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Author Topic: Is self-identification with Paganism what makes a Pagan?  (Read 14650 times)
Earendil
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« Topic Start: March 28, 2010, 04:07:13 pm »

I understand the Paganism is an umbrella term for a large number of non-Christian/Jewish/Muslim religions, though there are some of us who like to call themselves simply 'Pagan'. For some, this is because they are Eclectic, others because they have not yet chosen a specific path within Paganism. I've even heard of Athiestic Paganism and Agnostic Paganism. For myself, I'm in the process of 'reviewing' my beliefs about deity, and am considering Athiestic Paganism.
Seeing as Paganism itself is 'dogma-free' (that is not to say that certain paths within Paganism don't have dogma), I would quite like to be a non-practicing Pagan - no ritual, no meditation etc - just living my life in the way I feel is right, such as trying my best to be eco-friendly (I would never pollute and I recycle regularly), and pretty much being obsessed with Paganism lol. I love that it is as vast as it is - all the different Pagan religions and forms of Paganism entrigue me. I am not saying that I wouldn't ever practice my spirituality, just that it would only be on occasion when I felt moved to, not because I have to in order to be a good Pagan. I believe I am just as Pagan as some initiated High Priestess.
Being Pagan is what makes me the happiest I have ever been, because I feel that I can finally be myself, and not live by some strict dogma (I was raised by a strictly Christian family). I believe that I am Pagan and have been for quite a while without realising it. It is a part of me and always have been. I hope this question doesn't seem stupid at all, I would just like to hear people's opinion as this, and whether I will be accepted as a Pagan despite having a little bit of a different approach to it.
So would I be correct in saying that what makes one Pagan is self-identifying with it, and not being a Christian, Jew, or other major religion? I needn't have any religious duty/or other duties other than those I choose for myself, and I needn't believe in gods or other deities if I don't wish? I can just be?
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« Reply #1: March 28, 2010, 05:13:15 pm »

understand the Paganism is an umbrella term for a large number of non-Christian/Jewish/Muslim religions, though there are some of us who like to call themselves simply 'Pagan'. For some, this is because they are Eclectic, others because they have not yet chosen a specific path within Paganism. I've even heard of Athiestic Paganism and Agnostic Paganism. For myself, I'm in the process of 'reviewing' my beliefs about deity, and am considering Athiestic Paganism.
Seeing as Paganism itself is 'dogma-free' (that is not to say that certain paths within Paganism don't have dogma), I would quite like to be a non-practicing Pagan - no ritual, no meditation etc - just living my life in the way I feel is right, such as trying my best to be eco-friendly (I would never pollute and I recycle regularly), and pretty much being obsessed with Paganism lol. I love that it is as vast as it is - all the different Pagan religions and forms of Paganism entrigue me. I am not saying that I wouldn't ever practice my spirituality, just that it would only be on occasion when I felt moved to, not because I have to in order to be a good Pagan. I believe I am just as Pagan as some initiated High Priestess.
Being Pagan is what makes me the happiest I have ever been, because I feel that I can finally be myself, and not live by some strict dogma (I was raised by a strictly Christian family). I believe that I am Pagan and have been for quite a while without realising it. It is a part of me and always have been. I hope this question doesn't seem stupid at all, I would just like to hear people's opinion as this, and whether I will be accepted as a Pagan despite having a little bit of a different approach to it.
So would I be correct in saying that what makes one Pagan is self-identifying with it, and not being a Christian, Jew, or other major religion? I needn't have any religious duty/or other duties other than those I choose for myself, and I needn't believe in gods or other deities if I don't wish? I can just be?

I have no problem accepting you as being Pagan. You have self-identified after all. However, I don’t consider someone who isn’t a Christian, Jew or Muslim as being automatically Pagan. Doing so might get you major flak actually. My umbrella for that term is much smaller, a specific 20th century movement, mostly confined to English speaking countries (or perhaps my knowledge just is…). My opinion however and not binding on anyone else.

