Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...

Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]

Views: 21,678,885

February 1st. 2019 ...

Paganism and Witchcraft in the Media

September 25th. 2018 ...

Understanding the Unseen

August 25th. 2018 ...

A Little Magickal History

Men and the Goddess

Back to Basics Witchcraft: Magical Creativity for Small Living Spaces

Kitchen Magic and Memories

Why the Faeries?

Magic in Daily Life

An Open Fire: Healing from Within

Cernunnos: The Darkest Wood in the Moon's Light

On Preconceived Pagan/Wiccan Political Affiliations

Gudrun of the Victory Gods

Ares and Athena

La Santa Muerte... The Stigma and the Strength

The Wheel of the Year in Our Daily Lives

The Lady on the Stairs

July 26th. 2018 ...

The Importance of Unification: Bringing Together Community Members to Invoke Cohesivity

May 29th. 2018 ...

Wild Mountain Woman: Landscape Goddess

April 20th. 2018 ...

Nazis Made Us Change Our Name

January 25th. 2018 ...

Finding Balance: Discipline Wedded to Devotion

November 15th. 2017 ...


September 30th. 2017 ...


August 31st. 2017 ...

The White Goddess: A Seminal Work in the Neo-Wiccan Movement.

July 31st. 2017 ...

Sin Eaters and Dream Walkers

July 2nd. 2017 ...

On Cursing: Politics and Ethos

A Distant Thunder: Should You Care?

June 1st. 2017 ...

Herbal Astrology

The Sacred Ego in Mediterranean Magical Traditions

April 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Knight of Pentacles

March 30th. 2017 ...

Tarot Talk: the Ace of Swords

January 10th. 2017 ...

The Gray of 'Tween

Becoming a Sacred Dancer

Little Dog, Big Love

December 9th. 2016 ...

A Child's First Yule

November 10th. 2016 ...

A Witch in the Bible Belt: Questions are Opportunities

What Exactly Is Witchcraft?

What I Get from Cooking (And How it’s Part of My Path)

On Death and Passing: Compassion Burnout in Healers and Shamans

September 11th. 2016 ...

The Shadow of Disgust

August 12th. 2016 ...

Hungarian Belief in Fairies

When Reality Rattles your Idea of the Perfect Witch

Designing a Pagan Last Will and Testament

Past Midnight

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 ...

Living a Magickal Life with Fibromyalgia

My Father, My First God

Life is Awesome... and the Flu

May 15th. 2016 ...

Faery Guided Journey

Working with the Elements

April 2nd. 2016 ...

The Fear of Witchcraft

Magic in Sentences

March 28th. 2016 ...

Revisiting The Spiral

Still Practicing

January 22nd. 2016 ...

Coming Out of the Broom Closet

December 20th. 2015 ...

Magia y Wicca

October 24th. 2015 ...

Feeling the Pulse of Autumn

October 16th. 2015 ...

Sacred Lands, Sacred Hearts

September 30th. 2015 ...

The Other-Side

September 16th. 2015 ...

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?

May 6th. 2015 ...

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

February 1st. 2015 ...

Seeker Advice From a Coven Leader

January 1st. 2015 ...

Manipulation of the Concept of Witchcraft

Pagans All Around Us

Broomstick to the Emerald City

October 20th. 2014 ...

Thoughts on Conjuring Spirits

October 5th. 2014 ...

The History of the Sacred Circle

September 28th. 2014 ...

Seeking Pagan Lands for Pagan Burials

Creating a Healing Temple

NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.

Article Specs

Article ID: 14103

VoxAcct: 292605

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 3,291

Times Read: 3,884

RSS Views: 13,297
An All-American Religion: Establishing a Nation-Wide NeoPagan Cultus

Author: Chirotus Infinitum
Posted: August 22nd. 2010
Times Viewed: 3,884

One of the features of modern neopaganism is its decentralized nature. Neopaganism as a category encompasses a large number of disparate religions, and even among what could be considered the “same” religion (such as Wicca) there are numerous sub-divisions and a near-complete lack of central authority or organization. Many neopagans view this as a strength instead of a weakness, often for reasons of self-determination and pursuit of individual truth. This ideal is found most often expressed in the sometime obsessive neopagan avoidance of dogma.

