Choosing to Remain Under the Pagan Umbrella

Find other posts related to this topic on the link round-up post!

A few years ago I expressed something very similar to what Drew expressed in his article “Why I’m not Pagan” – except he expressed it with far more tact and grace than I did. I had been looking around at the Pagan community and had a moment of realization that the community is defining people like me (polytheists) out of the group. The conversation that resulted surprised me. Feelings were hurt and friendships were lost. I’ve been much more careful about who and how I have this discussion since then.

Perhaps I can do a better job now.

For simplicity sake, within the Pagan community, I don’t object to the label ‘Pagan’ being placed on me. I think there is strength in numbers and we all have so much to gain or lose. I’m in complete agreement to stand together. Yet it is an effort for me to remain within the greater Pagan community. I make that effort, but many of my coreligionists don’t, won’t, and aren’t. There is a quiet exodus happening. Quiet, but building. Polytheists and polytheist groups are leaving the Pagan/Wiccan umbrella and they are growing a thriving at a rate that would surprise the greater Pagan community.

I live in a catch-22. I love going to Pagan festivals and gatherings as I love the people there and greatly enjoy the general vibe. I highly recommend them and I have a great time when ever I attend a community event or Pagan festival or Con. Yet when I attend these types of gatherings, that is when I feel the least like part of the Pagan community. I attend the workshops, the rituals, and listen to the conversations and I have almost nothing in common with any of it. I can’t relate. Casting a circle has as much in common with my religion as walking the Stations of the Cross. We have no common connection. The lovely maiden Hekate I worship that grants our family prosperity little resembles the Crone Hekate that many neo-Pagans work with for magic. The very things that should draw me closer to the Pagan community are the very things that tell me I may not belong. See my quick review of PantheaCon and the comments on Wicca-Centric language here.

When I’ve done a better job at broaching this subject, usually when a group of us are talking about some aspect of a workshop or ritual we just participated in, fellow Pagans tell me that the Pagan community is really a very inclusive one and there is room for religions like mine. They are sincere people who feel distress for me. Yet these same decent, kind, well-meaning people will continue show my by their words and actions that I am not one of them.

I say all this and yet I am firmly resolved that we do need to work together for issues common to us all. If people ask me if I’m Pagan I answer “yes.” In the first paragraph I talked about friendships lost. I’ve talked to one of the people I inadvertently stepped on since that day and what she explained to me has only increased my desire to stay part of the Pagan community. She told me she felt so hurt and betrayed because she realized that polytheists like me could ‘pass’ in mainstream society. If we all left, Wiccans would have a much harder time gaining acceptance on their own. Most polytheists, when asked about their religion, don’t have all that tough of a time in the USA. When I’m asked, I say I’m Hellenion and that’s a bit like taking the church service of a Catholic but throwing in multiple gods like the Hindu faith. She’s right, people don’t even blink. They understand and accept that as legitimate. We blend right in with the mainstream, for the most part. Wiccans don’t have such an easy road. Wicca and Witch still have greatly negative connotations in the USA and now that Pagan pretty much means the same as Wicca in common use, well…that’s a heavy boulder to push up hill. So she feels, when polytheists refuse the label Pagan, that we are abandoning them to fight a civil rights fight alone. A cowardly betrayal. That we are abusing our privilege. And she is correct in outcome, if not intent. And she’s also observing that polytheists are building close relationships with Hindu communities and choosing to band together with them, rather than the Pagan community, in push for greater equity and religious tolerance.

I’m hanging in there. I’m working hard to stay part of the greater Pagan community. I’m active and I will do my part. I love the community and the people in it are top notch. All I’m asking is to not be pushed out from under the umbrella and for people to examine how much of what they say and do operates under the unspoken assumption that Pagan = Wicca. If you don’t want us to leave, then show us you are happy to have us stay.

About Cara Schulz
  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1476243832 Tess Dawson

    I, too, currently choose to call myself Pagan and polytheist. I understand your views because I’ve experienced something very similar.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1476243832 Tess Dawson

    I, too, currently choose to call myself Pagan and polytheist. I understand your views because I’ve experienced something very similar.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    I think another determining factor in whether people choose to go with the Pagan label is how much of a religious community they would have without a local generically Pagan community to associate with. If someone is Hellenion or Asatru etc and lives in an urban area with lots of other people who also practice those things I’d imagine that it’s easier to distance yourself from the label Pagan (not to say that all people in that kind of situation do or even should). For other people, like me, who belong to very small, obscure traditions where you will find little or no local community who share your specific focus, then it can be important to have that local Pagan community to be a part of.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

      Hmmm….actually – what I have seen and heard is that when persons or groups who DO NOT have many of their sub-group in their geographical area STOP interacting with the local Pagan community, they end up growing their own sub-group.  And it happens for them quickly.  They do this by interacting with people who share their interests (like theatre, an ethnic culture, a type of music, a book club, food) and they find people who then join in their sub-group.

