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Author Topic: Special Topic: Why We're Touchy About Defining Paganism  (Read 47653 times)
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« Reply #45: June 01, 2007, 10:48:59 am »


Paganism is learning from and living in harmony with nature, all the bloodshed and violence included with all the “love.”  Paganism is an inner consciousness that sees the real world/nature in all its glory.


Just to prepare you, this statement is likely to open a can of worms. Did you read the first two posts of this thread? There are a great many pagans on this board (myself included) that will object to being considered earth based or living in harmony with nature.
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« Reply #46: June 01, 2007, 10:52:07 am »

Just to prepare you, this statement is likely to open a can of worms. Did you read the first two posts of this thread? There are a great many pagans on this board (myself included) that will object to being considered earth based or living in harmony with nature.

In all fairness, Annan did say, "Just wanted to offer my thoughts as to what Paganism means to me," and it is perfectly fair for someone to hold that as their personal perspective.  Which is the only reason I didn't pick on it myself, since I also object.  Wink  But, as I mentioned, it would've been nice to have a little less definitive "Paganism is" language in the essay itself, as opposed to the more personal "Paganism is to me".
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« Reply #47: June 01, 2007, 11:25:58 am »

Not to kill would upset the weeding out of undesirable and unworthy and unhonorable men.  Not killing meant the world be populated with the undesirable and the weak, defeating nature’s law.

Correct me if I'm wrong .. but doesn't this basically say that we should kill off our weak?  Forget modern medicine, forget caring for each other, forget cooperation .. survival of the fittest, kill off the weak, expose our babies on hillsides if they're imperfect?

Is that really what you're saying Paganism is?

Because if I believed that, trust me, I'd never call myself Pagan.  EVER.  the idea is repulsive.

I have to agree with Heartshadow's reaction to this.    Shocked Angry Sad

Annan, are you implying that paganism existed and still exists as a form of social Darwinism?   Huh

Nature's law? Not my nature...my nature's laws respect life and its right to exist.  Many, many people have died brutal deaths because they were unworthy, unhonorable or unfit in someone else's eyes. That isn't paganism; it's genocide.

Who are we as individuals to decide who is unfit, unworthy, or unhonorable?  Who decides what qualities are undesirable and weak?  And who among us is so fit, worthy, and honorable that they have the right to take the life of another?   If you're proposing this as a theory regarding historical pagan beliefs, I'd question if you aren't confusing ancient pagan beliefs with the third reicht's views. 

Please, Annan, could we get some clarification on if this is your mindset or just a theory you're proposing?
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« Reply #48: June 01, 2007, 11:44:01 am »

Correct me if I'm wrong .. but doesn't this basically say that we should kill off our weak?  Forget modern medicine, forget caring for each other, forget cooperation .. survival of the fittest, kill off the weak, expose our babies on hillsides if they're imperfect?

Is that really what you're saying Paganism is?

Because if I believed that, trust me, I'd never call myself Pagan.  EVER.  the idea is repulsive.

Finally, a chance to join the Brotherhood of the Bellltower, a holy order devoted to a simpler life, in which there are no unworthy people walking the world... <grins>
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« Reply #49: June 01, 2007, 12:05:01 pm »

There are a great many pagans on this board (myself included) that will object to being considered earth based or living in harmony with nature.

Ok, I so just Have to ask...what is so offensive about the notion of living in peace with the World around us? Many here seem to take offense at that concept, and I must confess that I do not understand why. I am prepared to be enlightened as to why this is such a prickly notion. Smiley I mean, from my perspective, that seems a bit Monty Pythonish..."Im not livin in harmony with Nature! The very idea!" I can't help laughing at this puffed up image of Michael Palin being offended by this accusation.

Wishing you laughter
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« Reply #50: June 01, 2007, 12:10:54 pm »

Ok, I so just Have to ask...what is so offensive about the notion of living in peace with the World around us? Many here seem to take offense at that concept, and I must confess that I do not understand why. I am prepared to be enlightened as to why this is such a prickly notion. Smiley I mean, from my perspective, that seems a bit Monty Pythonish..."Im not livin in harmony with Nature! The very idea!" I can't help laughing at this puffed up image of Michael Palin being offended by this accusation.

Wishing you laughter

Not Ocelot, clearly, but!