A Proposal for Your Consideration

But would an organized form of paganism be useful? Are there benefits to a type of paganism that aspires to accommodate and tolerate all of the numerous forms of religious expression that are considered “neopagan”? Certainly there may be some benefit in terms of visibility, dispelling misinformation, availability to newcomers, and even participation in charity activities. Vastly different religious tradition might find such an environment a forum in which to establish common ground and foster stronger cohesion in the pagan community in general. Such a centralized network may also help to address the “legitimacy” problem that neopagans face – the mainstream tendency to dismiss neopaganism as a fringe religion or fad. And historical examples suggest that such a loose affiliation, ostensibly built around a central cult, can work.

Two examples of similar arrangements come to mind: China and ancient Rome. While both examples feature what is largely regarded as a singular religious system, both include widespread local diversity, a focus of ritual rather than mythological or scriptural dogma, and an ability to accommodate or assimilate elements or other religions, either in part or in whole.[1] These flexible and adaptable social structures were intimately tied to local cultural and state institutions, giving them a local flavor and applicability while maintaining a grander scale appeal and sustainability.

Is it possible, then, that these two examples can be borrowed from and serve as the foundation for a form of American Neopaganism that can maintain its astonishing diversity while providing a loosely centralized framework that can allow neopagans to interact with each other and non-pagans more effectively?

Based in part upon the concept of the state pagan religion, and integrating elements of contemporary American history and culture, I believe that such a network can be established. Although obviously implementing such an “All-American Religion” would have complications and problems that would need to be addressed and considered, a nation-wide pagan cult that accommodates the widely disparate neopagan religions as well as local culture heroes could be achievable, and may contribute to neopaganism’s growth and acceptance as one of the “Great World Religions.”

Cultus Organization

Such a cult (I can’t for the life of me think of a suitable name! Americanism? American Paganism? I would love suggestions.) would be based around local temples. Each temple would be dedicated to a deity appropriate to the locality it was in, or even to a local cultural hero. That deity would be featured in a central shrine and tended to with ritual activities appropriate to the religious system of its origin (as adapted to modern sensibilities) . Here’s where the accommodation to other religions comes in: attendees to the temple may set up shrines to other deities that they wish to see represented in the temple. All deities would be allowed (including Christian representations!) to have shrines at the temple, so long as there was demand for them and the shrines were kept properly. Shrines and statues to respective deities might be organized according to pantheon or area of specialty, with mindfulness given to disputes between certain deities or conflicts between pantheons.

Presumably the activities of the temple would be operated by some manner of part time or even full time staff, which must be trained fairly comprehensively in the appropriate manner of tending to the shrines represented.[2] Counseling duties might be appropriate as well, although this would require an even greater amount of training in the various beliefs of other neopagans, and might prove too problematic to implement outside of larger cities. Donations of money, food, and other materials (incense for offerings, etc.) would be expected from attendees – requirements could be set at a higher level, but would probably be established by the local priesthood.

Temples would be organized according to a loose hierarchy, with some degree of control coming from a larger regional or state-level temple. State temples would also be dedicated to a deity, presumably one appropriate to the state in question (Ceres for Kansas, for example) . State temples would include a kind of shrine or area in which the local temples in their jurisdiction would be represented somehow, perhaps by a small plaque representing the town or locality the temples served. In reciprocation, local temples would also include a shrine to the state deity in a prominent location.

In theory, larger temples encompassing federal districts of some kind could also be established (perhaps reflecting federal court districts) . These temples would also be dedicated to certain deities, and those deities would be represented in shrines in all of the temples in that jurisdiction. Thus, a local temple would include a central shrine to its own deity, a shrine to the state deity, and a shrine to its district deity. A central national temple might also be conceived, although this degree of centralization may prove both undesirable and unnecessary, especially given the problem of deciding which deity such a temple would best be dedicated to.[3] Some manner of central office might be appropriate for administrative needs, but it need not be a temple, and such an office could be administrated by priests and officials from other temples on a rotational or electoral basis.

