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: Nov. 17, 2002
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Question of the Week: 24 - 1/15/2001
What is Pagan History and What is Pagan Belief?
We have seen in recent times some scholarly 'attacks'-and many really excellently researched anthropological, archaeological and sociological works as well- which seem to refute the 'historical' basis for modern Pagan beliefs. Have these articles/books changed your perspective? Have you 'lost faith' or been discouraged at discovering that some Pagan 'sacred cows' may, in fact, be making very fine hamburger? Or have these findings actually caused you to become stronger in your beliefs, more likely to examine why you believe as you do or to become more resilient in some way? How are YOUR sacred cows holding up these days?
| Reponses: There are 44 responses posted to this question.
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| This Question Is Itself Very Biased -- It Assumes That All Pagans Have... ||Jan 21st. at 3:39:04 pm EST|
|Brighn (Ferndale, Michigan US) ||Age: 32 - Email |
This question is itself very biased -- it assumes that all Pagans have accepted some version of what Eller calls "The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory." As other respondents have already indicated, that's not at all true -- there are already many Neopagans for whom the underlying implication in this question is either moot or false. I for one am glad that those of us who question the way in which Neopaganism has been presented by the (primarily) ecofeminist American Wiccan movement are finally getting some serious, peer-reviewed, modern vindication for doubting the historicity of the myth. Having read Eller's book, the Atlantic Monthly article, and Starhawk's evasive response on this site, I feel I must side with Eller, for the most part, on the topic. I also sense that those who feel "attacked" by Eller have failed to grasp one of her main points:
We can learn from the past, but none of us live there, and the memes that were appropriate then may not be appropriate now. By focussing on some distant past and some envisioned "ideal" roles for men and women, masculine and feminine, based on that myth (whether true or not), that portion of the Goddess Spirituality movement caught up in the reconstruction of prehistoric lifeways are doing a disservice to feminism and (in my view) Paganism. Many of those roles were originally devised by fin de siecle male archaeologists as social charters to justify contemporary images of woman-as-child-bearer and man-as-provider (Christina Braggi's comments about Eller's assumptions about the importance of child bearing are relevant here). Inasmuch as those are reinforced in the Goddess Spirituality movement (which they are, heavily), they persist the sexist stereotypes that feminism claims to be attempting to dislodge. That is Eller's principle point, at least relevant to contemporary uses of the Matriarchal myth.
So, in short, this "attack" research has buttressed my personal worldview.
| Fruitful Active Practice Does Not Require Any Historical Antecedents. Pagans And Witches... ||Jan 21st. at 1:02:26 pm EST|
|Pitch (SF Bay Area, California US) ||Age: 50 - Email |
Fruitful active practice does not require any historical antecedents. Pagans and
witches today do not need to resurrect, recall, or reconstruct anything from the
past in order to experience valid and meaningful conversation with Spirit. What's
key is the doing, not the doing just like somebody else did years, centuries, or
Let me put it another way. Historicism and reliance on historical authority of
sources is a feature of some spiritualites, but not all. In my view, Paganism and
Witchcraft are not rooted in historicism at all. The are spiritualities sourced in
an ever-upwelling of Spirit that each may discover anew. I do my practice as I do
it. It matters little whether my fabled Grandmother did it this way.
| I Have Always Been Of The Opinion, That This New Age Revival... ||Jan 21st. at 11:06:48 am EST|
|Tracie Montgomery (Inkom, Idaho US) ||Age: 39 - Email |
I have always been of the opinion, that this new age revival of paganism is just that, new. I read about the archaeological works as an insight as to what other cultures of the past may have believed, but they are only speculation as we can never know exactly what another culture really believed. I leave it up to Christianity to prove to themselves that their belief system is true by means of archaeologial discoveries. As for me I will continue to view these discoveries as interesting insights into other cultures. It will not affect the how and why of my belief system in the least.
| One Of The Things That Attracted Me To Paganism In The First... ||Jan 20th. at 10:08:47 pm EST|
|Craig (Colorado Springs, Colorado US) ||Age: 29 |
One of the things that attracted me to paganism in the first place is that for the most part, we're encouraged to look at the facts and what's inside us and come to our own conclusions about things. Learning about our past can teach us a lot about the present and future; no research is an "attack" on anyone. The interpretations that people make later on will always have some bias, but to claim that any research is an attack goes against both the spirit of paganism and the scientific method. (Not to mention, it makes us all look bad because of a vocal minority.)
| The Need To Attack Or Defend Springs From The Same Well - The... ||Jan 20th. at 2:06:36 pm EST|
|Mary Yankee (Deep River, Connecticut US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
The need to attack or defend springs from the same well - the well of fear. In order for my beliefs to be TRUE beliefs, then I must find an outside authority to bolster them, lend them validity and disprove the truth of others' belief systems. If evidence is found to the contrary of my truth, then because I have based that truth upon an authority outside of myself, it crumbles like a dead leaf. I have come to realize over the years that history is really more a matter of opinion than of fact. Even in the most unshakeable, basic sciences results can be interpreted differently by different people. I know what I believe IS true, because my heart tells me it is. I rely on my own INNER authority and allow the debates to rage around me like so much dust raised by a dirt devil - quickly raised and just as quickly settled again. The Goddess lives because I keep Her alive within me - not because archeologists have discovered a female statue in a grain bin. (What if that was merely an idle sculpture of a beloved wife?) The reason that Christians need to convert also springs from that same well of fear. The more support their outside authorities receive, the less likely anyone will question the feet of clay that they stand upon. Why else has so much historical data about the life of Christ been suppressed, while facts supporting the bible have been trumpeted to the world? If one looks down the long path to the past, one sees how many battles have raged around the proving or disproving of the validity of a belief system. In the Goddess' terms, they rage for mere seconds before other matters take their place. It's so much more peaceful trusting the inner core that is my Self as my ultimate authority and letting the fearful defend or attack as they see fit. Bless them all! Someday we'll all arrive at the ultimate Truth and then the battles will be seen for the cosmic joke that they indeed are.
