The only way to really distance oneself from being a Pagan is to leave behind all of the other people who call themselves Pagan.

Running From the Word Pagan

Yesterday on Google Plus someone* posted a few paragraphs announcing their decision to abandon the moniker of “Pagan.” Lots of discussion ensued, and since then I’ve seen those paragraphs linked to a number of times on my Facebook feed. I’m still not convinced that a lot of what goes on in the Pagan Blogosphere trickles down (and that trickling does include online communities), but this apparently caught the attention of some folks.

Such pronouncements aren’t really new though. Drew Jacob’s Why I’m Not a Pagan is over a year old at this point. So while this ex-blogger seemed to touch a nerve, her pronouncement shouldn’t have really surprised anyone. For the record, I’m fine with people calling themselves whatever they want. If you don’t think “Pagan” suits you that’s your prerogative. It’s your journey, you make the decisions, and I know a lot of Pagans who don’t like the term Pagan, but they are kind of stuck with it.

I’ll grant you that Pagan is not a great word. It has all sorts of definitions. It’s an adjective and a noun, and comes with some rather negative connotations. It’s a word we use to compartmentalize a rather large and diverse religious population. I’ll be the first to admit that it comes with problems. However, we’ve kind of decided certain things about it. If you are a polytheist worshipping Western or Middle Eastern deities and hanging out with people who call themselves Pagan, well you really can’t run away from the word.

Sure, you can add other qualifiers to it, and perhaps use them almost exclusively. I know lots of people who don’t typically use the word Pagan to describe themselves. They call themselves Druids, Witches, and Thelemites, but most of them will admit that their larger communities (both on and offline) are most likely to be labeled as Pagan.

The only way to really distance one’s self from being a Pagan is to leave behind all of the other people who call themselves Pagan. I was always confused by Drew Jacobs’ Why I’m Not a Pagan piece because he was active in the Pagan Community. Drew writes for Patheos Pagan, if you don’t want to be called a Pagan it’s probably hard to do that while writing for something with “Pagan” in the title. You may not think of yourself as a Pagan, but if you are using Pagan language, shared Pagan experience, and interacting with Pagans you shouldn’t act surprised when someone uses that term to describe you.**

Lots of Pagans do ritual outside of the “Eclectic Wiccan Framework” too, so the “I’m not a Pagan because I do ritually differently than the rest of you” argument doesn’t really work. Crowley-inspired ritual is different from ADF Ritual, and while I’m not a fan of those two ritual structures I still find that I can easily converse with the people inside of those traditions. I often find myself completely baffled when I stumble into ritual inspired by the (Victor and Cora Anderson) Feri Tradition, but I certainly relate to the practitioners and think of them as a part of my extended community. I know a lot of Hellenic Reconstructionists who shy away from the Pagan moniker, but we go to the same festivals, and those people and I can certainly chat for hours at a time about a shared religious experience even though we practice it in different ways. It’s hard for me not to think of them as Pagans. Maybe it’s just selfishness because I want all of those folks in my tribe, but I certainly don’t call them Pagan out of disrespect.

What if my neighbor who worships Jesus and attends the nearby Mega-church told me that she didn’t like to be called a Christian? I’m pretty sure I’d still think of her as a Christian. There’s guilt in association, and Christians tend to worship Jesus. Modern Pagans tend to be polytheists and worship ancient gods. If you do those things you will most likely get labeled as a “Pagan.” Even scholars would probably characterize such religious choices as “Contemporary Paganism.”

If you don’t want to be called a Pagan or be thought of as a Pagan, the only real solution is to probably divorce the Pagan Community and then not share your spiritual beliefs with anyone. I know that sounds a little harsh, but it’s true. Perhaps out of politeness I won’t call you a Pagan, but I’m still going to think of you that way, and so is most everyone else. Perhaps the term “Magickal Community” might apply here, but the moment you inject gods into the equation I’m thinking “Pagan” all the way. I apologize in advance.

It’s hard to control the use of words. You can leave the word “Pagan” behind but it’s probably going to follow you regardless. If you hang out with other Pagans they’ll think of you as one of them, a Pagan. If you explain your religious choices to someone outside of Paganism and include a reference to the worship of Greek or Celtic gods some of those people will even call you a Pagan. Again, the word Pagan is not perfect, but it’s here, and it’s what we’ve been labeled with. I for one don’t plan to shy away from it.

*Publish a pronouncement like that on a blog and I’ll link to it. Do it on social media and I become hesitant to do so. Besides, I’m going to take you at your word. If you don’t want to be called a Pagan and are trying to leave that world behind I have to assume you don’t want to be linked to.

**I don’t mean to pick on Drew here. Talented writer, fascinating thinker, but his pronouncements have been very public so I have to assume he doesn’t mind them being referenced or written about. Besides, I doubt he really cares about my opinion anyways.

About Jason Mankey

Jason Mankey has been involved with Paganism for the last twenty years, and has spent the last ten of those years as a speaker, writer, and High Priest. Jason can often be found lecturing on the Pagan Festival circuit, so you might just bump into him. When not reading and researching Pagan history he likes to crank up the Led Zeppelin, do rituals in honor of Jim Morrison (of The Doors), and sing numerous praises to Pan, Dionysus, and Aphrodite. He lives in Sunnyvale CA with his wife Ari and two hyper-kinetic cats.

  • http://www.facebook.com/chkraemer13 Christine Hoff Kraemer

    One of the things I don’t think most Pagans are aware of is how much the progressive Christian community quietly struggles with the word “Christian.” I think they’re less likely to post about it publicly than we are, but progressive Christians often fret over how “Christian” is defined in media, how the definition of it is dominated by right-wing rhetoric, and whether (if they have such different feelings about important issues than other “Christians”) if it’s really worthwhile to call themselves that. I think it often comes down to whether or not they have a church or Christian-identified group that’s meaningful to them. (And also, I think some progressive Christians are just bound and determined not to let the right wing define the terms.)

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    My issue with the term ‘P/pagan’ is its ambiguity. It is both an umbrella term for a group of distinct religions and also for a religious model itself.

    That said, I do get irked when people compare Paganism with Christianity. Sure, compare Wicca or Druidry with Christianity, but Paganism (as the umbrella) is more comparable to Abrahamism than one facet of that umbrella.

    Let us face it, the average Wiccan probably has as much (if not more) in common with the average Buddhist as they do with the average Ásatrúar.

    • JasonMankey

      I don’t know. I think we sometimes simplify how diverse Christian traditions can be. If you think of Mormons as a part of the Christian conversation and then compare them to Catholics . . . well the differences are huge. However, they can still talk about communion (though Mormons use water and not wine, and it doesn’t turn into blood), thoughts on Mary and Jesus. Sure they are very differing thoughts, but there is some common ground there.

      Most people who fall under the Pagan umbrella celebrate the same holidays, revere nature to some degree, and engage in a lot of the same discussions. I agree that the Asatru community is different from the Wiccan one, but even then, there’s been a lot of cross-over. I know folks who straddle both worlds and because of polytheism, holidays, language, etc., there’s a lot they do have in common. I never know what to say to a Buddhist, I have Heathen friends.

      • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

        But all of the Christian groups mentioned are based on the figure of Jesus of Nazarath and owe their existence in one way or another to the formative years of the early Christian church; they all look to a single text as the authoritative will of their god (the Mormons just happen to have added another book to it). There is no such unity among all the groups that people would lump together as ‘pagan’.

        I also can’t help but wonder why it is that, if one were to suggest that Hindus, Buddhists, indigenous religions in the America, Africa, Asia etc are Pagan whether they identify as such or not, you’ll immediately hear a chorus of Pagans saying that no one has a right to force that label on them (and rightly so); but, if someone who practices anything based on native European, Near Eastern or North African religions which were supplanted by Christianity and Islam, these same Pagans seems to have no trouble trying force the term Pagan on them, regardless of what they want.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Honestly, I suspect that the ‘enforced’ Paganing of disparate cultural beliefs is done to allow easier cultural appropriation for the pick’n’mix Pagans.

          (I use ‘pick’n’mix’ as opposed to eclectic as I see the two as distinct types of practice – the former will choose any bit they think looks cool, regardless of context whilst the latter will consider the contexts involved to ensure that they have a cohesive system.)

          • Mojavi

            Your argument confuses me. The definition of eclectic happens to be ‘pick’n’mix’…picking from various sources, mixing together to create something that works on an individual or community level.
            The ‘pick’n’mix’ argument seems to be more about trends vs serious study than labels. The latter is willing to involve themselves with even the boring/arduous/tedious aspects of their tradition/path/spirituality/religion/etc. while the former is what’s cool.

            Christianity solidified itself (First Council of Nicaea) using the ‘pick’n’mix’ method among the various sects of Christianity that existed at the time. Not every sect or gospel made the cut.

            As for cultural appropriation, this has been happening since the first tribes started interacting with each other. A Roman Recon would/should be well aware of their cultural appropriation from Greece. Historically, Alexander the Great appropriated several cultures along the way. There are non-Buddhists who have a statue of Buddha in there homes.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            You seem to understand my argument pretty well. One label is simply more disparaging than the other.

            I never said cultural appropriation was bad, did I?

        • JasonMankey

          I don’t think much of Christianity owes its existence to the early days of the church. The Catholic Church as constructed would be completely alien to Jesus (and he said to them “go and be nuns,” oh wait, he didn’t), and the Mormon Church is a modern construction. Christianity has been continually re-interpreted and changed, even if some of its main texts have remained important.

          I guess I see more unity in the umbrella term of Paganism than most people. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking, I don’t know. I think as we grow over the next decades and centuries you’ll see some adjustment. Perhaps some groups will outgrow the moniker of “Pagan.”

          As I mentioned in the article though, if you associate with people who call themselves Pagan and you share some of those beliefs, you shouldn’t be surprised when you are called a Pagan. I don’t see a whole lot of Hindus who dislike the term Pagan hanging out with Modern Pagans.

          • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

            I disagree, very early on, in the first centuries of Christianity, the organizational structures were already developing; these structures would later become the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox churches. Protestantism arose from the Catholic Church, specifically as a reaction to it, and other Protestant groups would arise as a reaction to other forms of Protestantism. The Mormon church is a bit of an anomaly, but it ultimately came out of the peculiar Protestant environment of 19th century America. All can be traced back to the earliest Christians; none of those groups could exist without the foundations of the Christian religion in the first few centuries. The same can never be said of, say, Ancient Egyptian religion and pre-Christian Germanic religion.
            My response to your last paragraph would be that there is a difference between overlap and equivalence. Also, the nature of the argument I often hear from those championing with term pagan isn’t dependent on association; they seem to suggest that certain groups are pagan whether they wish that descriptor or not. Heathens, for example, are an excellent example of a group that have formed their own communities, organizations, festival and events, completely separate from Pagans. One can be a Heathen, active in a community without ever having to rely on the Pagan community or describe themselves as such. Personally, I’ve never been to a Pagan festival, and I’ve never attended any local Pagan events. Online I often frequent Pagan sites, and find content of worth to me because of overlap between my beliefs and practices and what I sometimes find there. I could also follow a Shinto, Hindu or Native American blog for similar reasons, but I would never suggest that all of those groups have to be classified under one term because of that. I respect their right to their own self-definition and labels.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I think that’s part of the process that we’re working on in the Pagan community, though — the definition of Pagan. I advocate for a wide, encompassing meaning to the term, others advocate for one that is much more narrow. Either one is okay, but the mish-mash of different meanings that we try to work with now is not only confusing to us, but it’s completely impenetrable to others!

          • William Hood

            “Perhaps some groups will outgrow the moniker of “Pagan.””

            This has already happened in real, practical ways. It isn’t just some “maybe” or future possibility anymore. The Pagan community just keeps refusing to see it. Another reason we’ve extricated ourselves from said community, in fact: instead of our concerns being addressed with serious conversation, we just got shouted down and shut up. So many of us said “Screw it, we’ll ignore them and do our own thing.” Now that we’re becoming more numerous, Pagans suddenly want to listen and understand and discuss (although many are still disregarding and trying to brush us off, such as this blog), but the shift has already occurred while you were ignoring us. Communities have split and are splitting from the Pagan community, and no amount of blog posts or online comments means jack in reality.

