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Author Topic: What is a Pagan?  (Read 17563 times)
sneekywren
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« Topic Start: March 13, 2007, 07:15:04 pm »


I mean, what is the one thing that we all have in common, apart from simply using this silly label?
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« Reply #1: March 13, 2007, 07:26:03 pm »

I mean, what is the one thing that we all have in common, apart from simply using this silly label?

Just so your warned. This has been a very hot button topic in the past - and sometime people get very heated about it.

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sneekywren
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« Reply #2: March 13, 2007, 07:28:08 pm »


How come? 
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« Reply #3: March 13, 2007, 07:32:47 pm »

How come? 

Because "pagan" is a very, VERY broad term.  And I think the one thing we ALL have in common may be that we breathe air.
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« Reply #4: March 13, 2007, 07:34:48 pm »

How come? 

It's got a long and very sticky history here.  Hopefully there will be a "Special Topic" going up soon dealing with this that will help explain said history and some of the issues people have with the subject.  I suspect that history is part of why your intro thread got the response it did, as well.  If you should recieve any prickly responses on this subject, just try to remember that it's not only you many posters are responding to; a long history of the subject being discussed here is coming into play in the background.  (And also remember you're not the only one ever to have this problem; it's a common thing for new posters to run afoul of, hence the upcoming Special Topic.)

In the meantime, may I suggest having a look at our Pagan Primer, if you haven't yet?  It's not comprehensive by any means, but it's a good place to start.
http://www.ecauldron.com/newpagan.php

(Also, just a side note--don't forget to use the "quote" button when replying, so we can see which post you're replying to.  Not a big deal here since there was only one for you to possibly be replying to, so it's obvious, but just something to remember for future posts.)
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sneekywren
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« Reply #5: March 13, 2007, 07:41:04 pm »

If you should recieve any prickly responses on this subject, just try to remember that it's not only you many posters are responding to; a long history of the subject being discussed here is coming into play in the background.  (And also remember you're not the only one ever to have this problem; it's a common thing for new posters to run afoul of, hence the upcoming Special Topic.)

In the meantime, may I suggest having a look at our Pagan Primer, if you haven't yet?  It's not comprehensive by any means, but it's a good place to start.
http://www.ecauldron.com/newpagan.php

Ok, I can understand that. I hope you will put up with me then. As I said in my intro, I've been Pagan for seven years, I've read sh*t loads of books and been to conferences, rituals, gatherings. I'm part a several different ritual groups and I have a teacher. However... I've got to a stage when I'm just going back to all the fundamentals of what I've learnt and what I've been taught. I don't want to just go through the motions anymore, I want to find out what is beneath it all and dig deeper and deeper. Thankyou for posting the link to the newpagan page though. In all honesty, it'll probably be very helpful for where I'm at. I feel like I'm starting right at the beginning again. Has anyone else had this?
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« Reply #6: March 13, 2007, 07:53:30 pm »

I mean, what is the one thing that we all have in common, apart from simply using this silly label?

I think that may actually be the only thing we all have in common, and trying to come up with one basic definition seems a little like herding cats. For example, my path is god-based rather than earth-based, which makes me different from one of my RL Pagan friends; I don't use magic often, which makes me different from another one of my friends, but more similar to the first one...and it gets more complicated from there, like Venn diagrams from hell.

For me it's just a convenient label, as it lets people know I'm not a member of one of the Big Three (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). I sometimes don't want to use it because the meaning varies so much, but it's easier than going into a long-winded explanation when all some poor acquaintance of mine wants is a one-sentence answer...
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« Reply #7: March 13, 2007, 07:54:06 pm »

I mean, what is the one thing that we all have in common, apart from simply using this silly label?

"A Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan."

I think that the definition above used in the Pagan Primer is as precise as it can be without going into specific Pagan religions.  Adding anything more would start excluding people who identify as pagan.
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« Reply #8: March 13, 2007, 07:57:30 pm »

I've got to a stage when I'm just going back to all the fundamentals of what I've learnt and what I've been taught. I don't want to just go through the motions anymore, I want to find out what is beneath it all and dig deeper and deeper.

That is exactly how I began on my own "pagan" path.  Prior to that, I was on the "spiritual but not religious" fence and unsatisfied.  So I forced myself to hop off that fence and commit to being Pagan.  I started researching into what, exactly, IS paganism for me, and I discovered that paganism was pretty much just one big organic decision tree.

Do you believe in this & such?  If yes, move over here.  If no, move over there.  Do you think that something or other? If yes, go this way. If no, go that.