I have no problem with the idea of living at peace with the world around me.  What I object to is the belief that this is a central part of my religion because my religion is Pagan.

The earth is important to me in that I happen to live here, as do my friends etc., and if we mess it up we're gonna be in for a world of hurt.  It is a decision made on logic and compassion .. not religious obligation.

I'm not about to go throwing trash out my window and defecating in the water supply, clearly .. I value the planet.  But the planet isn't the center of my religion.  It's not any more sacred than anything else .. it's just where we happen to live and so we need to care for it for purely pragmatic reasons.
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« Reply #51: June 01, 2007, 12:13:04 pm »

Ok, I so just Have to ask...what is so offensive about the notion of living in peace with the World around us? Many here seem to take offense at that concept, and I must confess that I do not understand why.

It's not so much that it's offensive that people do it themselves.  The offense is in the assumption that "all Pagans" have nature as a priority.  It's not true, and when people insist that it is, it comes off at best as a broad generalization made without knowledge of the diversity of Pagan religions, and at worst as an attempt to define people's religion for them regardless of what they think about the proposed definition.

Also, as usual, what Shadow said.  LOL
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« Reply #52: June 01, 2007, 12:14:12 pm »

Ok, I so just Have to ask...what is so offensive about the notion of living in peace with the World around us? Many here seem to take offense at that concept, and I must confess that I do not understand why. I am prepared to be enlightened as to why this is such a prickly notion. Smiley I mean, from my perspective, that seems a bit Monty Pythonish..."Im not livin in harmony with Nature! The very idea!" I can't help laughing at this puffed up image of Michael Palin being offended by this accusation.

Wishing you laughter

I can't speak for anyone else, but it's not a matter of living in peace with the world being offensive. It's being told what we believe that's offensive- and generalized statements with assumptions like that are doing exactly that. They say that if we call ourselves pagan, then we must believe this. It's offensive and not always true.
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« Reply #53: June 01, 2007, 12:21:29 pm »

Ok, I so just Have to ask...what is so offensive about the notion of living in peace with the World around us? Many here seem to take offense at that concept, and I must confess that I do not understand why. I am prepared to be enlightened as to why this is such a prickly notion. Smiley I mean, from my perspective, that seems a bit Monty Pythonish..."Im not livin in harmony with Nature! The very idea!" I can't help laughing at this puffed up image of Michael Palin being offended by this accusation.

Wishing you laughter

Speaking for myself here. It's not that I think living in harmony with nature is bad, it isn't. It isn't however, the defining characteristic of my religion. I love nature, but many times when I say I'm Pagan assumptions are made like:

My religion focuses on the wheel of the year or the seasons.
I'm a vegetarian or Vegan.
I worship a Goddess.
Or even, I wear black all the time.

I love nature, and do my best to take care of my part of it. It just isn't what makes me a Pagan, it's what makes me feel good about being human.

Star said it very well in this here much better than I could: http://www.ecauldron.net/forum/index.php?topic=661.msg9096#msg9096




 
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« Reply #54: June 01, 2007, 01:04:11 pm »

 The offense is in the assumption that "all Pagans" have nature as a priority.  
Also, as usual, what Shadow said.  LOL

Ok, I think I understand a bit better now. The prickliness comes from being Labeled, not necessarily from the Label itself. You have to admit though that some of what comes with the uninformed assumptions of what defines a Pagan is better than a Lot of labels floating around out there..not all of course, 'cause we are all Satan worshipers and such. Wink I think my favorite thus far is, "Oh so youre a Pagan. So you go into the woods and sacrifice squirrels?" I so wanted to say, "No, this week it's Fundamentalist" but not everyone gets the concept of Humor.  Grin I do have to say that having Nature as a priority does feature more regularly with Pagans than a lot of Non Pagans. However, I've also known plenty of Pagans who don't seem to have their heads screwed on any better than a lot of the social wingnuts I've run across. No better, no worse in the long run...just different. Plenty of people, Pagans included, can't understand carnivorous Pagans too, come to think of it.
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« Reply #55: June 01, 2007, 02:10:10 pm »

Just so no one thinks I posted and ran off, I will answer all your questions as I get the time.  I had to take my two dogs to the vet and get a few things done around the house as well as keep up with the eleven forums I haunt.  Give me a minute or two.
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« Reply #56: June 01, 2007, 03:38:54 pm »

Here is a bit to try to answer some of your questions and concerns.  I'm sure we will have more to discuss.