            I don’t mean any of that in any ominous or mean way. I’m just pointing out reality. There are still some Heathens, for example, who consider themselves Pagan; and we don’t try to stop them from doing so. But the majority of Heathens I know either reject the term or only use it in very specialized situations to avoid having to explain this very argument when there is something more important to discuss. In fact, one of my Liut-mates called me after he saw my response to all of this on FB and he was like, “Pagans are still going on and on about this? It was settled almost a decade ago!” You see he, like many others, are the unseen part of this whole equation.

            It’s easy to get a false sense of this issue when you don’t interact with the large (and growing) number of people who interact solely with their own religious communities and not at all with the Pagan community. They aren’t on Pagan blogs. They aren’t at Pagan events. But they still exist, and they seem to be the very people who have your permission to stop being considered Pagan. Heck, pretty much MY only interaction with Pagans is on the internet. For everyone like me, Kauko, etc. who comment on this issue on the internet, they’re are probably 3-5 people like us who ignore the whole argument and go about their business.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I have to say, I really have enjoyed reading your comments on this, and how Heathens have pretty much already washed their hands of this years ago. I appreciate it from just about all the Heathens who’ve responded –and I can see more that Heathen groups have in common with the Hellenic community than Hellenes have with pagans, though I think there might be more Hellenes, at least in North America, who are still willing to engage the pagan community, for whatever reasons.

            I admit, my relationship with the “pagan” label is more for the occasional conveniences you describe than anything else. Some pagan blogs I enjoy, but I read more from other Hellenists. It’s not that I have anything against pagans, it’s just that I see less common ground than one might think I’d have. Biggest difference between Hellenes and Heathens right now (besides the obvious) is, Hellenes aren’t having our own gatherings, so we piggyback on pagan fests more.

          • William Hood

            Thank you, I’m glad my comments are appreciated. I’d love to see Hellenes go the same way as Heathens and start building their community up more. Really, I’d like to see all polytheist, Pagan, etc. religions do so, but especially those which I find kinship with like other recon/revivalist religions.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          “[...] you’ll immediately hear a chorus of Pagans saying that no one has a right to force that label on them (and rightly so); [...] these same Pagans seems to have no trouble trying force the term Pagan on [native European, Near Eastern or North African traditions], regardless of what they want.”

          This. I am troubled on a regular basis by this specific paradox within myself. I am unwilling to sacrifice my dream of Paganism which includes traditions descendant from those areas that you listed but equally unwilling to force others to use it if they do not wish to. It, quite literally, keeps me up at night.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        No matter how diverse the different denominations of Christianity may
        be, they are all still part of the same religion – same pantheon and
        (mostly) the same scripture/collection of myths/parables.

        Look at how many different forms of Wicca there are. You could easily compare Christianity to Wicca as a way of demonstrating how one religion can be viewed in a myriad diverse ways, many radically different to how the originator likely saw it.

        The next question is why do most who fall under the ‘Pagan umbrella’ celebrate the same festivals? Is it the same reason that many of those will also celebrate Christ’s mass?

        • R.M. McGrath

          Why do most Pagans celebrate the same festivals? Probably because most Pagans practice something that is either Wiccan or derived from (or heavily influenced by) Wicca. Unfortunately, people who don’t celebrate these things tend not to interact with the larger Pagan community as much.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Possibly due to a sense of exclusion?

          • R.M. McGrath

            That’s possible. Also, if I’m a Pagan who doesn’t celebrate the sabbats/”Wheel of the Year” which is when most Pagans get together, why would I go to that?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I can understand that. I live within 35 miles of both Avebury and Stonehenge, but avoid them on the solstices due to no particular need to hang out with a bunch of revellers.

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      There’s also something to be said for understanding that the zeitgeist of our times includes the using term Pagan to refer to not just Wiccan and Wiccanate traditions but also Druids, Heathens, Hellenes, Khemetics, Qadishuma, etc. We can fight and fight and fight and fight all we want, but resistance may be futile (couldn’t resist).

      I’m not a super-fan of lettering others label us (especially if it’s a means to also other the community), though. Which is why I think we need to be a part of that definition and a part of that labeling. Right now, I don’t think that we are because we’re so worry about talking about how we’re dissimilar rather than similar.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Why should ‘Pagan’ refer to anything other than Pagan?

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          I’m sorry, I don’t follow what you’re asking. Can you elaborate?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Hmmm… I thought I responded to this already. How odd. Let’s try again.

            You said:
            “…using term Pagan to refer to not just Wiccan and Wiccanate traditions
            but also Druids, Heathens, Hellenes, Khemetics, Qadishuma, etc.”

            Why not just say Wiccan/Heathen/Hellene instead of Pagan?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Honestly? Personal preference and the desire to be in community with those people in addition to others. I worry that without some ties that bind us — even if those ties are represented only be a common self-identifying term — that we will lack the both the impetus to learn and share with each other but also to support others in the community when they need us.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            At the moment, though, it is so vague as to hinder learning.

            Someone self defines as a Wiccan, you have a fairly good idea what they mean. Same as a Heathen or a Hellene. When they say Pagan, more questions are required to achieve the same level of understanding.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Exactly. We need to be asking and answering those questions together rather than separating ourselves until the questions are no longer necessary.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I disagree. By removing irrelevant questions, we have more time for the interesting questions.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            This question is not irrelevant. It goes to the heart of who and what we are and how we comport ourselves when working with others. If you find this conversation irrelevant, then I fear we’re at an impasse as I am not aware of a more relevant, timely, and necessary struggle that we need to overcome in order to determine our direction, meaning, identity, and community health.

          • William Hood

            “It goes to the heart of who and what we are and how we comport ourselves when working with others. ”

            What we’re getting at is that we already know the heart of who we are and what we are when working with others, and we want to portray that heart to others on our own terms rather than having to argue over a unifying definition of Pagan beforehand.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            But can’t that be re-examined in light of time and distance from the original determination? Further, for those of us still using the term Pagan and finding greater similarity with those who left it behind, we’re still seeking what you have found. That makes you an authority on the topic and I, for one, would like to understand more about the meaning that others have found because that helps me construct a more accurate picture of my own.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            If all those who don’t see ‘Pagan’ as a primary identifier leave the term behind then, of course, those left still using it will find it easier to relate with each other.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            How does saying “I’m a Hellene” get any less to the heart of who I am and what my religion is than answering several questions that will essentially give that answer? Why should I submit to answering the same questions everybody is bound to ask because you find it more comfortable?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            You shouldn’t. I’m not asking you to do that. As I stated elsewhere, I’m seeking to define Paganism in such a way that myself and others like me are comfortable using that term and you and others like you are comfortable with that usage.

            If that means that you continue to avoid it, so be it; it’s not for me or anyone else to tell you what your identity is. But, the current situation seems to commonly be that you and other non-Pagan polytheists are lumped into the term Pagan against your will and I seek to avoid that by clarifying the term Pagan for those of us who do use it.

          • William Hood

            I responded to this above, but it bears repeating, we already have real world, practical examples that disprove the thinking at the end of your paragraph. Heathens have been largely independent from the Pagan community for quite a while, and yet they were some of the first to step up in the VA Pentacle quest.

      • William Hood

        “the zeitgeist of our times includes the using term Pagan to refer to not just Wiccan and Wiccanate traditions but also Druids, Heathens, Hellenes, Khemetics, Qadishuma, etc. We can fight and fight and fight and fight all we want, but resistance may be futile (couldn’t resist).”

        I think you may feel this way simply because of the limited perspective of where you’re standing. Go find a community that doesn’t identify as Pagan, there are a lot of more them than you may realize, and hang out with them for a while. Your view of the “zeitgeist” might be a little different after that.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          I have; I’ve been doing interfaith work for eight years in the American Midwest, Mid-atlantic, and now, New England. I can provide you only my anecdotal evidence, but that evidence tells me that if you’re not identifying Pagan, you lump everyone of us regardless of what we wish to be called under that term. Worse, we look childish and petty to those who don’t understand the struggle that we face with respect to internal community building efforts.

          • William Hood

            “but that evidence tells me that if you’re not identifying Pagan, you lump everyone of us regardless of what we wish to be called under that term.”

            I don’t think I’m understanding this sentence. Can you elaborate?

            “we look childish and petty to those who don’t understand the struggle that we face with respect to internal community building efforts.”

            I think the problem there is that people are trying to build community around religious commonality that isn’t there; not that people are rejecting a label. It’s like taking Muslims and Jews in Palestine/Israel and telling them that they need to make community because they’re both Abrahamic. Except worse, because we don’t even share anything as clearly uniting as an Abraham figure. Instead, build Wiccan communities, Heathen communities, Hellenic communities, etc. and then those communities can interact without having to hash out some unifying characteristics first, which isn’t going to happen.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            “but that evidence tells me that if you’re not identifying Pagan, you
            lump everyone of us regardless of what we wish to be called under that term”

            Sorry, that sentence is pretty impenetrable. Consider this one:

            That evidence tells me that the point of view of those not a member of the Big Tent Pagan community (i.e. you are Christian, Muslim, Sikh, Buddhist, Shinto, Jewish, etc) regarding the separations that we’re building is confusion and and the ignorance of the nuances we’ve discussed herein lead them to assume the existence of the Big Ten Pagan community as a de facto reality.

          • Kay

            That is the exact opposite of my experience, as I explained in another reply. I’ve found when I encounter someone, whether Abrahamic or atheist, who has no concept of any religions outside the big 3, and maybe they’ve heard of Hinduism, but don’t really know what it is, they are quick to understand what is explained to them. There are other religions besides Christian, the term “non-believer” is not synonymous with “non-Christian”, and these are some of the other religions you (the person being addressed) are not familiar with. Wiccan, Heathen, Sikh, Native American, Hellenism, Kemetism, eclectic Pagan, etc…

            The resistance I’ve encountered has always come from self-identified pagans.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I think we’re talking about two different things. I’m talking about the perception of others regarding our faith communities and traditions but I’m confused by what you’re trying to say in your comment. Can you elaborate?

          • Kay

            I’m saying the only time I encounter resistance to Heathen not being lumped in with pagan is from pagans. I have never once had a conversation with a Christian or atheist who, when informed that Heathen and pagan are two different things, bothered to argue the point. The only exception being fundamentalists who believe anyone who isn’t Baptist/Catholic/evangelical/etc is going straight to hell, and they don’t care about the definition so much as the state of not being the “right” kind of Christian.

            In other words, the perception of others is to accept what they are told, especially when you can provide them more info to further explain it if they’re interested. I’ve had another pagan scream at me (in the all caps sense) for weeks on end when asked not to lump me in with her pagan definition. I’ve never had that response from a Methodist or a Sunni. Their response is usually along the lines of “huh, never knew that.”

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Understood, thank you.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            The more I think about it, this generally echoes my own experience, as well. Even Christians and atheists who are vaguely familiar with the current use of “pagan” are far less resistant to the idea that there are are dozens of religions outside the Abrahamic model, and even if some individuals within those religions participate in the “pagan community”, that doesn’t make those religions necessarily “pagan”. While ther is certainly a noticable amount of people (almost invaribly Christian) who can’t figure out what “polytheist” means, even after attempting to explain it, they’re kinda he minority under the magnifier.

            Self-identified pagans, on the other hand, have a harder time accepting that an individual practising a non-Abrahamic religion and who participates in some pagan activities both a) might not consider their religion pagan, and b) might not consider themselves pagan.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Marilyn-Kaye-Muma-Reid/1088571988 Marilyn Kaye Muma-Reid

    I always thought that Pagan was just an umbrella term anyway that encompassed many different paths….Heathen, Asatru, Celtic, Witch, Wiccan, etc. Apparently I have been misinformed.

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      You haven’t been. That’s the way a number of people, like myself, use the term. But there are still others who use it differently.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      The thing is, there are those who use it as an umbrella term, and there are other who use it as a way to describe their particular path.

      Then there is the old fashioned way of it being used to refer to any non Abrahamic (Jewish/Christian/Muslim) religion/belief system.

