The opinions posted on the Pagan Perspective pages are those of individuals and are not neccessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
Posted: Sep. 8, 2002
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Question of the Week: 22 - 1/1/2001
What More Do You Want To Know About Paganism?
We hear time after time that Paganfolk want to see/read more in-depth articles/books about Paganism. Is there anything beyond Wicca/Witchcraft 101? Okay. Let's help them (whomever they may be) out here. What do YOU want to know more about? Magickal practices? A Pagan Philosophy of Life? Pagan History-ancient or modern? What is it that YOU want to know that you are just not getting information about? Be as specific as you can. Pretend that you are interviewing some Pagan of renown, either living or passed on and in any time era. What questions do you want him/her to answer?
| Reponses: There are 45 responses posted to this question.
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| Though Paganism And Wicca Give Me A Lot, I Have To Admit... ||Jan 3rd. at 12:26:22 pm UTC|
|Cat (Asheville, North Carolina US) ||Age: 34 |
Though paganism and Wicca give me a lot, I have to admit that I still *want* a lot (though that may be no more than the human condition.) In terms of books, I'd like to see more novels with normal pagans as protagonists (and am writing one myself), and I'd like to see more books that stress the fact that magic isn't...well, magic, except in the sense that a skunk cabbage emerging from the frozen swamp is magic. Given the number of people, both pagan and non, who focus on the drama and the self-importance, I might feel safer, even, if more books called it "active prayer" or "focused meditation" or almost anything that suggests that you can be a witch or pagan even if (as is not improbable) you'll never shoot lightning from your fingertips, have a recognizably "psychic" experience of any kind, or use the term "energy work" without irony. Such an approach, as a sideline, might go a long way toward convincing skeptics (not Christians, but scientists) that we aren't a bunch of nutcases, and it might discourage people who are drawn to the faith by the trappings.
However....dearly as I love books, books aren't really what I need more of. What I really want is PRACTICE of the relatively empirical side of magic, and someone to practice *with*. I want to work with someone who can tell me of her own knowledge, yes or no, whether an object's charged with my intent, and show me how to tell for sure--someone reliable, reliable as in if six priestesses check the same object in six different rooms, they'd all give the same answer. I want a group or a person who doesn't, pardon my language, **** around--who's not afraid to joke or admit to uncertainty, and yet who's not totally relativist, who will work with the letter and not just the spirit. (The spirit tends to get pretty evanescent once the letter is abandoned, although what the exact letter is can vary with the people involved.) I want to work with someone who understands that when you write a spell it helps to get the grammar right and choose your words, and that when you summon the north you REALLY need to know where north is--using a compass, if necessary. I want to feel a group's focus manifest itself from the effort of perfectly ordinary people: I've only had it happen once, and it was virtually unmistakable. I want practice and training that's unmistakable in the same way. And I want it with people who are okay about the fact that (around here, anyway) we're mostly European Americans, who don't have to go searching around for Irish heritage or Native American magic or Anglophile titles to make themselves feel special--who know that being special and being ordinary aren't antithetical at all, who can respect themselves without vanity or pomp.
Want much--who, me?
| Greetings And Merry Meet... I Think It Would Be Nice To Have... ||Jan 3rd. at 2:12:32 pm UTC|
|Teresa Dawn (Gerrardstown, West Virginia US) ||Age: 37 - Email |
Greetings and Merry Meet...
I think it would be nice to have "biographies" of Pagans who are prominent people in society as well as those who are in our own communities and doing helpful/positive things. We hear about what all Pagans are into, but knowing the actual life story of someone who is Pagan and has made it "in the big time" (or not so big time) I think would be quite interesting.
| Great Opinion Questions, And I'm Loving The Responses! I Would Like To... ||Jan 3rd. at 5:40:52 pm UTC|
|Dragon Hawk (Mesa, Arizona US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
Great opinion questions, and I'm loving the responses!
I would like to see books on the magickal properties of the plants of the American Southwest. I'm sure they're out there, but they're not particularly easy to find.
In response to Trish Telesco's comment about 202 books, I think this is a difficult modern conundrum. All of our technology creates an atmosphere of isolationism. We don't have to meet to discuss these things; we send in our answers and walk away. (Hey, I'm an internet addict as much as anyone else, because it provides some kind of connection. I still think there is something to be said for human connection.) We can watch a video. Buy a book through the computer and never go out. How do we pass on useful "202" knowledge responsibly in an era of avoidance?