I tried to keep Christianity out of the equation, but like I stated in my original post, I felt I needed to say what Paganism is not to best define what Paganism is.  I was raised Christian and seriously tried to embrace the faith, so I speak from my own personal experiences and conclusions therein.  When I said . . .

“Religions such as Judaism and Christianity are about a man/man relationship in which nature and the very essence of god are rendered meaningless.  God is a figurehead used to exercise and force morals and values on the community.  These religions destroy the individual for the sake of the family and community by requiring servitude and self-sacrifice.  This a metropolitan view and not a natural nature-based view.”

No one ever understands my point here.  Darn it!  In my opinion, our ancient Pagan ancestors lived in a one-on-one relationship to their god(s).  Nature was God’s representative and the only way they knew how to “read” the word of God.  Everything they knew or believed came from the very world they lived in.  When the Bible and “revealed” religion came along – religion that taught man was “inherently” evil – it then became necessary to have a set of “rules” to live by with the idea that man needed “correction”.  So instead of living by trial and error in relationship to their world – this is the “nature” I speak of that some of you are getting up worked up about  *grin* --  a “code of conduct” was handed down from “on high”.  Man then no longer saw himself in relationship to his God, but in relationship to his fellowman.  Our Pagan ancestors lived in society long before Christian imposed rules and regulations on how to do so. 

I said:  “Paganism is about man’s relationship to god, with “god” and “nature” as having the same connotation.  Nature is god in action.   Man learns from nature what works and what doesn’t work by trial and error.  He learns a “sense” of good and evil from the repercussions of his actions.  Every man is an “individual” and must prove his own “honor”.  In as such he holds honor sacred and not “life”.  Not weeding out the unhonorable and/or weaklings is against nature’s purpose and became the downfall of the Pagan way of life due to the influence of Christianity.”

HeartShadow said:  Correct me if I'm wrong .. but doesn't this basically say that we should kill off our weak?  Forget modern medicine, forget caring for each other,

In my opinion, the Bible puts a misconscrewed "value" on life. In nature life is seen as "all emcompassing" as it repeats itself in the life cycles of earth (and the universe). Nothing ends but changes and is always a part of the earth and its continuous cycle of death and rebirth.  I am in no way saying we should do any of the things HeartShadow is asking, but simply stating that our current society is, again, one of a man-to-man relationship and not one that is man-to-god in stature.  Our Pagan ancestors lived by a code of honor and let the god(s) handle who and what lived and died.  Christianity, as stated above, taught that life is sacred and must be preserved at all cost.  The power of life and death was taken from the god(s) and put into the hands of man.  We have prisons to punish and rehabilitate, we keep premature babies and the elderly alive by artificial means.  I am not saying these things should not be or that I would like to see them discontinued, but simply stating this was not the way the ancient Pagans saw their world.  God was in control, not man.

I am trying to keep this short, but you all have asked so many questions.

Star asked about my resources.  I read everything I can get my hands on about ancient spirituality, but my most often resource is The Pagan Bible by Melvin Gorham which is my “bible” and a book that spoke to my heart and soul and awakened within me a “knowing” of who and what I really am.

Star said:  It has been such a long time since the Ten Commandments were written that I'm kind of skeptical about assigning motivations to them, and would like to see how these conclusions were drawn.

History teaches that Paganism, especially in Europe, was wiped out at the end of a Christian sword.  When I speak of ancient Pagans, I am most often referring to our Celtic ancestors.  I should be more broadminded in this respect.  I apologize.

I said:  Not to kill would upset the weeding out of undesirable and unworthy and unhonorable men.  Not killing meant the world be populated with the undesirable and the weak, defeating nature’s law.

HeartShadow said:  Correct me if I'm wrong .. but doesn't this basically say that we should kill off our weak?  Forget modern medicine, forget caring for each other, forget cooperation .. survival of the fittest, kill off the weak, expose our babies on hillsides if they're imperfect?

Is that really what you're saying Paganism is?

Because if I believed that, trust me, I'd never call myself Pagan.  EVER.  the idea is repulsive.


