known for their veneration of trees, particularly oaks. Whether they considered oaks to be deities though or just considered them to be special is a question though that I suspect varies depending on the Druid you ask.

    Some Pagan groups are monotheists and therefore worship a single deity. Others are duotheists and acknowledge two deities (often a God and Goddess, but sometimes the duality is one of a Good God and an Evil God.) Others are polytheists and believe that there are many gods and goddesses -- some try to honour as many as they can, but more often they will choose a specific one or a few to honour while still acknowledging that others exist.

    Among polytheists, there are two main types:
    1 - "soft" polytheists, who believe that all deities are really just manifestations of a supreme deity (this is like what some Hindus believe and tend to explain as Brahman, who is the Supreme Deity).
    2 - "hard" polytheists, who believe that all the different deities are actually independent and distinct, and are not manifestations of some larger deity. "Hard" polytheists tend to be offended by the suggestion that deities who are described the same way in different cultures might be the same deity with different names (as in equating the Greek Hermes with the Egyptian Thoth.)

    Both "hard" and "soft" polytheism have been around for hundreds if not thousands of years. Some people are under the impression that "soft" polytheism is a new idea, but it was described in Lucius Apuleius (c. 123 - c. 170 CE) novel "The Golden Ass" with regards to the goddess Isis. And "soft" polytheism has existed within Hinduism for quite some time although I'm not sure how far back it can be verifiably be traced. (I'm not an expert in Hinduism so I don't know.)

    Again, it all depends on the specific Pagan religion, denomination, and in some cases the actual individual you are asking. There are countless gods and goddesses, so there are lots to choose from!

    I think the majority of Pagans do worship a Goddess, a minority exclusively (without worshipping a god as well), but most I think tend to worship both gods and goddesses. Some Pagans undoubtedly worship only male divinites or perhaps a single male divinity.

    Wiccans, just as one example though, usually worship a God and a Goddess who are seen as an equally balanced pair. But even among Wiccans the specific names they use for the God and Goddess will vary. Aradia is a popular goddess name, as is Diana. Cernunnos and Pan are popular god names used by Wiccans. But there are lots more that Wiccans worship so it depends who you ask.

    Some Pagans incorporate the use of magick in their religion but not all do. Wiccans in particular usually do, as most Wiccans consider themselves to be witches (the word Wicca is an archaic word that means male witch -- Wicce is female witch.)

    Magick (which some but not all spell with the extra k at the end to distinguish it from stage magic) is another one of those words that is defined in many different ways. Usually though it means purposefully doing things that are believed to produce a desired effect. For some people this involves herbalism, for others it can be the use of structured prayer, chanting, or meditating. There are lots of ways to practice magick.

    Depending on your definition of magick, you might or might not consider prayer done within mainstream religions such as Christianity to be spellwork. If a Christian prays for healing, is it really that different than a Pagan reciting an incantation that asks a deity to heal someone?

    Pagans who practice magick do so for all the same reasons that Christians, Jews, and Muslims pray. Some do so for altruistic reaons (such as to promote world peace) while others do so for more selfish reasons (such as to promote personal wealth.)

    Many Pagan religions that incorporate magickal practices also teach ethical rules to guide the use of magick. For instance, many (but not all) Wiccan denominations teach an idea called the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do what you will." Some Wiccan denominations teach other similar ideas. Basically it comes down to the individual being responsible for their decisions and actions and trying to avoid causing harm if at all possible. What constitutes harm is debateable of course, and this just reinforces the idea of the emphasis on personal responsibility.

    Different Pagan religions though teach different things. Some have lists of commandments that are interpreted by authorities in that particular religion, while in some religions like Wicca the authority (and therefore responsibility) rests much more with each individual.
     

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