After nearly thirty years as a self-identifying Pagan, I today recognise four near universal tenets and four generally accepted ones as usually being present whenever someone self-identifies as being Pagan. I've met Pagans who didn't ascribe to them all of course. That is how diverse it gets.

After self-identification is self-definition. You can’t be something if you can’t define what that is. You can’t practise something if you are non-practising. I’m not saying you have to do ritual or mediation or someone else's definition of what to do in order to be a Pagan. You just need to be able to define whatever it is that you consider to be your Paganism so that you can CHOSE whatever you want to practise because of that. For example, living your life as aware as possible and as balanced as possible might be considered a form of waking mediation, couldn’t it? Being happy can also become a discipline at times, given what life throws at you. And while nature not being irrelevant to one’s spirituality is one of those generally accepted tenets that I look for, that can mean very different things between individuals. Including perhaps seeing as being Pagan rituals, not polluting and recycling regularly.

The other near universal tenets I have found is that Paganism has yet to be sufficiently defined as a singular shared religion to function as such and that validation of one’s beliefs are always experiential. In other words, each Pagan validates what he or she believes in from first hand experience (which hello...requires some form of practise to gain…)

And since there is no hierarchies within Paganism, who is going to decide if you are good at whatever you choose or not? Now if that actually is a chip that I see on your shoulder about HPS and not just a throwaway remark, please keep in mind that an initiated High Priestess means the Religion of Wicca, only one of the religions within modern Paganism. If you are not Wiccan (and most Pagans aren’t) then her authority wouldn’t be binding on you. Or anyone actually outside of her Tradition and that includes her opinions too. Mind you, in my experience as a non-Wiccan and given the heavy responsibilities, training and commitment that being a reputable Wiccan HPS requires, the opinions of such HPS’ do tend to be well worth listening to when they are offered or asked for.

The other three generally accepted tenets that I have found over the decades are that of self-responsibility (the buck stops with you), that all learning is also experiential (you have to practise to learn in other words) and that the Divine is more reasonably understood as polytheistic than monotheistic. Typically, Pagans tend to be believers in deities but I have met a few over the years who did not. It isn't a showstopper for self-identifying as being Pagan, just kinda rare.

Actually Eclectic can be in itself a path within the spectrum of Paganism. Being Eclectic doesn’t necessarily mean undecided. The term gets a bad rap sometimes. The word comes from an ancient Greek philosophical movement where each individual researched as widely and respectfully as possible and brought back the best of whatever that he found to incorporate into his personal philosophy. Modern Eclectic Pagans do the same with varying degrees of depth. Some of the most amazing, well read and spiritually profound Pagans that I have met over the years have been Eclectic Pagans.

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« Reply #2: March 28, 2010, 08:33:13 pm »


We've had a recent thread on this, actually.  You may find that one helpful:
http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=12114

For myself, I've pretty much said everything I have to say on the subject there.
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« Reply #3: May 21, 2010, 02:16:26 pm »

Being Pagan is what makes me the happiest I have ever been, because I feel that I can finally be myself, and not live by some strict dogma (I was raised by a strictly Christian family). I believe that I am Pagan and have been for quite a while without realising it. It is a part of me and always have been.

I couldn't possibly agree with you more here!  I myself am almost exactly the same.

Quote from: Earendil
I hope this question doesn't seem stupid at all, I would just like to hear people's opinion as this, and whether I will be accepted as a Pagan despite having a little bit of a different approach to it.
So would I be correct in saying that what makes one Pagan is self-identifying with it, and not being a Christian, Jew, or other major religion? I needn't have any religious duty/or other duties other than those I choose for myself, and I needn't believe in gods or other deities if I don't wish? I can just be?

