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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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 Author:    Posted: Sep. 8, 2002   This Page Viewed: 9,220,241  

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Question of the Week: 65 - 11/5/2001

What ARE the most "Frequently Asked Questions' About Witches?

What ARE the most "Frequently Asked Questions' About Witches? More importantly, what are the answers? Samhain is the 'out with the old, in with the new' season and so TWV is planning to revamp the FAQ's once again.

As the Pagan communities continue to evolve, so does public perception. We already have some changes in mind: Eliminate the references to Druids and Asatru (THEY self-identify as 'reconstructionist religions' and not as earth-based or Pagan), perhaps remove the 'blood sacrifice and 'wearing black' questions and we will add a 'for more information' link to the Traditions section. NEED FOR FURTHER CLARIFICATION NOTED: We do not necessarily intend to remove any and all references to Druids or Asatru. We have, in fact, asked those who post on the Asatru board at Beliefnet.com how we can better clarify their religion and whether they even wanted to be included on the site listings. (See: Beliefnet Boards) We may provide either a separate listing for each category or include the 'some of (fill in blank) believe this and some of (fill in blank) believe this'. Thus, while Asatru (if we can up with an FAQ that meets with their general approval) will almost certainly have a separate category listing, Druids might be listed as 'some' in the Pagan category and 'some' in the 'Reconstructionist Religions' category. We are simply trying to treat all Paths, Belief Systems and Religions with equal respect. We knew that this was going to be a difficult undertaking, but are willing to try to address the issue because it is an important one.

Which questions do YOU think should stay and which ones are no longer needed? What changes would you like us to consider in the 'definitions' department? Note: Please bear in mind, that a FAQ is designed to be a very short, concise and GENERAL answer to questions that most people who are unfamiliar with Paganism might ask. We could write books (and many have or will) about the nuances contained within the various Pagans Paths, but FAQs- constructed mainly to bullet point information- are necessarily restricted to a few paragraphs on each question.

 Reponses:   There are 31 responses posted to this question. Reverse Sort 


I Understand That They're Trying To Differentiate Themselves From The 'recent' Religions... Oct 30th. at 9:22:30 pm UTC

Tony (Raleigh, North Carolina US) Age: 19 - Email


"I understand that they're trying to differentiate themselves from the 'recent' religions such as Wicca, but the religions they're 'reconstructing' are Pagan religions"

alright...i'm going to try to explain something that all of you aren't completely understanding as diplomatically as possible. the word "pagan" comes from latin "paganus" meaning Rustic, country dweller, civilian. this is a southern european word. our religion and culture does not come from southern europe. therefore, our religions are not, and never were "pagan" despite the fact that ignorant christians of the past have used their own colloquial expression to generically describe a bunch of unrelated peoples. the word "heathen" comes from anglo-saxon "heidni" which means "people who dwell on the heath." this is a northern european word, therefore it applies to our religion. also, if you see so many similarities between recon religions and modern day paganism, then why don't you expound on this? what exactly are these similarities that i'm apparently missing? hhmm? i think many pagans read pagan influenced papers about our religion and assume that they know something about our community; not to be an a## or anything, just stating my opinion. the second thing i'd like to bring up is that there is a difference between people who call themselves "Druids" and their religion "Druidry" and people who are celtic recons and refer to themselves by several terms that come from celtic languages (such as Senistrognata.) celtic recons do not call themselves druids, unless they actually fulfill that role within their community. Druids have never been a whole culture or whole religion (until the modern times), they were a class within celtic culture that performed a certain leadership role; and this is how it is treated within traditional celtic recon circles. so please, stop referring to "Druidry" and "Celtic Reconstructionism" as the same thing. now, while i do not believe that recon religions really have much to do with paganism, i do think that we are somewhat connected, due more to societal mishaps than any sort of real seeing completely eye to eye. due to this, people who are looking into what they think is ALL "paganism" might be looking for a culturally based recon religion and just not know all the details yet; therefore i agree that our religions should continue to be represented on sites such as Witchvox, as long as we are represented properly. on a lighter note, i do like a lot of pagans and personally i like being freinds with such people, etc. but religiously i just don't feel any sort of connection; that is saved for my folk and our other recon cousins; it isn't anything personal, it's just a fact that we aren't the same groups. anyway...that's about all i have to say.