I wish I knew the answers. We'll find our way.
Many blessings to all!
| 1) Readily Available Language Lessons. (gaelic, Welsh, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, & Other Handy... ||Jan 3rd. at 7:37:40 pm UTC|
|Awena Llwyndyrys (Murray, Utah US) ||Age: 23 - Email |
1) Readily available language lessons. (Gaelic, Welsh, Latin, Greek, Sanskrit, & other handy esoteric, magical languages)
2) In-depth herbalism. How can we become experts?
3) Bardic training. I know the original 12 years of training would be unwieldly (and unecessary since not every bard these days needs to know the full history and magick/mythic traditions of their people/country). But it's so hard to dig up ancient music and poetry. And I don't know the first thing about composing my own (form etc.) I would love to get formal training and access to materials.
4) Pagan parenting that doesn't focus on "fun crafts and songs to do with the kids to teach them about the seasons" (that's already available). I want psychology, philosophy...how do you raise kids in a pagan way when all you've known is the way your Xtian (or whatever) parents raised you? How to instill the morals w/out relying on religion, etc.
5) Shamanic ways/meditation techniques. There's plenty of guided meditations, but it's hard to learn HOW to meditate in the various forms unless you visit your local Zen center or something. And I'd love native shamanic teachers to be more available to seekers.
So where are all the hermetics books? I guess I have something new to search for. =) Luck and blessings to all, may the Lord and Lady lead us to what we seek.
| I Remember About A Year Ago I Was Looked For Books On... ||Jan 3rd. at 11:24:29 pm UTC|
|Vande Devinanda (Denver, Colorado US) ||Age: 19 - Email |
I remember about a year ago I was looked for books on advanced Wicca. I had read Silver Ravenwolf's "Magick Cauldron" and a couple other titles, but nothing that had what I needed. I got to really wondering why there wasn't many advanced books. Then I realized that the advanced stuff isn't found in a book, it's found in practice. Getting your hands dirty is what advances you from the 101 stage.
Anyway, what I would like to see is ANY resource on the blending of Hinduism and Wicca. I have found a very comfortable niche in Hindu philosophy and practices, but had some initial trouble bringing it together with Wicca. I learned quite a bit, and might soon consider sharing some of my discoveries, but it would be nice to find someone who has done the same thing, and could share with me their troubles and triumphs.
| Okay, I'm Going To Play Devil's Advocate. I Think There's Tons Of... ||Jan 4th. at 10:55:33 am UTC|
|Skye Cat (Edinburgh, Scotland UK) ||Age: 27 - Email |
Okay, I'm going to play Devil's advocate. I think there's tons of written / net-based information out there to learn from. Ever since I became interested in this path it's been more of a case of information overload than the other way round. I just found my research moving more naturally to more esoteric areas once I knew better how to define what my interests were. I also had to learn to read critically pretty quickly, but that's no bad life skill to have.
Also, I learned that my studies needed to encompass a whole lot more than paganism. So far, I've ranged from theoretical physics to rereading the Bible again! Truth can be found in the strangest places. But what's a truth for me isn't necessarily a truth for you.
We live in the luckiest age. The Internet is a brilliant resource for learning, there is absolutely so much out there. What I would like to see is this web to continue to expand, bringing even more viewpoints out in the open.
I can see however, that there is a lack of person to person teaching felt in some of these posts. To me, that's not necessary, but I can see how others might benefit from it. Perhaps that's an area the Pagan community can work on?
And finally I'd spend my moment in history with Gerald Gardner and some truth serum to see where he thought Wicca came from!!!!! .
