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Poll
Question: How long have you defined yourself as Pagan?
for less than a year - 8 (11.8%)
for over a year - 17 (25%)
for over 5 years - 15 (22.1%)
for over 10 years - 16 (23.5%)
for over 20 years - 11 (16.2%)
for over 40 years - 0 (0%)
I don't see myself as Pagan - 1 (1.5%)
Total Voters: 67

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Author Topic: Pagan self-definition and Pagan community  (Read 11039 times)
Waldfrau
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« Topic Start: June 08, 2008, 03:20:50 am »

Clarification for voting
The poll voting is about when have you defined yourself as Pagan - not when you've started to be interested in Pagan stuff (without labeling yourself as one) nor when you came out of the closet with that label (but have seen yourself as one secretly before).


Some points for discussion if you like
What made you decide to define yourself as Pagan as opposed to someone who is just interested in myths, history, nature, meditation, esoteric stuff etc.?
  • Have you pondered that label for a while or did you suddenly discover it and had some sort of key experience that just made you think 'Yes, that is it what I was searching all along.'?
  • Did it give you a sense of belonging to a community or was it just a label for your own identity and you didn't care if you'd fit into the community?

For those who are longer Pagan and have a lot of experience with the Pagan community:
  • Have you experienced a change in what the label 'Pagan' means inside and outside the Pagan community?
  • How has Paganism changed itsself since you started practicing?
  • Has your own view of Paganism changed over the time?
  • How did those changes affect your life and religious/spiritual practice?
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RandallS
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« Reply #1: June 08, 2008, 08:14:10 am »

How has Paganism changed itsself since you started practicing?

When I started back in the early 1970s "Paganism" was a large number of different religions. Wicca was a large religion within Paganism, but not the overwhelming dominant religion that it is now. Few thought that Paganism and Wicca were the same thing.  More people coming into the Pagan community were likely to know of other Pagan religions. Introductory Pagan books were few, but tended to cover a number of different Pagan religions, often including various forms of Satanism.  Information in general was harder to find, of course -- at least if you expected it to be handed to you in "Pagan 101 textbook" style.
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« Reply #2: June 08, 2008, 10:02:23 am »

Clarification for voting
The poll voting is about when have you defined yourself as Pagan - not when you've started to be interested in Pagan stuff (without labeling yourself as one) nor when you came out of the closet with that label (but have seen yourself as one secretly before).

Should I vote for the number of years I was pagan, even though I'm no longer pagan?  or just vote for not pagan?
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« Reply #3: June 08, 2008, 10:14:34 am »



Some points for discussion if you like
What made you decide to define yourself as Pagan as opposed to someone who is just interested in myths, history, nature, meditation, esoteric stuff etc.?
  • Have you pondered that label for a while or did you suddenly discover it and had some sort of key experience that just made you think 'Yes, that is it what I was searching all along.'?
  • Did it give you a sense of belonging to a community or was it just a label for your own identity and you didn't care if you'd fit into the community?

For those who are longer Pagan and have a lot of experience with the Pagan community:
  • Have you experienced a change in what the label 'Pagan' means inside and outside the Pagan community?
  • How has Paganism changed itsself since you started practicing?
  • Has your own view of Paganism changed over the time?
  • How did those changes affect your life and religious/spiritual practice?

I started about 15 years or so after Randall I guess.

At the time, Wicca, or what I consider wiccanesque was the norm for public ritual.  ADF was just starting up with a radically different liturgy, and one that was aimed at the large (100 to 500) rituals done at pagan festivals.

Changes:  I feel, but have no backing for it, that more people consider themselves pagan, but a smaller percentage actually practice their religion on a regular basis now than then.  I put this down to the internet, it's easy to be involved in pagan discussion groups, but still hard to find a group to do face to face worship with on a regular basis.

Community:  With a much smaller community, it was easier to get meetings with other pagans in various places if they existed.  You wouldn't hear about say the pagan community in Detriot, MI unless you had a friend or friend of a friend to give you an introduction.  This lead to much more trust.  Now, the trust isn't there as much.  Instead of the general pagan community in Detroit, MI I'd have to look for the TC community there. 

