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Article ID: 13919

VoxAcct: 148072

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,330

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What is Paganism?

Author: Balinnor
Posted: July 11th. 2010
Times Viewed: 2,787

What is Paganism? You might as well be asked to describe the color red to a blind man. In the end the poor fellow will come away very confused with lots of conflicting images in his mind of what the color red actually looks like. Try to have any of us give you one catch all definition of Paganism and you will arrive at the same situation, that is to say, confused with no clear definition of what it means to be Pagan.

Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary defines Pagan as "one of a people or community observing a polytheistic religion." Or a Pagan might be "a person who is not Christian, Jew, or Muslim; heathen." Lastly it claims that a Pagan might be " an irreligious or hedonistic person" Obviously the dictionary is not going to accomplish the goal of clearly defining what it means to be Pagan. In the end, any attempt to codify what it means to Pagan in one simple expression ends up being a lot of empty words. Again we walk away with no clear definition and a lot of confusion. I think the best way to describe Paganism, as a whole would be to take a look at the beliefs that a majority of Pagans observe and attempt to arrive at a definition by what it is that we hold in common.

Most of those who follow a Pagan belief system find the Divine manifested in everything that surrounds them. Pagans see the universal signature of creation everywhere, from the smallest of stones to the largest of living things. One of the founders of the Church of All Worlds, Oberon Zell-Ravenheart, coined the phrase Gaiatheism to describe our affinity for the Earth and all living things. He recognized that "Pagans conceptualize Divinity as manifest in the processes of Nature. ...Mother Earth is Goddess and She has been recognized as such since time immemorial."

By understanding the interconnectiveness all things and how they relate to each other, many Pagans feel that they can manipulate the outcome of events or make their desires manifest in this reality. This could be described as application of directed will toward a desired outcome or magick. Magick is really no different than what other religions call prayer. The practitioner does take a more personal hand in the working than in other paths and therefore is more likely to directly experience the consequences as a result. Although a belief in magick is not necessary for one to be Pagan, it is practiced in most of the Pagan belief systems.

Many Pagan paths recognize a cyclical pattern to the passage of time. The observation is made that the Seasons follow in an endless pattern of Awakening, Growth, Harvest and Rest. The metaphor can be extrapolated to apply to many events that involve a passage of time, including our very own lives. Our birth and childhood constitute our Awakening. Our learning years through our reproductive period correspond to the season of Growth. Harvest relates to our retirement years where we reap what we have sown over our lifetime. Finally, Rest would begin at the moment that this lifetime is at an end at we crossover to the Spirit realm to await our next sojourn of life

Pagans tend to believe in reincarnation. The feeling is that there are too many things to learn in the process of achieving enlightenment to complete the journey in a single lifetime or several lifetimes for that matter. Because we believe that each of us will return until we have learned all the lessons that we need to, we do not see death as finality. Instead Death is viewed as a transition. A time to rest and reflect on what we have learned and to prepare for the next time that we take the plunge and step onto the Wheel of Life.

Pagans understand that they alone are responsible for their actions and have to accept the consequences for them. Whether you accept the Wiccan Rede as sacred doctrine or not, most Pagans believe that there is some form of return as the result of their actions. These ideas would fall under the heading of Karma, Law of Return etc. We do not believe in any concept of Original Sin or in the concept of Eternal damnation. Consequently we do not need to be saved either. There is no place in our universe for a fiery pit lorded over by some guy with an extremely ruddy complexion and a predilection for pitchforks. One of my favorite sayings to someone trying to scare me with fire and brimstone warnings is "He's your God....You Burn!" and that will usually put their fires out.

We, as Pagans, have an overwhelming need to experience the Divine on a deeply personal level. Not just intellectually, but also tangibly. We come to see the Divine in everything at once, including ourselves. We are not content to let someone else describe to us what the desires of the Divine are. You will never hear of someone coming down from the mountain to tell us what the God/dess wants us to know. Each and every one of us would march up that mountain and confront the Divine directly to acquire our own answers. Our Spiritual contact is intimate, immediate and highly individualistic. The Church of All Worlds holds the belief "Thou art God/dess". In other words the Divine does not only manifest from without, it also manifests from within.

Being a Pagan is an understanding of all of these things. Whether your path is Voudon, Asatru, Druid, Eclectic, Feminist Wiccan, Fairy Tradition, Gardenarian, or any of a hundred other possible path choices you probably hold most of what I have covered as your own beliefs. You may hold other, more path specific, beliefs as well. I have only tried to cover the generalities in an attempt to describe what being Pagan means. I will end with one last comment. Most of us tend to believe that the journey to attaining enlightenment is a path that each of us must walk by ourselves. Fortunately all paths tend, no matter how much they may meander, toward that same ultimate goal. May you find illumination on the path that you have chosen to make your journey upon.

Bright Blessings



Location: Largo, Florida

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