Articles/Essays From Pagans
August 12th. 2016 ...
When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch
Hungarian Belief in Fairies
Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament
July 13th. 2016 ...
What Every Pagan Should Know About Curses
Magic With A Flick of my Finger
An Open Mind and Heart
Finding and Caring for Your Frame Drum
June 13th. 2016 ...
Pollyanna Propaganda: The Distressing Trend of Victim-Blaming in Spirituality
Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia
My Father, My First God
Life is Awesome... and the Flu
May 15th. 2016 ...
Faery Guided Journey
How to Bond with the Elements through Magick
Magical Household Cleaning
Working with the Elements
April 2nd. 2016 ...
An Alternative Conception of Divine Reciprocity
Becoming Wiccan: What I Never Expected
The Fear of Witchcraft
Rebirth By Fire: A Love Letter to Mama Maui and Lady Pele
Blowing Bubbles with the Goddess
Magic in Sentences
The Evolution of Thought Forms
March 28th. 2016 ...
Revisiting The Spiral
Lateral Transcendence: Toward Greater Compassion
Spring Has Sprung!
January 22nd. 2016 ...
Coming Out of the Broom Closet
Energy and Karma
Community and Perception
December 20th. 2015 ...
Introduction to Tarot For the Novice
Magia y Wicca
October 24th. 2015 ...
Facing Your Demons: The Shadow Self
The Dream Eater--A Practical Use of Summoning Talismans
Native American Spirituality Myopia
A Dream Message
Feeling the Pulse of Autumn
October 16th. 2015 ...
Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts
September 30th. 2015 ...
September 16th. 2015 ...
Nature Worship: or Seeing the Trees for the Ents
Vegan or Vegetarian? The Ethical Debate
August 6th. 2015 ...
Lost - A Pagan Parent's Tale
July 9th. 2015 ...
Love Spells: The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly
The Magic of Weather
June 7th. 2015 ...
A Pagan Altar
A Minority of a Minority of a Minority
The Consort: Silent Partner or Hidden in Plain Sight?
Why I Bother With Ritual: Poetry and Eikonic Atheism
May 6th. 2015 ...
Gods, Myth, and Ritual in Naturalistic Paganism
I Claim Cronehood
13 Keys: The Crown of Kether
March 29th. 2015 ...
A Thread in the Tapestry of Witchcraft
March 28th. 2015 ...
On Wiccan Magick, Theurgy, Thaumaturgy and Setting Expectations
March 1st. 2015 ...
Choosing to Write a Shadow Book
Historiolae: The Spell Within the Story
My Concept Of Grey
February 1st. 2015 ...
Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader
The Three Centers of Paganism
Magick is No Illusion
The Ancient Use of God/Goddess Surnames
The Gods of My Heart
January 1st. 2015 ...
The Six Most Valuable Lessons I've Learned on My Path as a Witch
Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft
Publicly Other: Witchcraft in the Suburbs
Pagans All Around Us
Broomstick to the Emerald City
October 20th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits
A Microcosmic View of Ma'at
October 5th. 2014 ...
The History of the Sacred Circle
Abandoning Expectations and Remembering Your Roots
September 28th. 2014 ...
Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials
Creating a Healing Temple
September 20th. 2014 ...
GOD AND ME (A Pagan's Personal Reply to the New Atheists)
September 7th. 2014 ...
Deer Man- A Confounding Mystery
August 31st. 2014 ...
Coven vs. Solitary
A Strange Waking Dream
August 24th. 2014 ...
Thoughts on Cultural and Spiritual Appropriation
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Religion, Faith, and Worship...Oh My!
Article ID: 15256
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 1,397
Times Read: 2,652
RSS Views: 9,575
Posted: November 4th. 2012
Times Viewed: 2,652
Add dogma and doctrine to the list of words that seem to be taboo in some Neopagan communities. Many have come from Judeo-Christian households or locales and have deemed these words to be negative, restricting, or down right offensive. What confuses me is how some pagans can have a full conversation about why magic is neither bad nor good, how black and white, in regards to magic, hold no purpose because magic itself is neutral and yet, place meanings on words that are just as neutral. The social implications of terms like religion, faith, worship, dogma and doctrine reach far beyond any one particular religion. The words themselves are benign and harmless, and yet can invoke such rage in some people.
I have heard, "I had 'religion' shoved down my throat" or "my family hates me because I don't follow their religion." Terms like dogma, faith, and worship ride the same horse when it comes to the offense some take at the implication that they take part in such things. Let's look at these terms individually and objectively.
Earliest etymology comes from the Latin religionem/religio meaning "respect for what is sacred, reverence for the gods." Yes, you read that right; the term is actually as old as polytheism itself. Even the Roman Neopagans call their beliefs the Religio Romani. In simplest terms, religion is defined as "a set of beliefs concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, especially when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs."