| It Would Be Interesting To Sit Down With A Pagan Of The... ||Jan 4th. at 12:21:39 pm UTC|
|Xamien Mooncrow (Charleston, South Carolina US) ||Age: 16 - Email |
It would be interesting to sit down with a pagan of the Old World or one of the Druids before the advent of Christianity, just to see how the Elders did things. Magical languages and writing would one area of concern for me, since I'm endlessly the scholar and looking through every source I can find. Also, as for pagan parenting, I agree with one of the previous people that posted. No one seems to have anything or any suggestions about how you raise your child with morals without relying majorly on religion. (Gotta have SOME religous basis, the kid's gonna want to know what justification you have for saying "No, that's bad." ^_^) Of coursem then one must consider the age old Golden Rule, "If you don't want it being done to you, don't do it to others.", which, in fact, ties in with the Three Fold Law. Also, raising the child with pagan household, but raising the child in such a way, that he is encouraged or is confident about exploring (and choosing, if the choice arises) other paths. In looking at some documents relating to everyday events in the Old World, I've read of people having a generally tolerant view towards other religions. (i.e. "May the gods you worship/pray to/believe in carry you home safely.") It makes me wonder what was so different about the societies back then from our soceity today, that we can't have the same view. I, myself, would like to be able to say "May your Deity get you home safely." and receive a smile and a similar response. Instead of wierd looks and mutters of "psycho". (okay, so maybe that's a bit much to hope for, considering I KNOW I'm crazy, LoL ^_^)
| What's On My Wish List? Well, I'd Have To Say That I'm... ||Jan 4th. at 3:51:45 pm UTC|
|Marea (Niagara Falls, Ontario CA) ||Age: 30 - Email |
What's on my wish list? Well, I'd have to say that I'm excited by the notion of a perpetual student group - I've become extremely disillusioned by the politics inherent in large temples and traditions and find them destructive to the learning process - but membership in small learning circles (regardless of experience or age, EVERYONE can continue to learn1) has always broadened my horizons immensely.
As far as finding information or choosing a direction to study, the sky's the limit. I find that the learning process in Wicca/paganism is really a personal and self directed process, and that is just the way it should be. Noone can tell you precisely what to study and where to find it (although if you keep your eyes and ears pealed, you can garner hints), and the quest for your own learning and edification is part of the learning process itself. If your desire is to get information on spells and power, then you are missing the point entirely- real knowledge of those things comes from application of the basics and long experience and effort.
I must say though that I have been really fortunate to come from an organization that provides a VERY thorough first year course that teaches the basics - and along with demanding homework assignments, there is a comprehensive reading list attached to each topic which would keep any individual busy for years to come. If anyone is looking for suggestions on what books might provide more challenging information, here's the address - if you are a Canadian resident (or like the notion of the US-Canadian exchange), most of the books are directly linked to the Chapters.ca website so you may purchase them.
The address is: www.wcc.on.ca/booklist.html
Hope this is helpful to someone.
| When I Read Books About Paganism, Wicca, Etc., Mostly What I'd Like... ||Jan 4th. at 9:21:56 pm UTC|
|Elena (Kansas City, Kansas US) ||Age: 45 |
When I read books about Paganism, Wicca, etc., mostly what I'd like to ask the author is "Where/how did you come by these ideas, spells, traditions, etc." Sure, I check the bibliography. But what are your other resources - your coven? A teacher? How much of what you are presenting here is from a "certified resource" and how much of it comes from within you, from your own intuition?
Some may complain "this author has no bibliography, no certified resources, no historical accuracy". I say historical accuracy can be over-rated. I want to read books by authors whose material comes directly from their own experiences and compare them with my own.
| I Would Like To Find A Book Or A Website Telling Us... ||Jan 4th. at 10:36:10 pm UTC|
|Kalika (Knoxville, Iowa US) ||Age: 16 |
I would like to find a book or a website telling us how some of the pagan/wiccan words are pronounced. For instance Samhain, who would have known that it is pronounced soween. I sure didnt till I read "The Witch in every Woman" and that was the only word that was pronounced. I have not found a book with such stuff in it, if there is one someone please tell me, it will save me and others lots of time.
| I Would Like To See More Family-oriented Gatherings, Literature, Tv Shows, Stuff... ||Jan 5th. at 2:24:36 am UTC|
|Random Leigh (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma US) ||Age: 31 - Email |
I would like to see more family-oriented gatherings, literature, TV shows, stuff like that. I'm a 31-year-old mom of 2 and my hubby & I are raising our children to be nice little Pagans. Living smack in the middle of the Bible Belt (Oklahoma City), I realize this is about as likely to happen as having a tornado drop Dorothy and Toto on my evil twin sister's house, although thanks to CUUPS we at least have *some* circling going on.
While many are new to this path, and find it in their early adulthood, I was raised Pagan myself -- a long family tradition. We didn't have a coven, just a very old bloodline where people never stopped being Pagan in the first place. Still, I'm not as resourceful (or wise) as my mum, and kind of at a loss as to how to go about bringing up kids like this -- we've kind of settled into the Wiccan riverbed, rather than drifting all over. Ancestors were nordic and german, and I was brought up with a really good understanding of the Greek and Roman mythologies, but gee, I'm not an ancient person, I'm a modern American. As a kid we just touched on things; my dad gave us a good moral upbringing but not a lot in the way of magic with a "k".
