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Author Topic: Is self-identification with Paganism what makes a Pagan?  (Read 14648 times)
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« Reply #15: May 22, 2010, 11:22:01 pm »

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.

She asked me how I defined "pagan," not "pagan values."  I did, in effect, give my definition of Pagan in the post above.

As to not telling others how to post, I don't mean to break any rules, but I am simply trying to say that I would appreciate it if people would either read my posts and do some thinking before questioning it, or, if their question is different, then make that clear.

-HC
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« Reply #16: May 23, 2010, 12:03:45 am »

1. You believe in no gods.

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

3. You don't practice magick at all.


Well somanabitch... Cast out of pagandom once again, but I did want to comment a bit.

In response to your point 2, my values are mine and not dictated by whatever religion I happen to belong to. The white light and rainbow brigade's sense of values mean nothing to me, same as the value 'systems' that 99.9999% of other faiths out there. My values now are radically different than they were 25, 15 or even 5 years ago. *shrug*

For point 3.... Being pagan does not equal magic use.

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« Reply #17: May 23, 2010, 12:05:00 am »

Well somanabitch... Cast out of pagandom once again, but I did want to comment a bit.

In response to your point 2, my values are mine and not dictated by whatever religion I happen to belong to. The white light and rainbow brigade's sense of values mean nothing to me, same as the value 'systems' that 99.9999% of other faiths out there. My values now are radically different than they were 25, 15 or even 5 years ago. *shrug*

For point 3.... Being pagan does not equal magic use.

^What she said
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« Reply #18: May 23, 2010, 06:53:42 am »

As to not telling others how to post, I don't mean to break any rules, but I am simply trying to say that I would appreciate it if people would either read my posts and do some thinking before questioning it, or, if their question is different, then make that clear.


*** MOD HAT ON ***We've tried to be polite about this, but you don't seem to be getting the message.  Whether you mean to break any rules or not is irrelevant.  The fact is that you are breaking them.  I appreciate that it can be frustrating when it appears to you that people have not read what you've written before replying, but that doesn't give you the right to order them around. 

I would add that just because you don't feel that it seems as though they've read what you've written doesn't mean that they haven't.  You may think that what you wrote was perfectly clear, but that doesn't mean that someone else won't look at it and interpret it in a different way.  That a person asks questions you feel you have answered does not mean that they haven't read your posts or haven't thought about what you said.  It may simply mean that they didn't understand what you said, and in that case it's up to you to clarify.  It's not up to other people to read your mind.

Arguing with moderator decisions in public space is also against the rules here.  Since polite nudges don't seem to be getting the point across, I'm giving you an official warning for breaking that rule.  If you have any questions about the rules or this decision, you may contact me via PM.  Do not reply in this thread.

I would suggest that you review the rules before posting further and be sure that you understand them.  I would also highly recommend reading this for some background on why people are a little touchy about definitions around here:
http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=661.msg9096#msg9096

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« Reply #19: May 23, 2010, 11:22:34 am »

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

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

Your experience to date may be that magic is always part of being Pagan, hence that is one of your key markers of recognition.

Having key markers of any ‘X’ is very important. First, it enables us to practice ‘X’ in the first place. Second, it enables us to determine (for ourselves) what else we are going to recognise as ‘X’ when someone else comes along with a different take on ‘X’. 

The ‘key’ in key markers however is that such are built on our experiences, ALL our experiences and that includes learning to incorporate different takes into our self-definition of ‘X’.

I'm approaching my 28th year as a Pagan. There is no 'always' involved - in my experience. So let me share my different (…far more messy, complicated, convoluted and won’t fit into neat niches…) takes on your current-experience key-markers.

1. Many Pagans tend to be polytheists, either soft or hard variety. Many believe in the existence of all gods but have a relationship to only one, two or a few. Some Pagans believe only in an uberdeity. Some believe in archetypes. Some don’t believe in any deities (i.e. Traditional Pagan Witches who work only with elementals or spirits, but no deities). Some simply relate to Energy as Source or Divine or whatever other capitalised words they come up. One can easily get to ‘not part of my Tradition with THAT belief’ but not Pagan? Not so easy.