Farr Heill,

Tony


Your Site Loads Slowly So Unfortunatly I Was Not Able To Go... Oct 31st. at 12:21:25 am UTC

aedus (you don't need to know, Arkansas US) Age: 0


[Your site loads slowly so unfortunatly I was not able to go back and read many previous responses, I hope this is not just a repeat of everything that has been said.]

On 'Druids'...
Celtic Reconstructionists (also known as Celtic traditionalists and several other names such as followers of Senistrognata, or Slighe nan Deathan) *do not* identify their religion as 'Druidism', they do not identify as 'Druids' unless they have compleated the 15-20 years of training required. We do not identify as 'pagans, 'neo pagans', just as Celts. This may be hard for many to understand but Celtic religion has little in common with all of modern paganism/whatever you call it. Thus we do not associate very much generally with it. And though Christians and many modern people might call the ancient Celts and their religion 'pagan', we who follow it and Celtic culture do not call ourselves such. Our practices and beliefs are based on historical fact and customs and traditions that have survived in the Celtic countries to this day. We do not 'make up' our religion, it could not be 'Celtic' then. The Druids were a *part*, not the sum of the Celtic religion. It would be just as incorrect to call Judaism, Rabbism, or Hinduism, Brahminism.

What group Celtic reconstructionists/traditionalists/etc *are* a part of...

The only close links religiously/historically bettween Celtic religion and others are with those of a common origin with it, specifically Celtic religion is related to other indo-european religions. These would be Asatru (Germanic-Scandinavian religion), Hellenismos (Hellenic/Greek religion), Religio Romana (Roman), Yazychestvo (Slavic), Romuva (Baltic), and Mazdayasna (Zoroastrianism, a monotheistic religion which is still a relative) and Hinduism. These religions all are part of the indo-european grouping of related cultures/languages and share a common origin. Neo-Pagan religions, Wicca, etc, are not a part of this group, and never have been. Neither are the neo-pagan religions, wicca, etc, descendents of any of these religions. Neo-Paganism and Wiccas origins lie far deeper into Judeo-Christian mysticism, and occult practices then anything European.


I Think That Maybe The Witches Voice Should Stick To Speaking For... Oct 31st. at 12:44:33 am UTC

Tandalin (Onaway, Michigan US) Age: 20 - Email


I think that maybe The Witches Voice should stick to speaking for and about those who call themselves Witches. With all respect, this site is not called The Pagan Voice, Or The Neo-Pagan Voice. People who come here are seeking information about Witches. There are pleanty of other places people can go to learn about Asatru and Druids and all other things non-witch.

I say stay true to your name and focus only on Witchcraft.. You guys do a great job, but you can't do it all.

Blessings,
Tandalin


I Just Read Some Idiotic Piece Of News In Washington Post. American... Oct 31st. at 4:15:36 am UTC

Viviane (S‹o Paulo, Brazil) Age: 28 - Email


I just read some idiotic piece of news in Washington Post. American journalists are announcing that tonight we may indeed see another attack, because it's Halloween and since 1955, full moon will show. Jesse Jackson tells that Halloween is a time of pshychological danger.
All of us, wiccans, just CANNOT LET THIS HAPPEN. I'm brasilian and, as you can see, my english couldn't warn a fly...
I'm a journalist and I can assure that brasilian Wicca association will take action if this kind of stupidity happens around here.
HALLOWEEN HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH DANGER OR WAR!
PLEASE, DO SOMETHING.
BLESSED BE!


My Suggestions... What Is Often Termed 'paganism' Or 'neopaganism' Is Really Multiple... Oct 31st. at 4:49:47 am UTC

Brannogenos (Z-hills, Florida US) Age: 15


My suggestions...

What is often termed 'paganism' or 'neopaganism' is really multiple things that are not always related and often have near opposite veiws about things...

First you have the revivals of the ancient European religions:
Asatru/Forn Sed/Heidni - The modern represntitive of the ancestral Germanic/Scandinavian religion.

Celtic Reconstructionism/Traditionalism/Senistrognata - The modern representitive of the ancestral Celtic religion.

And others such as the Religio Roma, and Slavic and Baltic revivals.

These are all traditionalistic, partially reconstructed, culture/ancestor based religions with *specific beliefs, customs and practices.*

Then you have "neo pagan" religions, these are too numerous and ever changing to list. However "pagan" would be just as appropriate to describe as "neopagan" as most people who follow the revived European religions do not refer to themselves as "pagan" in the first place, but heathen or simply whatever a follower of their religion is called. Though the idea that "pagan" means ancient needs to be safe gaurded against, too many people assume that just because Christians at a later date called followers of the ancient European religions "pagan", or "witches", that what they do most also be ancient if its being called by that name.