      • http://www.facebook.com/mirage358 Jason White

        I feel like that’s a good religious literacy test within our community. IMHO, anyone who only uses “Pagan” to describe their particular religion is lazy. Because “Paganism” is not a religion, it’s a category of religions, and if they don’t know that then they’re in the same boat that with Christians that don’t know the Nicene Creed.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          That’s the thing. Paganism IS a religion as well. Which is where much confusion arises.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

            No. It isn’t, just as witchcraft isn’t necessarily seen as a religion – it is a craft for some, the same as any other craft and can be a part of their personal religious practices. Wicca is a religion,

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Tell that to those who define their religious path as either (eclectic) Pagan or Witchcraft.

  • http://aquapunk.net/ Lo

    Please god tell me you don’t do this to people when it comes to pronouns or last names or whatever else self-identifying term they’ve deliberately and explicitly chosen for themselves?

    • JasonMankey

      You missed the entire point. I’ll call anyone want they want to be called, and I’m completely fine with that. I understand why people don’t like the word Pagan or feel as if they don’t fit in with the greater concept of Pagan Community. But if you go to Pagan Festivals, comment on Pagan Blogs, and generally interact with Pagans, it’s hard not to think of you as a Pagan. I don’t think that’s offensive. If someone specifically doesn’t want to be thought of as a Pagan, then why hang out with Pagans? That I don’t understand.

      • http://aquapunk.net/ Lo

        Because all their close friends are Pagan? Because their community activism is pagan? Because of the food? Because they came from a pagan background and that is still the community they feel most comfortable with because polytheists of a specific stripe are nearly impossible to find? Because interfaith work is important to them? Because everyone else in their life is a fundamentalist Christian and they crave religious interaction? Because pagans have interesting things to say, all things considered?

        I mean, I can think up 101 ways why someone would surround themselves with pagans and not be pagan themselves– I’m queer and I hang out almost entirely with cisheteros, I’m Chicana and never find myself in the company of other Chinan@s, I’m a macrophile and I actually just plain hate the macro community. I’m ace and don’t get along with other aces either it seems. Honestly, it’s like… take your pick, lol.

      • Dave

        “it’s hard not to think of you as a Pagan.”

        I have no idea what you mean. If someone says they’re not Pagan, why would you think of them as being Pagan? I don’t mean this sarcastically, I just don’t understand that way of thinking. I’m not saying I don’t have my own perception of what constitutes a Pagan, I do. I’m saying that if someone who may seem similar to what I think of as being a Pagan says they’re not Pagan I see no reason to go on think of them as one.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          I’m married to a Catholic and do sometimes attend Mass with her (usually when she’s performing a specific duty during the liturgy and she wants the support) and I would be surprised to find out that the assumption wasn’t made in that setting that I was Catholic.

          I think that’s what Jason was getting at. Especially online when we don’t have other contextual cues to work with (familiar faces, expected colleagues, etc.) it can be even harder to remember who’s who and who wants to be called what.

          • http://aquapunk.net/ Lo

            No, he specifically stated that even if the proper identifier were established and known to him, he would still think of them how he wants based on his own rubric… thus undermining theirs. Filling in for unknowns based on context is normal, albeit sometimes problematic also. But completely ignoring another’s right to their own identity for the sake of your own convenience or agenda is extremely disrespectful even if its just in your head. It basically means that you trust yourself more than that individual’s autonomy and lived experience.

          • JasonMankey

            If Roger hangs out with my Pagan Friends, and attends our discussion groups, perhaps even an occasional ritual, how could my brain not think of him as a member of my Pagan Community? I don’t understand that. Obviously Roger likes us, obviously Roger is not offended by Pagans. If Paganism or the word Pagan is offensive to him I have to assume he would leave. By placing himself in our presence on a continual basis should he be surprised when he gets called a Pagan?

            What you are implying to me is that my brain has to think of my Pagan Community separately from Roger. Because while he is a part of our family, he is apart from us, perhaps he’s standing in the same field with the rest of us, but there’s a fence between him and I?

          • http://aquapunk.net/ Lo

            Why do you feel there needs to be a fence, first of all? And why is the existence of that fence dependent solely on the term this friend calls himself and nothing else more substantial than that?

            I honestly don’t see the need for a fence. He is your friend Roger, and, if you must categorize him in your head every time you think about him, he’s your friend Roger the X. The fact that you would busy yourself with doing more than that I find bothersome and not something that I can relate to whatsoever in my dealings with other human beings (where further ethical contextualization isn’t necessarily warranted, I might add). I’m not going to comment on your use of “offensive” here, because it’s moot– of course someone who finds the use of pagan actually viscerally offensive would dissociate themselves from pagandom. But someone, among friends, whom they’ve disclosed their preferred term to? That’s completely different and quite a disingenuous example, to boot.

          • Dave

            If I were ‘Roger’ in that situation I wouldn’t be offended by being called a Pagan by anyone who didn’t know any better. But say that I preferred “polytheist” instead of “Pagan” for whatever reason. I would expect anyone whom I communicated that to to be able to tell the difference. Not out of a sense of “politeness” or “political correctness” or whatever but out of simple reason and logic. It’s not unreasonable, per se – although it is often problematic, to make assumptions about people. When the people themselves point out that those assumptions are not true, you correct those assumptions. That’s not even common decency – although there should be an element of that too – that’s just plain common sense!

            Take for instance the Deaf community. I’m not physically deaf but my lover is. I participate with him in his community, I’ll even grant you that it’s fair to say that I’m culturally deaf or a deaf-ally or whatever. But that doesn’t change the fact that I’m hearing. Now, with things that are self-reported, like religious beliefs and identity, it’s a much more complicated thing than that. I can appreciate drawing parallels between similar persons, in an academic sense. But that doesn’t mean you can ignore self-reporting! Wouldn’t you just be privileging one group’s rhetoric above another group’s? I’m not interested in policing another person’s thoughts though. If you want to insist that I’m something I’m not I’d rather you were honest about it so I can know to cease associating with you.

            For the record I identify as a little “p” cultural pagan and agnostic polytheist so I get crapped on by both big “P” Pagans and the “hard” polytheist community.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

            Just because someone hangs out with you, likes you, or is a good guest at one of your rituals does not make that person one of you. To use a personal example, the times that I went to a darshan at a Hindu ashram, and took part in the ritual as a guest of the guru of the Temple and was dressed in a traditional sari and because my right nostril is pierced did not therefore make me a Hindu either, Why is the pagan community so loath to just let someone be in among you and not necessarily have to be “of” you?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I see the difference, thanks for the clarification.

      • aine

        So you abstain from all contact with Christians I assume?

        What I’m hearing from you is: “I will not respect your identity til you give up your community and support.” Which is waaaaay uncool.

      • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        If someone spends a lot of time on GBLT activist blogs, do you automatically assume they are G, B, L, or T? If they tell you that they’re just allies, do you still find it difficult not to think of them as GBLTs?

  • soloontherocks

    Responded to this elsewhere, might as well add it here.

    Just because I hang around pagans (and I don’t, I hang around polytheists) doesn’t make me a pagan, and I’m perfectly entitled to correct anyone who refers to me as such. The author surely wouldn’t get snippity if a Southern Baptist corrected someone who confused him with an Anglican Christian. And yet those are two branches of the same religion.

    The argument that “well people confuse easily and can’t tell the difference in the terms” is invalid. It’s an is/ought fallacy. Apply that philosophy to, for instance, transfolk, and you’ve got a whole bunch of completely righteous anger. Just because people ARE morons doesn’t mean you should let them KEEP being morons. I am not a pagan. There is no value in the word when it includes both Christopagans and atheists. It’s reached the point where it officially has no meaning. I’m not a pagan, I don’t practice like a pagan stereotype, I don’t use magic, I don’t perform my rites outdoors or naked or in touch with my inner goddess or whatever. I am not dualtheistic and I do not primarily worship a mother goddess or nature or whatever the fuck it is I’m supposed to worship by fluffywicca standards. I worship mighty and talented and very male Gods and I do it from the comfort of my own home. I am not a *pagan* and I won’t tolerate being called one just because the author of that article thinks I have no right to correct people.

    I am not a pagan. I am a **polytheist.**

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      I agree with you 100%.

      The crazy part: I am Pagan.

      This is the crux of the situation. It’s not about forcing to use labels they don’t want to use. It’s not about pressuring people to stop using the ones that they want as a part of their identity. It’s about finding meaning and we can only do that together.

      For every person that leaves behind the label Pagan and seeks (and hopefully finds) another, the likelihood of finding that meaning technically grows (less people = less opinions = greater likelihood of agreement). We could be talking an increased likelihood in the fractions of percentages but it’s still more likely.

      But, what I fear is that without the Christopagans, Naturalists, Humanists, Heathens, and people like you, that the definition of Pagan will become so narrow that it leaves _me_ behind. I will always respect a person’s right to identify with any term they choose, but I ask others — in return — respect my right to fight for the Pagan community that I want us to build together.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Do you really think that the ‘Pagan’ community needs the word in order to be a community?

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          Emphatically, yes.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I find it somewhat disturbing that a single (fairly meaningless) word can be so pivotal to a community.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I find it equally difficult to see it from the other side, i.e., where the term doesn’t matter. I can try to explain further, but the TL;DR version is that any community needs a shared symbol of some kind behind which to stand in solidarity with one another. Without that symbol, the solidarity is harder to find and, in fact, might be impossible to find as the factions (for lack of a better term) that could have become a community find solidarity only within instead of between. A word can be that symbol.

          • soloontherocks

            Ah, but should there necessarily BE solidarity? A Hellenic Recon, or a Kemetic Recon, or any one of a thousand other more history-based practices has next to nothing in common with “mainstream” paganism. Pretty much the only thing we have in common is we’re not Christians. That’s not a bond. Why should we have to make it one?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I don’t know. I want to say “yes,” but I fear the answer is otherwise. And that makes me very sad. (Editing)

          • http://www.facebook.com/mirage358 Jason White

            We do have something in common besides that we’re not Christian – there’s area of origin. All of our faiths are based on, or descended from, the ethnic faiths of Europe and the Near-East.

            Hinduism and Buddhism are clearly very different religions, and you wouldn’t call either by the other’s name, but they’re both Dharmic faiths. In the same way, Hellenism, Kemeticism, Heathenry, and Wicca are all Pagan religions, even though you would be hard pressed to confuse them for each other.

            It seems to me that most of the people that get emphatic about *not* being Pagan seem to have a conception of “Paganism” as one monolithic faith that they are nothing akin to, while the rest of us are confused because it’s just another category – like Abrahamic, Dharmic, or Asiatic faiths.

            I’m a Celtic Recon, but that’s still a faith under the category of Pagan.

          • R.M. McGrath

            Not all of our faiths…

          • Aine

            Yay, I’m definitely not Pagan by this definition! (Builds own religion and works with new Gods.)

          • http://www.forgingthesampo.com/ Kauko

            But Hinduism and Buddhism have an easily seen historical relationship: they both came out of the religious environment of the Indian subcontinent; the same is not necessarily true of all the religions native to North Africa, the Near East and Europe. The problem for many of us lies with people like you who treat Pagan as some unalterable, established category that we have to be lumped into whether we want it or not.
            BTW, while I have no trouble with Abrahamic and Dharmic as religious categories, but… Asiatic? Asia is the worlds largest continent and arguably the most historically and culturally diverse, and it just gets lumped into ‘Asiatic’? But, that’s also largely the same objection I have to lumping Europe, North Africa and the Near East (which is technically Asia) into one category: namely that it’s sloppy.
            Mostly, though, I think that it’s just about respect. It’s incredibly arrogant for any one to declare that they know best how someone of another religion must be labeled.

          • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

            “In the same way, Hellenism, Kemeticism, Heathenry, and Wicca are all Pagan religions, .”

            No. They are not. There are plenty of folks who are Kemetic who want absolutely no part whatsoever of the pagan label and consider themselves to be monolatrists (not monotheists) – much in the way that Hinduism is. It was Roman paganism that destroyed the religion of ancient Kemet by outlawing it because it undermined the absolute authority of the Emperor. It was not, much to the surprise of many who are ignorant of the historical fact, because of either Christianity or Islam. It is a matter of simple research to find such things out. Scientific verification of historical fact is getting better all the time. The pagan community no longer has the excuses that it once did, claiming that “no one knows for sure.” We do.