Aisling said:  Nature's law? Not my nature...my nature's laws respect life and its right to exist.  Many, many people have died brutal deaths because they were unworthy, unhonorable or unfit in someone else's eyes. That isn't paganism; it's genocide.

Who are we as individuals to decide who is unfit, unworthy, or unhonorable?  Who decides what qualities are undesirable and weak?  And who among us is so fit, worthy, and honorable that they have the right to take the life of another?   If you're proposing this as a theory regarding historical pagan beliefs, I'd question if you aren't confusing ancient pagan beliefs with the third reicht's views. 

Please, Annan, could we get some clarification on if this is your mindset or just a theory you're proposing?


No, offense, Aisling, but you and I sure live on different worlds.  If anything is “inherently evil” nature is.  I fail to see anywhere in nature a “respect for life and its right to exist”.  Honestly!  Nature is gene-driven and “survival of the fittest” is the name of the game.  The point I was trying to make, and I will try again, is that to the ancient Pagan, the god(s) made the decision who lived and died, not man.  Man has become his own god and the “big guy in the sky” is no longer necessary.  And I am in no way placing the right to decide who lives or dies in anyone’s hands.

And just for the record, I absolutely believe in the tenants I have put forth here.  I am neither in my mind moral or immoral.  I live “by the rules” because I enjoy living in peace and relative safety, not because I follow moral and values put forth by the “Mother Culture” – a discussion for another day  -- that I do not hold faith with.

As to not living in harmony with nature.  What is nature?  Name one thing that does not have its source in “nature”.  Everything we see or do or think even, is nature.  We are nature and cannot be anything else.  Believe me I cringe when a newbie signs on and says, “I just love nature.”  Makes me want to vomit!

I posted my Paganism write-up knowing I would be called on the carpet for it, but I wanted to put forth my idea of what Paganism really is and means to me.  I see Paganism as a mindset, a philosophy if you will, a way of life and not the dictionary definition that is so common.

I copied the following from a post of mine in another forum.  I hope to give you a little better understanding in where I am coming from with my original Paganism post.

As a Pagan, I believe in “what works”. In other words, I learn from my actions and the actions of others. I learn there are consequences for my actions. One learns living in community that there are consequences for “breaking the rules”. I do not always agree with “the rules”, but realize there is a price to pay if I wish to live in community and in a peaceful existence.

IMO man is not truly free to explore how he “fits in” with the world around him. The “Mother Culture” of religious dogma and doctrine rules our lives from the moment of birth. We are told what to do and what to believe, and to deny these rules and regulations will result in punishment not only in this life but will follow us unto death!

I break the speed limit when I think I can get away with it. I do not steal as I do not want others to steal from me. Also, I don’t want my name and picture in the paper or on the local news! I am bound by the opinion of others and society. I am forced to lead a life that is not true to who I am (human nature) in order to gain the comforts I wish to have such as companionship and harmony (in being faithful) and the security of my own home (not breaking the law and spending time in jail). So I obey the law and rules of society to gain certain things that make my life easier and to “fit in”. This is not to say I would steal or kill if not for society rules, but I don’t honestly know. Who is free to truly know themselves? Man is imprisoned by the Mother Culture and to escape means punishment and/or banishment.

I am not of the same mind as a “cold blooded killer”, but I understand the sense of shrugging their shoulders and saying, “What’s your problem?” I do not want judged by anyone’s rules but my own. I am not tossing God away so I can feel free to do as I please, but am simply trying to live by discovering who and what God meant me to be. Our early ancestors lived in peaceful community, as indigenous peoples do today, without rules imposed upon them by religious doctrine. This is not to say they did not have any “religious” beliefs, but that they lived in harmony with God and did not struggle against God as IMO today’s religion imbues.
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« Reply #57: June 01, 2007, 03:55:05 pm »


I will answer the meat of your post later.  But first, PLEASE use the quote function CORRECTLY so that there are links back to the previous posts?  You can do it with the "quote/reply" button at the top of the post you're replying to.  It really helps make conversations followable.

Thank you.
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« Reply #58: June 01, 2007, 04:16:32 pm »

I think I will need more time to respond to much of this, but wanted to get some initial thoughts out there at least.

No one ever understands my point here.  Darn it! 