There are others but these are the two main 'categories'.

Some differences bettween the two are:

The ancient European religions are not generally considered 'earth based'. Many gods and festivals have names in connection with nature, but earth based has connonations that our main deities, or most of our deities, are beings of the earth... while the opposite, 'sky based' might be more true, since many of our most important gods dwell in 'heavenly' spaces up in the sky.

The ancient European religions are almost compleatly 100% polytheistic, our ancestors seemed to take a as below as is above approach, if we humans are individuals so are the gods, if we organise in tribes (as we do/something we're incorperating in our revivals), they're organised into a tribe...

Sacrifice is an important part of our religions, while in neopaganism/paganism its usually not, and frowned apon.

Theres much more but I think thats enough for now.

Celtic Recons/Traditionalists do not term their religion "Druidism", followers of Celtic Recon/Traditionalism are not "Druids". Thus any group that does such is not the same thing as Celtic Recon/Traditionalism. The Druids are/were a part of our religion, not the entirety of it. We usually look at those who believe such as not having done their homework to say the least, imposters sometimes. Thus you can keep 'Druidism' listed, but it would be helpful, and nice, if you didn't make it seem as if it was the same thing as the ancient Celtic religion or its revival, for it is not.

I wouldn't at all be offended if Celtic Recon/Traditionalism wasn't mentioned, we are a much different thing the what this site is intended to be a resource for. But if it is I would hope that the distinction bettween neopaganism/paganism/etc and our religion is made because the blurriness bettween the two is the source of many problems for us.

I think I might have left some of this a dead end, but I have to go and I'm just posting this now.


I Forgot To Add That We (recons) Usually Take 'pagan' To Mean... Oct 31st. at 5:04:11 am UTC

Brannogenos (Z-Hills, Florida US) Age: 15


I forgot to add that we (recons) usually take 'pagan' to mean anything modern, earth-based, wiccan like/or derived, nothing ancient. So many things that are not ancient European religions (and the exact opposite, modern American religions) are described with that term and they're so different that we've abandoned it. So saying what we're reviving is 'pagan' is incorrect. We also don't stamp every non-Abrhamic religion 'pagan', if you ask one of us Shinto, Hinduism, native Asia, American, European, African, and Australian religions are not pagan, they are Shinto, Hindu, native Asian, American, European, African and Austrialian. They don't need to be lumped with all these new religions that have nothing to do with them other then having gotten some ideas and names from them. Thats like putting all things that breath in the same category even though they all breathe different things, different ways, for different purposes, it just looks stupid, because it has no use.


I Would Just As Soon Disentangle Asatru From Neopaganism, Not As In... Oct 31st. at 6:56:46 am UTC

Manny Olds (Riverdale Park, Maryland US) Age: 0 - Email


I would just as soon disentangle Asatru from neopaganism, not as in "darken our doors no more" but as in "clearly different religions". Not all heathens agree--some maintain a lot of ties into Wicca and wiccanesque eclectic neopaganism and feel the religions are connected. And even if we do make a clean break someday, we have all the messy transition between now and then.

So I would rather have Asatru in a widely-used and sensible FAQ like the one at WitchVox, described more or less correctly and placed into context, than to have it disappear from there while it is still listed as an example of a "Pagan Trad" in many less responsible fora.

But, please, "religion". We are not just another path between common end points. We are a full, stand alone religion and subculture with our own complete set of paths and traditions. If you want to get an idea of the tone to take, imagine you are describing Hinduism or Shinto to someone who has never heard of it before.

Obligatory references:

* Call Us Heathens!, http://www.anglo-saxon.demon.co.uk/Skvala/Heathen.html

* Similarities and Differences Between Heathenry and Wicca, http://ansuz.worldash.org/asatru/articles/intro/wicca_compar.html

* The Pentagram and the Hammer, http://www.webcom.com/~lstead/wicatru.html

In Frith,
Manny Olds


But, Please, "religion". We Are Not Just Another Path Between Common End... Oct 31st. at 8:08:34 am UTC

Brannogenos (Z-Hills, Florida US) Age: 15


"But, please, "religion". We are not just another path between common end points. We are a full, stand alone religion and subculture with our own complete set of paths and traditions."