I can't speak for all Neopagans of course, but I find that if I simply stated the definition without telling them it is for the word "religion, " most would certainly agree that definition is part of what they, as Neopagans, contemplate and take part in. Many honor the eight sabbats, some honor the four fire festivals, some honor days specific to their deities that can be way more than eight festivals (the Roman and Kemetic calendars come to mind) . As most pagans take some inspiration from the polytheistic communities that once existed, the above listed are all things they believe and take part in.
The belief in one or more deities, and the honoring of that belief by taking part in "devotional or ritual observations", are commonplace in most Neopagan communities. Many also honor a specific moral code because of these beliefs and practices. Some follow a list of nine virtues, some follow three, some follow the Wiccan Rede, while others look to karma for their moral code. Regardless, these are all things that most Neopagans would agree are part of what makes them who they are.
For the purpose of this discussion, I'll utilize the definition that has the closest context to the discussion. Because of that, the definition of faith could be defined as "a belief that is not based on proof." As Neopagans, we tend to believe in the idea of deity in some way shape or form. Some believe in a grand deity that is beyond comprehension and some believe in a divine masculine and divine feminine. Some believe in a version of soft polytheism wherein there are a multitude of names for the same set of Gods and then there are those who are hard polytheists that believe that each God is distinct and real regardless of the similarities they may have with deities of other cultures.
All of these beliefs have one thing in common: a lack of proof. No matter how far deep down in our gut we truly believe that these deities exist, there is no proof. That is what makes it faith. We know our deities exist. We have nothing other than this confidence in how much we believe, but it is still belief. Because we have faith in a different idea of deity than the mainstream doesn't make it less about faith. The old "I don't believe, I know" argument doesn't really work when the next statement is "prove it." There is nothing there to prove. It is simply faith.
The term worship, when discussing with some in the community, tends to conjure the image of bowing down to a grandiose fear-mongering deity and getting on one's knees to "worship before the almighty." Many Neopagans will tell you, they don't "worship" their Gods, they "honor" them. I hate to break it to those Neopagans but the definition of worship is "reverent honor and homage paid to God or a sacred personage, or to any object regarded as sacred."
Worship simply means to honor and respect that which is sacred. The term doesn't define how to do so. That is what the Gods define or perhaps, man defines. What is it that we do at our devotional and ritual observances? When we light our candles or sacred fire, give our offerings, and thank the Gods, what are we doing? Are we not honoring them for what they have done for us or what we hope they will do for us? Are we not showing them their due respect for providing for our families and us? Whether I bow down at an altar or stand at it, I am still using it to revere them. I can word it whatever way I choose, but honoring them or respecting them, I'm still worshiping them.
Dogma and Doctrine
As these two words, in regards to this topic, are essentially synonymous, I'll focus on dogma. The term comes from Latin describing a "philosophical tenet" and from the Greek dokein meaning, "to seem good, think." By one definition it means an, "official system of principles or tenets concerning faith, morals, behavior, etc., as of a church."
In the simplest terms, tenets are the "dos" and "don'ts" of your chosen religious belief. The first tenet to come to mind? "An it harm none, do what thou wilt." You don't subscribe to that? Fine, "live with honor, " "always treat others with hospitality, " "for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction, " or simply "karma." These are all moral doctrines as dictated by our faith. We know what is "right" and what is "wrong" and most of us utilize our belief system as our guide to what we should and shouldn't do.
Perhaps we feel we will anger the Gods if we do or don't do these specific things. Maybe we feel that we need to be role models for others. Or perhaps, we just "know" that it's the right thing to do. It truly is no different than the idea of the "Golden Rule." These are the ideals we live by and part of how we put our beliefs into action. We "live right, " by honoring our Gods and "do right" because we believe those actions to be right as dictated by our Gods or the cultures we emulate.
We, as Neopagans, shun terms that actually give us common ground to stand on with other religious traditions. To ignore that we, too, have faith, dogma and religion is to give the naysayers more ammunition to declare that, "they don't even consider what they practice a religion, how does the 1st Amendment apply to them?"
How can we expect equal understanding, when we reject what makes us equal? Embracing the terms that all religions share is the way to bridge the gap and get the mainstream religious traditions to finally accept that we actually aren't that different, after all. If we start embracing our similarities, maybe they will stop focusing on our differences.
Location: Phoenix, Arizona
Author's Profile: To learn more about Blackbird - Click HERE
Other Articles: Blackbird has posted 4 additional articles- View them?
Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE
Email Blackbird... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)
Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2016 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.
Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.
Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.
Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.
Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
of The World
NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.
The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.
All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).