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Author Topic: Special Discussion: Nature and Pagan Religions  (Read 15721 times)
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« Topic Start: May 13, 2008, 06:08:30 pm »

At TC, we've had many discussions over the years about "nature-based" religions.  A major point of contention within the Pagan community involves attempts to define ALL Pagan religions as "nature-based," which simply does not work.  However, emotions tend to run so high that discussions rarely advance beyond "ARE SO!"  "AM NOT!"  In all that, nobody ever really gets around to talking about what we *mean* when we say "nature-based":  while everyone seems to agree that Wicca is nature-based and Christianity isn't, there's not much discussion of what we mean by "nature-based," of the various ways that "nature-based" can work within those religions that identify as such, of how nature is conceptualized in religions across the entire spectrum, and so forth. 

Since this is a Special Topics discussion, there are stricter rules for participation in this thread, especially regarding thread drift:  while thread drift is perfectly fine within TC at large, in this folder discussions are to stay on topic.  If you want to pursue a side issue that arises here, feel free to start a thread in the main forum.  For more information on the special rules for this folder, please see here:
http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=57.0

In addition to the above rules, we have created some rules specific to this discussion.  Since this is a highly emotive topic, we wanted to avoid the discussion getting bogged down in the usual places; here at TC, we have a real opportunity to have a genuinely meaty discussion about concepts of nature in Pagan religions, because we have such a wide variety of beliefs represented here -- including a large number of folks who do *not* identify as nature-based.    So, to keep the usual problems from happening, here are the additional rules for this topic.


1)  Paganism is not A religion, it is MANY religions, most of which have very little in common with each other. Pagans as a whole do not all believe any one thing. Understanding this is necessary to participate in this discussion. 

2)  Telling others what their religion really believes about nature when you are not a member of that religion is *expressly* forbidden.  Don't make assertions about religions other than your own unless you have a demonstrable in-depth knowledge of that religion.  This discussion will be difficult without some room for comparison between religions, but it needs to be done very, very carefully.  When comparing other religion's practices/beliefs to your own, you *must* indicate that a) you are not a member of X religion, and b) where your information is coming from (prior involvement, dominant in your area, read some books (scholarly or otherwise), encountered a crazy at a festival, etc.).  Sweeping statements are discouraged.  And remember:  you may be wrong.  And since we have practitioners of a wide variety of religions here, you will almost certainly be called on it.  Take correction gracefully, and refocus on your own religion. 

3)  Keep the focus on YOUR religion, not on others' misrepresentations of it. This is a discussion about the concept of "nature-based," how the idea of nature functions within your personal path, and the like; the purpose of this discussion is to move beyond kneejerk responses, and really explore what "nature-based" *means.*  As annoyed as you may have been when that NeoWiccan told you that your (non-NeoWiccan) religion WAS SO nature-based, or when that Recon snarked that you don't really worship the gods, this is not the place for those stories.  Put them aside, and think about what nature means TO YOU within the context of YOUR religious beliefs and practices. 

3b)  At the same time, also remember that, if you identify as a member of a particular religion, you are not the spokesperson for that religion as a whole.  There's a lot of potential for variation within many religions, so frame your responses accordingly.  For example, "Greek Paganism, in general, is not really nature-based" is a fair and reasonable statement.  "No Greek Pagans are nature-based" is not -- GPs whose personal practices focus upon Demeter, Pan, or Artemis in their nature-y aspects are likely to object.

Without further ado, then, here are some questions to think about; you don't have to answer them all or in any order, certainly -- they're just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.
How important is the idea of "nature" within your religion?
How is nature conceptualized within your religion?
How does nature -- concepts, imagery, attitudes toward -- function within your religion?
Where do things like agricultural festivals fit into your religion overall?
If you practice magic, how is nature figured -- is it *the* source of power, *a* source of power, totally irrelevant, what?
Etc. etc. etc.

Have fun, and stay on topic!   
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« Reply #1: May 14, 2008, 07:31:11 am »

Without further ado, then, here are some questions to think about; you don't have to answer them all or in any order, certainly -- they're just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.
How important is the idea of "nature" within your religion?
How is nature conceptualized within your religion?
How does nature -- concepts, imagery, attitudes toward -- function within your religion?
Where do things like agricultural festivals fit into your religion overall?
If you practice magic, how is nature figured -- is it *the* source of power, *a* source of power, totally irrelevant, what?
Etc. etc. etc.