            It was the pagans of the ancient world who did not understand either the indigenous religious views or the culture. Look at the discrepencies between Pharaonic Kemet and after Ptolomaic and Roman rule. The language changes, the deities change because of the attempt of Greek and Roman cultures to overlay their deities over the top of the extant ones in Egypt at that time. Kemetic religion was not exclusively pagan – it could be, but it was more polyvalent than most if not nearly all other pagan faiths of antiquity. Hell, the Greeks couldn’t even get the names right!

            So if some of we Kemetics get a bit pissy about the pagan label, that is the chief reason why. I notice that modern pagans ignore such protests – largely in the same way that they do when First Nations folks (aka Native Americans) get really very testy at the pagan label as well.

          • Aine

            I actually quite passionately disagree – I don’t need to be a Muslim to stand in solidarity and fight tooth and nail for them. I don’t need to be a Wiccan to stand by a Wiccan’s side and fight for their rights. I don’t need to be a Pagan to support you.

            The solidarity I see spoken of in Pagandom is actually one of homogenization – pushing forward the rights of the majority while speaking over the minority that is supposed to just sit down and ‘be in solidarity’ with people that don’t listen to them. From what I’ve read from other polytheists’ writings, that is their experience too.

            We are far stronger when we acknowledge first that we are different but we are -coming together despite that-. Not to mention, those that don’t stand in solidarity – we shouldn’t judge to harshly, for they have their own reasons.

          • Dave

            “…is actually one of
            homogenization – pushing forward the rights of the majority while
            speaking over the minority that is supposed to just sit down … with people that don’t listen to them.”

            As someone who is an “agnostic” polytheist and not a “hard” polytheist this is my – exact – experience of the polytheist community. I fully agree with you that it sucks. When anybody does it.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            “We are far stronger when we acknowledge first that we are different but
            we are -coming together despite that-. Not to mention, those that don’t
            stand in solidarity – we shouldn’t judge to harshly, for they have their
            own reasons.”

            I agree 100%. Maybe I’m not being clear; I haven’t been able to sleep well since Sunday or Monday when this conversation online started up on Facebook. I seek not a community of strict compliance with a standard but rather a diverse community of difference that stands together unite behind a common symbol, in this case the term Pagan.

          • William Hood

            This idea is completely refuted by reality, however. Heathens have been largely independent in their own community for a while now and they still show up in solidarity with Pagans, such as with the VA Pentacle issue.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            That’s why I seek to change that reality.

            Again, I’m not asking the Heathens or others use the term Pagan. I’m pleading with them that they work with those of us who do to find a definition that we’re both comfortable with. Otherwise, I fear that we will define the term in a way that further alienates or angers other communities similar to that which we construct or we’ll be seen as patronizing or belittling the choices of others when our definition seems to include a faith tradition that would prefer not to be included within it.

          • William Hood

            “I’m pleading with them that they work with those of us who do to find a definition that we’re both comfortable with.”

            How is that any different from asking us to use the term “Pagan?” Maybe I’m misunderstanding something. If Pagans want to change the meaning of the term “Pagan” I don’t really see how that’s any of our business or responsibility as long as their new definition doesn’t falsely include us against our wishes.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            “I don’t really see how that’s any of our business or responsibility as
            long as their new definition doesn’t falsely include us against our
            wishes.”

            It’s neither your business nor your responsibility until you decide that it is (again, speaking technically to William but also to others here). I can guarantee you that left to our own devices, we’re likely to falsely include you and others against your wishes. I know, because I’ve done it. Now, I don’t know how to do what I do any more because my sense and understanding of what it means to be Pagan and what it means to be a community organizer within that term, has been pretty much obliterated over the last three days. I seek a way to put that back together again and you’re in no way required to assist me (or us) with that, but I sort of wish that we could all try.

          • William Hood

            I’m sure that left to do whatever they want, Pagans will include us no matter what. But it’s kind of irrelevant if we aren’t actively taking part in that community in a religious manner. Not to mention that I and others refute that with whomever we may speak with about it, because it’s our responsibility to make that fact known, not Pagans’.

            As to your dilemma, I see where you’re coming from. That’s a hard spot and I feel for you. But this issue hasn’t been solved in the 10-15 years it’s been going on and I don’t think it’s going to be solved by reuniting everyone under the term Pagan. I just don’t see that being a realistic possibility. On the other hand, the Pagan Community isn’t going anywhere. Pagans are exactly what they were 4 days ago, minus Heathens and any other communities who may have gained practical independence from the Pagan community (I don’t know of any others.) So represent the community that you’ve got, not the community that you wish you had. I mean, you already weren’t representing people like me who don’t consider themselves “Pagan,” so not much has changed for you, really. And anyway, do you feel the best candidate to represent every single religion that you want included under the term “Pagan?”

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I think the problem is that I do represent you whether you, or I, want to. Others will lump you in with me in with the Khemetics and the Qadishuma and the Hellenes and even after years of trying to tease apart the differences for people, they very often don’t get it.

            Consider the recent 30 Days of Interfaith program that the Interfaith Youth Corps performed on Twitter (they were dumb and didn’t use a hashtag so it’s hard to find). They were asked by Heathens to include something from their tradition, agreed that they were, and then quoted Isaac Bonewitz. These are quite possible some of the most religiously literate young people on the planet, people with whom I have personally worked to organize conferences and events, and they still don’t see the nuances that we discuss on days like this.

            We either need to be much more clear — which means much more work — or we need to become less touchy (that word sucks, forgive me) when it comes to people speaking from their experience and trying to generalize.

          • William Hood

            I vote for much more clear. I think part of the problem is also our own fault. Heathens and other non-Pagan-identified need to start representing themselves in those kinds of situations instead of hiding away. Otherwise your first paragraph will continue to be utterly correct.

          • Guest

            William – who is “us” in “Pagans will include us no matter what.” How doyou define yourself?

          • William Hood

            I particularly, am “Heathen.” Despite that term having its own problems, it has less problems for me than “Pagan” does. In this post specifically, by “us” I meant those who are non-Pagan-identified, or however one wants to describe it.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            “How is that any different from asking us to use the term ‘Pagan?’”

            I finally have an answer for this; I only had to think about it for most of a day and then feed my cat. Some people get ideas in the shower, apparently this is my thing.

            The difference is that I’m not asking you to use the term, but to help find a way that I can do so and not offend and/or require clarification from you. Frankly, this conversation has done wonders for my understanding for your viewpoint and those of the people who hare it. I fear that my points have been lost within my soul-searching.

            In other words, my goal would be to have a definition for Pagan that includes me and excludes you and on which that we can both agree. And, I’d prefer that we have a way of doing so that isn’t simply filled with a series of exceptions but maybe that wouldn’t be possible.

            It’s a tall order; it’s not likely to be solved here, but I think we need to at least continue working towards doing so.

          • William Hood

            “In other words, my goal would be to have a definition for Pagan that includes me and excludes you and on which that we can both agree.”

            Oh, I see. That would be fantastic and I have no problem with that. I’m skeptical that it could be done, and more skeptical that it would proliferate. But hey, I’ll try anything once. Especially if it would settle the issue to everyone’s satisfaction.

            And I’m totally an “ideas in the shower guy,” so I know what you mean. :-)

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Crap. We just agreed on the Internet. Quick, someone say something inflammatory! No? Okay, I’ll start …. uhm ……….

            Your father smelt of elderberries!

            Yeah. That’ll teach ‘em.

          • William Hood

            Oh yeah? Well your mother was a hamster!

            Aaaahhh, can you feel the internet’s collective sigh of relief?

          • Kevin Faulkner

            This is the crux of my own confusion in reading these comments. I understand that the connotation of “Pagan” many–mostly within the community–have is misleading for Heathens, and it seems appropriate to use a Germanic word for “pagan” to describe a polytheistic germanic path. But I can’t imagine any satisfactory way to define “Pagan” that wouldn’t include all Heathens… It’s also important to remember that, for people who don’t have some direct experience with our communities, “heathen” and “pagan” are synonymous slurs for all non-Abrahamic faiths and both, for many, basically mean polytheist.

            I guess what I’m saying is: this is a weird conversation. Words mean what we use and define them to mean, and are only useful/helpful insofar as the meanings used by parties in communication are sufficiently close to allow for actual exchange. The fact that we’re reclaiming language–like pagan, heathen, or witch–and trying to find constructive ways to use it means our project is automatically inflammatory.

            I also don’t think “Pagan” is a religion, but a type or a family of religions.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I’ve said it before but, for some people, their religion is Paganism. These people are typically eclectic in their beliefs, rather than fixed to a certain tradition or path.

          • William Hood

            You make very good points. Honestly, “Heathen” isn’t an ideal term either. In my ideal world neither term would be used. However, we aren’t in my ideal world, so “Heathen” tends to cause me less problems. The only thing I have to deal with is what you pointed out: the non-Abrahamic slur. With “Pagan” I have to deal with both the slur aspect of the word and the Pagan stereotypes that I don’t fit.

            I also don’t think reclaiming is quite the right term for it. If we were reclaiming them, than we would use “Pagan” to mean someone who is either a country dweller or a non-soldier and we would use “Heathen” to mean someone who lives on a heath. But I agree with your point in that paragraph.

            I also agree that “Pagan” isn’t supposed to refer to a discrete religion, but rather a category of religions. But there are many people out there who do not belong to a specific religion within Paganism, so “Pagan” becomes their primary religious identity. That’s what leads to muddying the waters with Pagan being used to describe a particular religious tendency AND a category of religions. I don’t think people can have it both ways, though, and that’s why the term keeps being debated.

        • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

          What are the benefits of “pagans” – neo or otherwise, even having a community? Even by the loosest of definitions, this so called “community” is more along the lines of a tenuous peace between tribes that tend to squabble endlessly over the most petty details, otherwise they’d have little good to say about one another at all. I saw this in the Indigenous community for decades, and unless there is a concerted effort toward real respect amongst each other, then there is no “community” to speak of at all.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Off the top of my head:

            the ability to be in a new town and feel the need to reflect, worship, praise, thank, or work with a deity and being able to find a place in that town where one can go to mediate, commune, pray, magic, etc.

            the ability to find a religious leader or figure in a local area that you’re not familiar with if you need one for some reason or another.

            the ability for leaders within that community to speak for us at the level of local, regional, and national levels of government without being torn down by the pettiness that you mention.

            a way to try and support an intentional community of people who wish to live in a specific way that speaks to them but wouldn’t be able to do so without assistance, financial or otherwise, from a community that stands with them to support — even if it doesn’t understand — their choice.

            a way to provide us with interfaith leaders empowered to step out of our community and into others who can answer questions from their own experience without having that experience called into question or deemed inconsequential or inappropriate by others in the community.

            a way to provide payment to religious leaders who donate their time to the community

            Can all of these things be done without the community that I dream of? Sure, but they’re harder to do and maintain and their harder to defend from the forces of the rest of the world and its misconceptions of what we do. Just look at the situation involving the Maetreum of Cybele (http://paganwiccan.about.com/od/yourlegalrights/qt/The-Maetreum-Of-Cybele-Legal-Case.htm). If we had a more cohesive community, I wonder if their desperate please for financial help with their courtroom fees might have been met already (incidentially, donate here http://www.indiegogo.com/Maetreum).

          • William Hood

            “the ability to find a religious leader or figure in a local area that you’re not familiar with if you need one for some reason or another.”

            Who may have NO IDEA about your religious beliefs, values, or sensibilities, unless they happen to also be from your own specific religion. I’d rather luck out on finding a Heathen weofodthegn/gothi/etc. than have to explain my religion to the religious leader I can find.

            “the ability for leaders within that community to speak for us at the level of local, regional, and national levels of government without being torn down by the pettiness that you mention.”

            Which has already been going on, and those leaders tend to misrepresent the minority within the community pretty much every time, sometimes out of ignorance and sometimes not. So why shouldn’t we just represent ourselves?