2. Values are contextual (as everyone else has been pointing out). Paganism has yet to be defined or recognisable as a shared consensual religion within itself. I prefer to define it as a modern spiritual movement with established consensual faiths that identify as also being Pagan (i.e. Wicca). Mostly Paganism consists of self-identified, self-defined individuals whose ‘religion’ is truly unique and personal. So anything and everything (in my experience) can be or get labelled along the way as Pagan values. All you need is an individual self-identifying as a Pagan and self-defining what his or her values are. Not that htis makes said values Pagan but to that individual, that may be how they define those particular values.

Valuable reminder as Dragondaughter pointed out, values can and almost always do change as you mature (as a Pagan). The important point (for me) regarding values is that a Pagan actually has values that he or she can articulate and therefore can strive to live by. Also helps if they don't change substantially with every new trend or book read.

3. First define magic. Over the course of the past decades, I've collected more than a few pages worth of different definitions of what magic or magick is. Everything from the mere act of breathing to watching a sunrise to shifting one’s consciousness to talking to trees to doing candle magick to CM to indigenous healing, etc. Along my journey, at least one Pagan and/or Pagan Witch has used at least one or more of these definitions to define what she or he considers magic or magick.

Most of the others come from the broader studies I continue to embrace of history, etc. Not all, not even close to all of these, are even relevant or found (in my current experience) within the context of modern self-identified Pagans or Pagan Witchcraft. More than a few of these (never-Pagan) magics are alive and in practice today.

Using some system or belief deemed magic/magick doesn’t make anyone Pagan, hence being Pagan doesn’t require magic of any kind.

I’ve met a lot of Pagans who don’t include doing so in their self-definitions or more commonly that only know about generic commercialised ‘Pagan’ magick. I tend to gently nudge them to go do more homework and broaden the definitions that they are familiar with.   

I've also been a Pagan Witch just a few years short of becoming Pagan. There are those including more than a few authors that define witchcraft as nothing but the practice of magic/k, a pretty paltry variation of the modern 'Craft, in my opinion. One of the three Traditions of the Craft that I as a Witch today practice (Vocational) considers magic/k to be the least useful of any discipline within the Craft. A Vocational Witch should be familiar with several systems of such (Pagan or not) because working with other Witches outside of the Trad becomes a lot easier but beyond that, magic is rarely if ever used within Vocational Crafting. That is one example and of course, many Pagans are not also Pagan Witches.

So, that’s the reader’s digest version of my key markers in these areas. Now, it is up to you to decide if you want to include anything from mine or other folks' different takes into your self-definitions.

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« Reply #20: May 23, 2010, 02:16:28 pm »

2. Values are contextual (as everyone else has been pointing out). Paganism has yet to be defined or recognisable as a shared consensual religion within itself.

And I, for one, hope to the gods that it never is.
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« Reply #21: May 23, 2010, 02:38:04 pm »

As to not telling others how to post, I don't mean to break any rules, but I am simply trying to say that I would appreciate it if people would either read my posts and do some thinking before questioning it, or, if their question is different, then make that clear.

Did it ever occur to you that we were thinking about what you've said and that we still (in my case, adamantly) disagree?  And if I'm forced to play the age card, I've met a lot of 16-year-olds who think they know everything.  In every single case they've been wrong.

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« Reply #22: June 24, 2010, 12:04:41 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?

I have a pretty strong confidence in, and belief in, the Lunar Path, which applies to this question of yours in this way:  you don't have to consciously or intellectually know or be able to articulate what you believe, in order to be a Pagan.  Having a clear system, a set of articulable beliefs and practices, comes from the Sun or Solar Principle, and in my view, the Pagan paths (but most particularly those Pagan paths such as Witchcraft which emphasize the Occult and the Moon) tend to be more informed by the Moon than the Sun way of knowing.  If you FEEL strongly about being Pagan, if you have an ATTRACTION to the word or some even very vague or general sense of what this does or could potentially mean for you, then THAT is what is important...some type of unconscious, nonverbal, emotional, intuitive or other "Lunar" inner knowing.  YOur strong feeling is a sign that something is working in you, some type of alchemy is going on, at a hidden, not explicit or yet knowable level.  Let that cauldron brew.  In time it may give rise to words.  Trust in the realm beneath words...
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« Reply #23: June 24, 2010, 12:17:45 pm »


I've never heard the terms Lunar or Solar Path before. Would you mind going into a little more detail about them? It sounds similar to the division between the left and right parts of the brain - the left being rational, thinking, language oriented (your description of the Solar Principle) and the right being emotional, creative, and nonverbal (Lunar Principle, I suppose). Where do these terms come from?
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« Reply #24: June 24, 2010, 02:30:09 pm »

Trust in the realm beneath words...

