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Author Topic: Which Pagan religions are NOT nature-earth based?  (Read 19243 times)
Grymdycche
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« Topic Start: May 01, 2008, 12:43:14 pm »

Just a quick question:  I've read that most  Pagan religions are Earth-centered or nature worshiping, but that begs the question (so to speak) - which ones aren't?   I was also wondering if maybe it's not always a cut and dried kind of delineation to make, as few things in reality are simply black and white.

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« Reply #1: May 01, 2008, 12:50:42 pm »

Just a quick question:  I've read that most  Pagan religions are Earth-centered or nature worshiping, but that begs the question (so to speak) - which ones aren't?   I was also wondering if maybe it's not always a cut and dried kind of delineation to make, as few things in reality are simply black and white.

Most (if not all) of the Reconstructionist religions and probably the various "reform" branches of same would fall into the "not-Earth-centered" category, for starters.
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« Reply #2: May 01, 2008, 12:54:12 pm »

Just a quick question:  I've read that most  Pagan religions are Earth-centered or nature worshiping, but that begs the question (so to speak) - which ones aren't?   I was also wondering if maybe it's not always a cut and dried kind of delineation to make, as few things in reality are simply black and white.



In my opinion MOST pagan religions are NOT earth-centered.  If you are just going by a list - since while Wicca encompasses a lot of people, it is not on the list separately for each person...
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« Reply #3: May 01, 2008, 12:55:30 pm »

Just a quick question:  I've read that most  Pagan religions are Earth-centered or nature worshiping, but that begs the question (so to speak) - which ones aren't?   I was also wondering if maybe it's not always a cut and dried kind of delineation to make, as few things in reality are simply black and white.



I'll be honest, I have my doubts that most Pagan religions are. One of these days, I'd love to see a list, but until then, what Star said. Your Recon religions are, for the most part, not earth-based.
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« Reply #4: May 01, 2008, 01:07:13 pm »

I'll be honest, I have my doubts that most Pagan religions are. One of these days, I'd love to see a list, but until then, what Star said. Your Recon religions are, for the most part, not earth-based.

I second that. Gwyddons aren't earth-based. Here's why:

Why the Gwyddoniad isnít an earth-based Tradition

A Gwyddon honors All Things.

The typical definition of an Earth-based religion is one that believes in the divinity of the planet- as a sort of Gaia-Mother Earth figure. The Gwyddoniad does not take the view that nature (or natural magic) is the only way to get results. We do not worship Earth spirits, land wights, or elementals. We also do not entreaty them for aid. The gods of the Gwyddoniad exist in a transcendent state beyond the consideration of what is the ďEarthĒ.

In other words, the Earth is just one of billions of other worlds in the Universe. We do not center our religion (or our magical practices) on this planet since we are One with everything in the Universe. We are the Universe - we are All Things.
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« Reply #5: May 01, 2008, 01:13:24 pm »

I'll be honest, I have my doubts that most Pagan religions are.

*nods*  I have my doubts too.  I'm trying to think of one that I can say without reservation is, and having trouble with it.  I mean, from my outsider's POV at least, I wouldn't even tend to say that traditional Wicca is (barring hearing otherwise from someone who actually is or has been a traditional Wiccan), although I suppose some of the more eclectic Wiccish religions might qualify.  There's a lot I don't know about a lot of Pagan religions despite having been around TC for years and years, though, so I'm probably missing some that are more Earth-centered than I'm thinking of right now.
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« Reply #6: May 01, 2008, 01:32:46 pm »

Just a quick question:  I've read that most  Pagan religions are Earth-centered or nature worshiping, but that begs the question (so to speak) - which ones aren't?   I was also wondering if maybe it's not always a cut and dried kind of delineation to make, as few things in reality are simply black and white.



I agree that it's not always cut and dried.  "Nature-based" vs. "not nature-based" can get weird and sticky, because prior to the Industrial Revolution, most religions had *some* kind of tie to the natural world, at least the "agricultural festivals" part of it -- the bit that affects humans most directly.  I think the best distinction to make is one of, well, for lack of a better word, "rootedness"; if the overarching mythos and ideology -- the guiding principle of the religion -- is rooted in reverence for the natural world (whether it's actually "earth worship" or not), that's nature-based.  Like, the Greeks have plenty of gods connected to nature (Artemis, etc.), but that's not, like, the central theme/metaphor/linking factor of Greek religion in general; therefore, Greek religion=not nature-based (at least in the forms we know a lot about, like Athenian civic religion).  On the other hand, the natural world *is* a major principle of Wicca in all its forms; the gods are explicitly connected with nature and the natural cycle (Wheel of the Year), and it forms a major organizing principle of the religion.  The logic (I think that's the word I want) that underpins Wiccan practice -- as well as the practice of other nature-based religions -- is intimately tied to the natural world.   