Paganism is so broad, so huge, that sometimes the best way to start is really by defining first what you are NOT.  Then seeing what else is left and going on from there.

Plus, researching paganism can really blow your mind.   Wink
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RandallS
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« Reply #9: March 13, 2007, 07:57:50 pm »

How come? 

Here are a couple of threads from years ago when we were on Delphi Forums.  If you read these threads (over 900 posts) you will begin to see why it is a hot button issue here. Warning DelphiForums is full of ads (one of the reasons we left).

Pagan Unity Campaign

Why is this thread important? This thread explains why many members of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum have major problems with the Pagan Unity Campaign and its attempts to define the term "Pagan" when speaking with elected officials. It starts out with a debate on reconstructionist religions, but it turns out there are other Pagan religions that do not fit the definition the PUC uses. (438 posts)

New Definition of Paganism

Why is this thread important? The Pagan Unity Campaign discussion (one of the main threads in this discussion is linked above) lead Randall to create a new definition of "Pagan" for this site. The resulting discussion was very interesting. (473 posts)

There have been OTHER threads as well
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« Reply #10: March 13, 2007, 07:58:17 pm »

As I said in my intro, I've been Pagan for seven years, I've read sh*t loads of books and been to conferences, rituals, gatherings. I'm part a several different ritual groups and I have a teacher. ... Thankyou for posting the link to the newpagan page though. In all honesty, it'll probably be very helpful for where I'm at.

Hm, I may have miscommunicated.  I didn't mean to imply you needed it because I thought you were new to Paganism.  However, new to Paganism or not, reading that page should give you a very general idea of how the word "Pagan" is often used in discussions on this forum.  Think of it as an "intro to forum culture" thing rather than an "intro to Paganism" thing, in your case.
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sneekywren
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« Reply #11: March 13, 2007, 08:14:19 pm »

  I started researching into what, exactly, IS paganism for me, and I discovered that paganism was pretty much just one big organic decision tree.

That's a good way of thinking about it, thanks.

Paganism is so broad, so huge, that sometimes the best way to start is really by defining first what you are NOT.  Then seeing what else is left and going on from there.

Perhaps that's the task at the moment. Though with that comes the desire to remain as open-minded as possible.... It's a tricky one Smiley

Plus, researching paganism can really blow your mind.   Wink

Hehe. That's why I'm here... Smiley
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sneekywren
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« Reply #12: March 13, 2007, 08:20:21 pm »

"A Pagan religion is a religion that is not Jewish, Christian, or Islamic and self-identifies as Pagan."

That's if it could even be called a religion, no?

I picked up this awesome Bjork quote the other day from an interview she did with Pitchfork...

"I mean, the human race, we are a tribe, let's face it, and let's stop all this religious bullshit. I think everybody, or at least a lot of my friends, are just so exhausted with this whole self-importance of religious people. Just drop it. We're all fucking animals, so let's just make some universal tribal beat. We're pagan. Let's just march."
- Bjork

Apart from totally adoring her, there was something in this sentiment that really hit me... The idea that Paganism could be very raw, very primal, earthy, and essentially... all inclusive? Just human  nature, in all our diversity... with none of the bullshit pretentiousness.

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« Reply #13: March 13, 2007, 08:46:49 pm »

However... I've got to a stage when I'm just going back to all the fundamentals of what I've learnt and what I've been taught. I don't want to just go through the motions anymore, I want to find out what is beneath it all and dig deeper and deeper.

Perhaps part of the problem is that Paganism isn't a single religion or even a group of closely related religions that share many beliefs and practices in common. It's a broad group of often very different religions that sometimes have very little in common besides considering themselves to be a Pagan religion (and the few things almost all religions -- Pagan or non-Pagan -- have in common). 

Therefore there are no underlying "Pagan fundamentals of religion." Instead you have the fundamentals of the Wiccan religion, another set of fundamentals of the Asatruar, another set of fundamentals of the Hellenic Pagans, another set of fundamentals of the Druids, another set of fundamentals of the Celtic Recons, etc. etc. And some of these sets of fundamentals are not only different from each other but are at odds with each other.
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« Reply #14: March 13, 2007, 08:48:45 pm »

Apart from totally adoring her, there was something in this sentiment that really hit me... The idea that Paganism could be very raw, very primal, earthy, and essentially... all inclusive? Just human  nature, in all our diversity... with none of the bullshit pretentiousness.

A few Pagan religions might be that, but most are not -- and quite frankly many would not want to be. All religions aren't really one.
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