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Question of the Week: 113

Pagan Problem Children: What Can We Do About Them?

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80. Polytheist, Monotheist, Dualist or Other? - [104]

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70. What's News? - [22]

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53. What is 'Will' or 'Willpower'? - [19]

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30. What Do You Support and Why Do You Support It? - [21]

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 Author:    Posted: Nov. 17, 2002   This Page Viewed: 6,217,086  

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Times Viewed: 32,767

Reponses: 31

Lurker/Post Ratio: 1057 to 1

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 


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 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!


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


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 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


I Don't See Witchvox As A Totally Wiccan Site. There Are Many... Oct 30th. at 7:26:07 pm UTC

Chip Johnson (Roosevelt, Arizona US) Age: 44 - Email


I don't see Witchvox as a totally Wiccan site. There are many informative articles about other paths as well. I am a Asatruar. I don't mind being called a pagan or a heathen. (except when used by the xians as a derogatory term). I belong to two different Kindreds and a national Asatru organization, The Asatru Alliance, and have also been affiliated with the Asatru Free Assembly and Odinist Fellowship. I say this to emphasize that of all the different folk I have known, few things are constant. ..But we are moving away from the "reconstructionalist" idea, toward a new folk identity. We are a living religion, , -With the added bonus of historical lore and society, something Wicca seems to lack. Asatru encompasses magikal as well as mundane life. We ARE a nature-based religion, too. Our Gods and Goddesses are celebrated with the changing of the seasons and life in all it's forms are revered as well.

Frankly, there is much emphasis on being an individual, along with being a member of a Folk.. The Nine Noble Virtues of Asatru cause one to become self-reliant, honorable, and think as a free man or woman. This is why you have so many opinions on the subject.

I would hope Asatru/Odinisim will always have a place at Witchvox. I follow the Witch Ways in the framework of my religion, using seith and rune magick, strenghtening my hugr and hamingja as well as exploring the nine Worlds. There are many Asatruar who don't consider themselves witches, but many of us are.

I agree that there should be a distinction between Asatru and the New Age paths. But we do not live in the past, even as we do have one.


Greetings. In Response To MandrakeÕs Post X I Invite Everyoneto Visit The... Oct 30th. at 1:16:28 pm UTC

Calico (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 31


Greetings. In response to MandrakeÕs post x I invite everyoneto visit the Reconstructionist Religions boards on
http://www.beliefnet.com/boards/boards_main.AllCategories.asp?Category=101

Those boards were created specifically because there were enough people who felt very strongly that they were not Pagan and certainly not neo-Pagan and who insisted that they be given a separate and distinct area.


Ah Yes: The Name-game. It's Bothersome To Me Because I Think That... Oct 30th. at 12:20:15 pm UTC

John ("New Naumkeag", Ohio US) Age: 34 - Email


Ah yes: the name-game. It's bothersome to me because I think that we (the community, not TWV) often emphasize too much what we call ourselves and we don't emphasize enough what we are making of ourselves. But, names are important, so here's my 2 cents' worth of opinion.

Start your FAQ as you do: An FAQ about Witches, Wiccans and Pagans. Most people who need the FAQ will likely be looking for more information about one of those three terms - hence, the title would remain useful for finding information, which can quickly thereafter make important distinctions.

Next, I suggest that you commence the FAQ with the question of "What is paganism?" Note the small "p." This would be the place to say that the word "pagan" (in the general usage of the English language) refers to people who are not Jewish or Christian or Muslim. It could even be a good place to note that paganism has been the *norm* for the world and its religions, in the past and now: perhaps 3.5 billion of the world's 6 billion people are pagan (Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Shinto, tribal religions and so on); the remainder of the world's people are, roughly, about 1 billion Christian, about 1 billion Muslim, a few millions Jewish and the rest not being religious. And it might also be worthy of note that the approximately 1 / 2 to 3 / 4 billion or so people who are not religious mostly live in China, where any religion was and sometimes still is a prosecutable offence and where most of the people are likely to (sooner or later) revert to their native *pagan* religions: Confucianism, Taoism, Chinese forms of Buddhism and so on. In short, this would be a very good place to note that it's a pagan *world* in most places, today and in most times of human history, and thus there has also been enormous variety within paganism as a result.

