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Author Topic: Do you think Pagans are different in other ways than just religion?  (Read 4572 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: February 24, 2008, 11:45:18 am »

Wasn't sure where to put this.

I haven't met other Pagans outside the internet yet and wonder if many Pagans are different in social behaviour and life style than adherents of mainstream religions. I wonder if books and internet are giving me the right picture of Paganism and if I'll have a big surprise when I finally meet some Pagans face to face. (At the moment I'm living a bit at the edge of the world, but of course I can practice solitary without minding what others do and how they are. I'm just interested in knowing.)


I guess this would vary individually, but are there striking social & life style differences between specific groups or types of Pagans and adherents of mainstream religions?

1) Are there more individualistic people or people with unconventional life styles than in mainstream religions?

2) Would you call a big part of it an alternative movement (not only in the religious aspect) or are most people just like other people and only different in regards to religion?

3) Are there recognizeable types of Pagans in day to day life, for example through specific ways of dressing, social behaviour, housing etc.? 

4) Do you think that specific kinds of people are drawn to Paganism, like specific characters, social groups, occupations etc.?


To give you an example:
With some people it's likely that they are in the ecological movement, if you see how they dress, house, what music they listen to etc.
And someone with punk hairstyle is unlikely to be a conservative Catholic, but he/she may not necessarily be an anarchist.

So what about Pagans? I guess the answer will be very complex as Pagans are not a homogen group, but maybe there are specific kinds of Pagans or specific prejudices you would like to correct?
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« Reply #1: February 24, 2008, 01:36:50 pm »

1) Are there more individualistic people or people with unconventional life styles than in mainstream religions?

Depends on your context, I suspect.  And I know as many pagans who get really aggravated by people assuming that they're into $UNCONVENTIONAL as ones who actually are.  And while I've seen people cite statistics on various $UNCONVENTIONAL groups being heavily dominated by pagans, for those where I'm actually familiar with the population it's not true, and in one case the group that did the survey is the obnoxious new age wanker magazine, so I'm not surprised that their readership is dominated by pagans, and fluffy ones at that.

(Who, me, opinionated?)

There is a loose correlation I've seen between people who are mainstream-abnormal on one axis also being more likely to have at least evaluated whether they want to be mainstream-abnormal on other axes, which sometimes leads to things like group-A-weird being more likely to be group-B-weird or group-C-weird, but not always, and not in specific groups -- and non-pagan weirdos are just as likely to go through the same process.

Quote
2) Would you call a big part of it an alternative movement (not only in the religious aspect) or are most people just like other people and only different in regards to religion?

I get pissed off at people who refer to paganism as a movement.  As for the broader span of people who think that changes to their personal lives are going to revolutionise and change the world ... hah.  Their "movements" are just not that speshul.

Quote
3) Are there recognizeable types of Pagans in day to day life, for example through specific ways of dressing, social behaviour, housing etc.? 

No.

Well, there may be some, but I've never actually met any, and I'd expect them to be the sort of aggressively "You got a problem with me being a WITCH, bub" pushy that most people grow out of by the time they leave their teens.

Quote
4) Do you think that specific kinds of people are drawn to Paganism, like specific characters, social groups, occupations etc.?

No.
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« Reply #2: February 24, 2008, 03:15:52 pm »


I haven't met other Pagans outside the internet yet and wonder if many Pagans are different in social behaviour and life style than adherents of mainstream religions. I wonder if books and internet are giving me the right picture of Paganism and if I'll have a big surprise when I finally meet some Pagans face to face. (At the moment I'm living a bit at the edge of the world, but of course I can practice solitary without minding what others do and how they are. I'm just interested in knowing.)


I guess this would vary individually, but are there striking social & life style differences between specific groups or types of Pagans and adherents of mainstream religions?

1) Are there more individualistic people or people with unconventional life styles than in mainstream religions?

I doubt it. I've been around other different unconventional people in a group. Take out that one particular common bond, and what you get is regular, everyday people, IMO. Many are proud of that fact. I don't think Pagans are any different from this.