            “from a community that stands with them to support — even if it doesn’t understand — their choice.”

            I don’t think unity of disparate religions under a specific label is going to accomplish that. First, individuals who don’t want to contribute to such an action aren’t going to, regardless of whether they accept a particular term or community. Secondly, anyone who does want to support such a thing is equally going to do so regardless of whether they are unified under a label or community.

            “a way to provide us with interfaith leaders empowered to step out of our community and into others who can answer questions from their own experience without having that experience called into question or deemed inconsequential or inappropriate by others in the community.”

            How is such a leader going to exist? How can anyone accurately represent a host of different religions, often with conflicting beliefs, practices and values, better than leaders actually OF those religions themselves? Cause if they can’t do it better, they shouldn’t be trying to do so at all.

            Uniting disparate religions under one banner for purposes of interfaith and putting a few individuals in charge of representing them all in that context is exactly what causes them to be questioned by those they aren’t (and probably can’t) being accurately represented in the first place. Makes more sens to represent those you are qualified to represent only, and leave others to represent themselves or their own communities.

            “a way to provide payment to religious leaders who donate their time to the community”

            Individual communities can do that perfectly fine. A united community of disparate religious communities isn’t necessary for that.

            “If we had a more cohesive community, I wonder if their desperate please for financial help with their courtroom fees might have been met already”

            This argument presupposes that those who reject “Pagan” are also unwilling to support Pagan causes. This is untrue, I myself have donated money to their cause. Their unmet financial needs aren’t the fault of people rejecting “Pagan Unity,” I’d wager it’s something else.

            I also dream. I dream of my community, the Wiccan community, Hellenic community, Cultus Deorum community, etc. can all accomplish the things you point out above on their own. I don’t think that can be accomplished by subordinating ourselves under the label “Pagan” or to “Pagan Community.” Is it harder? Yes. Will it take longer? Yes. But sometimes to do something right you have to do it the harder, longer way. If we take the (possibly) shorter, easier way we’ll end up stuck bowing to the whims of the “Pagan Community” forever.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            This argument presupposes that those who reject “Pagan” are also unwilling to support Pagan causes. This is untrue, I myself have donated money to their cause. Their unmet financial needs aren’t the fault of people rejecting “Pagan Unity,” I’d wager it’s something else.

            Exactly. If that were true, it’d be like saying that only trans people care about trans causes –and we know that isn’t true.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Well,community allows a sharing of ideas and resources.

            Just think of it as interfaith rather than intrafaith.

      • William Hood

        “that the definition of Pagan will become so narrow that it leaves _me_ behind.”

        Why is that our problem?

        “respect my right to fight for the Pagan community that I want us to build together.”

        I respect your right to try and make the Pagan community what you want it to be. I do not recognize your right to make “us” build it with/for you. I have no responsibility to you and what you want out of your religious community. I rejected the “Pagan” label over a decade ago. This issue is old, old, old settled news for me, as well as for MANY other Heathens. We have our own community now, so we have no practical, real world reason to run back into the “Pagan” fold. Maybe if the Pagan community had taken this discussion more seriously ten years ago something could have been done, but now it’s a bit too little too late, man. Sorry if that upsets you, I honestly am, but it’s already an established reality.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          It’s not your problem. It’s mine. I’m not making you build it with me, I’m asking you to. If you don’t want to be a part of the conversation, than that’s up to you, but if you’re not then I think the conversation will be less rich.

          And, of course, I use “you” here both specifically and plural.

          • William Hood

            I see, that’s fair enough. I’m not sure what I have to add to the conversation about the term, however. My only interest in it is that whatever definition you all decide on isn’t one that wrongly lumps us in where we don’t want to be.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            But what about our view that we (or at least I) really want you to be with us? These are mutually exclusive, no?

          • William Hood

            They are mutually exclusive, yes. Which is where the argument begins. I appreciate that you and others want us to be with you. Honestly, I don’t dislike you guys. I don’t have hate or animosity toward Pagans, I burned that all out in 99-2002 and I’ve grown the Hel up since then. I don’t want to seclude myself from you, stop hanging out with you, or stop caring about issues you face in this society. Any more than I want to seclude myself from my atheist, Buddhist, or Christian friends and family. I simply want my community’s independence and sovereignty recognized and to no longer be struggled against. It’s not really negotiable for me.

            I understand that you are attached to the term “Pagan” and to the “Pagan Community,” because you’ve probably had a very different experience of both than I have. I’m all for you trying to make the “Pagan” label work for you and others like you. It just isn’t ever going to work for me and others like me.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I understand, but this point of view leaves me with deep and, I fear, unanswerable questions about myself, my goals, and the dreams I had for my personal future. I appreciate you all letting me struggle with those here.

          • William Hood

            I appreciate you being able to listen and discuss and I’m glad we could have an amicable disagreement without either of us losing it. I wish you luck.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            So? It’s not about what you want.

          • Mark S

            “whatever definition you all decide on isn’t one that wrongly lumps us in where we don’t want to be.”

            Who is the “us” that you refer to?

            And it’s beginning to sound like you’re saying that anything anyone says about you is wrong, and that you take exception to pretty much everything that anybody says.

          • William Hood

            Not really, no one in this thread has even specifically said anything about me, other than claiming that I am “Pagan” whether I say I am or not. That is the only thing I’ve taken exception to. Reread the thread if you need to.

            The “us” I refer to is specifically the Heathen community that has been doing it’s own thing largely independently of the Pagan community for years now.That includes my family (wife, son, and expected child), the local religious group we belong to that includes another family and a couple individuals, the regional Heathen fellowship we belong to in the Carolinas, and then finally American Heathenry. Obviously I don’t speak for every individual in the category. Some of “us” still consider ourselves Pagan. Many more of “us,” at least those I interact with, do not. I do not deny any iota of similarity between “us” and Pagans. I only deny that those similarities are large enough or numerous enough to inherently necessitate being considered a united whole, particularly when my personal experiences and the personal experiences of many others don’t reflect any possibility of such.

            “Heathen,” despite its negative connotations in most of the outside world, has more utility to me and others in my community. Unlike “Pagan,” it has one, single redefinition that has been given it since the mid 90s: one who worships the Norse/Germanic Gods within a Norse/Germanic cultural context, based as largely on the historical Germanic religions as feasible. Worshiping the same gods does not make one my co-religionist. Having a similar reverence to nature does not make one my co-religionist. Being non-Abrahamic does not make one my co-religionist. Basically, if you do not fall under the above given definition, you are not my co-religionist regardless of what similarities we may have. It makes you a member of another religion that is similar to mine. We may even share larger religious categories, such as “polytheist,” “nature reverencing religion,” “non-Abrahamic,” “reconstructionist,” etc.; but none of our similarities or shared categories requires me to accept a vague, myriadly defined term that has not only never served any utility for me, but has actively been a detriment. It isn’t just me being contrary or cantankerous or just wanting to tweak your noses. It’s about wanting language that gets applied to me to accurately reflect reality. “Heathen” reflects the reality of the community I interact with in the real world that refers to itself as such. “Pagan” does not.

    • http://www.facebook.com/mirage358 Jason White

      …I’m pretty sure there isn’t a single thing in there that’s integral to the definition of the word. “Pagan” is a category of religions, on par with Abrahamic, Dharmic, Asiatic, Oceanic, African/African Diaspora, or Native American. By extension, it also applies to practitioners of those faiths. But that’s not /identity/, that’s description. It’s not based on theology, it’s not based on practice, and it’s not really based on culture.

      Identify however you like, and I’ll respect that, but descriptively & taxonomically, anyone that practices a religion that is
      based on or descended from the ethnic faiths of Europe or the Near-East
      is a Pagan. Even if you don’t like the other religions that fall under that category.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        Why call it Pagan rather than European? Also, Abrahamism falls under the description of Paganism by being a religion from that geographical area.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          Because we choose to.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Even when it is unwelcome to do so?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I’m not asking you to choose to use the term, I’m only indicating that I do.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Without regard to potential offence given?

    • Coldwind095

      So, hang on: you’re making two different arguments.

      You object to the word pagan because it doesn’t mean anything because it includes atheists and Christopagans – an assertion I suspect most atheists at least would probably disagree with. I imagine that it’s a word applied to them rather than one they claim.

      But then you say you’re not a pagan because “I don’t practice like a pagan stereotype, I don’t use magic, I don’t perform my rites outdoors or naked or in touch with my inner goddess or whatever. I am not dualtheistic and I do not primarily worship a mother goddess or nature or whatever the fuck it is I’m supposed to worship by fluffywicca standards.”

      So which is it? Is pagan too precise a word for you, or too general?

      • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

        FYI – I know many atheist pagans. The term I run into most often is Humanist Paganism or Naturalistic Paganism.

    • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      For the most part, I am with you on this, but my relationship with the word is more complex –also being TS, I agree with the comparison made in explaining the is/ought fallacy employed.

      If “Paganism” is going to include Christopagans and atheist pagans, and even (as has been insisted several times onTumblr) people who don’t even do any rituals whatsoever, then the word is practically meaningless. Yeah, some people can’t tell the difference between what I do and what Pop Wiccans do, but just cos Jack Chick and his ilk don’t see any difference between what I do and what Catholics do doesn’t mean that I’m Catholic, either.

      On the other hand, there are times when I willingly just give up and call myself “pagan”cos the dumbass I’m trying to explain “Hellenic Polytheist” to just isn’t getting what that means, and I don’t want to be in the conversation anymore. Or cos I want to flatter myself, as the origin of neopagan was a criticism of 19th Century romantic Hellenophiles, including Byron and Shelley, and the Victorian ouranian poets. For myself, it’s largely about the immediate situation or the nuance of self-application. There are certainly terms I prefer in general practice, but there are also occasions where “neo/pagan” can be appropriate to describe me, cos those are specific situations where I’d use the word, myself.

  • Aine

    Lemme give you your argument back: “I know you don’t identify as a woman, but you look like a woman, and you talk like one, and you’re feminine, and you have a vagina, so while I’ll not call you a woman to your face, I will behind your back.”

    That sort of attitude is NOT okay in any situation, EVEN religious ones, and is one of the reasons polytheists -do- cut themselves off from Pagandom. We don’t want to be told what we are or that ‘well you’re really just like us anyway’. Because, uh, we’re using different words because we AREN’T like you. What you’re doing is a great example of trying to take power away from people, and I’m tired of seeing it in modern Pagandom.

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      This isn’t a snarky comeback, so I hope it comes across as a seeking-knowledge sort of thing and not a privileged-douchebag sort of thing. What I struggle with is truly understanding what specific things make someone that leaves Pagan for Polytheist behind different from me.

      For me, it’s not about trying to force you or anyone else to use a label that you don’t want, it’s about a desperate attempt to understand why you don’t use it and a need to understand whether or not I should continue to do so.

      • soloontherocks

        The assumption that everyone who calls themselves a pagan is a Neowiccan is a pretty big motivator. Also, the sheer number of people calling themselves pagan because it’s the new cool edgy thing and they want to rebel against their parents.

        Paganism isn’t a religion, it’s just a lifestyle choice. Practice some witchcraft? Pagan. Believe in a thousand gods? Pagan. Believe in one god? Pagan. Believe in no gods? Pagan. Do some yoga sometimes? Pagan. Dress in all black? Pagan. Dress in rainbow tie-dye? Pagan. Like nature sometimes? Pagan. Slightly interested in foreign cultures? Pagan. Vegetarian? Pagan. Vegan? Pagan. Only eat beans grown on the north side of the hill? Pagan. “Spiritual but not religious?” Pagan.

        Ooh, that’s another thing. I am not spiritual. I am religious. Very religious. I do not “work with” my Gods. I worship them. I do not have the Divine inside me or whatever the hell. I am a mortal. I am just as religious as any diehard Catholic and I don’t need people assuming I’m some sort of eclectic witch or whatever because SOMEONE insists I use the word pagan.

        I’m a pro-military non-pacifist Ares devotee. Just how much do you think I have in common with the average pagan?