      That’s what is increasing the ‘exodus’ – when you do something and it is successful and others can quickly replicate that success, that’s very attractive.  

      • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

        Interesting, for me, I guess, I’m not thinking in terms of starting a tradition, getting other people involved etc so involvement in the Pagan community is the only outlet I have. There’s also the fact that Finnish Paganism would have limited appeal outside of people of Finnish descent combined with the fact that I live in an area where historically very few Finnish people settled when they came to the US (I live in the South). I’ve been planning to return to school to study Finnish and I’ve looked at some universities, especially in the Upper Midwest (where, of course, a lot of Finnish Americans settled). So, maybe one day I’ll move to a place that has a significant Finnish-American population and meet other people interesting in practicing Finnish Paganism.

  • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

    I think another determining factor in whether people choose to go with the Pagan label is how much of a religious community they would have without a local generically Pagan community to associate with. If someone is Hellenion or Asatru etc and lives in an urban area with lots of other people who also practice those things I’d imagine that it’s easier to distance yourself from the label Pagan (not to say that all people in that kind of situation do or even should). For other people, like me, who belong to very small, obscure traditions where you will find little or no local community who share your specific focus, then it can be important to have that local Pagan community to be a part of.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

      Hmmm….actually – what I have seen and heard is that when persons or groups who DO NOT have many of their sub-group in their geographical area STOP interacting with the local Pagan community, they end up growing their own sub-group.  And it happens for them quickly.  They do this by interacting with people who share their interests (like theatre, an ethnic culture, a type of music, a book club, food) and they find people who then join in their sub-group.

      That’s what is increasing the ‘exodus’ – when you do something and it is successful and others can quickly replicate that success, that’s very attractive.  

      • http://kauko-niskala.blogspot.com Kauko

        Interesting, for me, I guess, I’m not thinking in terms of starting a tradition, getting other people involved etc so involvement in the Pagan community is the only outlet I have. There’s also the fact that Finnish Paganism would have limited appeal outside of people of Finnish descent combined with the fact that I live in an area where historically very few Finnish people settled when they came to the US (I live in the South). I’ve been planning to return to school to study Finnish and I’ve looked at some universities, especially in the Upper Midwest (where, of course, a lot of Finnish Americans settled). So, maybe one day I’ll move to a place that has a significant Finnish-American population and meet other people interesting in practicing Finnish Paganism.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Lynch/100000583928640 Travis Lynch

    While I understand some of the sense of being an outsider that you gain from being around those who practice their rituals very differently than you do, I’ve learned how to accept and deal with those differences.  Partly because I’m the one who’s chosen to gone to a place where those who I know have different beliefs and approaches to their beliefs practice, and partly because I know that, in their hearts, most of these people do wish to include me in their search for greater spiritual peace and wisdom, which is an honor and a pleasure.  It is not that, in the minds of many outsiders “pagan” and “wiccan” mean the same thing that troubles me, for me, being confused with a wiccan is like being confused with a buddhist, it’s a little bit of a compliment that someone would perceive me as such a spiritual and kind-hearted person.

    No, what’s making me start to wonder whether I should still call myself pagan are some of the louder voices currently speaking on this topic in the Pagan community.  I’ve been hearing some of these arguments for years, but it used to be as soon as someone made one, five other people would immediately correct them on the differences between pagan and wiccan(I always liked illustrating it with squares and rectangles, personally).  Now as I read through varying posts on this topic, I’m seeing certain trends that are a bit disturbing.  

    As I said, I have no trouble with those who don’t know much about the subject or who aren’t interested in it not knowing the difference between “pagan” and “wiccan.”  My issue comes up as I keep seeing over and over again that the writers themselves, like Ruby Sara and Allyson(who I thank and respect for offering their opinions) seem to think that Pagan implies “wiccan” or “wiccanate.”

    It didn’t used to.  But more and more, I see people trying to define Pagan as “following the threefold law” or “nonviolent” or “nature-worshipping,” as people attempt to explain what we who have spent decades building up the community intended as a general term into specifics.  It feels like there’s a steady, quiet movement among those who are strongly of the Right-Hand Path to slowly and thoroughly exclude those of the Left-Hand and those whose faiths don’t encompass that kind of “golden rule” pacifist mentality.  We’re a shameful secret, we’re the skeleton in the closet.  They don’t want us associated with them because they want to be able to tell Christians that they’re completely non-violent.  And as long as we’re being honest here, it isn’t always a quiet movement, either.  I’ve had more than one young Wiccan(and a few oldheads who should know better) tell me that because I acknowledge the existance of supernatural forces that aren’t utterly benign (demons, since we’re labelling things) and I practice rituals with a decidedly dark nature… I am a Satanist, which “everyone knows” is just “an inverted Christian.”  

