Why Neo-Paganism?

Discussion in 'Pagan' started by path_of_one, Jun 3, 2008.

  1. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    I seems I've found part of the answer to my own question in an unusual thread. ( http://www.comparative-religion.com/forum/christianity-5073.html#post60313 )

    Was Gerald Gardner in a Philosophy class at the time?
     
  2. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Not that I'm aware of. I don't think he ever went to school. (He was home-schooled and largely self-taught.)
     
  3. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    My own shift to being a practicing Druid came as a result of research I was doing for a university course I was teaching on earth-based religions. Does that count? Close enough? :D
     
  4. Dream

    Dream New Member

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    Your opinion counts, Path. I would take your guesses over most men's facts any day.
     
  5. sherry

    sherry New Member

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    If it is all right, I would like to take this back to the original post- why neo-paganism? I am an infant in this world, I literally started down this path a few weeks ago and I am still feeling my way.

    What started me down this path is very simple. During one of my arguments with my estranged husband (very southern baptist) where once again I'm being bashed over my head with "the proper place and duties of a wife as per the bible" I rebelled by stating "I don't believe in hell. You can't hold that over my head. Hell is just something that was created as a means to control people and threatening them to make them conform to a specific standard". I said it amidst a struggle against our continual fight of "man rules the house, his word is the law and will be obeyed by all" and my response of "I'ma big girl, I'm intelligent, I can think for myself, and you're in my life because I let you be not because I need you". But as soon as I said it outloud "hell is just a threat to control people" something released inside of me. All of the years of feeling "off" when I heard him and his family be so negative of everyone else who was not them whether it be because they were a different race, social status, or religion. All the times I argued that you should do what's right because it's the right thing to do, NOT because you're threatened with hell if you don't. All the years of double-standards of what's ok for men is not ok for women, etc etc.

    Of course I immediately get thrown back in my face that "I'm just floundering for excuses to justify not following the bible because I don't like the role that is spelled out for me" (did I mention that what I've done wrong is NOT accept that it was ok for my husband to have a girlfriend even though it shouldn't matter because as long as he kept a roof over my and the children's heads, as man of the house he had the right to do as he wished?)

    Anyway, needless to say that started alot of inner contemplation on my part of what DO I believe. I've always believed that religion was a matter of choice, that the superficial- where you worshipped, what songs you sang, etc- didn't matter as long as you did what you thought was morally right and didn't hurt anyone else in the process. (I admit it was fun watching them grit their teeth over the years whenever I said that- I LOVE playing devil's advocate!) I had even gone as far as to tell his mother that according to what she said the Bible states, even though I can't quote one single verse in the bible and she can quote dozens, I'd bet at the end, I would be considered more "godly" than she because I did what I felt was right because I wanted to, because it WAS the right thing to do, while she did it becaus it would keep her out of hell and because a book told her too. (I admit I've missed Sunday lunches since then, she IS an excellent cook after all and I'm not :p)

    That happened at the end of February. I floundered around for awhile thinking ok, I must be an athiest then if I don't believe in God. Then I start remembering a conversation that my younger sister and I had back in December. My sister, who has been a faithful Celtic Wiccan for 10 years, told me that I was the reason she started studying the Craft as a teenager and that she had always been disappointed in me for turning my back on what she thought was my true self. She told me that she has always considered me to be the ultimate mother figure, even before I had children of my own and she has always strived to follow my example with her children. She said I had an inner strength that she has never come close to seeing in anyone else. She see's in me an ability to put myself in anyone else's shoes and understand & respect their "why's" even if I didnt agree with them. She said she saw me as being able to read a person's personality almost immediately upon meeting them. She said she has never met anyone else that when everyone thinks person A is being one way (snobby, mean, happy), that I instictively know that they are putting on a false face and I see what is really going on with them. Needless to say that conversation left me stunned and speechless, I always thought she didn't care for me at ALL, let alone see me in that kind of light. But it was just that she was so disappointed in what she felt was me turning away from my "gifts" she didn't know how to talk to me.

    Then I started to remember "me". That conversation gave me a surge of confidence in myself that I had never felt in my life. Obviously there were many other little steps along the way. But the end result is that unlike when I was a teenager or in my early 20's, I now have the confidence in myself that I never had before. I'm very proud to say "I don't believe that, but I DO believe this.." But I also realize that while I may not believe in the concept of "hell" or that the Christian God is absolute, I DO believe that there is something or someone out there guiding me. Something has always watched over me. Even knowing what my sister was, a wiccan, I did not immediately turn to that path. But the more I researched, the more I read on my own, I saw my own thoughts and beliefs reflected back to me almost word for word. My first book is Drawing Down the Moon by Margot Adler and I'm continually stunned by seeing my own thoughts and beliefs in print.