Well...  No offense, but if no one ever understands it, maybe it's time to think about re-wording it.  Your initial paragraph sounded much, much different to me than your explanation.  I think it might help to avoid hot-button phrasing, to start.  For instance, instead of using words like "meaningless" and "servitude" that are pretty charged with negative meaning, you could just talk neutrally about the focus of religion changing or being different.

I still have some issues with the rest of it anyway, but as I said I need a little more time to think about how to respond there.

Quote
Star asked about my resources.  I read everything I can get my hands on about ancient spirituality, but my most often resource is The Pagan Bible by Melvin Gorham which is my “bible” and a book that spoke to my heart and soul and awakened within me a “knowing” of who and what I really am.

I'm not familiar with it personally and couldn't find much info on it, so I can't comment on the quality of the source as regards historical data.  I will, however, note that Amazon's listing says it was published in 1962, and IIRC a lot of theories and such have changed since then.  With a title like "The Pagan Bible" I'm also skeptical about whether it's necessarily a scholarly work as opposed to a popular press book, although the publication date puts it before the worst of the popular press gludge we've gotten lately.

I'm not saying that it shouldn't serve as an inspiration to you personally or anything like that, mind you.  I'm just saying that it may or may not be a good source for historical facts and currently accepted theories.  I'm hoping someone else here will recognize the title and be able to offer some insight.

Quote
Star said:  It has been such a long time since the Ten Commandments were written that I'm kind of skeptical about assigning motivations to them, and would like to see how these conclusions were drawn.

History teaches that Paganism, especially in Europe, was wiped out at the end of a Christian sword.  When I speak of ancient Pagans, I am most often referring to our Celtic ancestors.  I should be more broadminded in this respect.  I apologize.

I'm not certain what your reply has to do with what I said.  IIRC you were talking about what the Ten Commandments were meant to do, and I was questioning that.  They were written long before the conversion of the Celts, weren't they?  Or am I missing a connection here?

Quote
No, offense, Aisling, but you and I sure live on different worlds.  If anything is “inherently evil” nature is.  I fail to see anywhere in nature a “respect for life and its right to exist”. 

I'm not Aisling, so I might be wrong, but I think you may have misunderstood.  There's a difference between "nature" and "my nature", "my nature" being "the way I am as an individual human being".  If I understood correctly, Aisling was playing on the reference to "nature" but referring to her personal character.  Which is related, perhaps, but a far different matter from the sort of nature that brings us thunderstorms and plague and things like that.  Wink

Quote
IMO man is not truly free to explore how he “fits in” with the world around him.

*shrug*  Depends on how you look at it, I guess.  Is the culture we are raised in not a part of the world around us?  (Well, all cultures really, but especially the one we're raised in.)  Not as tangible a part as the trees and the grass perhaps, but no less a part of it for that.

As I said, I'll probably need more time to respond to most of this.  These are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.
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« Reply #59: June 01, 2007, 05:21:54 pm »

No, offense, Aisling, but you and I sure live on different worlds.  If anything is “inherently evil” nature is.  I fail to see anywhere in nature a “respect for life and its right to exist”.  Honestly!  Nature is gene-driven and “survival of the fittest” is the name of the game.  The point I was trying to make, and I will try again, is that to the ancient Pagan, the god(s) made the decision who lived and died, not man.  Man has become his own god and the “big guy in the sky” is no longer necessary.  And I am in no way placing the right to decide who lives or dies in anyone’s hands.

No offense taken.  We live in the same world-- we just have very different views of that world. 

Scientifically, you're correct-- Nature is gene-driven, or at least reproduction and species propagation are.  Nature (capital N) is also encompasses everything else that exists, including the ability to love, to show compassion, to heal, and appreciate beauty.  I don't buy that Nature is inherently evil (not a phrase I used in my OP, btw) nor is it inherently good.  It simply is. 

Your original text didn't make your point entirely clear.  In fact, it sounded very much like you were saying the opposite, that men decided  who lived and died before the issuance of the Commandments-- as well as implying a desire to return to a weeding out system.

Either way, I can't agree that mankind as a whole has usurped God (or Goddess or the entire pantheon); perhaps there are some individual men and women have taken this point of view, agreed.  I can only speak for myself, but there are still pagans who feel that the life and death decision making is ultimately in the hands of the gods.
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