| I Personally Don't Care Whether My Pagan Beliefs Are Historical Fact. They... ||Jan 20th. at 1:08:56 pm EST|
|WindSong (Los Alamos, New Mexico US) ||Age: 18 - Email |
I personally don't care whether my pagan beliefs are historical fact. They are true for me. Inside. They have answered my spiritual needs and that is all that matters. I studied the books on it because they articulated what I had been feeling all along. Now, I had a way to go about it. Something doesn't have to be historical to be true. Judaism was a whole new concept 5, 000 years ago. Christianity was brand new 2, 000 years ago. The fact that religion had never been practiced like that meant nothing to the followers. They knew it was true. I know my beliefs are true as well.
| The Catholic Church Or The Vatican Has Been Drilling It Into The... ||Jan 20th. at 7:51:05 am EST|
|Scott Messner (Bismarck, North Dakota US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
The Catholic church or the Vatican has been drilling it into the worlds head for years that the church is the corner stone of the peoples faith, when someone back in 1944 or 1945 found what they believe to be the true words of god and the Vatican to this day will not recognise the document because it basicly tells his followers how to teach the world to congragate and pray. This totaly new gospol reads, " No nead for walls of wood and stone, the kingdom of God is inside you and all around you it is in everything and everywere, lift a stone and you will find me, split a piece of wood and I am there." And the way I see it the romans stole a few pegan gods, turned them into saints, built mansions that they call church and ridicule anyone that has thoughts for themself.
| After A Few Years Of Study And A Few Years Of Thought... ||Jan 20th. at 4:27:41 am EST|
|Steve (San Jose, California US) ||Age: 21 - Email |
After a few years of study and a few years of thought, I have come to a few simple conclusions. 1. Nothing is as it seems. 2. The questions are all there, and the answers are all there. Putting them together is the hard part. 3. Expect surprises within everything and everyone. and 4. Some of the greatest books weren't written for the purpose you use them for.
I have found a book that has taught me more than anything I learned in school, but all things about my past and my future. It brought me to the conclusion that our past is what we chose to make it, and our history is what we choose to belive from our past. We don't have to accept anything in our history, but we can always learn from the past. We draw everything into our lives like magnets because they hold something we want or need to learn or experience.
The best advice I ever heard is, 'Believe what you need to help you in your life.'
| My Sacred Cows Are Holding Up Just Fine And Moooing Merrily Along... ||Jan 19th. at 5:18:38 pm EST|
|Bal (Ferguson, Missouri US) ||Age: 40 - Email |
My sacred cows are holding up just fine and moooing merrily along I might add. To anyone who would try to deny the "validity" of My religion(Wicca, for instance)as it's practiced today or was practiced in the past(I don't care if it wasn't called that in the past-I'm not that concerned with semantics), I say go debunk yourself and the shroud of Turin. I don't need you to prove anything to Me. I have common sense. You don't know what I know.
Keep on Keepin' On my Crafty sisters and brothers and remember---
ain't nothin' but a hate thing
Love and laughter
| Well Being A Young'un, I'm Only 24, I Guess I Don't Have... ||Jan 19th. at 3:19:36 pm EST|
|herbwitch (Cambridge, Massachusetts US) ||Age: 24 - Email |
well being a young'un, i'm only 24, i guess i don't have years of beliefs to be shattered by new research or knowledge. my personal perspective is one of youth and rebellion. i'm eclectic and solitary and prefer to avoid structure and dogma in most forms. i learn about all world religions, and then piece together my own knowledge, wisdom, truths and beliefs from a hodge-podge of other ancient and new philsophies, ways of life, and religions. but mostly, i believe in overturning, questioning and shaking up traditions, and sorting out the ones that have timelessness meaning and the ones that are just fads. i read a quote once that in order to preserve tradition, you have to break from it. that is why my current path is a mixture of my Catholic upbringing, Neo-pagan and Taoist ways.
| This Article, And Others Of It's Kind, Are No More An Attacks... ||Jan 19th. at 2:52:55 pm EST|
|Leonard Farnsworth (Lafayette, Indiana US) ||Age: 28 - Email |
This article, and others of it's kind, are no more an attacks on the Wiccan religion then evolution is an attack on Christianity. Wiccas supposedly ancient past may contribute to its appeal as an "occult mystery" but the real power of Wicca lies in how it effects our lives today. It doesn't matter if it was founded in the ancient mists of pre-history or by an naked, retired civil servant in the '50s. What matters that Wicca provides spiritual meaning and guidence to those who believe in it.
| Greetings Witches' Voice! Well Gee. Actually The New Scholarship Does Not Bother... ||Jan 19th. at 8:00:54 am EST|
|Feithlinne O'Wynne MacMuirpheidh (Joplin, Missouri US) ||Age: 29 - Email |
Greetings Witches' Voice!
Well Gee. Actually the new scholarship does not bother me a bit, because after almost 17 years of "Craft" study, it only reaffirms what I had realized in the first place. I never did believe that the history of the Craft was literally true and got that idea from reading Uncle Gerald. He was a man of vision. It was all made of dreams.....but true none the less! It pointed to what the "Craft" could become.
But then, of course, I am not really a "neo-Pagan" so am afraid that we will leave it to you folks to wrangle with. We are Spiritists and our Witchcraft has always been based upon that area, not Pagan history.
So, the best to you all....and have fun with this "new" scholarship!!!
Nightstar of the Fireflies
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