It would be nice to have more social reinforcements. Like a "Veggie Tales" for pagan kids, or a home-school program that leans toward including oh, I don't know, games like "What colour is Mommy's aura when we pour out our milk on the carpet?" or Tarot for Tots. Basic concepts beyond Thea/ology. I've gone beyond just bitching, I'm building a publishing company for pagan kiddie books. If Harry Potter can be mainstream, I can do it too. Infiltrate the library with some decent books for children that might just make them a little better or wiser after reading them, but magical and enchanting too, so they will love to see more of it. Oh yeah, I know how to make a kid into a book junkie, I am one myself.
I have delusions of grandeur whereby somehow I become filty rich and build a beautiful Temple that has real priests and priestesses that's open to the public. Our local Unitarian Universalist church looks a whole lot like the Baptists'. Not as cool as the Mosque by the campus and definitely not the sexy house o' worship I've got in mind. I'm thinking crystal pillars here. I'm not saying I would be so awesome that by building such a place it would qualify me to be one of the priestesses, but it would give me great pleasure to have a nice place to show off a little: HEY! check out what our beliefs are! Doesn't it feel good in here? Doesn't this place encourage peace? But the problem with even a little pre-fab place hung with a few stained-glass windows and a sundial in the baked earth front "yard" here in Oklahoma is that Solomon himself couldn't get a proper tabernacle here unless it had a prim white picket fence round it. (The Mosque looks like a white pueblo dwelling with a domed roof.) Sure, where you worship IS just window-dressing, a place to meet, and can never replace your own portable temple (your body!), but... a spiffier place might encourage people to come in and give it a whirl, and that might lead to [GASP] religious tolerance here in the Southwest.
On a more sober note, I'd like to see a lot more about death/dying/funeral rituals, and rites of passage related to this -- my husband's father recently passed over, making my husband the sole remaining male of his clan. The line ends with him, because we have no sons of our own (2 daughters whose husbands will be bribed to take our name!). His mother and (adult) sisters have effected a new mindset toward the little brother since the dad died, but they don't seem to have a conscious understanding that they have done so. It was surprising to see when it happened, and more surprising still that, while attempting to find some kind of passing the torch sort of rite, very little discussion even exists about pagan funerals, burial or ritual burial (post-funeral, like helping the dead transition into the summerland), or making relics like a gris-gris bag for the survivors. Obviously my desire for this is driven by need, and I admit I wouldn't have thought of it otherwise.
Finally, I'd like a comprehensive cross-referenced cross-pantheonic book of deities (different Goddesses of the home, their colors and herbs, etc) -- with *specific* notes as to Who Does NOT Play Nicely With Other Deitites. For example, you wouldn't want to call quarters with Apollo, Pan, Loki, and Odin; the first three would try to play tricks on each other and Odin would have to pull out his can of WhupAss and consequently nobody would be watching the quarters, leaving you open for trouble such as having Jehovah's Witnesses come ring the doorbell. (Of course, answering skyclad brandishing your athame does tend to put them off your house, but one can never actually rely on this to work against those who are determined to see that you Get Saved.) While invoking more than one pantheon is generally not recommended for just this reason, if you do find yourself calling on a lot of Deity in desparate situations where you really think it would matter, you certainly would want to avoid starting off on the wrong foot by mistake. A love spell designed to protect a couple whose marriage is on the rocks or worse would NOT benefit from calling on Minerva and Hera, as they are the same goddess, and would be redundant; also, Zeus and Hera's own marriage wasn't the greatest either, so in my opinion it would be a poor example. Indian or Egyptian might be a better way to go, or cross pantheons and try Kwan Yin and Cupid, or something even better you would find by looking in this excellent book (which would sell for a nice price too).
| Well, How About Neo-pagans Reading The Writings Of The Elder Pagans É Especially... ||Jan 5th. at 2:41:32 am UTC|
|John (northwest, Ohio US) ||Age: 33 - Email |
Well, how about neo-pagans reading the writings of the elder pagans É especially those elders whose religions are thriving and have been, without interruption, for centuries?
If you want pagan philosophy from Western sources, consider reviewing Platonism, Epicureanism, Stoicism, etc. Š the literate pagans of the West of about 1500 years ago and earlier. Any basic text on the Greeks and Romans can give an overview, and it will likely give references to fuller discussions and to decent translations of the original materials.
