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Thread: Hello Everyone

  1. #1
    Newbie axle2152's Avatar
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    Hello Everyone

    Hey everyone. New to Paganism and thought I would see how this goes. I live western North Carolina which is very rural, 2 hours to anything and there aren't really any Pagan groups and I only know of one other person that practices Wicca and no one else nearby that I know actively practices any sort of Pagan path. I do want to make a thread in the SAFE Zone to go more in depth but here's a little background about me and where I am and why I have decided to start taking a more serious approach to my spiritual and religious path.

    I did not grow up in a religious household, I've only been inside a church only a few times and most were funerals. I never had much interest in Christianity or religion for a long time. Several years ago I was invited to go to a church service. I went and the vibe was awful...I just didn't feel welcome there at all. Maybe my clothes weren't nice enough? I don't really know, but I was just glad to get out of there when it was over. The person who invited me didn't even acknowledge me. Needless to say, I didn't go back and have declined any invitation to go to another church since. Now I don't want to make this thread about crapping on Christians so that's where I'll leave it. I can't remember the moment that Paganism drew my interest but it was earlier this year, right before the pandemic broke out and the word "Pagan" without really knowing the definition does have an Earthy vibe to it and not surprising that Earth-centered religions also happen to be Pagan.

    When I was a kid my mom and sister got into Wicca for a while but it was more of a fad I think and being 12 years old at the time a lot of things we over my head and I wasn't into it as much as they were. So I have been exposed a little bit to different things. So recently decided I would look more into Paganism. I got an audiobook (not much for being a bookworm) "Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions" and I listened to it probably 3 - 4 times while I would go on walks. I do think it is a good book even from someone like me who basically knows nothing about any religion. The concepts of celebrating nature, the seasons and the universe seems to align better with science and my observation of reality...for lack of a better description. The book went in on Bohm's implicate and explicate order which to be honest, went over my head and not sure how important those concepts are to someone exploring Paganism or their spirituality. I suppose the takeaway is that the universe is a complex place let's just say and we can't simply go by our senses alone to say the least. Anyway, going to avoid going on a rant of what would most likely be just conjecture. I think a separate thread going more in depth of where I am at spiritually, what I currently believe and why and how I got there would be much better.

    I also started listening to some of Bernard Alvarez's podcasts and some of his stuff I found helpful but the turn for me are all the membership stuff and the costs associated with services he provides, I get it, that's what he does, that's career, its his livelihood and so on whatever. I just can't afford that sort stuff. I can afford books but not spiritual counseling and I'm not knocking Bernard in any way.

    So anyway, been trying to figure out what the next steps should be now that I have read the book, listened to some podcasts and some research (a little), done some thinking and so on. I get that there is no one answer, but I think coming to peace with my beliefs and not just believing something because someone else told me to. Seeking guidance and understanding why Pagans believe what they believe and perhaps some core principles...perhaps a foundation are all good things. I did look over the Newbie Guide to Paganism thread and it's great...a lot of information but it is all good. Same with the book. It is a lot to navigate. In one hand I don't have to throw out all the stuff many have from other religions as I'm somewhat of a blank slate, but on the other I have no foundation other than beliefs and perspectives I currently have which came from somewhere, I just don't know how I arrived with my current perspective but whatever the case it has landed me here.

  2. #2
    PF Ordo Hereticus MaskedOne's Avatar
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Welcome aboard!

    So, hunting for core principles in Paganism is a point of agony. Thal calls Paganism a polythetic term, I have far more flippant descriptions so we'll stick to quoting Thal

    Quote Originally Posted by thalassa View Post
    ALL Pagans, no. Some basic common principles? Yes, if you call them "characteristics" instead. But...it comes under the polythetic classification thing again (which I might add is a perfectly valid way of defining things and is used for a number of concepts from cancer to species to games to religion in general). A polythetic definition is one that (for lack of a better simple answer) works like a checklist. If you compare one tradition directly to another, they might not have any checked boxes in common, but when you look at multiple Pagan traditions, A will overlap with E which overlaps with C, which overlaps with B and D, where D overlaps with A. It helps if you look at Paganism as a group of Paganisms, rather than as one distinct unified tradition. The problem with this is that *people are stupid* and don't think this way--we think in monolithic definitions and dualisms. I tend to think that it is easy for Western societies to truly think pluralistically or polythetically, its something you have to relearn (kids are actually really good at learning this, if you catch them early)...our system of learning, world view, and body of knowledge has tended to discourage this sort of thinking.