Have fun, and stay on topic!   

As someone who is still working out her path, I won't stray too far into what any particular religion does or doesn't do. One thing that a lot of religious beliefs tend to include though, is the belief that one (or more) deities created the known universe/helped shape things. If this forms part of someone's religious beliefs, then part of respecting your deity(ies) *should* include respect for nature, in my opinion. To do otherwise just seems... hypocritical.

As far as my personal beliefs and practices go, while I am still working them out and have a definite Kemetic lean, I'm a little more pragmatic. Yes, there are deities in my chosen pantheon who created things, just as there are deities there who 'hold dominion' over aspects of nature. Doing things that help the environment, such as planting trees or recycling are things that I can (and possibly will) use as dedications to certain deities, sacrifices of my time and energy to look after things that concern them in relation to the world around us. It is also part of upholding Maat, as I understand it (still working on that one as well). If I walk along the street and don't bother to pick up a stray piece of newspaper to put in the bin two metres away, I don't really consider that to be upholding Maat (although it is a small thing in comparison to other wrongs in the world). I also consider the practical side. If we pollute and denude our planet to the point it is unliveable, we lose.

As far as nature and my religion, the ancient Egyptians don't appear to really have that distinction. They had deities of the harvest, the Nile inundation, and other various natural events, and festivals in Their honour. I would say nature was a pretty important part of their religion/lifestyle, even if it wasn't really identified as a separate aspect of their existence, the way we do now. Nature just was. I think this is where we miss a lot of what goes on, by separating nature into this 'other' thing, that needs to be feared, looked-after or pillaged for what it has to offer, instead of simply being a part of our existence. We've divorced ourselves from nature to the point where many people wouldn't kill an animal for their supper, but can happily buy prepackaged meat at the supermarket without a second thought. We complain when it rains on our day off instead of being thankful that there is more water to drink, and stay indoors on a cold, wet day instead of rugging up, going out and going ahead with our walk and experiencing nature. We work in climate-controlled boxes, look out at the sunshine and think, "I wish I was out there - I can't wait for the weekend," then proceed to spend our weekend indoors with the airconditioner because it's 'too hot' outside in that wonderful sun. We watch a documentary on the TV instead of going for a walk in the bush and seeing the animals live and active.

For my personal path, I just want to experience all of that, and make sure it is there for my own kids. That means I must be more environmentally conscious - so be it. I try to be.
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« Reply #2: May 14, 2008, 07:58:50 am »

I think this is where we miss a lot of what goes on, by separating nature into this 'other' thing, that needs to be feared, looked-after or pillaged for what it has to offer, instead of simply being a part of our existence.

And I think this is maybe part of why I don't think of my own religious practice as nature-based.  There are bits and pieces of nature in it, of course.  Nature is all around me, all the time, and it wouldn't make sense to completely leave out everything that has to do with nature.  I mean...  I follow a solar deity, and it's sort of hard to separate the sun from nature!  Smiley  But, religiously, I don't separate "nature" from "the rest of the world around me".  Nature, other human beings, the things humans have created...  They're all important, and if any of them gets emphasized over any other, that's a balance that shifts depending on context and the individual elements under consideration rather than a set value that rules overall.  Nature doesn't win out any more often than the rest of it.  So without that emphasis, I don't feel my religion is nature-based.

...And I didn't mean to make that sound like such a reaction to the "nature-based" label, which reaction is not the point of this thread.  I have some difficulty coming up with exact answers to questions like the ones Catja asked, though (because I'm mostly like, "...it's...  there...."), so this was a way I could start to sort of dig into the subject.  My intention here is to use it as a starting point for further thoughts about how nature does or does not relate to my religion, not to just be all, "I keep telling you!  Not nature-based!"  Smiley
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« Reply #3: May 14, 2008, 08:11:39 am »


I would say, if you're looking for what FlameKeeping is based on, it's people-based.  Nature is important because, y'know, we live in it - it's a pretty dumb species that screws up its habitat.  (doesn't mean we're not that dumb, though!)  But nature matters because it's part of what we are, part of the ecosystem in which we live - it's not holy in and of itself.