That would be a nice segue into the next question I would suggest: "What is Neo-Paganism ('Paganism')?" Note the uppercase "P." Here, you could say that there is in the West (Europe, the Americas, Australia, etc.) a new form of paganism arising: new because sometimes it is totally new and new because other times it is new forms of the pre-Christian religions of the West. And the catch-all word for these many and varied religions is (for lack of anything better) "Neo-Paganism" -- which is often shortened to Paganism (with an uppercase "P"). And that is because there are several forms of Neo-Paganism, and that these are variously thought of as paths, traditions or fully separate religions, and that there is little they have in common except that they are the new pagans of the West: they are new (brand new or new forms of what was ancient), they are "pagan" (with the little "p": not Jewish, Christian or Muslim) and they are Western (and not Eastern, such as Hinduism, nor Native American, and so on)

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. As part of this answer, you could have a brief description of each one of those principal Neo-Pagan religions, noting that these are just general descriptions and that many variations (and debate) exists about and within each of them. There could thus be a brief description for Asatru, a brief description for Druidism, a brief description for Wicca (good luck!) and a brief description for Witchcraft (even more good luck!). And, you could also note that there are many (many) other forms of Neo-Paganism besides those four.

The fourth general question I would suggest is "What are the basics of Asatru, Druidism, Wicca and Witchcraft?" Then, you could have separate FAQs for each of them, perhaps on separate pages or perhaps on the same page but clearly separate for each one. Also, under each FAQ, you might have a "myth" question as part of the Frequently Asked Questions, and here it would be appropriate to list that, for example, Asatru are not Nazis and Witches are not Satanists and so on. And, you might also want to have a few references (book and online) to fuller discussion for those who are interested.

And so on. These are just suggestions, and I'm sure I probably left something out. But, the general idea is this: it seems that the basic things of your FAQs are good; it's just their packaging and their arrangement "on the shelf" which needs to be changed.

(As an aside, here is my little personal wish. Take it only as that: personal, and perhaps not reflective of what to do overall with your FAQ. My personal wish is for Nature-based or Nature-oriented religions to be described as such: by the word "Nature" -- and not as "earth-based." To me, the word "Nature" is accurate, evocative but also usefully vague enough to encompass the full variety of what's going on with most of Neo-Pagan religion; the term "earth-based, " though, always makes it seem like I am worshipping a dirt-clod, which I don't.)

Good luck with updating your FAQs; you have your work cut for you!

Blessed Samhain and Blessed Be.

--John


Can We Have A Seperate Faq For Each Pagan Tradition? Or, Perhaps... Oct 30th. at 12:12:20 pm UTC

Q (Cumming, Georgia US) Age: 25 - Email


Can we have a seperate FAQ for each pagan tradition? Or, perhaps, seperate sub-sites for other paths that do not consider themselves Witches? After all, this particular site IS called "The Witches Voice". Please do not think I am slighting other traditions. I most certainly respect them. In fact, I think non-Witch traditions deserve enough respect to have their own site or at least their own section.

I think people come to "The Witches Voice" to learn about Witches. Perhaps it is stretching everything too thin to try to encompass (and do proper justice to) all of Paganism in this site. All paths may start to seem watered down. Break it up a little to maintain simplicity and the integrity of the seperate paths.