2) Would you call a big part of it an alternative movement (not only in the religious aspect) or are most people just like other people and only different in regards to religion?

The latter.

3) Are there recognizeable types of Pagans in day to day life, for example through specific ways of dressing, social behaviour, housing etc.? 

For the most part, I'd say no.

4) Do you think that specific kinds of people are drawn to Paganism, like specific characters, social groups, occupations etc.?

No.
« Last Edit: February 24, 2008, 03:17:28 pm by Lorrie Indigo » Logged
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« Reply #3: February 24, 2008, 05:35:42 pm »

1) Are there more individualistic people or people with unconventional life styles than in mainstream religions?

How do you define that? On the lifestyle front - not really, with the exception that I know more people in relationships other than monogamous heterosexual marriage (this is likely a result of Paganism generally not dictating formalised relationship structure.) On the other hand, there are plenty of people in relationships that are non-monogamous, non-heterosexual, or non-marriages who aren't Pagan. (And a number of the relationships like that I know, at least one of the people involved doesn't identify as Pagan.)

I do think you need a streak of individualism to follow a minority religion and be serious about it over time. But again, that applies to any number of other religions in any number of other places: I don't think it's specific to Paganism.

Quote
2) Would you call a big part of it an alternative movement (not only in the religious aspect) or are most people just like other people and only different in regards to religion?

Closer to the latter - but with the recognition that serious religious practice does tend to lead to some choices that may not be the norm around you. (For example, while there's a whole range of ways people deal with this, most Pagans I know are interested in environmental issues at some level. How that shows up, though, covers a vast range.)

Quote
3) Are there recognizeable types of Pagans in day to day life, for example through specific ways of dressing, social behaviour, housing etc.? 

There's a line that's sometimes used within the Wiccan/Wiccan-influenced community: "may you be known as a witch/priestess for all those who have eyes to see" (it's usually used in relationship to initiatory experiences.) My experience is that this *is* quite spotable if you know what you're looking for.

However, that doesn't mean it's an outward obvious thing. I look a lot more like a stereotypical librarian than a Pagan. I don't wear obviously religious jewelry, I dress plainly (long skirt and plain top, mostly) My covenmates mostly look appropriate to what they are professionally (and at home, relaxed, we're all over the map.)

Quote
]4) Do you think that specific kinds of people are drawn to Paganism, like specific characters, social groups, occupations etc.?

There's some evidence to suggest that Pagans read substantially more than the general population. (It's hard to tell for certain, but things like book sales numbers.) That said: that's not a huge goal: a significant number of Americans these days read no books for pleasure in a given year.

Someone I know online (who is a BTW priestess), has done some interesting surveys looking to see if particular personality types (based on the Myers-Briggs personality typing) are either more common than the norm in Paganism, or within specific Pagan paths. Her results are intriguing: the one I remember most is that INFJ (which is mine, and which is one of the most uncommon types in the general population) is unusually common in the groups she's surveyed among people interested in more traditional Wicca.

That said, I've been in library science classes where 10 out of 25 of us were INFJs in one case, and where 10 out of 13 of us were in another. There's lots of interesting ways norms can play out - and preferences - and it's a bad idea to make assumptions based on minimal data. (She also pointed out that she saw all the types in all types of groups; it was just that percentages were different than in the general population.)
« Last Edit: February 24, 2008, 05:50:05 pm by RandallS, Reason: Quote fixed » Logged

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« Reply #4: February 24, 2008, 08:57:45 pm »

Wasn't sure where to put this.

I haven't met other Pagans outside the internet yet and wonder if many Pagans are different in social behaviour and life style than adherents of mainstream religions. I wonder if books and internet are giving me the right picture of Paganism and if I'll have a big surprise when I finally meet some Pagans face to face. (At the moment I'm living a bit at the edge of the world, but of course I can practice solitary without minding what others do and how they are. I'm just interested in knowing.)