But since people is what we are, people is what matters.  If that makes sense.  (I'm afraid it's sounding a bit like "and the hell with the rest of them", which isn't right.  It's just that priorities are aimed at people, because they're who I can talk to. Cheesy )
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« Reply #4: May 14, 2008, 08:16:31 am »

Without further ado, then, here are some questions to think about; you don't have to answer them all or in any order, certainly -- they're just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.
How important is the idea of "nature" within your religion?
How is nature conceptualized within your religion?
How does nature -- concepts, imagery, attitudes toward -- function within your religion?
Where do things like agricultural festivals fit into your religion overall?
If you practice magic, how is nature figured -- is it *the* source of power, *a* source of power, totally irrelevant, what?

I have difficulty pinning down answers to things like these, probably in part because I'll admit I've gotten caught up in the "AM NOT!"  "ARE SO!" thing and thus have maybe not spent as much effort as I should have on really examining the role nature does or does not play in my religion beyond "it's not central".  My answers may not, therefore, be as coherent as I'd like.

My initial thought, though, would be to say that there are elements of nature in my religion.  There are plenty of deities whose sphere of influence includes natural things.  Some are really obviously tied to the sorts of things one stereotypically thinks about when one thinks of religions that feature nature; Demeter with the harvest and grains and stuff or Artemis with the wild things, for example.  Others aren't maybe what immediately comes to mind with the "nature" stereotype, but are associated with bits of nature nonetheless; Zeus and storms, Apollo and the sun, even Hades and death.  But then you also have, say, Athena and civilization, Ares and war, Hera and marriage, Hephestios and craft.  There's nature there. There's also plenty of non-nature.

As for festivals, I haven't dug into Hellenic festivals as much as I'd like, but I'm sure there's probably a harvest festival or a planting festival or something in there somewhere.  The cycle of the seasons is not a focus itself, though.  (In fact, the calendar we discussed a while ago in the Ta Hiera SIG for Reform Hellenic Reconstructionism had nothing at all to do with natural cycles.)  My sort of vague understanding is that a lot of Hellenic Recon practices today are based on what we know of ancient Athens, though, rather than the ancient Greek countryside.  Looking at it from the context of a city, it makes sense to me that festivals related to food production that's happening way out in the country would not be as prominent as festivals geared toward things that were happening in the city.

For having not much to say, I sure am babbling a lot...  *sigh*
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« Reply #5: May 14, 2008, 09:01:38 am »

In all that, nobody ever really gets around to talking about what we *mean* when we say "nature-based":  while everyone seems to agree that Wicca is nature-based and Christianity isn't, there's not much discussion of what we mean by "nature-based"....

Sadly, there doesn't even seem to be a good and generally accepted definition of "nature-based" within the broader community of Pagan religions. What does it take to rationally and meaningfully classify a religion as "nature-based"? I've seen everything from "has to worship nature as the religion's deity to be nature-based" to "having one nature/agricultural festival out of one hundred that aren't and the religion is nature-based." This lack of a compromise definition that most Pagans AND most Pagan religions can accept is probably why these discussions so often turn nasty.
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« Reply #6: May 14, 2008, 09:43:07 am »

Without further ado, then, here are some questions to think about; you don't have to answer them all or in any order, certainly -- they're just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.
 

I thought about this for a while, and by what I define nature based as, I would say Flamekeeping is not. For me, I would use nature relevant instead of nature based. Since I believe that all is part of the divine, for me that includes nature and our environment. I don't think I could claim to celebrate the divine without looking at all aspects of it, which includes nature.

I also think a person can participate in things like celebrating seasons apart from their religion. or have a special affinity for nature that is important to them, but not necessarily part of their religion.

 
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« Reply #7: May 14, 2008, 02:06:14 pm »

How important is the idea of "nature" within your religion?
How is nature conceptualized within your religion?

Mu.  These are those kinds of questions that make me want to argue with the logic behind the question.

The world is the world.  It is full of things -- people and their creations, gods and their creations, beasts and their creations, spirits and their creations.  All these things are supposed to work together in a reasonably systematic whole.  People-and-their-creations aren't a sensible category separate from the rest of it.

"Ecosystem" may be a useful concept.  "Nature", I don't think is.

Quote
How does nature -- concepts, imagery, attitudes toward -- function within your religion?
Where do things like agricultural festivals fit into your religion overall?