So, nature-based would include Wicca (BTW and neo-), many indigenous tribal religions (esp. non-nomadic ones), and I'd also put Druidry in there.  Non-nature-based would include Reconstructionsms whose overall focus and structural logic isn't nature (Hellenic, Religio Romana, Asatru).  I am willing to buy, though, that there are ways to do Reconstructionism in a more nature-based way -- maybe people who are following more of a "farmer" or "hunter" path (as opposed to, say, "warrior" or "scholar" or whatever), or those whose personal practice revolves around, say, Demeter or Artemis.             

One problem that I've seen in places where non-nature-based Recons and Recon-influenced types are dominant is the equation of "nature-based" with "fluffy":  I have seen many snorts of "I worship the GODS, not NATURE!11!"  Which completely misses the point of what "nature-based" means:  the gods in nature-based religions are *about* nature (and sometimes, not always, nature itself), and most things in the religion are intimately connected to nature.       
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« Reply #7: May 01, 2008, 01:43:22 pm »


One problem that I've seen in places where non-nature-based Recons and Recon-influenced types are dominant is the equation of "nature-based" with "fluffy":  I have seen many snorts of "I worship the GODS, not NATURE!11!"  Which completely misses the point of what "nature-based" means:  the gods in nature-based religions are *about* nature (and sometimes, not always, nature itself), and most things in the religion are intimately connected to nature.       

One definition of the difference between the nature-based and non-nature-based religions was over on Religious Tolerance (can't remember why I was there, but it wasn't for this) and they had it that nature-based religions (like Wicca) focused on nature while non-earth-based focused on the gods themselves.

That's not exactly the way they had it, but it's close.
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« Reply #8: May 01, 2008, 01:48:44 pm »

On the other hand, the natural world *is* a major principle of Wicca in all its forms; the gods are explicitly connected with nature and the natural cycle (Wheel of the Year), and it forms a major organizing principle of the religion.

To clarify my earlier comments, I was thinking of BTW as more fertility-centered than earth-centered--related but not the same.  I have the feeling I should probably just keep my big mouth closed on the subject now, because I think I may be out of my depth.  BTW is one of those things that I think I feel like I know more than I actually do about, and I probably shouldn't have spoken up.  Sorry.

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One problem that I've seen in places where non-nature-based Recons and Recon-influenced types are dominant is the equation of "nature-based" with "fluffy":  I have seen many snorts of "I worship the GODS, not NATURE!11!"  Which completely misses the point of what "nature-based" means:  the gods in nature-based religions are *about* nature (and sometimes, not always, nature itself), and everything in the religion is intimately connected to nature.       

In the interest of full disclosure, my comments here are based pretty much solely on my experience here at notably-non-nature-based-dominated TC.  I recognize that they may not apply on a broader scale; I'm speaking solely from my own experience and the limited perspective that affords.

That said, what I've noticed here is that after a while, the reaction to the whole "earth-based" idea starts to perhaps look like what you're describing, but isn't necessarily.  I think the strong "NO I'M NOT!!!!" reaction is born more of frustration with having to continually deal with people insisting that all Pagans are earth-centered and getting sick and tired of it.  I suspect what is considered fluffy (again, at least here) is that insistence rather than earth-centered practice itself, but I also think that can be difficult to discern in the reactions that the whole "Paganism=earth-centered" issue provokes.

(I'd also note that in this case, the OP did specifically say nature worshipping in addition to Earth centered, so I think there's some validity in this specific case to reacting with an "I don't worship nature" statement.)
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« Reply #9: May 01, 2008, 01:51:19 pm »

One definition of the difference between the nature-based and non-nature-based religions was over on Religious Tolerance (can't remember why I was there, but it wasn't for this) and they had it that nature-based religions (like Wicca) focused on nature while non-earth-based focused on the gods themselves.

That's not exactly the way they had it, but it's close.