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          I don’t know what an average Pagan is yet so I can’t answer that question. However, as a pro-military, pacifist, devotee of Eris, I suspect you may have quite a bit in common with this one.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            “I don’t know what an average Pagan is”
            This. How can ‘Pagan’ be a useful descriptor if it lacks a definition that is easily recognisable and commonly accepted?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Again, not trying to snark, but is it not clear that I am desperately, constantly, and plainly seeking a clear meaning to the term Pagan?

            I advocate for a more specific meaning because I love it as a label for myself based on the meaning that I give it. I have never felt as comfortable with my own person as when I found that label and applied it to myself. I feel, during discussions like this, that the definitions of others require me to re-evaluate my definition and, therefore, myself and worry that I may have to return to a time when I didn’t know who or what I was.

            Further, because of the importance I place upon the label, I hope that others with whom I find similarity may one day also feel comfortable with the term as we define it, but here’s the kicker: I don’t need anyone else to use it, I just want to feel like the definition allows me to keep doing so.

            For the last few days, these conversations throw much into doubt for me. Worse, I don’t seem to be finding very many people that are strenuously advocating for anything similar to what I dream we could construct as our reality. Perhaps, as a result of this, I’m more depressed than I need (or should) be, but I’m not ready to concede defeat at this time.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I think that a clear meaning to the term ‘Pagan’ is what most want, but those same people will argue about what meaning it should have.

            If Heathenry is for the Norse/Germanic types and Hellenismos is for the Greeks, perhaps Paganism is either for the eclectics or the Romans?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I would agree except I know people that are Pagan, are not eclectic, and work specifically with the pantheons of the Greeks, Celts, Norse, Egyptian, and Canaanite peoples. Even before you get to various Goddess traditions that would be a part of Paganism.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Is that you know people who each work with one pantheon or who work with all of them?

            If all of them, that’s eclectic.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            One specifically. For example: me. I work with the Hellenic pantheon but I am not a member of any of the recon traditions that have separated from the term Pagan (e.g. Hellenion). Further, in Illinois, I worked with a number of people who worked exclusively with the Norse pantheons and used the term Heathen and Pagan interchangeably and without any dissonance.

            Granted, I’ve met a larger number of people who’ll reach out to Innana, Ashera, Astarte, Isis, etc. without any understanding of the nuances that distinguish and separate them.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            So, you could call yourself a Hellenic Pagan, I guess. Which retains the Pagan element, but also denote particular pantheon inclination.

            My question to you (and those like you) is why follow the pantheon out of context to the way they have traditionally been interacted with?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            4 parts busy, 6 parts a feeling that it’s unnecessary for me. I won’t deny that what I do works for me and I’ve never felt as if anything were pushing back against that which I do; this is sort of an it-isn’t-broke sort of argument, I guess. On the other hand, I also know that my life is full of things to do, books to read, etc. Thus, I have to pick my battles with respect to what I spend my time one.

            I tend to follow a process theology, by which I mean to say that divinities grow and shift and change and evolve just like everything else does. As such, the way that the people of ancient Greece worked with a deity does not need to be (and perhaps shouldn’t be) the way that I work with them as an American in the 21st century. Hell, I work with Eris as a goddess of the Internet so clearly, I do thinks differently than the Hellenes did!

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I get that gods change (I think evolve is probably too strong a word for this), but I think it is more akin to the way that people (as individuals) change rather than how entire cultures do.

          • soloontherocks

            But that’s just it, Dashifen. I don’t WANT to be in the same category as you. Many polytheists don’t. Heathens and Hellenics and Kemetics have more in common with each other than we do with any other flavor of paganism.

            Why are you forcing a label on us that WE DO NOT WANT? Do you force people who identify as gay to label themselves queer? Do you force people of African descent to label themselves negro?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            I’m not forcing a label on you. I’m seeking your input on my understanding of your point of view to better identify myself.

            I would like to be able to share with others a working definition of the term Pagan that we are both comfortable with, but I do not expect nor require that you use the term.

            Since your way of thinking is not my own, I struggle to understand it fully. Therefore, I seek the assistance of you and others like you to make sure that such a definition is acceptable to you and, in fact, does not force the label upon you.

            Does that make more sense?

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Does Paganism need to be an umbrella term?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Emphatically, yes. That is the way that the vast, vast majority of both Pagans and non-Pagans that I’ve met use the term. Hell, even Wikipedia calls it a “blanket term” that refers to “religious traditions.” Just as the ship has sailed on various traditions using the term Pagan, I think the ship has sailed on Pagan be used to refer to a collection of faiths.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            I look at it from an interfaith angle.

            When the different religions sit round the table, how many representatives does Abrahamism have?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Probably quite a few — at least three or four. However, most Abrahamic faiths don’t use that term in their day-to-day descriptions for their faith practices. It’s not wrong that they don’t, it’s just not common. Further, many of the Abrahamic faiths (like Pagan ones) are pretty different despite descending from a common (almost assuredly mythologized) ancestor.

            Perhaps, like the term Abrahamic, in a few decades the term Pagan just won’t commonly be used without a very specific need to do so. If that’s the case, then so be it. However, I don’t think we’ve reached that point at this time.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            My thinking is that, the more non-Abrahamics involved in interfaith, the better.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I advocate for a more specific meaning because I love it as a label for myself based on the meaning that I give it. I have never felt as comfortable with my own person as when I found that label and applied it to myself.

            No offense, butthat sounds really bizarre.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            None taken, though I’m a bit confused. What’s bizarre about it? Can I clarify for you in some way (you may not care, but I thought I’d offer).

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            If you’re so in love with the meaning you have given a word (which is what you said), then why seek the input of others to give it clarification?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Because my meaning may not be correct and may not accurately reflect the reality that has developed around the term. If my use of a term and the generally accepted use of the same term are different, either I have to work to change reality through activism around my definition or I have to determine whether it’s appropriate for me to continue using said term.

            That is the clarification I seek from others, especially from non-Pagan polytheists, because it may be time for me to leave the term Pagan behind as well. Over the course of this discussion and a few others, I’ve decided that it is not, but I could not have come to that decision without the clarifications provided but many here.

      • Aine

        Pagan means one of two things to me: neoWiccish Sabbat-based spiritual but not religious individualized paths that often incorporate witchcraft OR pretty much nothing. I don’t think it’s bad that Pagan usually refers to neoWiccish Sabbat-based practices; that just has nothing to do with what I do. When I say Pagan either means that or ‘means nothing’ – by nothing, I mean it could be atheists, monotheists, monists, spirit workers, people that just like nature, general mystical folk, and…at that point, the term doesn’t mean anything.

        Also, polytheists – when I and others I know – have interacted with Pagans, we’re often spoken over or receive outright hostility for practicing differently. I’ve been told I’m an embarrassment. People haven’t respected that I will not do things in ritual that go against what my gods have asked me to do (and things that were not discussed beforehand). A lot of it, for me, is that I don’t want to associate with people that hurt me. Not only are my practices not at all neoWiccish, not only do the Sabbats not have any role in my religion, not only am I -very religious- and pro-organized religion, Pagandom started sucking when I started growing into my own faith. For some people, Paganism as it is works great, and I love meeting with Pagans and discussing with them. Normally, we have completely different views on how EVERYTHING works/is and have awesome conversations – but that has only happened when there’s been a starting point of ‘we are people of fundamentally different religions’ or ‘this is interfaith’. And always, grounded in respect of a person’s identity.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andrewmaxson Andrew Edward Maxson

      I entirely disagree that these two concepts are comparable. A religious path is a choice. You decide it, you choose to follow it, you can change it at any time depending on how you’re feeling and your life experiences. Sexuality is not a choice. It involves genetics, biology, and other factors that are not chosen like a selection of books on a shelf (which is in my experience exactly how some people choose their religious and spiritual path). Saying the two should be treated exactly the same way is insulting, I think, to transgendered persons and others who have sexual identities that differ from other’s interpretations of their physical appearance. It dismisses sexual identity as something that can change depending on your mood. Not cool.

      • Aine

        You realize I am a trans* queer man right? I used that example, because Jason’s arguments, are exactly the ones that were told to me when I came out. Exactly the same. It’s isn’t cool, you’re right – we shouldn’t be using language that is identical to language used to oppress people. I know Jason didn’t mean to use that sort of language, but he did. It’s really problematic. It’s a way of denying people power, and it’s honestly hurtful. -As a queer trans*man- it’s shocking to see.

        Your understanding of gender and sexuality also ignores (or erases) people that do consciously mess with, tinker, or defy gender roles or sexuality expectations.

        • http://www.facebook.com/andrewmaxson Andrew Edward Maxson

          So you’re a trans*queer man. Ok. I’ve seen a lot of Pagans say things that insult or dismiss Pagans too. I still believe that religious choice and sexual identity are so different they cannot be compared, and to do so dismisses the fact of sexuality being inherent to a person. Despite the criticism from Leoht above, I do think religious belief is a choice we make for ourselves.

          And yes, I did ignore people who play around with their spirituality or sexuality as a conscious choice. Not because they’re not important and valid on their own, but because I didn’t feel they were part of the point I was making.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        You have an interesting concept of belief, there. I don’t wake up in the morning and think ‘what religion shall I play at today?’

        I believe what I believe because I can’t not believe it.

        • http://www.facebook.com/andrewmaxson Andrew Edward Maxson

          But do you think your religious beliefs are biologically or genetically encoded, or are they a choice you made for yourself?

          • Aine

            So people shouldn’t respect my gender pronouns because my actual gender was not genetically encoded? Cause it wasn’t. It was a reaction and ‘choice’ I made. That doesn’t mean people get to disrespect me. You’re omitting part of trans* identities that don’t suit your argument because including them makes your argument weaker. You’ve also failed to address the REALLY big point I was making – Jason is using the -exact words and phrases- oppressors use. That is a problem.

          • http://www.facebook.com/andrewmaxson Andrew Edward Maxson

            I disagree that Jason has used the language of oppressors, because he was not talking about gender or sexuality. Language used in one situation does not always apply equally when used in a completely different situation. In the 90′s when I referred to my hard drives as “slave” and “master”, I don’t think I was using insulting language that historically oppressed African-Americans. I believe you are over-simplifying; you believe I am not understanding the complexities of trans* identities. We are probably both correct.

          • http://www.oddmodout.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            I disagree that Jason has used the language of oppressors, because he was not talking about gender or sexuality.

            You’re right, he wasn’t talking gender or sexuality, but he was talking about how since he’s a part of “Big Minority”, he sees nothing wrong with overshadowing “small minority”. It happens all the time; cisgender women oppress TS/TG folk, and if you want to replace “Big Minority” with “Respected Minority”, there is a history of Chinese Americans in the US South having basically “white privilege” and actively oppressing Blacks and Latin Americans and Natives.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            Honestly, I am unsure. I think there may well be an element of genetics to it, though.

  • Kay

    This was written in 1997, but I think it still accurately describes my position on the issue over 15 years later: http://www.wyrdwords.vispa.com/heathenry/callusheathen.html

    Pagan is a loaded term, and comes with preconceived notions which really only apply to a sub-set of practices. Most importantly, it implies a political and philosophical position that is often 180 degrees from those guided by the principles of my own faith – it is the liberal version of that “guaranteed Christian Right voting bloc” that wasn’t so guaranteed after all.

    • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      *shock!*disbelief!*

      omgz, You mean that this conversation has been going on way longer than even I myself (and likely many other people who’ve added their 2¢ to this current wave) have had at least a toe in the pagan community periphery? I, for one, am appalled that…

      ROFL.

      Sorry, couldn’t keep it up any more. Not surprised at all. More unsurprised than my lack of surprise that this is somehow news to people my age and older. Like you, I’ve been aware that this has been an ongoing divide amongst Heathens for quite some time. I don’t know why this is news to some people, but considering the steady influx of nubs and the well-established oblivious self-centeredness of a lot of people in general (and pagans are not innocent of it), I’m not at all surprised.