I think I'll pull a couple of essays I wrote to cover these:
http://bunny-puppy.net/folk/nature.html
http://bunny-puppy.net/folk/seasons.html

Quote
If you practice magic, how is nature figured -- is it *the* source of power, *a* source of power, totally irrelevant, what?

Kemetically speaking, magic is the power of word in action.  It is natural that those beings which have words will speak; it is natural for speech to remake the world.
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« Reply #8: May 14, 2008, 03:29:53 pm »



You're making perfect sense, I think.  Smiley

The point you bring up, about how most Greek Recon practices are based on Athenian civic models, is so true and so interesting -- that's the stuff that survived.  I wonder what Greek Reconstructionism would look like today if the bulk of the material that had survived had been rural folk practices instead.  I mean, clearly, agricultural/fertility/etc.-focused cults were around, but since we don't know too much about them, they don't contribute to our overall understanding of Greek religion in a way that Reconstructionists can use. 

And it's not just that it's the records of the city-oriented religious practices, etc., that have survived; it's the fact that a lot of the other Greek material -- literary, philosophical, etc. -- we have is also city-based.  The Greeks -- the city-based educated sorts who wrote stuff we can read, anyway -- had a really strong sense of "nature" vs. "civilization."  Even their deities which were associated with nature had *some* kind of link back to civilization, as they understood it -- Demeter is the goddess of *cultivated* grain, Pan watches over the flocks, Artemis helps with childbirth and can be worshiped in cities like Ephesus, and so on.  (And their deities of "civilization" often had "nature" elements to them as well:  Zeus and his thunderbolts, Apollo and the sun, Hermes and the flocks.)

So, yeah.  I tend to think that the general truism of Greek religion not really being nature-based has less to do with some kind of inherent truth about Greek religious practices in general, and more to do with the fact that what's survived is the city-based stuff.  Not that if we had more info about rural practices that it would somehow, like, cancel out the city-based stuff, but it would add more nuance to the picture.  If that makes sense. 
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« Reply #9: May 14, 2008, 03:47:27 pm »

Sadly, there doesn't even seem to be a good and generally accepted definition of "nature-based" within the broader community of Pagan religions. What does it take to rationally and meaningfully classify a religion as "nature-based"? I've seen everything from "has to worship nature as the religion's deity to be nature-based" to "having one nature/agricultural festival out of one hundred that aren't and the religion is nature-based." This lack of a compromise definition that most Pagans AND most Pagan religions can accept is probably why these discussions so often turn nasty.

I agree that one of the major reasons the 'nature-based' discussions often become more of an arguement is because there isn't a set definition of what 'nature-based' actually means. If one person decides that their religion is nature-based, and they meet another person and find out that they have the same religious beliefs as them, then they may well come out with: 'hey, your religion is nature-based too!'. But the other person disagrees: he/she has never identified themselves like that.

A big part of the definition problem, in my opinion, is what the 'based' part of 'nature-based' actually stands for. For instance, if a drink label says that it is 'water-based', what does that mean? Does it mean that water is the main ingredient and everything else is insignificant? Or is there just slightly more water in it than anything else, but the other ingredients are also an important part of the drink? And what are the other ingredients? Are they different ingredients to another drink that identifies itself as water-based?

I know that was a rather silly analogy, but it's all I could come up with at this time.
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« Reply #10: May 14, 2008, 03:58:53 pm »

I agree that one of the major reasons the 'nature-based' discussions often become more of an arguement is because there isn't a set definition of what 'nature-based' actually means. If one person decides that their religion is nature-based, and they meet another person and find out that they have the same religious beliefs as them, then they may well come out with: 'hey, your religion is nature-based too!'. But the other person disagrees: he/she has never identified themselves like that.

A big part of the definition problem, in my opinion, is what the 'based' part of 'nature-based' actually stands for. For instance, if a drink label says that it is 'water-based', what does that mean? Does it mean that water is the main ingredient and everything else is insignificant? Or is there just slightly more water in it than anything else, but the other ingredients are also an important part of the drink? And what are the other ingredients? Are they different ingredients to another drink that identifies itself as water-based?

I know that was a rather silly analogy, but it's all I could come up with at this time.

Actually it's a great analogy.  If you say something is water based, then you assume it has water with other things added.  So if you say nature based, should we assume that the religion starts with being about nature and has other things added?  That nature is the 'basis' for the religion? 