I guess this would vary individually, but are there striking social & life style differences between specific groups or types of Pagans and adherents of mainstream religions?

1) Are there more individualistic people or people with unconventional life styles than in mainstream religions?

2) Would you call a big part of it an alternative movement (not only in the religious aspect) or are most people just like other people and only different in regards to religion?

3) Are there recognizeable types of Pagans in day to day life, for example through specific ways of dressing, social behaviour, housing etc.? 

4) Do you think that specific kinds of people are drawn to Paganism, like specific characters, social groups, occupations etc.?


To give you an example:
With some people it's likely that they are in the ecological movement, if you see how they dress, house, what music they listen to etc.
And someone with punk hairstyle is unlikely to be a conservative Catholic, but he/she may not necessarily be an anarchist.

So what about Pagans? I guess the answer will be very complex as Pagans are not a homogen group, but maybe there are specific kinds of Pagans or specific prejudices you would like to correct?

One strange thing I have noticed about some Pagans, is they like to call themselves strange things like Goldenmoon Badgergoat in real life, or give themselves grand titles like High Puba.  Outside die hard role playing gamers, I haven't seen this in other groups.  It is one thing to create an alias online or in a game, it is another to do it in everyday life (and especially expect people to take you seriously).  If their name looks like it came out of an online name generator, they are probably a Pagan.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #5: February 25, 2008, 03:13:37 am »

To all: thanks for the interesting answers!

I get pissed off at people who refer to paganism as a movement.  As for the broader span of people who think that changes to their personal lives are going to revolutionise and change the world ... hah.  Their "movements" are just not that speshul.
I can understand why you dislike the term, but it isn't always used to refer to revolutionary world change as you put it.

I'm not an expert in sociology, but from what I've heard and read you can also use the term 'movement' to describe an intended change in a specific field, without the meaning that the members of this movement necessarily want to revolutionize the world (as changing other fields than the specific one) nor does it mean that they want to change the specific field totally and for everyone, not just for themselves (as in making everyone else Pagan).

If I say 'Pagan movement' I don't mean 'movement to totally revolutionize the world through making everyone Pagan'. I mean 'not yet fully instutionalisized social phenomen, which is a relative new development and in comparison to institutionalized phenomena still relativly heavily changing in its organization structures.

There are a lot of movements which don't stay in their primary field (if they had a distinct primary field to begin with). I wanted to know if you would see parts of the Pagan movement as an alternative movement, that covers more than just religion.

I should have phrased this differently from the beginning, but didn't know what a problem the term 'movement' was going to cause as it seems to be used in different implications. I guess my own phrasing wasn't clear that I don't see the term 'movement' as a strive for total world change itsself, only if it comes with the necessary specifications like 'social revolutionary movement' or similar.

Any sociologists here to help us out?
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« Reply #6: February 25, 2008, 02:23:11 pm »

I'm not an expert in sociology, but from what I've heard and read you can also use the term 'movement' to describe an intended change in a specific field, without the meaning that the members of this movement necessarily want to revolutionize the world (as changing other fields than the specific one) nor does it mean that they want to change the specific field totally and for everyone, not just for themselves (as in making everyone else Pagan).

Common usages of "movement" that might apply (I'm looking at dictionary.reference.com here) all explicitly state something like "towards a common goal", "toward a particular conclusion", "toward a particular end", "common ideology", "certain general goals".

My religion is not aimed at a goal/purpose/conclusion; my choice of religions is not driven by some sort of selection towards such a state.  The existence of the modern pagan religions does not strike me as attempting to accomplish anything at all.  If the collective set of modern pagan religions has no goals, no shared ideology (just try to get members of a variety of pagan religions to agree on an ideology), no thing that it's about and trying to implement, how on earth can it be a "movement"?
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« Reply #7: February 25, 2008, 04:10:55 pm »

My religion is not aimed at a goal/purpose/conclusion; my choice of religions is not driven by some sort of selection towards such a state.  The existence of the modern pagan religions does not strike me as attempting to accomplish anything at all.  If the collective set of modern pagan religions has no goals, no shared ideology (just try to get members of a variety of pagan religions to agree on an ideology), no thing that it's about and trying to implement, how on earth can it be a "movement"?