    I'm still not sure of the exact path that is intended for me. There is SO much I do not know. But for the first time in my life, where religion is concerned, I feel such an inner calm, a peace, that I am on the right path.
     
  6. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    I agree. And I happen to think that these ideas are quite Biblical.

    You were within your rights as a Biblical wife to divorce a husband that is an adulterer. Quite frankly, they are perverting the Bible.

    Congratulations! There are so many reasons why we can wind up with forgetting the real "us," and it is always a wonderful thing to come back to getting aquainted with ourselves again. :)

    I think this is how it is for many of us who end up as Neo-Pagan. I'd already formed a lot of my own ideas based on my spiritual experiences, and recognized myself as a Druid after reading modern Druid writings and going "Wow! So there are my ideas- what d'ya know, someone else things this too!"

    It's a great book, IMO. A classic. When I first read the beginning where she is connected to God out in the woods and not in the church... that made me cry when I first read it. It was so... me. :)

    I see my path as a journey. If and when I am at peace on this journey, I am headed in the right direction. At least, that's how I see it. Joy and peace are indicators that I'm walking with divinity in my life, comfortable with my path unfolding before me.
     
  7. Snoopy

    Snoopy Active Member

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    Hi sherry, and welcome to CR :)

    I think this is a great ability to have.

    Perhaps your "path" is just a name for that which is under your shoes. ;)

    ...and maybe you don't need to KNOW so much. Knowledge is not a panacea for the heart.

    You do seem to have had to put up with a lot of nonsense. :eek:

    Snoopy.
     
  8. sherry

    sherry New Member

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    Thank you guys very much for your feedback. As far as me "not knowing" things, I am very comfortable with that on the larger scale. I meant as for as all the seperate religions go, what they believe, stand far. I am ashamed to admit that in this area, I have always just accepted what I have been told since I was a child "all others are wrong, because the bible said so...", yet I always followed that with my own immediate thought of "but what does it matter as long as they are good people, don't hurt anyone, and still do what's right. After all, isn't that what the bible instructs you to do?"

    As far as knowing things on a grander scale "why are we here, how were we created?" I'm very much a "does it really matter? we are here, this world is beautiful and a gift. All that matters is what we do while we ARE here..." So you won't see me disecting or psycho-analyzing every little thing.

    As far as being able to see things from everyone else's standpoint, even if I don't agree with them, that is probably the only thing my entire life I would say was my best feature. I just didn't think that other's viewed it as positive. I've always been accused of "not being to make up my mind or stand my ground on a viewpoint" (I am REALLY bad to play devil's advocate ALOT to try to get someone to consider things other than their own viewpoint so that sometimes people thing it's what I BELIEVE, not what I understand). No, not really I'd say, it's just comes down to a matter of what you believe. I prefer milk chocolate over dark chocolate, but I can understand why someone else wouldn't. To me, it REALLY is as simple as that.

    Off to work (I guess it's a good thing all religious sites are blocked at work, I'm afraid I wouldn't get much done due to trolling these forums!)
     
  9. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    dear G!D, what bible is he reading? the "hypocrite's bible"? i'm quite astonished, not to mention shocked.

    i think understanding that men and woman are different and do different things can be very easily perverted into this particular form of behaviour.

    to me, if you'll forgive me for saying so, your sister comes across as a mite patronising. who is she to be disappointed in you for not doing as she did? you are different people.

    that is idiotic. if i felt someone needed to hear something i'd damsure wouldn't wait years to tell them, especially someone i cared about, especially a family member. in my experience, family members find it particularly easy to deliver difficult messages, whether the recipient wants to hear them or not. or is it just that my family are a particular bunch of stickybeaks?

    the jewish approach to the bible is based upon understanding precisely this sort of thing. when someone says "because the bible said so", you say, ok, where? is that really what it says? does it mean "all"? what does it mean by "hurt"? what does it mean by "good"? what does it mean by "right"? and is that what G!D or whoever said, or is it somebody a bit more recent, a bit more human and why did they say it? who did they say it to? what was the context? does it mean what you think it means? was it, for example, translated wrong? what does it say in the original? if people don't ask these sort of questions, then of course some are bound to say, as you have, "well, frankly, then, the bible isn't all it's cracked up to be, so bye".