I feel like I've been posting this a lot.  And while I'm not suggesting it's happening here, when words are left out, so is a degree of precision that can lead to a jingoistic viewpoint.  In short, words are important.  Maybe more important in something as wobbly and slippery as religion and spirituality.

Brina

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« Reply #25: June 24, 2010, 02:40:15 pm »

I feel like I've been posting this a lot.  And while I'm not suggesting it's happening here, when words are left out, so is a degree of precision that can lead to a jingoistic viewpoint.  In short, words are important.  Maybe more important in something as wobbly and slippery as religion and spirituality.

Brina



I have to back this up, because if your statements are too general, or you are expecting everyone to read beneath the words, then everyone will interpret what you say differently.  I can say I had a lovely time celebrating the solstice, and you could assume a Wiccan ritual when in fact I just had a drunken party with friends.  Just sayin'.......
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« Reply #26: June 24, 2010, 03:25:33 pm »

I feel like I've been posting this a lot.  And while I'm not suggesting it's happening here, when words are left out, so is a degree of precision that can lead to a jingoistic viewpoint.  In short, words are important.  Maybe more important in something as wobbly and slippery as religion and spirituality.

Brina



Lately, the more I hear "the words don't matter" I react with a "what are you hiding?" response.

Refusing to define and use language is not the same thing as trying to use words and failing to find them.  It's a deliberate refusal to effectively communicate.  And once you remove communication .. what's the point, really?
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« Reply #27: June 24, 2010, 03:34:08 pm »

Lately, the more I hear "the words don't matter" I react with a "what are you hiding?" response.

I think I get where RootRealm is coming from to some extent.  There's an inherent mystery to religion, and sometimes attempts to over-codify can kind of suck out the mysticism, which (for me) is a good portion of the point.  I'm definitely looking for that experience-beyond-words.  I've felt it before, and it is my religion, honestly.  But I'm continually questioning the authenticity of those experiences, and I think it's crucial to do so...to keep oneself honest.

Fortunately I also consider extreme self-doubt a religious experience.  Wink

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« Reply #28: June 26, 2010, 01:23:55 pm »

I think I get where RootRealm is coming from to some extent.  There's an inherent mystery to religion, and sometimes attempts to over-codify can kind of suck out the mysticism, which (for me) is a good portion of the point.  I'm definitely looking for that experience-beyond-words.  I've felt it before, and it is my religion, honestly.  But I'm continually questioning the authenticity of those experiences, and I think it's crucial to do so...to keep oneself honest.

Fortunately I also consider extreme self-doubt a religious experience.  Wink

Brina

Brina,

I would fully agree that one can't articulate the experience of a mystery, something common across all faiths with such experiential paths. One shouldn't even try and in preparatory paths, this is a given.

Yet in questioning the authenticity of such experiences, what is the criteria being measured against?  I work with the concepts of logos and mythos. Logos is what we relate to the external world through (building a house for example) and mythos is that which may have happened once and is happening all the time (the bigger questions of who, what, why are we etc). They are complementary but they are not interchangeable.

In this case, I would say that the mechanics, the basic skills to prepare one for and physically participate within a ritual that leads into the experience of a mystery might be articulated as logos. These can possibly be  shared as well although that does affect their usefulness, I've found. The experience itself of a mystery is best described as mythos. That experience (of what may have been and is now) tends to be so personal that the only way to share is to bring that personal transformation back into one's life to enrich and inform what one does (with logos). Describing a mystery, if one could find the words, has no benefit to anyone else because no one else will ever have that same experience.

To paraphrase my original question, is questioning of the authenticity of such experiences achieved by measuring mythos by the criteria of logos?

Amber

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« Reply #29: June 26, 2010, 02:07:57 pm »

Yet in questioning the authenticity of such experiences, what is the criteria being measured against?

I'm not sure what you're asking, but the fact is I question my reactions to lots of experiences, especially if the reactions are strong.  I try to take a step back when I get angry with someone.  Or develop a crush.  Or when I feel depressed.  I try to find the rational root of my experiences.  Religious experiences are no different.

Brina
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