However, the trouble with Western paganism, in my opinion (and as I wrote in my second Little Witch essay) is that it failed. By the 200s of the Common Era, the common people of the Roman Empire had a polytheism which had become threadbare, and Rome's elite ruling caste had philosophy which was lacking in personal dynamism. Hence there arose the "mystery" (sacramental/magical) religions of the late Roman Empire: which offered morals, a personal relationship to the Divine and magical/sacramental rituals. And among the wash of Mithraism, revived Neo-Platonism, Isis-ism and so on, the eventual winner (for a variety of reasons) was that curious melding of Jewish morals and monotheism with pagan philosophy ... Christianity. As for the Celtic, Germanic and Slavic paganisms, they (again, for several reasons) were absorbed and adapted into and by Christianity, with a very, very few exceptions.
So, to pursue pagan studies that are meaningful for today's Western civilization requires, in my opinion, reviewing pagan religions which have survived till today *AND* which reach people who are in similar situations of many of todayÕs Western people: living in urban or suburban settings and in more or less capitalistic economic systems.
That, in turn, makes me think (again, just in my little ol' opinion) that the logical places to look are are pagan religions that did not fail and which still do meet the needs of people who live in situations vry similar to many today in the West.
For example, there are Hinduism and Buddhism. These **pagan** religions have survived centuries of Christian (and Muslim) "pressures" and have not failed. Indeed, Hinduism and Buddhism thrive... as they continue (as they have for centuries) to serve the needs of pagans in south and east Asia, people who (like us) often live and work in cities or suburbs and who also (like us) face real-world problems in living a spiritual, magical, moral and meaningful **pagan** life. These **pagans** have been dealing with these issues non-stop, as pagans, for centuriesÉ we neo-pagans (not fam-trads) have only been at it for about 50 years. Golly: maybe they have something to teach us?
For pagan philosophy that is both easily accessible and shockingly sublime, I would recommend the Upanishads... i.e., for a truly penetrating treatment of what "interconnectedness" of all reality means; this is from Hinduism.
For living a moral and meaningful pagan life, I would recommend the Bhagavad Gita to those who wish to know what *living* as a pagan entails for a meaningful life: in action, in love, in duty and in a person (human) to Person (Divine) relationship; again, this is from Hinduism.
For living a pagan life along a reasonable middle-path (avoiding the temptations to either extreme mysticism on the one hand or extreme worldliness on the other hand), thereÕs Buddhism! The Dharmapada is the cornerstone set of writings for this.
For good translations and excellent introductions (that actually help understanding) for the Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita and the Dharmapada, I would recommend the translations by Eknath Easwaran; they are available online or at any decent bookstore.
And, I could go on: thereÕs Taoism (and its Tao Te Ching) and its literature; etc.
Ultimately, though, as several posters have observed, the material beyond the "101" level of paganism is not to be found in books but in practice. Nonetheless, the writings of the old pagans can help TREMENDOUSLY in pointing to the pagan way and in describing or helping to understand the pagan way. And that is especially worth remembering as we neo-pagans face the fact that (despite whatever antiquity might have been transferred to us) we neo-pagans are in the midst of nothing less than creating a new form of pagan religion.
Thus, in my opinion, it would behoove and benefit neo-pagans to learn from **all** our pagan elders, not just the ones from the West, as we try to crawl from this neo-pagan cradle of spell books and Wicca 101 and whatnot and try to toddle on our own pagan feet. There is PLENTY of pagan material (Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, etc.) beyond the "Wicca 101" level for we who are neo-pagans to learn fromÉ written by pagans who have been openly and successfully pagan for centuries, sometimes millennia, and who have lived in similar situations as we live today, and who thus have far more experience than the 50 or so years of neo-paganism (and, no, IÕm not including in neo-paganism real fam-trads). In my opinion, we donÕt need to become nor imitate them, but we do need to learn from them (what to do and what not to do, and adapt and apply their wisdom to us and our pagan religions). That is, if we donÕt want to have to reinvent the wheel or, frankly, if we donÕt want to seriously risk failing in reviving paganism in the West. And the writings of these pagan elders Šthose very tools we could use to enrich our neo-paganism and better its chances of survival-- are right there in front of us, like a wondrous banquet, in the grown-upsÕ section of the library or at the bookstore.
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