    anyway, good luck. you are trying to do something quite courageous, in my opinion. i hope we can give you any support you need. and remember - if you end up becoming a neo-pagan, try and avoid defining yourself in terms of the group you left, or in dualistic opposition (the BBITS/BTITE debate)

    well, we would tend to respond that G!D Is not confined to sky, earth, tits or beard and anything that might seem like, well, cosmic eroticism in jewish sources (which we are not short of) is simply expressing the nature of the passionate dynamic interactions within the G!DHead, or whatever you want to call the Interfaces of the Divine.

    hah! and the expense, don't forget the expense. and, of course, all the people who want to kill you.

    ah, yes, but that's my entire point - you are summing up. once you get into the actual practical situations, interpretation, heuristics and, in the end, law and codification all end up being required in any society. and, as someone said, the "devil" is *always* in the detail. it is all very well to "live with joy", but *how* shall i do so? what shall i do first? and then what?

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  10. dauer

    dauer Active Member

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    It's not as bad as you make it sound. Last week I only received 4 death threats, and only 3 of them were due to my religion.
     
  11. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Unfortunately, this sort of thing happens more in some conservative/right-wing Christian circles than it seems it would.

    Some families seem to not talk so much. My family tends to be more like yours, BB- no shortage of handing out their opinions and advice (generally kindly, but bluntly LOL).

    The problem, BB, is that many of us who do this in Christianity are branded as heretical by other Christians. As I studied the Bible more on my own, delved into the contextual and linguistic nuances, and so forth, I independently found myself drawing more conclusions that were similar to Judaism than much of mainstream Christianity. When I studied the Gospels over and over, I found myself thinking about Christ in a way that was quite different from many of the mainstream Christian denominations. While it seems that such study and probing of the scriptures is expected in Judaism, in many Christian denominations this is not the case. I've been shoved outside the fold of various Christian churches many times, and not for my Neo-Pagan practices (which I tend to keep under wraps) but rather for my understanding of the Bible and Gospels itself, which are not based on Neo-Paganism but rather on careful Biblical study combined with meditative prayer.

    I am in complete agreement with you- I find a great deal of truth in the Bible and it is, more than all other sacred texts, been the guide of my own life and the most often-studied text for me. However, many Christians (especially women in some of the more conservative circles) are not encouraged to ask these questions. Pastors interpret the scriptures for the congregation, and stepping up and saying "Um, but wait, does it really say THAT?" is not welcome.

    This is why I avoid a lot of Christian churches, even though I consider Christ to be my own guide and savior. I got to where I didn't mind the incessant "You're a heretic and probably heading to hell" of the conservatives I met, but it is disheartening when a religious community is founded on turning a blind eye toward context.

    LOL I second that motion. :)

    This is exactly as I see it, and how many (though not uniformly; there is a lot of diversity) Druids see it as well. God and Goddess, and their union to produce the Child of Light, is metaphoric for the force and process of the Divine, which is of course (to me) very non-human, non-dualistic, and non-gendered. However, as God encompasses all things (in the panentheistic view), God is, in a way- human, dualistic, and gendered... but these are ultimately manifestations of an underlying force and consciousness that are none of these things. From a transcendent, incomprehensible Being springs forth manifestations of being that we can experience. These glimpses are not God in Its entirety, but point the way...

    Eh, it seems no matter what religion you are, someone wants to kill you at some point and in some place. But it does seem that the Jews have gotten more than their fair share of negative response, and I don't really understand why. But then, with me being me, I don't really understand hatred of any group. I don't really see groups- I just see a lot of individuals.

    Well, this is what traditions are for. :) Whether we choose one or several, our study of scripture and the teachings of the guides we choose help us to engage the details. Though I guess I have never found answering those questions in the moment that hard, which is perhaps why I never could get into any particular doctrine and set of rules hook-line-and-sinker. In every moment, I sense what I could do to have joy, and I'm aware when I choose to do otherwise. It's always been that way for me, but of course it might not work for others. Hard to know what is in another person's head.

    Blessings,
    Kim
     
  12. sherry

    sherry New Member

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    ok, I have a very simple question which the answer to is probably quite obvious and I have over looked it some how because I tend to over look the obvious at times:

    what is the difference between wiccan and neo-pagan?
     
  13. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Wiccan is one type of Neo-Paganism. Other flavors include Druidry, Asatru, some types of witchcraft (depends on if the witchcraft is a religion or just practice), various new incarnations of indigenous shamanic traditions, etc.

    Then there are types of Wiccan too.

    Neo-Paganism is the umbrella term for "new religions that are attempts to revive and reinterpret the old earth-centered traditions."