Views on Paganism:  Issues with organization and passing things on.  Stuff that wasn't a concern to a 20 something with no spouse or kids became a failure point when kids arrived. 
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #4: June 08, 2008, 10:26:52 am »

Should I vote for the number of years I was pagan, even though I'm no longer pagan?  or just vote for not pagan?
Sorry that I didn't think of that! I'd be interested in hearing how long you did see yourself as Pagan. I'd like to start a thread about what did make you change your mind as there are some others who have been Pagan in the past, but aren't anymore. Smiley

Moderators, could I change the poll so that it is possible to submit 2 votes?
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #5: June 08, 2008, 10:31:48 am »

Introductory Pagan books were few, but tended to cover a number of different Pagan religions, often including various forms of Satanism.
How and why did that change? Weren't Pagans in that time accused with devil worship as they are today?
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #6: June 08, 2008, 10:39:14 am »

I feel, but have no backing for it, that more people consider themselves pagan, but a smaller percentage actually practice their religion on a regular basis now than then.  I put this down to the internet, it's easy to be involved in pagan discussion groups, but still hard to find a group to do face to face worship with on a regular basis.
Could be a newbie phaenomen. I guess most newbies in the past were introduced through personal relationships and thus just started out with any group they met through friends. Today many discover Paganism through the net or through books, they have from the beginning a big overview of which groups exist and therefore more room for personal decisions, what would mean that there's a longer research phase where they read and discuss more than they practice.

(I also read and discuss more than I practice because I don't know yet what I want. I'm not someone who immediately believes in something, I need research and experience before I do.)
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« Reply #7: June 08, 2008, 11:01:56 am »

Clarification for voting
The poll voting is about when have you defined yourself as Pagan - not when you've started to be interested in Pagan stuff (without labeling yourself as one) nor when you came out of the closet with that label (but have seen yourself as one secretly before).


Some points for discussion if you like
What made you decide to define yourself as Pagan as opposed to someone who is just interested in myths, history, nature, meditation, esoteric stuff etc.?
  • Have you pondered that label for a while or did you suddenly discover it and had some sort of key experience that just made you think 'Yes, that is it what I was searching all along.'?
  • Did it give you a sense of belonging to a community or was it just a label for your own identity and you didn't care if you'd fit into the community?


This was hard for me to vote on, b/c my path is too twisty for the parameters of the poll. I could put over 40 yrs, as a person who was raised by pagan parents, but I rejected all labels entirely when I was in my late teens/early twenties, and was not practicing anything but the 12 steps as a spiritual program, until my mid 30s, when I began thinking of myself as pagan again. I was having a lot of experiences with Goddess before that time, but still was unwilling to define myself by anyone else's standards or ideas. I think what made me come back to it when I did was becoming a mother, and my experiences with Kali after my dad died. I didn't start looking for or needing community until about 5 years ago.
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  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #8: June 08, 2008, 11:28:18 am »

Could be a newbie phaenomen. I guess most newbies in the past were introduced through personal relationships and thus just started out with any group they met through friends. Today many discover Paganism through the net or through books, they have from the beginning a big overview of which groups exist and therefore more room for personal decisions, what would mean that there's a longer research phase where they read and discuss more than they practice.



You have a point.  Another possibilities is weeding.  People used to discover paganism thru books or a local store.  After a short period, they would find that getting involved took effort so they dropped it entirely or got much more involved with rea life pagan community activities (which would include a small coven / group as community). 

Now, with the internet, they can stay involved on a more social basis and still consider themselves pagan.
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Waldfrau
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« Reply #9: June 08, 2008, 11:53:13 am »

Now, with the internet, they can stay involved on a more social basis and still consider themselves pagan.
Maybe the greater access to information also makes a much bigger group of ecclectic solitaries who don't practice much in groups but still practice, though not as visible.
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« Reply #10: June 08, 2008, 12:05:43 pm »

Maybe the greater access to information also makes a much bigger group of ecclectic solitaries who don't practice much in groups but still practice, though not as visible.

definitely my experience. I know a lot of people that have no interest in practicing with a group, but enjoy socializing with like-minded people.
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Goddess grant me:
  The power of Water,
  to accept with ease & grace what I cannot change.

  The power of Fire,
  for the energy & courage to change the things I can.

  The power of Air,
  for the ability and wisdom to know the difference.

  And the power of Earth,
  for the strength to continue my path.

http://rosejayadal.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #11: June 08, 2008, 03:08:28 pm »

Clarification for voting
The poll voting is about when have you defined yourself as Pagan - not when you've started to be interested in Pagan stuff (without labeling yourself as one) nor when you came out of the closet with that label (but have seen yourself as one secretly before).

Aware of polytheism: Before I can consciously remember. (Happens, when your father tells you Greek myths from the time you're tiny, well-backed with historical practice, since he was a specialist in ancient Greek theatre.) There's an old family story from the blizzard of 78 (when I was just barely over 3) about my insisting on there being magic words to make it stop snowing.

Started being generally aware that Paganism was out there: sometime in high school. 1992ish, give or take a year.

Started doing significant reading about it because of Pagan friends and other related stuff (including energy management stuff): late fall of 1995. One magical ritual in college with people who were mostly Pagan, one open ritual at Samhain 1997, though through this point, I was still an active Catholic.