Of course, I have trouble with earth-centered too.  Because everyone on this board is assumed to be on the planet Earth.  Kind of hard NOT to have it figure in our lives and our religions if only as the place we are right now!  But that doesn't assume that earth worship is part of any given religion.

So maybe instead of nature based, the term should be nature worship?
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« Reply #11: May 14, 2008, 04:15:37 pm »

Sadly, there doesn't even seem to be a good and generally accepted definition of "nature-based" within the broader community of Pagan religions. What does it take to rationally and meaningfully classify a religion as "nature-based"? I've seen everything from "has to worship nature as the religion's deity to be nature-based" to "having one nature/agricultural festival out of one hundred that aren't and the religion is nature-based." This lack of a compromise definition that most Pagans AND most Pagan religions can accept is probably why these discussions so often turn nasty.

*nods*  Yeah.  As we talked about in the other thread, SO MANY of the definitions wind up either including all religions that existed before the Industrial Revolution, or excluding almost all religions. 

And the thing is, most of those type of definitions are NOT based on observation and comparison of actual belief systems, but on the desire to push an ideology:  the "it has one agricultural festival, therefore it's nature-based" sorts usually want some kind of "pagan unity" (tm).  The ones pushing "you worship nature, we worship the GODS" sorts are usually motivated by "WE'RE NOT WICCANS, because Wiccans suck."  Neither of those definitions has *anything* useful to say about what being "nature-based" can mean.

For myself, I think that "nature-based" is best understood as when the idea of nature (however "nature" is conceptualized) is understood as a central organizing principle of the religion -- to the point that if you chopped out all references to nature, you could not practice the religion in a recognizable way.  That's it.  No commentary on specific forms of worship, or how one conceptualizes the gods, or whatever -- there's tons of different possibilities.  And moreover, I think it's more of a continuum than an absolute category.

Like, Wicca* without its festival cycle devoted to the changing seasons and the harvest, deities explicitly figured as intimately connected to the natural world, and overall language and imagery, would be... pretty much completely gutted.  Whereas a Greek Recon/Hellenic Pagan devoted to Athena following the Athenian civic festival calendar would not lose too much beyond some imagery and a festival or two -- you could still recognize it.  One devoted to Demeter, though, would be flailing.  This is where the continuum comes in -- even if a religion as a whole skews toward the "nature-based" or "non-nature-based" end, individual practices can fall at various points.  How close is the idea of "nature" to the heart of the religious practice?  The closer it is, the closer to the "nature-based" endpoint.

IOW, we need a definition that is based upon, you know, real-world beliefs and practices, not fantasies of unity or desires to exclude people we don't like.   



*Not a Wiccan, but have studied it fairly extensively, from both an Ecletic NeoWiccan practitioner's perspective and a scholarly perspective.  *g*   
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« Reply #12: May 14, 2008, 04:23:47 pm »



So maybe instead of nature based, the term should be nature worship?

I think the problem with that is that it leads into "you don't worship the *gods*, you worship nature."  While some folks certainly do worship some kind of abstract "nature," there are a number of people who worship gods that are explicitly, intimately connected with nature, and whose religious practices center around a celebration of the natural cycle, rather than, like "nature itself."  "Nature worship" is reductive, and also excludes most of the folks usually understood -- by themselves and others -- as nature-based.   
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« Reply #13: May 14, 2008, 05:09:18 pm »

Without further ado, then, here are some questions to think about; you don't have to answer them all or in any order, certainly -- they're just some thoughts to get the ball rolling.
How important is the idea of "nature" within your religion?
How is nature conceptualized within your religion?
How does nature -- concepts, imagery, attitudes toward -- function within your religion?
Where do things like agricultural festivals fit into your religion overall?
If you practice magic, how is nature figured -- is it *the* source of power, *a* source of power, totally irrelevant, what?
Etc. etc.

My path over the last few years has become an 'un-path' so I guess I speak from the perspective of having integrated my spirituality into my day to day life to the degree that no action is not spiritual, be it mowing a lawn, writing an e-mail or drinking beer.  Everything is layered.

