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Thread: Defining "Pagan"

  1. #51
    Head Above Water habbalah's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Hello.

    I believe I mentioned in that thread that a pagan is, by the dictionary, anyone who is part of a belief system outside of the Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam). But there are also, for example, Jewish reconstructionists and Christo-pagans. If you believe you're pagan, you are. I don't believe you need to justify yourself to anyone or get specific. Paganism is vague and often mixed as it is.
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  2. #52
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Thank you for your reply.

    Yes, I'm familar with the "non-Abrahamic" definition, and my main problem with it is that it excludes Judeo-pagans and Christo-pagans (of which there are a growing number).

    But I definately do agree with you - paganism is indeed very vague and it's difficult to get at all specific when defining what a pagan is.

    ---------- Post added at 01:56 AM ---------- Previous post was at 12:23 AM ----------

    Does anyone else have any opinions?

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    Member Gobae's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke_Ironside View Post
    Yes, I'm familar with the "non-Abrahamic" definition, and my main problem with it is that it excludes Judeo-pagans and Christo-pagans (of which there are a growing number)
    Yes, that would exclude them. Personally, I feel that the term Christo-pagan shouldn't exist for the very reason that it's oxymoronic. Either someone is Christian or they're not and there are specific criteria for that. Now their variety of Christianity may contain elements and certain concepts in common with (or taken from) some pagan religions. But that wouldn't make them "Christo-pagan" any more than incorporating the belief of reincarnation into Wicca makes someone a Wiccan-Buddhist.

    But in general the whole problem with the term "pagan" is that it tells what you are NOT not what you ARE. Which is a pretty poor way to write a definition or description.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Quote Originally Posted by Luke_Ironside View Post

    Well...one way to look at it is that it is anyone that calls themselves a pagan .[/I]

    I was wondering whether there are others here who agree with that definition? Would you agree that self-identification is all that is required to be a pagan?
    Yes.

    I would have to be pretty conceited to believe that I know more about a person's beliefs than he/she does his/her self.

    I'm not that conceited.
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  5. #55
    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Oh, the age old question...

    It *has* been a while since we went around again, hasn't it?

    As a quick Mod note, since I seem to have called firsties today, so long as this stays a friendly exchange of ideas, I'm keeping it here. If it gets heated, though, it'll get moved to Debates.


    Personally, I agree with Corbin. Pagan is a mixed-bag umbrella term for all sorts of beliefs that don't fit elsewhere. We have pagans on here that are atheist, monotheistic, hard or soft polytheistic, etc, etc...add in other factors, like magical practices(or lack thereof), ecological awareness (or lack thereof), etc, and the permutations are endless.

    You also have a lot of groups that might technically fit, but would not call themselves such, even possibly becoming offended at the term. Traditional Native American faiths, Asian beliefs such as Buddhism or Shinto, African Diaspora religions, and even some Heathen groups readily come to mind. Even though some pagans borrow from all of those belief systems, it does not make the beliefs themselves pagan.

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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Yup, it's that ol' 'Paganism - it's not a religion, it's an umbrella' thing come back to haunt us.

    I'm old-fashioned. I go with the dictionary definition:
    Pagan
    [pey-guhn]

    Origin:
    1325–75; Middle English < Medieval Latin, Late Latin pāgānus worshiper of false gods, orig. civilian (i.e., not a soldier of Christ), Latin: peasant, noun use of pāgānus rural, civilian, derivative of pāgus village, rural district (akin to pangere to fix, make fast)

    Synonyms
    2. heathen, gentile.  

    noun
    1. one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion, as the ancient Romans and Greeks.
    2. a person who is not a Christian, Jew, or Muslim.
    3. an irreligious or hedonistic person.

    I'm all three of those.
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Considering that we're talking "Paganism" as a term relating to the Neo-Pagan Religious Movement, I find it inauthentic to allow our definition to include such things as Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, Scientology or even Shintoism.

    Rather, looking at the paths which are included in the movement, we might want to enumerate that it is a collection of attempted revivals of ancient European & Mediterranean Traditions, alongside a continuation of Western Occult Esotericism.

    To define our religious movement by the Abrahamic Tradition... just leaves us dependent upon said tradition for our identity as a movement - this would lend credence to several Anthropologists' ideas who view Neopaganism less as a New Religious Movement than simply another Christian Revival.

    So, are you still Christian? If not, then quit defining yourself by Christianity. Define your self and your Religion based on it's own content.
    Last edited by AzazelEblis; 30 Jan 2012 at 20:42.
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    Sr. Member Yazichestvo's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Quote Originally Posted by AzazelEblis View Post

    So, are you still Christian? If not, then quit defining yourself by Christianity. Define your self and your Religion based on it's own content.
    The only problem is that this Christianity-based definition is the source of what little commonality pagans may feel with one another. That"s not to say this commonality is utterly insignificant. On the contrary, in a primarily Abrahamic world, it makes perfect sense to feel a connection with someone else who sees validity in non-Abrahamic religion.

