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Author Topic: Oldest Pagan Religion  (Read 17033 times)
Earthling
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« Topic Start: March 24, 2007, 03:20:20 pm »

Howdy All:

I recently saw a show on the Orkney Islands with some theories about the Pagan religious sites of its early inhabitants.  It mentioned that these pre-dated the Egyptians by a thousand years or so.

My question is, what is the oldest known Pagan religion?  And would Paganism be the oldest known religions in general?

Thanks for any replies.

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« Reply #1: March 24, 2007, 03:32:30 pm »

what is the oldest known Pagan religion?

I know this might be seem mean, but "Pagan" would imply the modern movement of alternative religions. In that case it would most likely be Wicca. However, if you were meaning Pre-Christian religions, that devolves into best guess scenarios.
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« Reply #2: March 24, 2007, 04:05:03 pm »

I know this might be seem mean, but "Pagan" would imply the modern movement of alternative religions.

I don't know what you mean.

Most people would say that ancient religious sites such as those at Stonehenge and Orkney Island are considered Pagan religious sites.  From my understanding this is a good description.
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« Reply #3: March 24, 2007, 04:09:56 pm »

I don't know what you mean.

Most people would say that ancient religious sites such as those at Stonehenge and Orkney Island are considered Pagan religious sites.  From my understanding this is a good description.

Ok, so your saying the Pre-Christian Pagan, just needed a little clarification because you get some people who think that the Pagan Religions today are ones that have existed for millions of years. The oldest informal would probably go back to the Stone ages and most likely a shamanic religion. However, for a formal religion I would probably say Ancient Babylon or Ancient Egypt. I am just an amateur in the realm of history so I could be quite wrong. 
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« Reply #4: March 24, 2007, 05:54:30 pm »

I don't know what you mean.

Most people would say that ancient religious sites such as those at Stonehenge and Orkney Island are considered Pagan religious sites.  From my understanding this is a good description.

There's a point of distinction here.

There's Pagan = pre-Christian European(ish) (and otherwise not very distinct) and there's neo-Pagan, usually shortened to Pagan, that's a modern religious movement.

ALL pre-Christian, non-Jewish religions in the Western world are called pagan.  It doesn't mean ANYTHING about what the religion is about or what it means.  Just that it's pre-Christian and not Jewish.

So it doesn't tie in to modern religions except that some modern ones are attempted recreations of the old ones.
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« Reply #5: March 24, 2007, 07:06:33 pm »

What religions are oldest?

Without writing (ie. inscriptions, historical sources etc), it's really hard to understand the significant of ancient sites. (Even with it, it's problematic.) And grave goods and artistic expressions that far predate the use of writing may imply religious or spiritual belief, but it's all implication and assumption.

With literate cultures, most would say that either Egyptian or Sumerian (since we can decipher them - there are older undeciphered scripts, like Vin?a, but there's great debate there whether they are actually a writing system or just groupings of individual symbols).
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Earthling
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« Reply #6: March 24, 2007, 09:14:35 pm »

What religions are oldest?

Without writing (ie. inscriptions, historical sources etc), it's really hard to understand the significant of ancient sites. (Even with it, it's problematic.) And grave goods and artistic expressions that far predate the use of writing may imply religious or spiritual belief, but it's all implication and assumption.

With literate cultures, most would say that either Egyptian or Sumerian (since we can decipher them - there are older undeciphered scripts, like Vin?a, but there's great debate there whether they are actually a writing system or just groupings of individual symbols).

Good post.  I have been doing some more reading and yeah, the Sumerians and Egyptians seem to hit around 3000 bc and the Babylonians and Assyrians not long after that.

The sites at Scotland are from about 3500-3100 bc and although it is speculation, the fact that the monuments all line up exactly with the equinox's point directly to a earth-based pagan religion.

But like you mentioned, there are cave drawings and other symbols that could pre-date that.
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« Reply #7: March 24, 2007, 09:58:12 pm »

The sites at Scotland are from about 3500-3100 bc and although it is speculation, the fact that the monuments all line up exactly with the equinox's point directly to a earth-based pagan religion.

Y'know, I always wonder why, when there is a *celestrial* association to the orientation of a particular site, the base assumption is that this supports an *earth* based religion.  Wink

Or even that the purpose of such sites were religious at all -- perhaps some group or individual authority simply wanted to show their neighbours how great and glorious they were. (I've been to most of the early sites on Orkney, and others throughout Scotland. What strikes me most is "whoa, centralized authority work project!" It took alot of labour org and resources to put some of those sites together.)

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« Reply #8: March 24, 2007, 11:04:48 pm »

The sites at Scotland are from about 3500-3100 bc and although it is speculation, the fact that the monuments all line up exactly with the equinox's point directly to a earth-based pagan religion.

Or simply a need to know the seasons for agricultural reasons.
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« Reply #9: March 24, 2007, 11:13:26 pm »

Or simply a need to know the seasons for agricultural reasons.

Yeah, you are most likely correct on that one. 

Agriculture was relatively new at that time and was quickly becoming a staple of civilization.

Good catch.
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« Reply #10: March 25, 2007, 07:28:58 am »

Y'know, I always wonder why, when there is a *celestrial* association to the orientation of a particular site, the base assumption is that this supports an *earth* based religion.  Wink

I think a lot of people use "earth-based" and "natural" as if they were synonyms.  I also think they don't always notice that that's what they're doing.  "Celestial" things are part of the "natural" universe, therefore things that relate to them are "earth-based."  I agree that the terminology doesn't really work well with celestial stuff, but there you have it.
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Caroline
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« Reply #11: March 25, 2007, 05:35:00 pm »

I think a lot of people use "earth-based" and "natural" as if they were synonyms. 

Yup, sure enough. Which leads back to the whole romantic sense of anything "natural" (usually equated with "primative") as good and desireable. (Even tho what people consider "natural" vs "unnatural" is rarely consistant, ime.)


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« Reply #12: March 25, 2007, 09:43:44 pm »

Yup, sure enough. Which leads back to the whole romantic sense of anything "natural" (usually equated with "primative") as good and desireable. (Even tho what people consider "natural" vs "unnatural" is rarely consistant, ime.)

And which also leads some people to think that "natural" = "harmless."  Foxglove is perfectly natural -- harmelss, it ain't!
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« Reply #13: March 26, 2007, 12:21:49 am »

  "Celestial" things are part of the "natural" universe, therefore things that relate to them are "earth-based."  I agree that the terminology doesn't really work well with celestial stuff, but there you have it.

One of my friends described his path as "universe-based".  Smiley
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Caroline
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« Reply #14: March 26, 2007, 10:39:40 am »

One of my friends described his path as "universe-based".  Smiley

Hehe. I like that.

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