    I’ve had some Wiccans act more offensive, judgemental, and far less interested in hearing an actual explanation of my belief system and practices than many Christians are.  While I know that I’m on the ‘extreme end’ of the LHP as some might view it, and, to some, that might make me particularly unpalatable..  I’ve seen some Asatruar, Kemetics and even Celtic practitioners who choose to associate themselves with ‘darker’ deities and practices treated in similar fashion, dictated to by… well… the shoe fits, ‘paganier-than-thou’ types, who quite frequently identify as Wiccans(despite whatever their actual education or lack thereof might be), that their practices were not in keeping with the ‘pagan traditions,’ because those who worship war-gods do not accept non-violence as a philosophy, and those who worship deities of Justice know that sometimes you must seek it yourself, instead of sitting back and letting the Universe take care of it for you.

    If you want to know why non-Wiccans are leaving the “pagan” umbrella…  Speaking on behalf of the Left-Hand, I know why some, at least, might want to go.  I for one, will call myself whatever I like, and support the freedom to practice of anyone who doesn’t harm innocents…  And I will continue to argue this topic whenever it comes up.  I read as well that some Wiccans are concerned that so many are moving away from “pagan” and into “polytheist,” because they know that the more divided we are, the weaker we become.  I agree, this worries me too, but you might want to look to those who practice the same faith as you for reasons, as well as those who are departing.  I’ve always been an outsider to the Wiccan path, but that puts me in a better position to observe sometimes, and you gentlefolk, who I’ve always held a high level of respect for, are starting to accrue an unhealthy share of dogmatics and zealots who think their way is The True Pagan Path, whether they say it in so many words or not.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Travis-Lynch/100000583928640 Travis Lynch

    While I understand some of the sense of being an outsider that you gain from being around those who practice their rituals very differently than you do, I’ve learned how to accept and deal with those differences.  Partly because I’m the one who’s chosen to gone to a place where those who I know have different beliefs and approaches to their beliefs practice, and partly because I know that, in their hearts, most of these people do wish to include me in their search for greater spiritual peace and wisdom, which is an honor and a pleasure.  It is not that, in the minds of many outsiders “pagan” and “wiccan” mean the same thing that troubles me, for me, being confused with a wiccan is like being confused with a buddhist, it’s a little bit of a compliment that someone would perceive me as such a spiritual and kind-hearted person.

    No, what’s making me start to wonder whether I should still call myself pagan are some of the louder voices currently speaking on this topic in the Pagan community.  I’ve been hearing some of these arguments for years, but it used to be as soon as someone made one, five other people would immediately correct them on the differences between pagan and wiccan(I always liked illustrating it with squares and rectangles, personally).  Now as I read through varying posts on this topic, I’m seeing certain trends that are a bit disturbing.  

    As I said, I have no trouble with those who don’t know much about the subject or who aren’t interested in it not knowing the difference between “pagan” and “wiccan.”  My issue comes up as I keep seeing over and over again that the writers themselves, like Ruby Sara and Allyson(who I thank and respect for offering their opinions) seem to think that Pagan implies “wiccan” or “wiccanate.”

    It didn’t used to.  But more and more, I see people trying to define Pagan as “following the threefold law” or “nonviolent” or “nature-worshipping,” as people attempt to explain what we who have spent decades building up the community intended as a general term into specifics.  It feels like there’s a steady, quiet movement among those who are strongly of the Right-Hand Path to slowly and thoroughly exclude those of the Left-Hand and those whose faiths don’t encompass that kind of “golden rule” pacifist mentality.  We’re a shameful secret, we’re the skeleton in the closet.  They don’t want us associated with them because they want to be able to tell Christians that they’re completely non-violent.  And as long as we’re being honest here, it isn’t always a quiet movement, either.  I’ve had more than one young Wiccan(and a few oldheads who should know better) tell me that because I acknowledge the existance of supernatural forces that aren’t utterly benign (demons, since we’re labelling things) and I practice rituals with a decidedly dark nature… I am a Satanist, which “everyone knows” is just “an inverted Christian.”  

