What it Means to be Pagan
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Article ID: 14003
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Orion Guardian-Elm
Posted: May 30th. 2010
Times Viewed: 2,528
I have been thinking recently about what it means to be Pagan, and how one can be defined as Pagan. Some would say anyone who is part of an 'Earth-based religion', and yet I have met many Pagans who are not Earth-based at all (except that they live on it perhaps) . Some would say anyone who is a member of a polytheistic religion, and while I would agree that practically all polytheists are Pagan, what about the ones who pantheistic, pane theistic, monotheistic (yes, there is some) , or even agnostic or atheistic?
One of the things I love most about Paganism is its diversity. I love that it is such a broad category. I mean it would be pretty boring if we were all exactly the same right? There are Witches, Shamans, Druids, Reconstructionists, Wiccans, Heathens, Christo-Pagans, Eclectics, possibly even Hindus and Buddhists, and many others, all of whom are Pagan. I have even come across a number of non-religious Pagans before (and a non-religious person is one of the dictionary definitions of what a Pagan is) .
Some of us love Nature. Some Witchcraft and Magick, others mythology and ancient history. And some of us love all of them and more! Some Pagans are practicing, others non-practicing. Some would consider themselves Neo-Pagans, others Meso-Pagans, and others yet, Recon-Pagans. The diversity within Paganism may mean that sometimes we will disagree with one another on a certain subject but hey, we're all individuals - that's what makes us special.
I have always been Pagan, though I didn't know it until recently. As a child I was fascinated with Celtic mythology and the ancient Pagan sites of Britain (my homeland) , such as Glastonbury Tor and Stonehenge. I felt a strange connection to the sites, which I still can't explain. I always felt at home among trees, and loved to go for solitary walks across the field near my house (which was, ironically, on a Bible College campus!) . I felt a connection to the Celtic god Cernunnos and the goddess Morrighan, and often found myself wondering what it would have been like to worship them in the old, pre-Christian days.
It was not for some time that I came across Neo-Paganism. My Christian mother was convinced I was a worshipper of the devil (Yes, even before I even looked at Magick and Witchcraft) , due mainly to the heavy metal music I was into. She started to buy Christian books about Witchcraft and Satanism, including one called Protecting Your Teen from Today's Witchcraft (1) .
Surprisingly, it was this book that got me into Wicca (after a brief period of Satanism which I mainly got involved in to freak out my parents) . One of the first sites I came across on Wicca was “Witch School”, and I instantly signed up for a few of the courses. I searched through all the sites I came across on the subject, devouring as much information as I could find. I was amazed that such a movement as Neo-Paganism existed! I had been brought to believe that Paganism only existed in the ancient, pre-Christian days, and that all that survived of it now were the superstitions and old wives tales.
I went to my library where I came across a copy of Starhawk’s The Spiral Dance (2) . Despite the feminist sentiments, I found the book gave me a foothold in understanding what Wicca and Witchcraft was actually about. That was the real beginning for me, the transition from the religion that my parents wanted me to be a part of to the religion that my spirit cried out to embrace.
To cut a long story short, I turned from a fluffy bunny to a devout Witch in a short amount of time, and read everything I could on the subject of Witchcraft and Paganism (mainly online due to a limited access of books on the subject in my area) . After six months or so I became drawn to Asatru and Odinism, and for a while followed the Heathen path. It was then that my deep interest for my ancestry and for the traditions of Northern Europe developed. However, I still felt drawn to Wicca and Witchcraft at the same time, and found myself unable to choose between the two.
For a short while I considered Druidism, having always been intrigued by the ancient Celts and their religious practices. However, I was unable to find any groups of Druids here in New Zealand, and most of the online courses cost a lot of money. For some time I was simply unsure of my beliefs, knowing that I was definitely Pagan, yet unsure of what specific tradition to claim.
Eventually I decided to return to my old path, yet to continue working with the deities I had come to see as my patrons and matron (Odin, Thor and Freya) . I decided that the best way to define my path would be ‘Eclectic Pagan’, seeing as I drew from more than one source in my practice.
And so this is how I came to be where I am today. I still consider myself a beginner, and know I have a LOT to learn. I read a lot more than I practice, though I do try to pray every day and to be aware of the Nature around me. I have come to love being a Pagan, and the diversity of it, and have realized that one of the most beautiful things about Paganism is the fact that you can follow your own path, and do what feels right to you.
You don't need a certificate to be Pagan, nor a degree, nor the approval of anyone else - you can just be. What makes one Pagan is their identification with the term, and that's what's so great about it. You don't need to be an adept at Magick, nor a scholar of ancient history - if the term Pagan resonates with you, then you can claim it. All you need to be Pagan is to feel that you are in your heart.
1 Steve Russo, Bethany House Publishers, 2005
2 Starhawk, HarperCollins Publishers, 1979
Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Author's Profile: To learn more about Orion Guardian-Elm - Click HERE
Bio: I am an Ecletic Norse Pagan and an Outer Court Member of the Correllian Nativist Tradition. I have explored paths such as Ecletic Wicca, Odinism, and Druidism in the past, and have met many great Pagans in the community. I am a member of a local group, Auckland Pagans, with whom I meet to celebrate the Sabbats and other occasions. My interests include music, reading, and writing fiction.
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