Some problems can be seen with this system.[4] The establishment of local temples for cities seems straightforward. In considering townships and rural areas the issue becomes more complicated (especially given the relative low density of the neopagan population in such rural areas) . Should there be county temples? Should large metropolitan areas that encompass several smaller cities have one temple for the whole area, one temple for each city in the area, or one for each city with a central temple over them all? What about cities that cross state lines, like Kansas City – should they be considered one city or two? Should smaller localities such as universities have their own temples? Should there be multiple temples in a single city? Perhaps population and demand should be the primary consideration in such decisions, but for the sake of hierarchy they must be considered at some point.

Establishing Temple Deities

Dedication of temples to deities is another complicated matter. With so many religious systems and pantheons represented in the neopagan community, how should an appropriate deity be selected? Should some pantheons be favored over others? Should the pantheon of the state deity determine the affiliation of local temples in that state? Is it appropriate to “borrow” or appropriate deities outside of Western traditions, such as Native American manifestations of deity or Chinese or Buddhist gods? And perhaps more important, should the rededication of temples to different deities as tastes change be accommodated?

Personally, I would argue that deities for state temples should in some way reflect the geography, state motto, and primary industries of the state in question. For example, I propose Ceres as the deity for Kansas, as Kansas has a Latin state motto and is a grain-centered agricultural state. This would leave most states with deities from the Greek and Roman pantheons, and although it would reflect a certain cultural bias, it also reflects to a certain degree the cultural and legal traditions that influenced the establishment of those governments. Local temples are probably best left to some manner of popular selection by the local neopagan community, although I would favor some consideration of the above factors in that selection.

The other open question is that of mythic figures and culture heroes. For example, in Lawrence, Kansas, James Naismith is regarded as a significant historical and cultural figure. I can think of a few arguments against raising him to a deified or semi-deified status and dedicating a local temple to him, but I can think of more in support of such an action. Local figures in history, city or state founders, or the subjects of other figures from American cultural mythology could be available for such treatment.[5] Political considerations may start creeping into such decisions, as would religious affiliations – a temple to the Rev. Dr. King might be a bit inappropriate, given that he was a Christian Minister – but the connection of the cult to cultural tradition and history may not only help people become more familiar with their local histories, and even the shortcomings of great figures from the past, but might also serve to further lessen the “legitimacy” issue by strengthening neopagan ties to the American culture at large.[6]

The more free-minded post-modern neopagans might ask why we can’t simply create local deities based upon the needs of specific communities. Well, why not? Such an undertaking would be perfectly legitimate. My own inclination is that deities with larger recognition may have more influence than freshly-minted egrigores reaching for godhood, but if a community decided that creating a god just for them is appropriate and effective, they should be free to pursue it. Likewise, local variations on more popular deities, similar to the localizations of deities found in Rome, Greece, and Egypt, should also be considered valid.

Services, Worship, and Festivals

Temples would need to accommodate widely differing modes of worship and celebration, particularly with regards to ritual offerings. I primarily use incense when making offerings for a number of reasons, including cost, ease, and the fact that slaughtering cattle to Jupiter is no longer seen as culturally acceptable. Offerings of incense or some manner of paper offering such as Chinese “hell money” would probably be easiest to accommodate and cause the least amount of PR problems. Food offerings should not be ruled out, perhaps with food laid before shrines consumed by temple priests or by worshipers themselves during ritual celebrations. Larger celebrations and festivals could also be held, space permitting, although a rental arrangement for space with the temple by smaller religious groups would probably be more workable than having the temple organize and fund such activities. Some kind of standard ritual calendar may be worked out, by either following the popular Celtic calendar or adapting it to North American climate, seasons, and national holiday schedule.

Other services may be available at temples, depending upon the funding and manpower available. Charity organizations, outreach and addiction programs, homeless shelters, and religious classes are all possibilities. Weddings, births, and other rites of passage are fairly obvious services temple priests could offer, for some manner of donation or fee. Any activity that a more traditional Church would offer for the community would be possible, and would help strengthen ties to the local community.

Community Building

While the establishment of such a cult would present many potential problems and issues – many of which have been mentioned above, and many of which I probably haven’t considered – the potential benefits or such an organization may prove to outweigh them. One of the most obvious is a potential for a greater cohesion in the neopagan community itself, so far as care is taken not to marginalize or appropriate religions or movements that are not fully represented in the community.