Since there is nothing you can pin a Pagan down for, then yes, you are Pagan if you choose to so call yourself.  In someone's personal opinion, you maybe can only be Pagan if you believe in deity or something, but I disagree.  If you believe in basic Pagan values (that is, basic Pagan values from some specific religion, as there are almost no common Pagan values), then you are Pagan.  The only time I think it's silly is when you meet ALL these criteria:

1. You believe in no gods.

2. You don't really believe in the Pagan values.

3. You don't practice magick at all.

Again, I'm not going to tell anyone what they can and cannot call themselves (frankly I just don't care that much), but if you meet these three criteria then I personally think you're not really Pagan.  If, however, you don't meet even just one of them, then I'd say Pagan is a good term for you.  I happen to not meet any of them at all, so I feel good in calling myself "fully Pagan." Cheesy

-HC
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« Reply #4: May 21, 2010, 02:27:40 pm »

2. You don't really believe in the Pagan values.

Which Pagan values are those?
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« Reply #5: May 21, 2010, 06:11:35 pm »

Which Pagan values are those?

They come in the mail in a coupon book.  Some real bargains there.  Didn't you get yours?

Brina

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« Reply #6: May 21, 2010, 06:14:41 pm »

Again, I'm not going to tell anyone what they can and cannot call themselves (frankly I just don't care that much), but if you meet these three criteria then I personally think you're not really Pagan.

I'm really curious how you define "pagan"...

Brina
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« Reply #7: May 21, 2010, 07:20:41 pm »

They come in the mail in a coupon book.  Some real bargains there.  Didn't you get yours?

Brina



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« Reply #8: May 22, 2010, 12:02:36 pm »

Which Pagan values are those?

I meant to answer that in the post.  Don't know why I left it out.  Huh

By "Pagan values" I mean the respective values of your folk/tribe/whatever, or whatever path you choose to follow.  Please don't come down on me hard here, I know this is a kind of a grey area.

-HC
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« Reply #9: May 22, 2010, 12:03:25 pm »

I'm really curious how you define "pagan"...

Brina

I described that above.  Please don't badger me without reading what I clearly posted.

-HC
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« Reply #10: May 22, 2010, 12:13:03 pm »

I described that above.  Please don't badger me without reading what I clearly posted.

You did not, in fact, define what you mean by "pagan values" and how they might apply to this discussion.  And if my simple question constitutes badgering, you're going to have a really tough time here.  It's a discussion and debate forum where you're expected to back up such claims with something resembling a cogent definition.

Brina
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« Reply #11: May 22, 2010, 12:17:15 pm »

I meant to answer that in the post.  Don't know why I left it out.  Huh

By "Pagan values" I mean the respective values of your folk/tribe/whatever, or whatever path you choose to follow.  Please don't come down on me hard here, I know this is a kind of a grey area.

-HC

But that's recursive.

Pagan values equals the values of your religion which is Pagan.  Doesn't mean anything.

I could just as easily say that the grass is green because it is reflecting light in the wavelength that our eyes register as green.  True - but meaningless.
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« Reply #12: May 22, 2010, 01:30:30 pm »

But that's recursive.

Pagan values equals the values of your religion which is Pagan.  Doesn't mean anything.

I could just as easily say that the grass is green because it is reflecting light in the wavelength that our eyes register as green.  True - but meaningless.

For example, for me Pagan values = the values I honor as a Heathen.  For you Pagan values = the values you honor as a Flamekeeper.  Both are equally valid.  Perhaps I didn't make the best usage of the phrase.

I think I've said all I need to in this thread.

-HC
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« Reply #13: May 22, 2010, 04:19:15 pm »

I described that above.  Please don't badger me without reading what I clearly posted.

-HC

Hammercrash,

Please be careful about telling other posters how they should react to your posts.  Part of the rules include that we do not tell other posters how to post.  This is not a formal warning, just hoping to help a little with our board rules and culture. 

Thanks,
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« Reply #14: May 22, 2010, 04:57:32 pm »

I described that above.  Please don't badger me without reading what I clearly posted.

Yes, it looks like you just answered that in your previous post. However, the post you are complaining about was made before you posted your explanation. The poster had read what you wrote at the time she posted.
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