An Open Letter to the (Eclectic) Pagan Community
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Article ID: 12818
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Pall Tryggr Ageirr
Posted: January 18th. 2009
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First let me start out by saying this is not an attack on your beliefs, I am a firm believer in religious freedom and the ability to express said freedom, and I am of the position that a person’s path will come to them and no matter what that happens to be no one has a right to judge you. I am a bit of an Eclectic myself as I am a neo-Pagan who is influenced by several Pagan religions (ancient and Modern) and am also influenced by the ideas and philosophies found in Gnosticism and I find wisdom and knowledge in the Gnostic teachings of “The Christ” Yeshua.
So obviously I have no problem with eclecticism in and of itself. My problem lies with how some people express their eclecticism. Like I said, I am a firm believer in religious freedom and peoples right to express it how they so choose. I also think that people should be a little smarter about how they present it.
So let’s take for example the most noted modern day Neo-Pagan religion as it has currently flooded our culture, Wicca. When I think of Wicca, I think of Wicca circa 1950’s Gerald Gardner style. While I respect people and their right to practice their eclectic style of Wicca, and follow what ever path and tradition their heart desires -- be it Dianic Wicca, or “Celtic-Tradition” Wicca, or “Egyptian Wicca”….or whatever else is out there that you can come up with -- it is a deviation from what was originally intended.
When I think of Wicca, I think of a modern pagan religion that is influenced by older religions and by occultism and esoteric and mystical magickal orders such as Crowley’s O.T.O, The Golden Dawn, and Free Masonry. Wicca has its own unique tenets, philosophy, rituals, hierarchy, and gods. As far as I know to be a Wiccan you still have to be at least 18 years of age (Or whatever your local laws are governing the age of consent) and you must be initiated by a High Priestess or Priest of a coven with an established lineage.
Now you can follow a Wicca-inspired path… as in you are a Pagan who is influenced by the outer-court Wicca 101 style information that is freely available in the public domain. It’s really okay to be a Wiccan-Inspired Pagan as you can be a multitude of religions, and still be a Pagan.
You can be an Eclectic and still be a Pagan. You can follow a path completely made up by you to suit your personal growth and needs and still be a Pagan. As to my base understanding, to be a Pagan is to follow some type of Earth Centric Path.
The term Pagan is actually an umbrella term that encompasses many different religions, paths, and spiritual traditions, that is typically Earth-Centric. A Pagan path is also typically polytheistic and duothestic, worshipping one or more Gods and/or Goddesses. However a Pagan can be monotheistic as well, choosing to worship only one particular god or goddess from a chosen pantheon or choosing to see each god or goddess and attributes as smaller parts that when combined makes up a Universal-Divine, an all knowing all powerful deity…or God.
So just because you follow a Modern Day Pagan path that is influenced by Wiccan Teachings, just because what you do in ritual is similar to what a Wiccan does, it does NOT make you a Wiccan. As such you should not call it that. You should call it something else… such as “wiccan-Inspired Paganism.” It’s okay, really.
Another pet peeve of mine is the mixing of two religious ideals. Yes, I admit I am guilty of it, as I said in the opening paragraph. I am a Neo-Pagan with Gnostic and Mystical Christian Influence. I follow a Path of my own devising, but I call it what it is, not something else.
I would like to come to a phenomenon known as “Christian-Wicca” or “Christo-Wicca”…
Now this is a touchy subject for me, as I will admit once upon a time I called myself by this term, because I did not know of any other way to describe it. I followed a heavily Wiccan-Inspired Pagan path mixed with my Christian upbringing and admiration for the teachings of Jesus both of the mainstream Variety and from the Gnostic Teachings.
I do not rule out the possibility of eclecticism, as I said I am an eclectic, though I like to say I’m a “Universalist.” While I have no connection or involvement with the “Unitarian Universalist” movement in any manner whatsoever, I like to classify myself as a Universalist. I enjoy studying all the different world religions and I am able to gain wisdom, and knowledge in my studies.