    As for polytheistic and nature based religions outside of Europe and the Middle East not being called "pagan", that always struck me as nothing more than a coincidence of geography. Only their remoteness from Europe kept them from being lumped in with all the other pagans.
    Last edited by Yazichestvo; 30 Jan 2012 at 21:01.
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Quote Originally Posted by Yazichestvo View Post
    The only problem is that this Christianity-based definition is the source of what little commonality pagans may feel with one another. That"s not to say this commonality is utterly insignificant. On the contrary, in a primarily Abrahamic world, it makes perfect sense to feel a connection with someone else who sees validity in non-Abrahamic religion.

    As for polytheistic and nature based religions outside of Europe and the Middle East not being called "pagan", that always struck me as nothing more than a coincidence of geography. Only their remoteness from Europe kept them from being lumped in with all the other pagans.
    Granted - Geography kept these Pagans from associating with similar folks of other regions. The fact is, European Religions died out under the weight of Christianity, and was relegated to folklore (at best).

    That same distance from Europe and the Middle East also helped keep Abrahamic Traditions from sweeping further into these regions. To ignore that separation shows another degree of arrogance.

    However, to ignore the fact that Neopaganism is a New Religious Movement, and to claim a heritage outside of rebuilding European and/or Middle Eastern religions would attempt to lay claim to a heritage which is not ours.

    The Church of Scientology is not Abrahamic, yet has its own identity, independent of Paganism - would you try to claim that for yourself as well?

    Even the Church of Satan has established its own identity in such a way which it could still somewhat stand without Christianity, while at the same time playing off of the dichotomy created by it's own existence. To allow Paganism to be that dependent upon Christianity for an identity shows a lack of its own cohesive identity. If Paganism will not stand on its own, it isn't really a separate path.

    Those individuals in question that still clinging to the Abrahamic Tradition for their identity never left it. To keep this identity based on the Abrahamic tradition relegates Paganism to a passing fad, both for the individual participants and as a whole - the latter of which makes it a Religious Revival within Christianity.


    To base our religion on Christianity puts up another barrier to anyone for whom Christianity is not an issue. How will you explain the Neopagan movement to someone of the Bon-Po? Would you rather simply explain what a Pagan believes, or would you rather first explain Christianity, and say "We're not that," as if that explained what we are?
    Last edited by AzazelEblis; 30 Jan 2012 at 21:26.
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    Cannibal Rights Activist Ophidia's Avatar
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    Re: Defining Paganism

    Quote Originally Posted by AzazelEblis View Post
    Those individuals in question that still clinging to the Abrahamic Tradition for their identity never left it. To keep this identity based on the Abrahamic tradition relegates Paganism to a passing fad, both for the individual participants and as a whole - the latter of which makes it a Religious Revival within Christianity.
    The issue I see with this is that most people are familiar only with the Big 5 religions - Judaism, Muslim, Christianity, Hinduism & Buddhism. Some have the Big 6 by adding Catholicism. If I talked to all but a select few of my co-workers (those 2 out of an immediate 90 who are openly Pagan... gee, we're 3% Pagan!), I would get doe-in-the-headlight stares if I started talking about Gerald Gardner & the Freemasons. I get doe-in-the-headlights stares when I talk about Greek/Roman/African Gods, mythology & folklore too. One time I told a co-worker that "I worship many Gods". She responded, "Mini-God? What is that, some kind of fun-sized God?" When I broke it down to "I worship more than one God", her response was "There's only one God that I know of" and most of the people in the room agreed with her. The concept of 'other' Gods made no sense to them (and no one even mentioned JHVH or Allah). I wasn't certain which God she was thinking of, because for all I knew she was Jewish but I had to go under the assumption that she was Christian.

    Debating the definition of Paganism or neo-Paganism on a forum, where people who are educated, literate, & know how to find references that aren't on wikipedia is a heck of a lot different than trying to define Paganism to the average American. It's easier for people to wrap their head around "I'm not Christian/Catholic/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu or Buddhist. I worship Gods from many ancient cultures and occasionally practice magic. I am only one Pagan, though - Paganism is an umbrella term for many faiths that are not Christian/Catholic/Jewish/Muslim/Hindu or Buddhist - and there are thousands of us" than it is to break it down to individual Pagan paths as they are practiced today. Most people don't really want to get into that much detail, and if they do, they'll ask. If they don't, they usually say, "oh" and wander off, or accuse you of being a devil-worshiping hoodoo woman/man & start throwing Bibles at you.
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