Approaching Paganism- What and Why?

May 15, 2015 at 7:40 am 5 comments

Now and then after I mention my religion on Facebook, Meetup or heck, in person someone asks me to tell them more about Paganism, simply out of general curiosity or because they are interested in exploring it themselves. I’ve referred a couple people to the Four Centers of Paganism article by John Beckett.

I’ll start with Pagan Pride’s definition which I feel is broad enough to be inclusive, but not meaningless as non-Abrahamic religion tends to be.

A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:

  • Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
  • Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
  • Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
  • Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
  • Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.

Ironically, after sharing that, I’m going to make the suggestion of backing away from the word Pagan/Paganism, since as you can see it is so broad- don’t worry for now, what label applies to you if any. I’ve been on my rambling path for 16+ years, and have use many different labels!

What do you want to *do*? One thing I can generalize about, is that Pagan religions are generally more about what you do than what you believe. Personal and communal spiritual experience matters more than the words of a holy book.

Who do you want to *be*? Pagan practices also give us many more choices than simply being a clergyperson or a layperson- sometimes there are no clergy, sometimes everyone’s clergy, sometimes there are many different spiritual roles- even ones that change throughout our lives- becoming an elder, for example. It isn’t as simple as decided you want to be a Druid, Witch, warrior, priestess of Bast and so forth however, you need to find what path is right for you, and learn to listen to what calls you, rather than what seems cool and glamorous!

There are many different approaches- even within the same tradition.

Here are some of the different approaches we’ll explore in following posts-

First Steps: Unpacking/Repacking Your Spiritual Baggage

Culture-Based Religions

Magic & Religion

4 Intro to Syncretism

Earth/Nature/Eco-spirituality

6 Mystery Traditions

7 Shamanism Part 1: Origins, Spread in Use of Term, Part 2: Is “Cultural Neutrality” Possible? Part 3: Other Words, Other Worlds

Getting Started in Various Polytheisms

9 Patron Deities

10 Spiritual Specialists vs. General Practitioners

11 Vocational Paths- Warrior, Priest, Bard etc.

Pop Culture Influences

Related post of interest: PSVL’s Tips for New Polytheists, Jenett’s Seeker’s Guide (amazing set of resources put together by a professional librarian, of course!)

Recommended book (general not Pagan-specific) Finding Your Religion by Scott McLennan

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Entry filed under: Approaching Paganism, How-To. Tags: .

Comments on Why I am Not a Heathen Unpacking/Repacking Your Baggage

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Redfaery  |  May 15, 2015 at 8:35 pm

    Reblogged this on Flight of the Hamsa.

    Reply
  • 2. Redfaery  |  May 15, 2015 at 8:36 pm

    looking forward to future posts on this!

    Reply
    • 3. caelesti  |  May 15, 2015 at 10:30 pm

      Thank you! I’ve seen lots of Paganism 101 books/posts etc. but they almost always have Wicca or Euro-American centric “earth-based” stuff as a default setting- this an attempt to get away from those assumptions.

      Reply
  • 4. Redfaery  |  May 16, 2015 at 12:11 am

    YES. I am *waaaaay* more influenced by East and South Asia, specifically Japan and India. If anything, I’m deity-centric and not nature centric, but that seems to have so many negative connotations to most in the pagan community, because deity-centrism is – in my opinion – strongly associated with some of the uglier strains of Christianity.

    Reply
    • 5. caelesti  |  May 16, 2015 at 1:23 am

      I don’t really like any of the centers as labels, but I think they can be useful ways of understanding different focuses in paganism.

      Reply

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