Some form of offense at the practices and beliefs of others is certain to occur, and that must be worked through by the community and prevented from impeding the free exercise of other religious groups. By focusing on the community aspect of neopaganism and providing a place for ritual activities, and not on belief or myth, issues of dogma can be lessened or even avoided. Also, by providing a forum for a more accurate dissemination of beliefs and practices of other neopagan groups, a greater understanding, respect for, and tolerance of differing beliefs may be fostered. Newcomers to the pagan community will also find it easier to locate others to works with or teach them basics or the craft.

Such a cult will also provide something that the Christian community has enjoyed for some time but that neopagans are often sorely lacking: a means of integrating into the community at large. While there are some neopagan groups that provide charity services, many do not, especially given that many groups are small covens that lack the resources to engage in larger-scale charity works. Many neopagans are also solitary practitioners, and could make use of a local temple as a means of donating charitable items and monies to needy people or causes. Also, simply having a more visible presence may aide the neopagan community in dealing with a mainstream culture that still largely marginalizes it. A nation-wide network or temples would provide a readily accessible source for non-biased information on neopagan beliefs and practices to the non-pagan world, and better foster inter-faith initiative between neopagans and non-pagans.

Beginning the Discussion

Obviously, this idea is just a preliminary consideration not only of if such a cult would be desirable, but how it would work. There are many more potential criticisms and consideration than what has been discussed above, but also many more potential benefits as well. The establishment and development of such an organization would be likely plagued with problems, both foreseeable and unforeseeable, including funding, population density and lack of popularity, and legal establishment and organization, not to mention problems that currently plague the neopagan community, such as witch wars, cults of personality, and other concerns relating to establishment of authority. The neopagan community would have to be especially vigilant to these complications, given that certain Christian groups would most certainly work to discredit such an organization. Still, even given these problems, as well as objections from segments of the neopagan community itself, I believe that such an organization could prove successful and beneficial. While establishing and organization like this would certainly be a long-term investment or time and effort, beginning a discourse on how it can be worked out effectively is the first step.

[1] In a modern context, assimilation is probably best downplayed, especially given the imperialistic nature of Roman religious assimilation.

[2] There have been a lot of arguments against a full-time pagan clergy. I don’t buy most of them, but they should be duly considered in deciding how to establish a priesthood. Personally, I consider the requisite training to be one of the strongest arguments for a full-time priesthood. An arrangement that involves only one full-time priest and several volunteer assistants – at least for smaller temples – is plausible. A selection process for priests, including training and community approval, would need to be developed. Ideally the priest’s personal religious affiliation should not inhibit selection, although the priest would need to be willing to serve religious traditions that may be at odds with his own.

[3] Or, more specifically, the fact that most of the arguments I can think of would land Yahweh as that deity, and many neopagans would object to that.

[4] Aside from arguments by more liberal or feminist minded pagans against hierarchical systems in general, although I maintain that a system that best reflects the organization of the American government is most appropriate. It should be understood that the level of “control” that higher-level temples would have over local temples would be as minimal as possible, and limitations on such authority should be set.

[5] And before the criticisms of the glorification of the Patriarchy come to light, please consider the full extent of American mythic history. A temple to Susan B. Anthony or Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. would be just as valid as a temple to George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.

[6] I recognize that many in the neopagan community will object to this on that basis, as they see paganism as a means of breaking the shackles of oppression that American culture has laid upon them. The real question being addressed here is this: Should neopaganism serve as a religion that strengthens ties to the community, or as a political tool to smash the system and establish a post-modern utopia? If it isn’t right for fundamentalist Christianity to push for a political agenda, then why should radical pagans think it okay to use religion for the same ends? But that is an argument for another time …

Copyright: Copyright 2010 Chirotus Infinitum
No reproduction without permission from the author.


Chirotus Infinitum

Location: Shawnee Mission, Kansas


Author's Profile: To learn more about Chirotus Infinitum - Click HERE

Other Articles: Chirotus Infinitum has posted 15 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE

Email Chirotus Infinitum... (No, I have NOT opted to receive Pagan Invites! Please do NOT send me anonymous invites to groups, sales and events.)

To send a private message to Chirotus Infinitum ...

Pagan Essays

Pagan Web
8,000 Links

Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.

80,000 Profiles

Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops

Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2019 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.

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.

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.
Witches, Pagans
of The World

Search Articles

 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide

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).