    Characteristics of Pagan traditions (this is by no means a comprehensive list, and in no particular order):

    --Connection to ancient indigenous Indo-European religions and related pre-Christian religions originating in the ancient world, either thru reconstruction, revival, or loose inspiration
    --Earth-centered or nature-based spirituality (this is not synonomous with earth worship, but rather a recognization of the importance of earth’s natural rhythms and cycles, the spirits of place, deities that represent or rule aspects of nature, etc)
    --Pluralistic view of Deity, polytheistic (whether literally or figuratively, in belief or in practice)
    --ancestor veneration
    --a morality based on cause-effect (you get what you give)
    --an imminent view of sacredness (AKA the material is divine)
    --existence is something to be celebrated, not escaped (existence is not generally seen as bad/evil/suffering/etc)
    --celebrates an interconnectivity of the cosmos
    --the purpose of religion is not to impose a moral structure aimed at ensuring a lack of sin or state of purity, but to foster relationships and celebrate central mysteries of life
    --central mysteries are centered around life and living: “where it comes from, where it goes, what affects it, and how it is transformed and continuous from year to year and generation to generation”
    --importance of ritual as a tool for worship and/or ecstasy to connect ourselves with the sacredness in the world
    --use of food and drink, as well as music and dance used as a link between man and gods/spirits
    --use of magic as a method of empowerment and agency
    --inclusive and "reachable" to most participants (as opposed to being a "spectator-sport")
    --the acknowledgement of personal truth as spiritually valid (as opposed to the idea that there is a “one true” way)
    --a recognition and/or celebration of Humanity (as opposed to an automatic condemnation of human nature) as sacred
    emphasis on personal responsibility (via ideals such as honor, justice, etc) rather than divine responsibility (if I'm good, god will do X for me) for actions
    --lack of central authority to determine dogma or doctrine
    --do not contain an ethical system imposed by an key historical figure or charismatic leader (Jesus, Buddha, Ron L Hubbard, Joseph Smith, etc)
    --Inclusive of outside beliefs and practices due to a pluralistic view of religious truth
    --contain spiritual practices that aim at development of the individual, spiritually or psychologically
    --concerned with forming and maintaining relationships with the Gods, ancestors, and spirits
    --view humans as non-privileged part of an interconnected more-than-human community of beings
    --rejects mythology as a literal prescription for required behavior (religious law)
    If I have to pick one almost universal Pagan truth, you will disagree with other Pagans about how to properly Pagan and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now if you're disagreeing with me about the proper place of pizza in the universe then you're just wrong and need correction but I don't claim to be Pagan and I consider blasphemy against pizza to be a crime no matter one's professed faith so that's not a Pagan issue.
    "It is not simply enough to know the light…a Jedi must feel the tension between the two sides of the Force…in himself and in the universe."
    ―Thon

    "When to the Force you truly give yourself, all you do expresses the truth of who you are,"

    Yoda

    Yoda told stories, and ate, and cried, and laughed: and the Padawans saw that life itself was a lightsaber in his hands; even in the face of treachery and death and hopes gone cold, he burned like a candle in the darkness. Like a star shining in the black eternity of space.

    Yoda: Dark Rendezvous

    "But those men who know anything at all about the Light also know that there is a fierceness to its power, like the bare sword of the law, or the white burning of the sun." Suddenly his voice sounded to Will very strong, and very Welsh. "At the very heart, that is. Other things, like humanity, and mercy, and charity, that most good men hold more precious than all else, they do not come first for the Light. Oh, sometimes they are there; often, indeed. But in the very long run the concern of you people is with the absolute good, ahead of all else..."

    John Rowlands, The Grey King by Susan Cooper

    "You come from the Lord Adam and the Lady Eve", said Aslan. "And that is both honour enough to erect the head of the poorest beggar, and shame enough to bow the shoulders of the greatest emperor on earth; be content."

    Aslan, Prince Caspian by CS Lewis



  3. #3
    ingridstjerne257
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Hello axle2152,
    Welcome!

    You remind me of myself (a little).

    Never was much for religion of any sort growing up but I did like myths and learning about ancient cultures. Perhaps learning things about modern non-Christians like Buddhists, Native Americans too... sometimes folktales. Though I always had my own beliefs about stuff and/or life (if you put it that way). So there's really no checklist for me.