    I’ve had some Wiccans act more offensive, judgemental, and far less interested in hearing an actual explanation of my belief system and practices than many Christians are.  While I know that I’m on the ‘extreme end’ of the LHP as some might view it, and, to some, that might make me particularly unpalatable..  I’ve seen some Asatruar, Kemetics and even Celtic practitioners who choose to associate themselves with ‘darker’ deities and practices treated in similar fashion, dictated to by… well… the shoe fits, ‘paganier-than-thou’ types, who quite frequently identify as Wiccans(despite whatever their actual education or lack thereof might be), that their practices were not in keeping with the ‘pagan traditions,’ because those who worship war-gods do not accept non-violence as a philosophy, and those who worship deities of Justice know that sometimes you must seek it yourself, instead of sitting back and letting the Universe take care of it for you.

    If you want to know why non-Wiccans are leaving the “pagan” umbrella…  Speaking on behalf of the Left-Hand, I know why some, at least, might want to go.  I for one, will call myself whatever I like, and support the freedom to practice of anyone who doesn’t harm innocents…  And I will continue to argue this topic whenever it comes up.  I read as well that some Wiccans are concerned that so many are moving away from “pagan” and into “polytheist,” because they know that the more divided we are, the weaker we become.  I agree, this worries me too, but you might want to look to those who practice the same faith as you for reasons, as well as those who are departing.  I’ve always been an outsider to the Wiccan path, but that puts me in a better position to observe sometimes, and you gentlefolk, who I’ve always held a high level of respect for, are starting to accrue an unhealthy share of dogmatics and zealots who think their way is The True Pagan Path, whether they say it in so many words or not.

  • http://profiles.google.com/morgansher Morgan Sheridan

    I identify generically as a Pagan/Witch.  I’ve been a pagan since I was 8 or 9 — of the pan-poly-animi-theist stripe — when I realized that I really didn’t believe in Catholicism at all and was far more drawn to the Irish and Hellenic pantheons.   I’ve been initiated as a Wiccan yet I could not and cannot be dogmatic about Wicca anymore than I could be about Catholicism.  I draw from myriad influences from Buddhism to athiesm.  I believe I have certain guardians and totem animals and that certain items are power objects for me.  The umbrella is huge and inclusive and it makes my world beautiful.

  • http://profiles.google.com/morgansher Morgan Sheridan

    I identify generically as a Pagan/Witch.  I’ve been a pagan since I was 8 or 9 — of the pan-poly-animi-theist stripe — when I realized that I really didn’t believe in Catholicism at all and was far more drawn to the Irish and Hellenic pantheons.   I’ve been initiated as a Wiccan yet I could not and cannot be dogmatic about Wicca anymore than I could be about Catholicism.  I draw from myriad influences from Buddhism to athiesm.  I believe I have certain guardians and totem animals and that certain items are power objects for me.  The umbrella is huge and inclusive and it makes my world beautiful.

  • http://twitter.com/PCPPodcast PaganCenteredPodcast

    I believe in de-Wiccanizing the word Pagan.  That is the basic premise of our show “Pagan Centered Podcast” that Pagan should be inclusive, not exclusive of anything that isn’t like Wicca, and you cannot legitimately call yourself a Pagan podcast if you’re only representing 1 religion (or beliefs that are all highly similar to a single religion).

    Then again as a Left Hand Path Wiccan, I think I do a good job of setting myself apart from the masses of the Wiccan community that lack a desire to move beyond the 101, “feel the love,” and glitter graphics and [I'll truncate this rant here] – a group that I wish to disassociate with.

     PAGANISM IS NOT WICCA

    How is it that some concept this simple gets lost?  Well the Wigglian Way (probably unintentionally) did a great investigation into this back in Episode 63-ish of their show, here’s a link: http://thewigglianway.ca/2010/01 , and there are some intriguing historical reasons for this.  However, that was 20 years ago.  You can have a penis and be Wiccan nowadays, the neo-Feminazism has subsided in most places.  Let’s move beyond the past, feel welcome to call yourselves Wiccan if you practice Wicca.  

    Unfortunately, it has become cool to say “I’m not Wiccan” but still embrace Wiccan practices and rituals like this guy does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7DUkJr0mqEAnd thus the silliness of confusing Paganism as being Wicca.  Though the new fad seems to be “I’m not Pagan” in much the same way :/.

    Now, has anyone got a good plan of action to de-Wiccanize the word Pagan on a mass scale?

     - Dave of PCP

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

      I don’t know how to do that, or even slow it down.  Or even if Pagan should be de-Wiccanized.  What if this is part of the natural maturing of the religions?  A firming up of group identity? 