The same for Celtic Traditionalism/Reconstructionism/Senistrognata. We are a religion, not a 'path' of paganism, or a tradition of paganism. We are a religion. With its own paths and traditions.


I Also Belive That Druids Are Asatru Are As Pagan As Any... Oct 31st. at 9:31:11 pm UTC

Astrid Sunwulf (Sydney, New South Wales AU) Age: 18 - Email


> I also belive that Druids are Asatru are as Pagan as any other path which we > put into this umbrella we term 'Paganism'. They celebrate the ebb and flow of > the seasonal changes, and they do teach reverence for the Earth - how much
> more Earth based can one get? Tearing precious crystals from the Earth (which > are better left where they are found - in the Earth) and dancing with them
> around your neck does not make one 'Earth based'. Druids are Asatru are aware > of the seasonal flow. They embrace and celebrate it. That, in my book, is as > Pagan as you can get.

Um, excuse me, but who are you, an outsider, to determine what we, Asatruar, are and what we should be called? You calling us something _you_ perceive us to be, is, in my books, exactly the same as Christians calling you a Satanist. You aren't (presumably) a Satanist, but that is what they see you as. You calling me a Pagan because that is what you see me as, is just like a Christian calling you a Satanist. To them you are, yet I bet you wish they wouldn't see you as such, and thus it is the same for us. We aren't Pagans, we are Heathens. For you that may be the same thing, just as for Chrisitians, Wicca is the same a Satanism, but for us, Heathenry isn't the same as Paganism. Just because we might recognise the cycles of nature doesn't automatically place us in the same catagory as you. And the only thing 'earth-based' about what I believe is that it takes place here on earth. I would honour an earth deity rather than the earth itself, I have no connection with the earth, I am not earth-based. (Yes, I do believe we should look after the environment and so on, but that is because I have to live here too, but that doesn't make me earth-based)

I and my religion are Heathen and reconstructionist, not Pagan nor Neo-Pagan, therefore, we should not be called Pagan. This F.A.Q. will be for newcomers (presumably), thus it should show the difference between Pagan and Heathen, Neo-Pagan and Reconstructionist, so from the beginning these people will know the differences, rather than going on thinking that we are all the same, and so on.

In FriŢ
Astrid


Howdy, John! "the Third Question I Would Suggest Would Be, "what Are... Oct 31st. at 11:50:22 pm UTC

Tyrsson (College Station, Texas US) Age: 32


Howdy, John!

"The third question I would suggest would be, "What are the principal forms of Neo-Paganism?" Here you could note the principal forms of Neo-Paganism, and (so no one gets bothered more than is inevitable) list them alphabetically (as one previous poster suggested): Asatru, Druidism, Wicca and Witchcraft. This would also be the place to note that some members of some forms of Neo-Paganism dislike being referred to as "Pagan" and prefer others terms (such as Heathen or Reconstructionist) but that you are using the term "Neo-Pagan" not out of disrespect but because you need to refer to these various religions somehow."

Unfortunately, "Neo-Paganism" is a hopeless misnomer, especially when applied to religions such as Asatru. There is simply nothing "neo" about what we are doing. Reconstruction efforts in heathenry date back over 100 years (longer depending on your emphasis). As such, we are not properly identified with the larger Neo-Pagan movement. Certainly there are points of commonality between Asatru and various Pagan religions, but there are far more points of departure.

That said, I would welcome a continuing presence on WitchVox. This forum is a starting place for many on their spiritual journeys. I think accurate information about all Pagan and Heathen religions is a real service for the spiritual seeker. Moreover, WitchVox is a potentially valuable reference for members of the media, law enforcement personel, religious leaders, etc. A complete picture of all our various religions will help in our ongoing struggle for legitimacy in society at large.

I highly recommend that a broad spectrum (within reason) of each religion be represented and that WitchVox consult many different organizations. All too often we see rather one-sided portrayals of Asatru in the media. Reporters consult the AFA or The Troth or some other group without ever learning of other groups whose views are often diametrically opposed on certain key issues. By listing these groups, with a brief explanation of their views, the WitchVox FAQ could go a long way toward a more balanced view of our religion to the outside world.