See, and that's one of the many reasons why I think RT is a seriously problematic site.  If you define it that way, you wind up with a situation where almost *nobody* is "nature-based," and the term loses all meaning.  "Nature-based" vs. "non-nature-based" can be really useful distinctions, when they're about organizing principles, mythos, structural logic, imagery, etc.  But defining it that way is just silly, and not even accurate for Wicca.   Wicca, in modern Paganism, is almost always the freaking yardstick by which we *define* "nature-based," and so it's counter-productive to invent a definition where even *Wiccans* can't define themselves as such!
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« Reply #10: May 01, 2008, 01:52:52 pm »

That said, what I've noticed here is that after a while, the reaction to the whole "earth-based" idea starts to perhaps look like what you're describing, but isn't necessarily.  I think the strong "NO I'M NOT!!!!" reaction is born more of frustration with having to continually deal with people insisting that all Pagans are earth-centered and getting sick and tired of it.  I suspect what is considered fluffy (again, at least here) is that insistence rather than earth-centered practice itself, but I also think that can be difficult to discern in the reactions that the whole "Paganism=earth-centered" issue provokes.

I can promise you a lot of it is borne out of frustration. I've gotten so sick of that one topic that my knee jerks automatically when someone comes up with it.
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« Reply #11: May 01, 2008, 01:56:15 pm »

I can promise you a lot of it is borne out of frustration. I've gotten so sick of that one topic that my knee jerks automatically when someone comes up with it.

*nods*  I'm guilty of that myself, I'll admit.
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« Reply #12: May 01, 2008, 02:19:39 pm »

I'll be honest, I have my doubts that most Pagan religions are. One of these days, I'd love to see a list, but until then, what Star said. Your Recon religions are, for the most part, not earth-based.

I asked because, in addition to reading it elsewhere, I'm in the middle of reading "Drawing Down the Moon" (obviously written with a Wiccan slant) and Margot Adler states this claim up front.  It would seem from most of the regulars here though that such is not the case.
In fact, I get the feeling that Wiccans are the minority at this particular forum.  There's got to be a poll here for that already, I'll have to hunt around for it. 

(I wanted to quote Eadie here, but I can't insert the quote now, it only goes back so may posts.  Argh.. manual time!)
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In my opinion MOST pagan religions are NOT earth-centered.  If you are just going by a list - since while Wicca encompasses a lot of people, it is not on the list separately for each person...

I see what you're saying -  there's another way to look at this too:  perhaps there are more Pagan religions that are not earth or nature centered/worshiping, but, if there are more people in Wicca than the others,  then judging solely by body count,  one might say that most Pagans (but not pagan religions) are nature-based. (Whether that's accurate or not, I have no idea).  I don't think this what she (Adler) said though.  I'm pretty sure she stated "Pagan religions". 

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« Reply #13: May 01, 2008, 02:30:32 pm »

(I wanted to quote Eadie here, but I can't insert the quote now, it only goes back so may posts.  Argh.. manual time!)

In the future, please just reply to each post separately rather than doing this.  I do thank you for including the words you're replying to, but the link back to the post itself that the code provides is equally important.
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« Reply #14: May 01, 2008, 03:08:23 pm »

I can promise you a lot of it is borne out of frustration. I've gotten so sick of that one topic that my knee jerks automatically when someone comes up with it.

*nods*  Yeah.  Like you and Star, I've certainly been guilty of it myself.  But I'm getting to the point where I find it equally frustrating when the kneejerk "WE'RE NOT WICCANS!" overrides scholarship, accurate reporting, and common sense.  Not that this really happens here, but it seems to be fairly common on Recon boards.  It's so, so important to say, as often as necessary (and god, that's OFTEN), that we AREN'T Wiccans; but that shouldn't lead to denial of the scholarship about our own religions, or mischaracterizations of Wicca.

Back to nature-based, I think it might be best to think of it as kind of a continuum -- I love the continuum, man.  Smiley  Like, imagine a survey, where the question is, "How important is the concept of nature (connection to the natural world, the seasonal cycle, reverence for the earth, fertility, etc., etc., etc.) within your religion?"  If you check "Very important" or "Important," that's nature-based.  If you check "somewhat important," "Less important," or "Not important," non-nature-based.  I think this also allows for an understanding of nature-y paths within religions that aren't overall, nature-based.  Like I mentioned earlier, I would imagine that someone who is devoted to Demeter would rate nature as more important within their religious practice than someone devoted to, say, Athena. 

That leads to what I think is the crucial question to be asked, when defining "nature-based":  is it possible to downplay the idea of nature within the religion, and still be recognizably practicing the religion?  If you ignore or downplay nature within Wicca, you completely gut it -- you lose the entire logic of the festival cycle, at the *very* least.  Whereas you can have little-to-no space for nature within your religious practice and still be a Greek Recon, depending on who and what you're focusing upon.  How big and important a chunk would it take from your religion if you chopped out the concept of nature?       
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