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Thread: Looking for some perspective

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Celtic Heathen

    Looking for some perspective

    It’s been six years since my last post here, one about the concern of fitting into a the heathen community when militant and warrior mentalities seemed to be the only accepted way of thing. I’ve grown past that as I was a teenager then and am now in my mid-20s, but the specifics for that aren’t really related to this post.

    Ultimately, I want to ask a question that has been on my mind recently- how much of modern pagan practice do you think comes from research and genuine thought, and how much of it comes from a place of trying to be everything that Abrahamic religions aren’t my forcefully moving in the opposite direction?

    To elaborate, I’ve come across many ideas that seem to have little historical presence backing them up but have a large place in modern pagan religions. One example is the neo-pagan, in particular Wiccan, emphasis on expressions of sexuality. I know actual ritual sex is very rare, but even the recreation of the Great Rite among wiccans is very sexual in its symbolism. There’s also countless books that site sexual practices, and in particular sexual liberty for women, among ancient pagan beliefs. And while they certainly were in some cultures, it’s treated as a fact among all pagan cultures, along with the concepts commonly associated with them such as society as a whole being matriarchal before Christianity came along (an idea that is heavily refuted by professional sources). It comes across to me not as a genuine conclusion from a factual basis, but an attempt to be whatever Christianity isn’t.

    I also see pieces of it in germanic and, to a lesser extent, Celtic based faiths. Heathens in particular express a disdain for ideas such as worship, preferring to “honor” deities, as well as rejecting an notions such as bowing/prostrating oneself or displays of intense emotion such as weeping or any sort of ecstatic practices. There are several historical sources that show that this isn’t the case in ancient Heathenry, as people bowing/prostrating and submitting themselves before idols has been documented more than once. Could this mindset be born of a desire to remove heathens as far away from Christian thought as possible, even in the way they practice?

    I’m not here to judge and point fingers. It’s just something of an observation I’ve had and wanted to see the perspective of others on it. Do YOU think some modern pagan practices were born solely out of contempt for Christianity, or do they all have some kind of historical basis backing them?
    Last edited by c_greene32; 23 Jun 2019 at 19:41.

  2. #2

    Re: Looking for some perspective

    If we allow for the mutable nature of religious practice to be a historical basis, then...sure. The very fact that practice and precept change with the sensibilities of the practitioner is a brute fact if all religious observance. And why not, right? The point is to connect with s persons sense of the numinous, and that varies from individual to individual and even over time in a single individual.

    Reconstruction is necessarily hobbled by Ed by the interruption in pagan continuity, and it’s hard to determine what those pagans might believe today had they managed to persist through the intervening years. To use Christianity as an example, mostly because it was your antithetical, their beliefs and services have changed drastically just over the course of a single human lifespan. We can certainly afford paganism that privilege and, as neo-pagans are the only contemporary spokesmen for default, their positions become the only authoritative voice if contemporary paganism.-

    and while I appreciate and would agree that this is an oblique angle to come from, I think that it does provide perspective to the question itself. Is it all just an attempt to go in the opposite direction? Probably not...but even if it were...pagans very likely would have gone in that opposite direction, even if the specifics of how that played out are impossible to determine. Contemporary pagans have done so, after all.
    Last edited by Rhythm; 17 Jul 2019 at 14:34.

  3. #3

    Re: Looking for some perspective

    To add even more context and perspective, one of the earliest historical mentions of Christians refers to some deaconesses in a backwater gathering to affirm that they wouldn’t lie cheat or steal. So, even in Christianity, the sacred feminine used to have a more direct place, and there wasn’t a whole lot of prostration before gods. Pliny to Trajan.

    - - - Updated - - -

    Those Hellenistic roots, with a better understanding of both traditions, might lead a person to conclude that Christianity is more a rejection of Christianity than contemporary paganism is. The Gnostics responsible for the construction of what eventually became the New Testament even thought that Jesus was a new god sent to save us from the cruel god of this world.

    Just things to consider.

    (forgive the piecemeal posts, I’m making pilaf for my hellions as I write)
    Last edited by Rhythm; 17 Jul 2019 at 16:05.

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