    It's ok to be figuring out "your stuff" as I am also figuring out "my stuff" as of late. Doesn't matter if new, moderate or been like this for many years.

    Religion is always evolving, whether groupie or individual.

    I read through some 101 books, too. And they were useless to me. Now, for myself, I would just dive into whatever it is that pulls at me or at least have real interest in learning. So a few good books & textbooks are ok with me, or a lecture. So you make your own foundation(s).

    Are you interested in a particular tradition or culture? That may help "anchor" you. Gods don't want you to go broke either.

    I don't refer to myself as "pagan" actually... I just don't see it that way. So you really don't have to call yourself anything...
    Last edited by ingridstjerne257; 10 Jul 2020 at 16:43.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Sounds good!

    I'm a pagan atheist... I like the stories too, but I doubt very, very much if they're fer real.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

  5. #5
    ingridstjerne257
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Hello B. de Corbin,
    I am not sure if you are referring to my post or axle2152 but I do believe absolutely in the gods, since I was a kid ok.

  6. #6
    Newbie axle2152's Avatar
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Quote Originally Posted by MaskedOne View Post
    Welcome aboard!

    So, hunting for core principles in Paganism is a point of agony. Thal calls Paganism a polythetic term, I have far more flippant descriptions so we'll stick to quoting Thal



    If I have to pick one almost universal Pagan truth, you will disagree with other Pagans about how to properly Pagan and that's not necessarily a bad thing. Now if you're disagreeing with me about the proper place of pizza in the universe then you're just wrong and need correction but I don't claim to be Pagan and I consider blasphemy against pizza to be a crime no matter one's professed faith so that's not a Pagan issue.
    Reminds me of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles... "Wise men say forgiveness is divine, but never pay full price for late pizza."

    Perhaps my "problem" is more of a spiritual problem...but also all of the above. I guess the question I should be asking people is what do you believe and why? Answers like "my pastor told me so" or "this book told me so" don't float well. I just have that feeling that there is some sort of deity but it is just not what most people (most people being the average person you run into on the street) think it is. Artistic renditions of heaven for instance picture fluffy white clouds and God's this bearded Santa Claus looking guy...and some people appear to take that depiction literally. I just have a hard time buying into any particular religion, tradition, etc. I know better than to believe there is nothing and that when we die that the lights simply go off. So, setting aside all the lore from any religion, tradition or beliefs...I do feel that there is "something" out there. What that something is, I have no idea...but it is a place to start out with.

    Quote Originally Posted by ingridstjerne257 View Post
    Hello axle2152,
    Welcome!

    You remind me of myself (a little).

    Never was much for religion of any sort growing up but I did like myths and learning about ancient cultures. Perhaps learning things about modern non-Christians like Buddhists, Native Americans too... sometimes folktales. Though I always had my own beliefs about stuff and/or life (if you put it that way). So there's really no checklist for me.

    It's ok to be figuring out "your stuff" as I am also figuring out "my stuff" as of late. Doesn't matter if new, moderate or been like this for many years.

    Religion is always evolving, whether groupie or individual.

    I read through some 101 books, too. And they were useless to me. Now, for myself, I would just dive into whatever it is that pulls at me or at least have real interest in learning. So a few good books & textbooks are ok with me, or a lecture. So you make your own foundation(s).

    Are you interested in a particular tradition or culture? That may help "anchor" you. Gods don't want you to go broke either.

    I don't refer to myself as "pagan" actually... I just don't see it that way. So you really don't have to call yourself anything...
    I honestly can't say any particular culture or tradition interests me specifically. I really do fixate on the earth-centered part. I really enjoy nature, I like being out in nature (when it is not sweltering hot) and I think there is quite a lot to look at and consider when it comes to nature, as in the observation and celebration perhaps. I'm not sure what term I should have used there. Perhaps there is some sort of energy that is in nature, perhaps the planet, universe...all of us, animals, etc. Perhaps there is a connection to all those things that we can at times, at some level. It is just not something I can see plainly. Kind of like my sister for instance, she has claimed that she has seen fairies, I have not and never seen any sort of evidence that I didn't find inconsequential. Same for seeing ghosts or other paranormal phenomena. I don't want to write anything off just because I haven't seen it or experienced it, but I do raise question.