I am a firm believer that each religion, each spiritual tradition, no matter if it is established or made up from someone’s eclecticism, when being peeled to the core really all have the same basic truths to them. I tend to regard each god and goddess from each religion and spiritual path as being a unique entity unto their self; however, I do believe they are connected, as I believe them to be facets of a Universal-Divine force.
I believe that each philosophy, each worldview, each religion, was a way for this Universal-Divine to reach out to each individual culture in a way that each culture would be able to understand. I believe that the only way to be able to heal our wounds is when we come to this realization and recognize this. When we are all able to awaken to this possibility only then is Unity able to be reached and this world can find some form of solace and peace.
So my problem does not lie in the idea itself, as I firmly think it is possible. My problem lies with the term itself.
I think that the term "Christian-Wicca" is an Oxymoron, as Wicca as its own gods, tenets and set of beliefs and Philosophy. And so does Christianity.
Let me reiterate that I do not think it is impossible to be open minded, and able to have a Universalistic approach to religion and spirituality, to be able to garner wisdom and comfort from studying word religions, and if you feel so inclined, to incorporate aspects of the religions that call to you into you're own brand of spirituality.
But when you do this, you should not call it by a title already in use of another religion. Of course I don't like titles and labels much to begin with but to call something "Christian" or "Wiccan' when it really is neither, is really disingenuous. What you should do is find another title for your beliefs.
Or don't go with a title at all.
I call myself a Pagan because most of my belief is centered on neo-Pagan Philosophy, and when I do ritual it is based on how modern Neo-Pagans might conduct their ritual.
Being a "Pagan" encompasses many things. there are a multitude of religions and spiritual traditions that fall under the term "Paganism"
In modern times "Paganism" typically denotes someone who isn't a Muslim, Christian, or a Jew and who usually almost always follows some type of earth based spirituality.
I think it might be okay to be a Pagan-Christian, as in the practices are Pagan, ritual etc. but you use Christian concepts and names for your deities.
Christians have been practicing ‘paganism’ for years. On Easter, they paint, or hide, or hunt Easter eggs. They send out Valentine’s Day cards. When they celebrate Christmas, they are celebrating not only the birth of Christ (Who if any one has done any bit of study would know that Christ was not born in December, and it was decreed that it would be in DEC. by a Roman Emperor who wanted to incorporate the followers of Mithras into Christianity as it was already a holiday they celebrated.) but they are also celebrating the Winter solstice.
So you know if a Christian can practice Paganism, then I am sure it can go the other way around. Of course the purist from both sides might argue that point, and not be happy about it, but that is what I think.
But I do not think one could be a "Christian-Wiccan" or at least should not call themselves as such. Wicca is a specific religion and spirituality under the umbrella of Paganism, with its own unique tenets, rituals, beliefs, and philosophy. – But I guess you certainly could be a “Wiccan-Inspired” Christian, just like you can be a “Wiccan-Inspired” Pagan. Or try this one on for size, a “Christian-Inspired” Pagan…hmmm?
My ideas of Jesus/ Yeshua are also heavily influenced from Gnosticism, which I readily admit is a different entity all together than mainstream Christianity. In my studies and understanding, Gnosticism takes on a more mystical and hands on approach of self-study, self-realization, and self-achievement, which is why I personally think it meshes so well with Modern Neo-Paganism.
Again, this essay is not an attack on Eclectic Paganism, or those who blend ideas from Pagan paths with those from Gnostic, and Christian doctrine together, but a simple plea to sit and rethink our position and the names we give to our chosen path.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to any feedback, comments, or critiques I may get for writing this. It is always much appreciated, and I always try to come to these discussions with an Open mind, heart, and soul and hope my readers will do the same.
Pall Tryggr Ageirr
Location: Portsmouth, Ohio
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