I Have Been Online Now For A While And I Have Visited... Oct 30th. at 6:46:04 am UTC

S. John Browne (Pietermaritzburg, South Africa) Age: 28


I have been online now for a while and I have visited a number of sites and I've never come across Druids whether they call themselves reconstructualist or not denying their links to "paganism". I have also spoken to what few pagans are outspoken in this "city" and the same thing. Some don't feel the word fits and maybe a new word can be found to describe the whole movement and it's different beliefs and religions but from what I gather that is not the point. Witchvox is trying to limit the definition of Pagan to Wiccans and to be honest I am not surprised at this. Witchvox is a Wiccan site and it is especially a one sided Wiccan site (aimed more towards "White Lighters" -hate that expression, makes people sound like walking Bic's but that seems to be the least offensive word used). If Witchvox wants to further develop towards a Wiccan site (hey everybody else is doing it why not you), then I really don't have a problem with that. I would just like to Witchvox to be honest and not claim on it's pages to be a neutral pagan website.
S. John Browne


Normally, I Would Not Re-post On A Subject, But There Have Been... Oct 29th. at 6:29:24 pm UTC

Mandrake .....the Bard (Tucson, Arizona US) Age: 31 - Email


Normally, I would not re-post on a subject, but there have been enough posts of somewhat confusing content that I feel the need to speak up again. Specifically, I need a few questions answered with regards to this issue.

I've noted several people, Fritz in particular, making a distinction between the terms "Neo-pagan" and "reconstructionist". You seem to be implying that these terms, at least in the minds of some people, are mutually exclusive. In addition, several people have actually stated that there exist Druid groups who identify themselves as "reconstructionist", but also identify themselves as "not Pagan" or "not Neo-pagan". This makes no sense to me, and in fact, this is the first I've heard of it. For a start, I'd appreciate someone e-mailing me with the web addresses or book references of anyone who does this.

I myself have applied the term "reconstructionist" to my bio at the end of my essays on this site, but I think I may mean something different that what you are thinking. I mean to make the point that I am not inventing my beliefs or plucking them from a book, but that I am actively attempting, through historical and archaeological research, to gather all the reliable information that exists on what my religious forebearers practiced, then fill in the blanks with modern takes on these practices. It is nothing more than religious evolution. I suspect that anyone else using the term to describe themselves means the same thing.

So, let me make my opinion on this discussion perfectly clear. All of us, whether Wiccan, Druid, Asatru, whatever, are Pagans. We follow the old paths, or adaptions of them, so we are all Pagans. All of us are Neo-pagans. Our paths are not precisely the same as our ancestors, either because the loss of information, or because the path is recently begun, so we are also all Neo, or "new", Pagans. This business of trying to make a distinction between some of us being Pagan and some not is pointless, and I feel it is also woefully mistaken. We are all Pagans, no matter the precise details of our path.

I still feel that the FAQ should reflect this. It need not go into any details, but it should reflect our diversity, and not set some apart. This diversity has always been our hallmark as Pagans, as well as our greatest strength. Whatever our particular tradition, we are all still Pagans...all still family.

May the gods help us with the wisdom to stick together...especially since I don't want any heated arguments to screw up my birthday. ;)

PS: I can't think of ANY tradition that is more "earth-based" than Druids.


Greetings. I Read WrenÕs Post On Beliefnet.com And I Would Like To... Oct 29th. at 12:34:17 pm UTC

Calico (Madison, Wisconsin US) Age: 31


Greetings. I read WrenÕs post on Beliefnet.com and I would like to commend her for taking this question to the Asatru community. She always lives up to her own high standards.

I myself proudly identify as Neo-Pagan (CAW) but I have come to understand that many people practicing Reconstructionist religions have a very different self-identification, and it certainly behooves witchvox to respect and represent that to the best of the siteÕs ability. I think one way of doing so would be to add another section to the FAQ under ÒPagansÓ tilted ÒReconstructionistsÓ and explain the common goals that Asatru, Senistrognata and the various other Recosntructionists (Baltic, Greek, Roman, Kemetic etc) have of reconstructing culturally-specific religions as accurately as possible. In the ÒPaganÓ section you take the space to point out that Neo-Pagan does not equal New Age, and the distinction between Neo-Pagan and Recosntructionist needs to be made as well.

Thanks for being here; I appreciate all the hard work that goes into this site!


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