All Beliefs are Welcome Here!
Most of us here consider ourselves Pagans. But we've got a pretty broad variety of beliefs and practices, and very different approaches to our religions and the world.
I'm fond of Michael York's definition, nicely discussed in a few of Chas Clifton's blog posts, but it's a bit dense:
An affirmation of interactive and polymorphic sacred relationship by the individual or community with the tangible, sentient and/or nonempirical.
It may be useful, especially for academic or legal purposes, but it doesn't tell us what anyone actually believes or does.
What kind of Pagans are we? What kind of community do we want this site to be?
How would you describe your religion to
…and how do you find common ground with other Pagans who have very different understandings of what is sacred and how to relate to it in the world?
You would describe your practices as "none of your business" to someone you liked, who was honestly interested? Wow that's harsh.
How can you find it easy to find common ground if you won't discuss your religion with other Pagans?
I wanted to separate the topic from my own answers.
I'm a Discordian Feri initiate; when people aren't Pagan or don't know much about Paganism, I tell them that's "like Wicca." I celebrate the holidays of the Celtic Wheel of the Year, although Feri has a somewhat different focus than most of the Wiccan groups. I also celebrate the Discordian holidays, but there's some question whether that's Pagan. (When I really want to annoy the reconstructionists, I tell them Discordianism is a form of Hellenic reconstruction.)
My beliefs are specific to my training and personal understandings; my practices are specific and purposeful. Because of that, I sometimes clash with eclectic Pagans. I don't have simple universal answers to a lot of questions, and I don't assume I have much in common with other Pagans.
While I'm friendlier with progressive Christians than with evangelical ones, I don't have different sets of answers for them. I tend to be argumentative and borderline hostile with either of them; my past experiences say that the "tolerant" Christians usually get a lot less tolerant when they figure out that my beliefs are really very different.
Acquaintances and sometimes coworkers get told that I'm Pagan, and that's all. I wouldn't mention religion at all at work, except that there are often holiday parties in the office, and people ask everyone what they're doing for Christmas. I'm stuck with either outing myself or lying. (Or I could say, "that's personal and I don't discuss it," and become known as "that weird cold person who can't chat at a party." This is not good for a career.)
For other Pagans, I find out if they've heard of Feri or Reclaiming and go from there; what they know will strongly shape my answers.
For people who might be interested in my path, I tell them: Run. Run far away and don't look back. This is not pleasant; it is not nice; it will rip your soul inside out and is likely to cost you at least one job and at least one romantic partner. This religion is incompatible with many aspects of modern life, and it's full of irate contentious people who constantly bicker with each other about the smallest aspects of doctrine.
This is what it means to me to be part of a non-proselytizing religion. Anyone who can be driven away with a few harsh words, would never be able to cope with our practices and our community.
I have no idea how we're going to have enough common ground here to have a functional social website. I don't think we agree on the basics of "what is sacred and how do you relate to that." I don't think we agree on what "polite communication" means, nor on what "reasonable debate" includes. I hope I'm wrong, but I've seen a lot of dysfunctional Pagan websites, and I worry the same things will happen here.
I pretty much expect some occasional flare-ups and arguments, the mods ban a few people and delete a few threads, and the site goes mostly dormant for long stretches because the regulars aren't interested in welcoming new people if those people don't immediately feel like old friends.
The term pagan is is full of everything, from traditional, recon, electic, discord, universal, poly etc etc. There was once a statement made in here that to get a crowd of 900 pagans to work together is likened to a gathering of a herd of tom cats.
"Discordianism celebrates the idea that disorder is as essential to the universe as order, and that the "order" imposed on the universe by human minds is largely arbitrary."
Self explanatory....Chaos theory
As Kerry Thornley wrote in the introduction to the Principia Discordia, "If organized religion is the opium of the masses, then disorganized religion is the marijuana of the lunatic fringe."
Hmmm, curious, very curious indeed.
Having said or quoted all that, if anyone who cannot handle at least a heated debate, cannot handle a strong emphasis on facts, much less a trollinian mudd slinging operation, then maybe chrisitanity is more their cup of tea.
There is no pleasing 60, 000 pagans as a collective consciousness..
References from Chrisitanity to Paganism is interesting in the context of what is acceptable to the modern world. It should be quite obvious that what is acceptable in the modern world, is a matter of opinion, and further, what is acceptable in the modern world is dictated by modern judeo chrisitanity of the last 80 years or so.
There is no mandate for any pagan to accept what is molded and shaped into modern society by judeo christianity. There is also the ancient integral aspect of secrecy, that has traditionally been part of the pagan experience. It is very simple to work this into any lifestyle. If not secrecy, then employ the art of diversion.
If the truth turns out to be a weapon that can be used against you, well, if you can't bullshit a bullshitter, then move on to the lowest common denominator.
I don't like to stereotype christians as people in general. The reason I don't like christians is not because they are christian. The reason I don't like them is because every single experience I have ever had with them on the persoanal level, from family and the broader spectrum of association all the way on down the line, they turned out predictably to be a bunch of assholes. Not because they are christian, but because they are assholes.
Maybe there is something in the christian dna that supports the idea of oneness and connectivity in that respect.
It's like taking a poll, out of a smaller sampling of respondents.
polytheists are reconstructionists
Reconstructionists are, as far as I know, polytheists, but there are plenty of polytheists who aren't reconstructionists.
That's not really relevant to what I said but all polytheists fall into the reconstructionist or revivalist catagories
I don't believe all polytheists are reviving or re-creating ancient religions or aspects of them. There's also the polytheists in the many religions that have just been around for a very long time - I don't think it's accurate to call Hindu religions reconstructionist or revivalist.
But even just for Pagans, there are plenty of polytheists who work with multiple deities but without trying to claim their practices or understandings of those deities is trying to match a pre-Christian approach.
I've never heard of any recon or revivalist groups that were willing to call Discordians reconstructionist or revivalist.
Well much of what you said is not true. Hinduism isn't polytheism and people who so called "work" with different gods are not reconstructionist that is true but they are not polytheists most of the time either. When I meet someone who claims to "work" with a god they tend to be wiccan and wicca is not a polytheistic faith.
Some Wiccans are polytheistic. Probably the majority - while many believe in gods and goddesses as aspects, they often believe in one goddess and one god as the primal deities.
I don't know what you mean by "polytheism" if it doesn't include Hindu worship of many different gods.
There are also many polytheistic Asian religions that have shrines and offerings for many different gods.
Discordian is very new age too.
What does that have to do with whether it's polytheistic? Many Discordians acknowledge, and sometimes worship, many deities.
I'm a lot more likely to talk about what I do rather than a quick label (so a lot of it is contextual), but for me it would be something like:
1) I'm a priestess in a modern Pagan religion that focuses on transformation, self-awareness, and interconnection. I'm polytheistic, but people in my religion have a variety of takes on the number and nature of deity.
2) I'm Pagan. (This is the one I almost never run into directly. )
3) More likely to talk about a thing I'm doing than a label - all my immediate coworkers know I take winter solstice off, and will cheerfully be in the office after Christmas.
4) Oh, interesting! Tell me more about that. I'm a priestess in a small initiatory religious witchcraft tradition.
5) I start with getting a sense of what they know about different branches of religious witchcraft, and go from there.
In terms of common ground, it depends what we're doing. I am interested in discussion with a lot of people, so long as we have similar ideas of how 'discussion' goes, versus 'argument' or 'monologue'. If we're collaborating on a thing, I need to have a sense of what they're aiming for, what I'm aiming for, and what we're aiming at doing together.