Actually started exploring it as a religious path for myself: around late 1999 and 2000, including attending open rituals, etc. (this is why I checked off the 'more than 5 years' box: this is where I considered a deliberate religious change.)

Committed to a specific path within Paganism: fall 2001. (With significant further commitments in February 2003, Nov. 2005, and Nov. 2007.)

The deciding factors for me were about what I was doing - not what I knew. (There are many reasons for knowledge and research and learning: what I know is far far more than what I do and where my personal priorities are, and so on).

In terms of my own practice: my own preferences have not changed violently, but my take on some of the details has. Initiatory and mystery-focused small group work is still very much where my heart and soul are, even though I also do some broader community things. I do think the community has shifted a fair bit, but it'd take quite a while to sort out what my thoughts are about that (and I'm on my way out the door to walk and then go to a Pagan Pride meeting.)
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« Reply #12: June 08, 2008, 03:29:46 pm »

Clarification for voting
The poll voting is about when have you defined yourself as Pagan - not when you've started to be interested in Pagan stuff (without labeling yourself as one) nor when you came out of the closet with that label (but have seen yourself as one secretly before).

I checked off over 5 years. Around 2000 I looked up the definition of the word for some reason. I found it fit my take on things perfectly. It was a while before I really started looking into different beliefs seriously but at that time began keeping myself open to conversation and meeting people that could help out my search.
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« Reply #13: June 08, 2008, 04:04:04 pm »

I chose "Over 10 Years" though, since it's been about 19, I almost went with "Over 20..."

What made you decide to define yourself as Pagan as opposed to someone who is just interested in myths, history, nature, meditation, esoteric stuff etc.?
Belief in the gods, first in the Goddess and God as perceived by NeoWicca, later in the multitude of gods of hard polytheism.  Since it was religion, not just an "interest" it never really occurred to me to do otherwise. 


Quote
  • Have you pondered that label for a while or did you suddenly discover it and had some sort of key experience that just made you think 'Yes, that is it what I was searching all along.'?
Well, neither.  The label came with the beliefs.  The belief came first.  I was Wiccan (Well NeoWiccan in that I didn't have a coven or initiation, therefore no access to oathbound material.  However, the sources I was drawing from were solidly BTW) and Wicca is a pagan religion, so I was pagan.  Then when I ceased to be Wiccan, I held onto the general pagan label:  I hadn't found my path yet, but I was certain when I did it would fall somewhere under that umbrella.


Quote
  • Did it give you a sense of belonging to a community or was it just a label for your own identity and you didn't care if you'd fit into the community?
Good question.  I guess by using a label recognizable by those outside of my head, it did give me a sense of place in the spectrum of religions.  However, I had no real sense of community.  I was in a small town, so there was no physical community available and this was way before the internet so any "virtual" community existed only through pagan literature - magazines, etc.


Quote
For those who are longer Pagan and have a lot of experience with the Pagan community:
  • Have you experienced a change in what the label 'Pagan' means inside and outside the Pagan community?
My involvement with the pagan community is a recent development.

Quote
  • How has Paganism changed itsself since you started practicing?
A lot of change has been in the education of the general public.  Contrary to popular belief, there are very few people out there who still think pagans sacrifice babies.  It used to be when I told someone I was pagan, they thought I was joking.  Nowadays, they assume I'm Wiccan.  It's actually a step forward.

There are many more people involved in paganism these days, though I don't know if there are more people actually practising.  It's easier to find information, good and bad.  It's easier to hook up with other pagans, or to find public rituals to attend.  This has a lot to do with the internet, for better or for worse.

Quote
  • Has your own view of Paganism changed over the time?
  • How did those changes affect your life and religious/spiritual practice?
I don't know that my view of paganism as a whole has changed so much as I've grown up.  I used to be a very soft polytheist, and am now mostly hard.  But that's not a change in my view of paganism but a change in my personal beliefs.  Very early on, I was one of the "Ancient matriarchy," "9 million sisters killed" crowd, but I'm happy to say that didn't last long.

My views of individual pagan religions have changed:  I've gone from thinking Reconstructionism was a futile effort to taking a Recon-inspired approach to my personal practice.  From thinking of modern druids as rather silly romanticists (my knowledge of them was heavily colored by 19th century revivals) to being a member of a druidic organization.  It's been a matter of expanding horizons and continuous learning.
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« Reply #14: June 08, 2008, 06:03:26 pm »

Should I vote for the number of years I was pagan, even though I'm no longer pagan?  or just vote for not pagan?

I think the former would probably be more meaningful.
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