    Or somesuch like that. ;)
     
  14. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    Path-of-one explained the difference best. One little detail though -- the religion is called Wicca, and a person who follows it is a Wiccan.

    Neopaganism, or Paganism, are blanket terms that refer to a large number of religions. Wicca is just one of those religions.

    Edited to add: and while many modern Pagan religions are "earth-centered" (i.e. have an emphasis on environmentalism or particular respect for Earth and Nature) not all do.
     
  15. path_of_one

    path_of_one Embracing the Mystery

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    Sorry for the typo about Wicca. :eek:

    I'm curious which NeoPagan traditions are not earth-centered. This is some new info I'd like for the classes I'm teaching next year... :)
     
  16. bgruagach

    bgruagach eclectic Wiccan

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    If you do a Google search for the words pagan and the phrase "not earth-based" you'll get some links.

    One group that I understand does not consider itself to be earth-based is called FlameKeeping -- their site is at Keeping the Sacred Flame

    Various reconstructionist Pagan groups also tend to identify themselves as being not earth-centered or earth-based. (Reconstructionists are those who are attempting to recreate modern versions of historically-based Pagan religions with an emphasis on historical accuracy.) Greek reconstructionists for instance are not necessarily earth-based.

    There will always be exceptions if you look at individual practitioners of these paths of course, but being earth-based or earth-centered or earth-revering is not necessarily considered to be a requirement for all Pagan religions. For some it is, but it is not universal among all.
     
  17. ThatNarrowFellow

    ThatNarrowFellow Journeying

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    Thanks for the nod, bgruagach. As a Hellenic reconstructionist I have to say that I do not consider my religion "earth centered." I suppose in that sense I don't have to face down questions about "looking beyond the veil."
     
  18. lavendarmenace

    lavendarmenace New Member

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    I'd like to post my story about why I became a Pagan.

    I was about 16 or so and was starting to question a lot of things--including my sexuality. I was ashamed of myself for thinking what I thought were shameful thoughts. Even worse were my dreams! It's like everything I suppressed came out of my unconscious mind at night. I felt so isolated--I was the only questioning person at my school.

    Anyway, I went through a deep depression because of all this. I was sent to a mental health hospital and put on 2 different meds, one for depression, one for anxiety.

    When I got out, I was more confused than ever. I turned to my childhood faith, Christianity, hoping to find peace. Instead I found bigotry and hatred. My mother and I went to a Bible study and there I overheard my aunt and uncle and a family friend actually laughing about gays burning in hell! They were joking around and saying gays deserved it becuse they're an abomination! I later learned that most of family felt this way. The weak bonds I felt with my family were severed in that instant. I had nothing at all in common with them. Even my open-minded aunt (different aunt) was against homosexuality.

    This was the last in a long string of offenses--many other things lead up to this--and I decided right then and there that I could not be a Christian if it meant pain and suppressing my true self. I thought I was an atheist--and for a time I probably was--but I studied every religion I could find: Rastafari, Raelianism, Zoroastrianism--you name it, I probably studied it. Finally, I remembered an aquaintence of mine who said she was a Wiccan, so I looked into that.

    I can't describe the relief I felt when I read those words: Wicca is totally accepting of everyone, regardless of race, gender, or sexuality. Just thinking about it now, two years later, brings tears to my eyes.

    Alas, Wicca turned out to be an imperfect fit. I consider myself a general Neo-Pagan--I draw inspiration from many sources. And I finally feel at home. :)

    NOTE: after conversion, I learned of many, many accepting Christian denominatoins. Thank God for them.
     
  19. newisis

    newisis Empath,medium,priesstess

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    This topic is intresting...
     
  20. Smellincoffee

    Smellincoffee New Member

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    I think there are at least two different paths that could lead someone to think of themselves as a pagan: the first is a reverence or a strong feeling of connection with the Earth, a viewing of ourselves as not distinct, but part of the Cosmos; and the second is reverence for our ancestors, a desire to keep strong the flame of their memory, to walk in the steps of those who walked eons ago. The latter element, ironically, is why I choose to associate with a Christian church while not accepting most Christian "beliefs": like it or not, Christianity has been the faith of my people for a few hundred years; the stories of the Judeo-Christian bible were those through which they communicated spiritual truths, and parts of that religion mean as much to me as parts of Greek or Saxon traditional religion.

    I for one dislike the term 'pagan', because it's essentially a term of derision, employed originally by urban Christians to mock the country people (paganus) who held on to their traditional faiths. It's still used abusively by many Christians and Muslims who view their developed religion as superior to the close-to-the-ground Earth religions. Unfortunately, I've yet to find a better word that encompasses everyone
     

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