Is it possible that paganism itself (i.e. the general collection of religions deemed 'pagan') is the goal?  That the 'pagan movement' is the general movement of individuals towards paganism as opposed to the set of mainstream religions that exist now?

If it could be read that way, the 'pagan movement' would have paganism as it's goal, in effect the breakdown of the monolithic view of religion in general into a more individualistic view.  It wouldn't necessarily be a cohesive movement, given the goal, but might better be described as a movement 'away from' soemthing else, a counter-movement.

Possibly?

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« Reply #8: February 25, 2008, 07:53:11 pm »

That's pretty much what I mean when I use the term.  (Well, no, the term I use is, very specifically, "neoPagan movement" - that, and inferring, probably correctly, other nuances of just what I mean by it, may be why Darkhawk hasn't called me on it.  For one thing, I'm usually using it in context of the timespan of the past several decades; when I'm referring to the present day with no reference to "how did we get here?" I'm far more likely to say "Pagandom".)

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« Reply #9: February 27, 2008, 12:31:41 am »

That's pretty much what I mean when I use the term.  (Well, no, the term I use is, very specifically, "neoPagan movement" - that, and inferring, probably correctly, other nuances of just what I mean by it, may be why Darkhawk hasn't called me on it.

I think it's that I don't always see it used in a context where I feel that I have to agree that it exists as phrased to respond to the post.  If it's terminology I disagree with for something I acknowledge exists, I grit my teeth and mostly ignore it, because even my pedantry has some limits, and pitching a fit about every phrasing mostly just derails conversations.

When I feel that the terminology-I-disagree-with is actively getting in the way -- that there is no way of actually presenting my truth while letting the terminology sit -- then I will definitely throw down about wording.

And in this, as in many other things, there are vast expanses of grey areas.


... I should finish reading Spiritual Marketplace, I think.
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« Reply #10: February 27, 2008, 04:19:00 am »

I think it's that I don't always see it used in a context where I feel that I have to agree that it exists as phrased to respond to the post.  If it's terminology I disagree with for something I acknowledge exists, I grit my teeth and mostly ignore it, because even my pedantry has some limits, and pitching a fit about every phrasing mostly just derails conversations.

When I feel that the terminology-I-disagree-with is actively getting in the way -- that there is no way of actually presenting my truth while letting the terminology sit -- then I will definitely throw down about wording.
Haha!  I must be the queen of making you grit your teeth and think, "I'm not sure I like that, but I guess she's gotta call it something."

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« Reply #11: April 07, 2008, 10:25:20 am »

I had my share of bumping into the "movement"-people. They scare me a bit, with all their self-righteousness. I guess I'm biased about some pagans,that they should be more drawn to  artistic occupations or farming. But I blame that view on the "movement"-people still. I don't know many pagans where I live. For all I know they may be lawyers or bankmanagers, who could tell? I guess this all traces back to the 60´s and the 70´s, when people where generally more experimental with lifestyles. At least in Sweden people started to "go green" and raise cattle in the 70´s. It was all so political...
I live in the country, that suits me as a pagan of course. But all the other people around here, breeding horses and growing tomatoes - they're not exactly witches. And some of the most spiritual people I ever met have been found in highly unlikely places and occupations. As for clothes I cant tell a witch/pagan from anyone else. I cant see it that way anymore.



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« Reply #12: April 07, 2008, 12:16:10 pm »

I had my share of bumping into the "movement"-people. They scare me a bit, with all their self-righteousness.
Haven't meet Pagans I know of yet, but I had my share of 'movement'-people as well, especially eco- and left-wing ones. I still believe in some kinds of society progression, but I dropped out of that movement after a couple of month because the more-revolutionary-than-thou attitute of many of them annoyed me and some are like missionaries who want to convert the whole world by teaching the 'mainstream crowd'.
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