    Quote Originally Posted by B. de Corbin View Post
    Sounds good!

    I'm a pagan atheist... I like the stories too, but I doubt very, very much if they're fer real.
    To which stories are you referring to? So you don't believe that any deity exists? One question I do have for you, purely out of my curiosity, life and death. What is life to you and what is death to you? Those are subjects I spend a lot of time thinking about. I think perhaps a lot of people think a lot about what happens when they die and why we're here and so forth.

    Note: The meaning of life is not 23.

  7. #7
    ingridstjerne257
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    From what I can gather, it seems you're leaning more into animism or maybe pantheism.

    So you say you should ask people what they believe in but I say what do YOU believe in? It might sound inane but you could write a list of what you personally believe in... there are some religion quizzes online when you search so you can write down the question or attribute and just ponder for yourself.

    I can't speak for all Pagans or polytheists but we certainly don't demand proof. Sometimes it's an issue of trust but that can be a part of any religion or philosophy. It's something I'm going through, trusting that things will work out and healing.

  8. #8
    Newbie axle2152's Avatar
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Quote Originally Posted by ingridstjerne257 View Post
    From what I can gather, it seems you're leaning more into animism or maybe pantheism.

    So you say you should ask people what they believe in but I say what do YOU believe in? It might sound inane but you could write a list of what you personally believe in... there are some religion quizzes online when you search so you can write down the question or attribute and just ponder for yourself.

    I can't speak for all Pagans or polytheists but we certainly don't demand proof. Sometimes it's an issue of trust but that can be a part of any religion or philosophy. It's something I'm going through, trusting that things will work out and healing.
    I am mostly curious about what other believe in mainly because I am often unsure what my beliefs are. That's not so I can copycat someone else. I do think I ought to be exposed to more ideas and perspectives. I might have to look into these religion quizzes you speak of just to fulfill my curiosity. On the subject of proof, I do think having the trust or faith that what I believe is correct is a big issue. Proof is nice, but probably not going to happen. I just have to go by what make sense for me and figuring out what makes sense is where I am.

    Pantheism and animism...I'd say your assessment is pretty spot on. The subject of Pantheism was in the book I read/listened to, but I guess they didn't describe it in a way that latched on to it. It does, to me, make sense that God, or let's just say the Divine, is all or part of the universe and everything in it. For some reason when I think of "God" I keep picturing the bearded guy in the sky sort of thing which makes it feel weird, so I end up using different descriptions.

  9. #9
    Silver Member Bartmanhomer's Avatar
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Quote Originally Posted by axle2152 View Post
    I am mostly curious about what other believe in mainly because I am often unsure what my beliefs are. That's not so I can copycat someone else. I do think I ought to be exposed to more ideas and perspectives. I might have to look into these religion quizzes you speak of just to fulfill my curiosity. On the subject of proof, I do think having the trust or faith that what I believe is correct is a big issue. Proof is nice, but probably not going to happen. I just have to go by what make sense for me and figuring out what makes sense is where I am.

    Pantheism and animism...I'd say your assessment is pretty spot on. The subject of Pantheism was in the book I read/listened to, but I guess they didn't describe it in a way that latched on to it. It does, to me, make sense that God, or let's just say the Divine, is all or part of the universe and everything in it. For some reason when I think of "God" I keep picturing the bearded guy in the sky sort of thing which makes it feel weird, so I end up using different descriptions.
    Hello. I was a Christian then converted in Taoism then converted back into Christian again.

  10. #10
    ingridstjerne257
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    Re: Hello Everyone

    Well, I think the problem is you're still thinking about finding a black and white answer. Then you get philosophical which adds to the confusion. Not that what you are doing is bad but you're trying to find middle ground or the center road, I believe. And if someone said to you, "It will come to you," that's not really helpful either.

    The image of "old bearded man" came from Greek God Zeus. I don't know why or when (some) Christians adopted that image since Islam & Judaism don't use image or idol at all. I think about those Renaissance paintings, so I guess that's when it started? But can you change that "weird feeling" around? To me, when I get picture popping up (literally or figuratively) it kinda means something.

    I tried to find the quiz I took but it's no longer around (I took it years ago). I found one called "Which Pagan Religion Suits You" on quizbot. The only problem is that it doesn't allow multiple answers... maybe you can find a better one.

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