  • http://www.facebook.com/kargach Rob Henderson

    “Lots of Pagans do ritual outside of the “Eclectic Wiccan Framework” too,
    so the “I’m not a Pagan because I do ritually differently than the rest
    of you” argument doesn’t really work. Crowley-inspired ritual is
    different from ADF Ritual, and while I’m not a fan of those two ritual structures I still
    find that I can easily converse with the people inside of those
    traditions. I often find myself completely baffled when I stumble into
    ritual inspired by the (Victor and Cora Anderson) Feri Tradition, but I certainly relate to the practitioners and think of them as a part of my extended community.”

    Thanks for pointing this out, as it helps me to clarify my own position. A big part of why I’m having more and more of a problem self-describing as a Pagan (I haven’t given up on the word yet, but I’m more than sympathetic to those who do) is that I’m having the exact opposite reaction. The last few times I went to ConVocation, i had an *amazingly* difficult time conversing with anyone who wasn’t a member of ADF or otherwise recon-inclined precisely because I couldn’t identify with the practices and beliefs that they were describing. It’s not that I didn’t understand most of what they were saying (though I did need definitions for a few terms) but I ended up with an overwhelming sense of “I don’t belong here any more than I’d belong at a Presbyterian conference”. So now I’m faced with the choice between calling myself something else and risking the same reaction that others have been getting, or continuing to identify with a group that claims all-inclusiveness and still makes me feel more like an outsider than just about anyone else.

    • Aine

      “…continuing to identify with a group that claims all-inclusiveness and
      still makes me feel more like an outsider than just about anyone else.” <- THIS. So much of this. I never felt like more of an outsider than when I was identifying as Pagan and interacting with other Pagans as a -Pagan myself-. Now that I identify as a polytheist, discussions are much easier – when I'm not being told I'm tearing the movement apart or just need to get over 'labels'.

  • R.M. McGrath

    I’ve struggled a bit with calling myself a Pagan.

    Mostly because so much of Paganism seems to be Wiccan or Wiccan-derived and I’m not. Much of what people consider to be Pagan just has no relevance to my Paganism. I’m not a witch. I don’t practice magick, I don’t use or wear pentagrams, use tools, cast circles, or believe in “the five elements”. I don’t have a magickal name and generally avoid wearing robes.

    While I feel like I fit into Paganism on a theological level (in that I believe in Nature and I worship Nature in the form of deities), it’s often really hard for me to relate to what other people consider to be “”Pagan”. Let’s just call it the culture that’s sprung up around Paganism in the past few decades.

    One of the things that first really attracted me to Paganism was the idea that it could be diverse. I remember reading Drawing Down the Moon and being floored with how one dude is running a group that has huge feasts in a temple (Sabaean Religious Order) another has a celestial calendar (Feraferia). Yet another is worshipping the ancient Greek goddess of Discord as a crazy woman. One based a form of Paganism on “Stranger in a Strange Land” mixed with the Gaia Hypothesis, feminism, and hippie culture. Another person was reconstructing ancient Egyptian religion.

    I want to encourage that diversity. So I continue to call what I do “Pagan” even if it has little to do with what most Pagans do. Because I don’t want to see Paganism gel into being only Wicca or Wiccan-inspired derivatives with maybe the occasional reconstructionist thrown in as some sort of token nod to diversity.

    As a modern religion with no creed, no holy books, no prophets or messiahs or gurus, we have a blank canvas. We have the added bonus of being able to look at historical Paganism as well as the religions of the world throughout history and use what works for us. Or create something completely new.

    Let’s fucking do it!

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      Where do you draw the line? When you want something so completely inclusive that it can include anything, how do you define it?

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

        Who says everyone who is not Jewish, Christian or Muslim even *want* to be included under the label of “pagan”.? Certainly many Hindus, Buddhists, and certainly Indigenous tribes want absolutely no part of that definition. They want the right to self-define. Who is anyone to tell them that they must be included in the pagan pigeonhole? I have always been pretty astonished at the arrogance of too many pagans to include people in their ranks that don’t even want to be there.

        • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

          Don’t mistake ignorance for arrogance. See the poster elsewhere in these comments who had never encountered this conversation before. That ignorance, however, underscores the need of this conversation to be had.

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

          Not me.

      • R.M. McGrath

        I don’t have a specific answer for you because any answer I can give will only be representative of my opinions or my take on it. I can only speak about how I would define it which might not be representative of others.

        However, let’s look at the Religious Society of Friends, better known as the Quakers. It was originally founded as a form of Christianity by a British man named George Fox who had specific beliefs and practices. However, as a creedless religion where each individual meeting (read: congregation) decides what they believe, there can be great disparity between what some consider to be “Quaker beliefs” and others.

        Some Quaker meetings do not even consider themselves to be Christian anymore. Others do a Bible reading before each Meeting for Worship.

        There is a lot of discussion in Quakerism as to what being a Quaker means, what their values are. But a great deal of it ends up being self-identification as a Quaker (as well as being a member of, or at least a regular attendee of a local meeting).

        In addition, there is a sort of Quaker culture that can be very distinctive. There is a similar approach to their worship that they share even if the actual beliefs or interpretations differ.

        Let’s also look at Hinduism. A strong case can be made that Hinduism is what Paganism would look like if it had survived into the modern day. It was a form of polytheism that has evolved to meet modern culture and survived being conquered by monotheists (Islam and Christianity).

        But what does a Hindu believe? Though there are commonly held beliefs within Hinduism (reincarnation, a belief in dharma, moksha, etc.), it is not required to believe in these things. There are no required beliefs in Hinduism.

        There are Hindus who are polytheists. There are Hindus who are monotheists, pantheists, henotheists, and even Hindu atheists. A lot of it has to do with self-identification as a Hindu as being a part of that culture.

        But since Hinduism has reached the West, it’s even being taken out of its cultural matrix of India. I worship Ganesha but eschew Hindu scripture or Indian culture because it’s not my culture and I do not believe in scriptures or gurus. (Also, I am repulsed by the misogyny of Indian culture, despite the presence of goddess-worship). I consider myself to be a Pagan because of my very Western, very modern approach towards religion.

        Where is the line between Hindu and Pagan? Ganesha is clearly a Hindu deity. The iconography has significance within Hinduism and can be translated into terms I can understand but they may or may not have relevance to me as a Westerner.

        Certainly Westerners can become Hindus. But despite the Ganesh-worship, I am not.

        I think these are things we, as Pagans, need to explore and discuss.

        I see Paganism gelling around Wicca and Wiccan-related culture, and as a non-Wiccan, that’s troublesome to me. It’s not my Paganism.

        Early Christianity was once very diverse. There was no set canon. Individual congregations had their own interpretations. Some had different books in their Bibles than others. (Such as the books now found in the Nag Hammadi collection.) Some had different practices than others. Easter wasn’t celebrated on the same day. Christmas had yet to be invented. Christianity was very loosey-goosey.

        Bishops came along and homogenized Christianity. A canon was developed. People who included certain books in their Bibles were now heretics.

        Granted, I don’t think Paganism is going entirely in that direction. But it’s losing some of the loosey-gooseyness that I found so appealing.

    • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

      The thing about it, though, is that Paganism isn’t a religion, it can be easily described as a group of religions, but it’s not a religion, in and of itself. Some of those religions have creeds. Some have holy books. If you appreciate what you see as diversity in the pagan community, why would you deny any of that and essentially homogenise paganism by proxy?

      • R.M. McGrath

        I’m not looking to homogenize it whatsoever. Only pointing out that it’s becoming homogenized.

  • http://www.facebook.com/fernwise Fern Bernstein-Miller

    Is the latest blogger-who-is-no-longer-Pagan now going to return the money she asked the Pagan community for so she could afford to not have a day job and just be a Pagan blogger?

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      She offered to do just that, actually. She emailed all those who donated and asked if they wanted a refund. I declined mine, but having worked with her for some time, I would be shocked if she didn’t follow through.

      • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/2012/11/08/star-foster-is-a-phony/

        Star Foster made at least two threats in the last 18months (the last two less than four months) to “leave paganism”. When she retired from Patheos, she swore that she’d be “focusing on something other than paganism for a while”. But you might be on to something:

        She used paganism to get a laptop. She used paganism to pay her practically cross-country moving expenses. She then swore not to blog about paganism, and barely more than a month later, starts begging paganism to pay herself a salary for blogging about a topic she said she didn’t want to blog about. She didn’t get the response she wanted to her begginfor a salary, so she closed it down with nearly two weeks left on it, and whined about how people are mean, then two months later, she decides she’s not a pagan. When the gravy train dried, she decided to take her blocks and go home.

        Certainly no less plausible a scenario than any other, considering her history.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andrewmaxson Andrew Edward Maxson

      While her questions and feelings are certainly valid and understandable, her post did make me wonder if part of her frustration with the community is that she wasn’t supported enough financially to do just that. That would make part of it simply packing up her toys and going home out of spite.

      • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

        http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/2012/11/08/star-foster-is-a-phony/

        Star Foster made at least two threats in the last 18months (the last two less than four months apart) to “leave paganism”. When she retired from Patheos, she swore that she’d be “focusing on something other than paganism for a while”. But you might be on to something:

        She used paganism to get a laptop. She used paganism to pay her practically cross-country moving expenses. She then swore not to blog about paganism, and barely more than a month later, starts begging paganism to pay herself a salary for blogging about a topic she said she didn’t want to blog about. She didn’t get the response she wanted to her begginfor a salary, so she closed it down with nearly two weeks left on it, and whined about how people are mean, then two months later, she decides she’s not a pagan. When the gravy train dried, she decided to take her blocks and go home.

        Certainly no less plausible a scenario than any other, considering her history.

  • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

    Starting up a new thread to avoid the deeply nested structure that we’ve got elsewhere to ask a new question.

    I work primarily with the gods of Greece because they resonate with me in a way that others have not. However, I would never want to be called a Hellene nor do I practice a reconstructed tradition based on Hellene culture (e.g. Hellenion). I know of people like me who work with the Norse pantheon who are not Heathens and people who honor the gods of the Celts without membership in the ADF or OBOD.

    I feel it would be wrong of my to try and claim membership in any of the Hellenic traditions, but does it muddy the waters too much when I and people like me continue to work under the banner of Paganism when there are others working with the same powers who do not?

    Maybe that’s the start of some middle ground …..

    • William Hood

      I don’t think it’s a problem. It may be somewhat complicated and need explaining, but so what? I’ve never been of the opinion that one has to be Heathen to worship the Germanic Gods. I only request that people respect the difference there. I see it as being similar to how Quan Yin is worshiped in Buddhism, Chinese Folk Religion, as well as in Shinto (by way of Buddhism.) Those three communities are definitely different, but deities are ever notoriously difficult to pin down in one place.

    • R.M. McGrath

      I don’t think it does at all. That’s what Paganism is, isn’t it? At least, partially.

      • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

        I would like to think so, but prior to this past Sunday night, I thought Heathens had no difficulty with the term Pagan in the same way a Methodist has no problem with the term Christian, for example. I’m questioning everything at this point!

        • Kay

          As has been clarified before, I ask this with absolutely no snark intended, but how is the reluctance of Heathens to be lumped in as pagan not known? I ask because it’s a divide I was aware of long before I actually researched it much at all and realized it was where I belonged.

          I frequently deal with people who have no idea what a pagan is, have no idea that the ancient religions are anything but stories taught as fiction in school, and, by default, have never considered such concepts as recon vs eclectic. Yet, when I explain it to them simply, and send them to the article I posted yesterday if they ask for more info, they have no problem understanding there are multiple religions out there, one is Heathen, one is Wiccan, and some are neo-pagans who define themselves, among many others.

          I don’t understand why this is easier to explain to someone who is completely foreign to the non-Abrahamic world than it is to explain to some who are inside. The only other time I encounter resistance to it is with extremist fundies who lump us all into the “heretic” category, and couldn’t care less if Muslim and Wiccan are different faiths, let alone Heathen and Kemet.

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            Let me clarify, I’ve been aware for a decade or more that Heathens preferred the term Heathen. However, what’s new to me over the last few days is the encounter with Heathens who actively … reject (too strong?) the term Pagan. In my experience with Heathens, they used Pagan in the same way a Methodist uses the term Christian.