Something I've recently realized.  Perhaps the reason that animals are both revered, in some American Indigenous paths, but those who go off the deep end making everything into omens are faced with some scorn is that if you're looking for animals, they are everywhere.  If you're looking for nature it's everywhere.  It's amazing.  They are EVERYWHERE!  Today I saw at least a hundred birds, some of them types that I favor, a couple nests, a baby deer, two baby rabbits, a snake, a group of turtles and lots of plants.  But they were always there.

Once you've trained yourself to 'see' these things, you first trip out on them all, and then you realize they were there all along.  You might not have interacted with them before, but they were there.  Just like the guy in line at the 7-11, he was 'there' and you understood that when he nodded and averted his eyes that you were politely acknowledged and politely you both went about your business.  He probably had nothing to do with you, but if he was carrying something unusual - or usual he might stick in your memory for awhile.

If you make a point of interacting with him, he might be someone cool, or he might be boring as all get out.  Nature is the same way.  I mean pretty much everything around you when I say nature.  I'd be hard pressed to find something 'outside of nature'

It's the super-normal of everyday existence.  Every day becomes a package to be opened.  Like the magicians hat, things just keep coming out.  You ramble along and life comes to you. 

Agricultural festivals...  festivals?  Back to that un-path thing.  I've gotten really basic.  I'm sort of throwing away organization and living, and revering moment to moment.  Every weekend is a festival to me.  How many vultures party on a deer carcass?  As many as got there in time.  Come friday night I got there in time.  Throw something on a fire and melt cheese on it and I'm a happy girl.  So long as I've got my nose to the ground and wings to the sky, it's a party right up until it rains. 

In all seriousness I have about a week where I notice winter ends.  I have another where I notice summer starts.  The 'rituals' that come with them, are usually work.  Planting, raking, mulching, cutting back, building up, cooking for...  the mental shifts, punctuated by actions.

Nature magic, well; being alive in general I've come to think of as a life force.  Being able to see it, understand it and shape it is the basis that I feel 'pathys' (em, tele, etc.) come from.  By understanding that your energy (life force) only flows so many ways in response to any given thing gives the awareness to know where it is most likely to go, and in turn what you are likely to do because of it really simplifies things for me.  Water naturally runs downhill. 
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I'm gonna tell my son to join a circus so that death is cheap
And games are just another way of life
And I'm gonna tell my son to be a prophet of mistakes
Because for every truth there are half a million lies
And I'm gonna lock my son up in a tower
Till he learns to let his hair down far enough to climb outside.
-LIz Pahir
RandallS
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« Reply #14: May 14, 2008, 05:32:12 pm »

For myself, I think that "nature-based" is best understood as when the idea of nature (however "nature" is conceptualized) is understood as a central organizing principle of the religion -- to the point that if you chopped out all references to nature, you could not practice the religion in a recognizable way.  That's it.  No commentary on specific forms of worship, or how one conceptualizes the gods, or whatever -- there's tons of different possibilities.  And moreover, I think it's more of a continuum than an absolute category.

I like this definition, but applying it takes more knowledge of the specific religions in question than many people who like to throw the nature-based label around have. Too often people assign the label without really knowing much about the actual religion they are labeling. For example, Hellenic Paganism seems to often be classed as nature-based because what people know about it is based on incomplete or very biased knowledge -- for example, the fact that a version of the Demeter/Persephone/Hades myth is central to some popular forms of Wicca or what one learned from reading Bullfinch's Mythology.  Bullfinch's Mythology -- like most of the stuff to come out of that era -- is based on a 19th century English view of the Greeks. And while the Demeter/Persephone/Hades myth is indeed central to some forms of Wicca, it wasn't central to belief or worship in ancient Greece.

Quote
Whereas a Greek Recon/Hellenic Pagan devoted to Athena following the Athenian civic festival calendar would not lose too much beyond some imagery and a festival or two -- you could still recognize it.  One devoted to Demeter, though, would be flailing.
 

A religion devoted mainly to Athena or one devoted mainly to Demeter (or any other single Hellenic deity) would almost certainly be a modern construct. The ancient Greeks had many deities -- public festivals and such clearly show this. Athena was the patron deity of Athens, but Athens still have festivals for the other major deities. Even if one was personally especially devoted to a particular God, one would not ignore the others completely lest they become angry. Having a special relationship with Hermes isn't going to help if you need healing -- you'd need to call on another deity (perhaps Apollo) and Apollo would be unlikely to help if you snubbed him because you were too devoted to Hermes.
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