In frith,
Tyrsson


Before You Decide What Information To Include And Exclude From Your Faq... Nov 1st. at 6:27:50 am UTC

Michael (aka Thought Caster) (Savannah, Georgia US) Age: 36 - Email


Before you decide what information to include and exclude from your FAQ, ask yourselves two simple questions: 1) "WHO" does this FAQ benefit, and 2) "WHO" is the intended target audience of this section?

Obviously, this section is intended to benefit those of us who find ourselves at the doorstep of this site. New comers to Paganism, or those considering the Pagan Ways, will find this a great starting point. At the same time, you admonish readers to "Feel free to use a copy of this page (with credits) for your local awareness campaigns." This suggests this section is meant, albeit indirectly, for the general public as well as Pagan practitioners of this site.

To that end, deleting questions concerning "blood sacrifice" and "wearing black" would be a mistake, as those questions speak to public bias and misconceptions regarding Paganism. If I were a reporter, or perhaps someone disenfranchised by organized religion seeking an alternative Path, your FAQ section would be one of my first stops in your site. If I didn't find relevant answers to everyday questions regarding Paganism (to ease my mind and settle these issues), I probably wouldn't be inclined to pursue my search further É in YOUR site.

As far as "equal time for equal Traditions" goes, I don't believe your FAQ section would prove to be the definitive source for these inquiries. Barnes and Noble Booksellers, Amazon.com and the myriad of Pagan-related Web sites on the Net would provide those answers -- in greater detail -- than any FAQ section you could develop. Once again, this speaks to the intended target audience issue. I wouldn't discount those particular Traditions as they ARE legitimate, but one must maximize limited space and resources and speak to issues that will affect "the many."

What questions should you add or delete? I believe your WREN'S NEST section provides the answers to this question. As this section addresses current events and current concerns of the general public, and as these issues are already out in public circulation (and making impressions on those who would either judge or pursue our Pagan Ways), why not use this as a starting point? We might argue that equal attention to Druidism is critically important, but if 80% of the CURRENT news releases are propagating myths involving Satanic Rites, blood sacrifice, child molestation, ritualistic murder and Black Magick, then those are the issues that should be dealt with in detail. When is the last time you read an editorial in your local newspaper discussing too much press for Wiccans, and not enough press for the alternative Pagan Ways?

You're doing a great job with this site, and we in Savannah, Georgia encourage you to keep up the good work. Blessed Be, and travel safely in your Circles.


Being One Of Those Aformentioned Beliefnet Reconstructionists, And Also A Frequent Wren's... Nov 1st. at 11:32:17 am UTC

Dustin Crewell/Arcadian Stormcrow (Woburn, Massachusetts US) Age: 26 - Email


Being one of those aformentioned beliefnet reconstructionists, and also a frequent Wren's Nest reader, I might as well toss in my thoughts.

I think that a major problem is that there are differing ideas of what "Pagan" means, and that, in an attempt to clarify that vague and fuzzy concept, multiple lines are getting drawn in the sand.

Origins of words aside (such as Tony's comments on Pagan vs. Heathen), a goodly amount of friction comes from people making them assumption that Pagan = neo-Pagan = Wiccan. Academically, "Pagan" is a drastically wide category (see the alt.pagan FAQ for a good breakdown on this) - and, using *that* definition, the Heathens and Reconstructionists do, to some extent, fall into that area. Unfortunately, that academic usage appears to be getting much more rare, with people simply using "Pagan" as a shortened version of "neo-Pagan." When they use the term in that manner, and then make generalized comments based on that usage, people get marginalized, and we get some of the more vicious flame-wars.

The vast majority of news and public exposure out there tends to make this mistake, either due to poor reporting, or people unwilling or unable to articulate the varying shades within the umbrella of Paganism. As such, we get presented as a sort of amorphous, homogenous whole, to both the public and to "newbies." However, we know that this simply isn't right, that there are sometimes drastic differences, and that many of us celebrate exactly that diversity. This schism is partly because we are attempting to preserve our identity without our voices being lost.

As such, I'd actually think that mentioning that diversity would be a good thing. If we can manage to preserve the distinctiveness between groups, then I think that some of the furor would die down, as, in my opinion, most of it comes from a perceieved threat to our identity. The Witches Voice has a tremendous ability to shape the community given how many people use it as a source of information. I think that, if the FAQ reflects the diverse nature of Paganism (in general, not just neo-Paganism), that the rest of the community will clue up about it. That way, the smaller groups won't feel quite so much like they're about to get stepped on.


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