            That’s what I’m trying to learn more about through this dialog. It’s probably simply that I came to dialog with other Pagans after the … Pagan-rejecting-Heathens (crap, my language skills suck at the moment) separated themselves from the community. As such, the ones that were not separated were those who still used the label Pagan and the ones that grounded my experience of those traditions.

            As for my experience in dealing with other faiths and their knowledge of Paganism, I think I was lucky to be living for the last eight years where I did. The location’s diversity was bolstered the presence of a large public university.

          • Dave

            I think the term you were searching for might be non-Pagan Heathens. Funnily enough learning that the Pagan and Heathen communities were distinct but sometimes overlapping was one of the first things I learned. And I’ve been active in this neighborhood of religions for around 8 years or so. I’m honestly more shocked that this is your first encounter with non-Pagan Heathens than anything else about this conversation.

            Curiously enough there have been two things that always confused me about Pagans, however. Maybe you can clear this up for me? I have only ever heard about Jesus from Pagans. I attended a Christian church for several years with a friend, didn’t hear Jesus mentioned once. Not once. Started participating in the Pagan community and every other day it seems like Pagans can’t shut up about Jesus. Additionally, I’ve never had anyone, ever, ask me what my religion was. Except Pagans. Is this a normal experience?

          • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

            With respect to Jesus, I think it depends on the Christian. Evangelicals that I’ve worked with — even in non-religious capacities (e.g. event planning) — have brought up Jesus and do tend to use their faith as a guiding force in their lives. I’ve had similar experiences with Mormons and Calvinists. The Catholics (including my partner), Lutherans, and Methodists that I’ve worked with, though, have seemed much less likely to bring up Jesus unless it’s a theological conversation.

            As for Pagans asking about faith, I think that’s because the vast majority of us are theological seekers. Few of us were born into Pagan families and raised in our faith. Therefore, when we meet others, we tend to want to learn more about them and their views to see how they align with our own. Hell, that’s what I’ve been doing here and in the comments of a few other articles for a few days now. The knowledge that I’ve gained here from others is going to help me as I continue to work with other faiths and work to make our community stronger as well. I can’t gain that knowledge without at least some polite interrogation.

          • Dave

            Interesting, thanks for clarifying that.

          • Kay

            The Jesus factor may also be regional. I have the misfortune of living in the bible belt, and the subject of Jesus comes up so often it’s not even something I notice anymore unless it’s clearly threatening. You’ll find Jesus invoked (along side Hell from time to time) on everything from gas station signs to bumper stickers. The mandatory (but never put in writing, only expressed verbally) prayer lunches at my former place of employment were especially thick with him. Around here, “what church do you go to?” is considered polite small talk for starting conversations with random strangers in line at Kroger.

          • Dave

            Interesting. I come from a non-Big Three culture and didn’t grow up in the West. I didn’t know what a Christian was until I came to the States. My lover and his family and almost all my close friends aren’t Christians either. And I’m a scientific researcher at a university, working in a department that specializes in a discipline best known publicly for it’s outspoken atheists.

            Additionally, I live in a region that’s pretty well known for, not necessarily irreligion, but more keeping ones religion to oneself. Further, I asked my lover about the church I used to go for and he described it as “Jews for Jesus minus Jesus”. I’m not sure I understand fully what is meant by that but the minus Jesus part is telling I think.

            What I’m still not sure I understand emotionally, although I’m beginning to appreciate it intellectually, is the persistent Pagan fascination with Jesus and constant discussion of Christianity. While I attended a Christian church with a friend, so she’d have someone to go with, I’ve never considered myself Christian, never been Christian, and didn’t grow up in a Christian environment. Further, if the above is any indication, my personal life is more or less bereft of direct interaction with Christians or Christianity.

            So, long story short, I’m beginning to get it, I just can’t relate. Thanks for your insight and clarification. And I certainly sympathize with your situation. That’s just plain rude no matter your religion.

        • R.M. McGrath

          Sure. That’s understandable.

          And you SHOULD question everything and keep on questioning everything! ;^)

    • http://aquapunk.net/ Lo

      Not everyone who worships YHWH is a Protestant Christian, so why would the same apply to you? There’s beauty in diversity.

  • Corby Gavin Stroud

    I am typing this as a general response to a bunch of comments, not necessarily the blog post above.

    It amazes me people still have this discussion. Just fair warning, I won’t be responding to any responses here, as I have had this battle over a decade ago on beliefnet and other similar forums.

    I am a Heathen. I am not a Pagan. I will never (and have never) consider myself a pagan. I don’t find it important to be part of a fold that is SO eclectic, it has very little independent culture. This is why Heathenry has really flourished this past decade. The different Heathen groups started abandoning the moniker “pagan”, and started doing their own thing. I think what draws people to our religion is the fact that we have something wholly independent of Pagans. Are we some grand unified force? No. But we have had a lot of success in the past decade, and I think that not getting lost in another group’s “culture” has a lot to do with that.

    I, and many others, don’t want to be called pagan.

    There are some who still call themselves pagan, go to pagan festivals, support pagan causes, and I have no issue with that. My issue, now and forever, comes when groups of pagans assume I am one based upon my polytheism. By doing so, I am immediately assumed to be something I am not. There has never been a time where I have been called “pagan” and not been assumed to be something entirely different than what I am. However, when called Heathen, at the very least the mark falls a bit closer. We have our own problems within the Heathen community, and the last thing we really need is to compound them with the larger and more numerous problems of the pagan community.

    I just don’t see how a term like “Pagan” is going to solve anything. I think too many people look at the success of American Christianity and say to themselves “If Only all polytheist just called themselves pagan, we’d have the same influence”. That’s just not true, and anyone who believes it is is kidding themselves.

    Be what you are, label how you wish. But labeling others against their wishes is akin to forcing your religion on them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=685041384 Fanny Fae

    I will only make one last comment about this issue. For members of those faiths who are not a part of the Big Three Monotheistic or Abrahamic derived Faiths, why is it so difficult for the pagan community to allow them to “self define”, rather than disrespectfully foisting a label on the members of those faiths that they do not want?

    As for the community and its solidarity: Others who have diverse faiths that are not J, C, or I, can in fact be supportive, “sympathetic others”. We can be alongside you, we can support your right to practice your faith as you choose and help you fight the good fight against discrimination. Don’t therefore take up the mantle of the oppressor and insist you know what is what, and how someone can define themselves as far as personal belief systems. Isn’t that what you all are fighting against anyway? Is it so wrong to ask for the same sort of respect to be accorded all the way around?

  • mayarend

    I’ve struggled with the Pagan name myself, since I’m an Atheist. You see, most “Pagan” definitions seem to include, like you, “worshipping Gods or gods”. I don’t, nor do I believe in them as entity. But I AM Pagan, as I see and feel and work with the energies and the life and the nature and all that – I just don’t see the entity on it.

    But I think it is an interesting discussion on what is and what isn’t, since, basically, people love their labels.

    • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

      Check out Humanistic Paganism at http://humanisticpaganism.com/. It seems to me that it might be valuable to you.

      • mayarend

        Thank you, I’ll look into it.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=597605006 Mary Driftwood

      I’m with you. I don’t believe in literal deities or magic, but I am all about respect and reverence for the natural world, and I celebrate the cycle of the seasons, and therefore consider myself to be a pagan. Labels are weird, I guess.

  • http://dashifen.com/ dashifen

    If anyone else is willing to continue the conversation on a definition for Paganism that both describes those of us who do use the term but provides separation for those who do not, I’ve tried to actually put down some specific words as a starting point on my own blog:

    http://technowitch.org/defining-paganism/

    I’d greatly appreciate some thoughts, especially from non-Pagan polytheists as I don’t want to misrepresent your views. Pagans are welcome to comment as well since I’m seeking a working definition not only for myself but, if possible, for others as well.

  • Serenity Raven

    Just last week on my Facebook page The Domestic Witch, there was a huge confusion about what it is I mean when I say pagan and Pagan (with a capital P). Then today I asked people who consider themselves heathen to explain more about their path and several people commented that they thought “pagan” and “heathen” meant the same thing. In the past year I have started to refer to myself less and less as “pagan” and find myself embracing the word “witch” even more. I’ve spent the last 17 years as an eclectic but I often want to choose a witchcraft tradition or path to identify with so it’s easier to explain to others what my specific beliefs as a Pagan are. It would solve a lot of time if I just said I follow the Avalon Tradition or am a Celtic Reconstructionist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/ACFisherAldag A.c. Fisher-Aldag

    Did this person discontinue using the word Pagan to describe herself because she genuinely disagrees with the term as relevant to her religious beliefs and practices…. or did this person discontinue using the word Pagan because she expected a handout from other Pagans, didn’t get one, and is having a tantrum?

    • JasonMankey

      Nothing like that. I think it had more to do with being Hellenic and feeling a bit left out due to the dominance of Eclectic Wicca.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

        That is something I can related to. Too many pan-pagan groups and organisations use a Wiccan-derived template, including the oh-so-tired ‘an it harm none’ bit.

        Whilst not explicitly a Heathen, that is where more of my philosophies find their sympathies (including the bit about never leaving home without a weapon.) As such, I find a lot of p/Pagan language pretty exclusionary.

        • JasonMankey

          I think the dominance of Eclectic Style Wicca gives open groups and gatherings an easy entry point for people. Most everyone knows the basic Wiccan outline. So in one sense it’s a positive, it provides a near universal language when we all come together. The downside is that people start to feel like that’s all there is, because it’s all most groups/festivals do.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

            But it isn’t a language everyone agrees with.

            In fact, I find myself disagreeing with a whole lot of what ‘Paganism’ says. Some days, the only thing I find myself in agreement with is that there are numerous gods (nature arguable) out there.

          • http://ofthespiae.hellenistai.com/ Ruadhán J McElroy

            Not ll pagans “started out” with eclectic Wicca, and considering the growth of recon polyteism, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if, in even a few years, , a considerable minority of people who might potentially be interested in panpagan event,say 20-25%, would have no familiarity with the Wicca ormat at all. I certainly have no experience with any form of Wica, and only the vaguest idea of how it looks in ritUal. This is a problem, now, and the persistent idea of “pop Wicca is universal,or nearly so, and that creates a welcoming atmosphere” only serves to make the problem bigger, in the future. If “Paganism” is To remain a “big umbrella”, then Wicca can no longer be treated as a catholic languge of pagan religions.

  • http://www.facebook.com/brian.m.shea Brian Michael Shea

    I agree. “If it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck”, “Call a spade a spade” and all that.

  • lucystrawberry

    Without a convincing definition for PAGAN and PAGANISM that makes sense to at least 50% of us (tall order, that) these constant conversation about who is/isn’t a Pagan are going to continue being circular conversations that probably never get anywhere.

  • http://twitter.com/vogelbeere + Yvonne Aburrow

    In response to all the people on this discussion thread who have complained that Pagan basically means “neo-Wiccish duotheism”…

    As a polytheist, initiated, Gardnerian Wiccan, I would really like it if eclectic Paganism was NOT “watered-down Wicca”. Create your own rituals; don’t bastardize ours.

    I would really like it if “hard” polytheists didn’t automatically assume that all “soft” polytheists are really monotheists in disguise. (I think that deities are distinct but not discrete, and emerge from the substrate of energy in the universe; but that substrate doesn’t have a personality. That probably makes me a squidgy polytheist.)

    I am a devotee of a selection of different deities from different pantheons, because they have called to me over the years.

    I don’t base my rituals on a duotheistic paradigm.

    I have had trouble with identifying as a Pagan because of some of the sheer rubbish talked by some Pagans. However, most people assume that I am a Pagan, and in the sense of what I originally meant by the term when I identified as such, I am one. In the sense that some people are using it these days, I am not one.

    I don’t want watered-down Wicca to be the dominant paradigm in the “Pagan umbrella”, because watered-down Wicca is usually a misrepresentation of real Wicca, and is usually duotheist. I also want the voices of polytheists, Heathens, occultists, etc to be included in the conversation, whatever name we give to that conversation.

    I think we are probably stuck with the label, but I definitely respect the right of Heathens, polytheists, etc to not use the label to identify themselves, and can understand why they feel that way.


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