      More and more I hear the term Pagan used to mean “A nature based religion that incorporates the use of magic and celebrates 8 Sabbats and 13 Esbats.”  Less often do I see a strong push back against that definition.  This leaves me to wonder, is it selfish of me to want to prevent that definition from firming up and excluding me?

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        If that definition firms up, it will cut right through me.  My secondary Craft practice does fit that definition, but my primary doesn’t, and my retro-paganism (both Celtic and Hellenistic) doesn’t, nor my Hermeticism, or my devotion to the Yoruba trickster Esu…

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Now, has anyone got a good plan of action to de-Wiccanize the word Pagan on a mass scale?

      Yep.  It starts by narrowing the word “Wicca” to meaning something along the lines of “an initiatory mystery cult with hetero-erotic duotheism as its central mystery.”  If we actively encourage practitioners of Modern Pagan Witchcraft to identify as where they fall within the Craft, rather than lumping everything together as “Wiccan”, they will come to realize how diverse they really are.  After that, recognizing the diversity in modern paganism becomes easier. 

      In case anyone is uncertain, I am completely serious about this.  We *need* to emphasize our diversity, while celebrating our interconnections.  As just one example, my primary Craft practice doesn’t “celebrate 8 sabbats and 13 esbats”.

      • http://twitter.com/PCPPodcast PaganCenteredPodcast

        I don’t think that’s a narrow definition of Wicca.  Pondering on it a bit, it still remains inclusive of polytheists, non-theistic Wiccans (a very small crowd, admittedly), homosexuality in the context of Wiccan practice.  With exception of the word “initiatory” – that’s the best working definition of Wicca I’ve heard in a while.  

        A lot of my issue with that word though has to do with:
        - I don’t see self-initiation in Wicca as being a valid initiation, to me that’s merely dedication.
        - I refuse to diminish the sacred nature of initiation just to be permitted to identify as practicing a specific religion. 

        Overall though, I very much like the idea of emphasizing the diversity within Wicca as a means of getting this done :) - Dave of PCP

  • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

    I believe in de-Wiccanizing the word Pagan.  That is the basic premise of our show “Pagan Centered Podcast” that Pagan should be inclusive, not exclusive of anything that isn’t like Wicca, and you cannot legitimately call yourself a Pagan podcast if you’re only representing 1 religion (or beliefs that are all highly similar to a single religion).

    Then again as a Left Hand Path Wiccan, I think I do a good job of setting myself apart from the masses of the Wiccan community that lack a desire to move beyond the 101, “feel the love,” and glitter graphics and [I'll truncate this rant here] – a group that I wish to disassociate with.

     PAGANISM IS NOT WICCA

    How is it that some concept this simple gets lost?  Well the Wigglian Way (probably unintentionally) did a great investigation into this back in Episode 63-ish of their show, here’s a link: http://thewigglianway.ca/2010/01 , and there are some intriguing historical reasons for this.  However, that was 20 years ago.  You can have a penis and be Wiccan nowadays, the neo-Feminazism has subsided in most places.  Let’s move beyond the past, feel welcome to call yourselves Wiccan if you practice Wicca.  

    Unfortunately, it has become cool to say “I’m not Wiccan” but still embrace Wiccan practices and rituals like this guy does: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l7DUkJr0mqEAnd thus the silliness of confusing Paganism as being Wicca.  Though the new fad seems to be “I’m not Pagan” in much the same way :/.

    Now, has anyone got a good plan of action to de-Wiccanize the word Pagan on a mass scale?

     - Dave of PCP

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1226891346 Cara Schulz

      I don’t know how to do that, or even slow it down.  Or even if Pagan should be de-Wiccanized.  What if this is part of the natural maturing of the religions?  A firming up of group identity? 

      More and more I hear the term Pagan used to mean “A nature based religion that incorporates the use of magic and celebrates 8 Sabbats and 13 Esbats.”  Less often do I see a strong push back against that definition.  This leaves me to wonder, is it selfish of me to want to prevent that definition from firming up and excluding me?

      • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

        If that definition firms up, it will cut right through me.  My secondary Craft practice does fit that definition, but my primary doesn’t, and my retro-paganism (both Celtic and Hellenistic) doesn’t, nor my Hermeticism, or my devotion to the Yoruba trickster Esu…

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Now, has anyone got a good plan of action to de-Wiccanize the word Pagan on a mass scale?

      Yep.  It starts by narrowing the word “Wicca” to meaning something along the lines of “an initiatory mystery cult with hetero-erotic duotheism as its central mystery.”  If we actively encourage practitioners of Modern Pagan Witchcraft to identify as where they fall within the Craft, rather than lumping everything together as “Wiccan”, they will come to realize how diverse they really are.  After that, recognizing the diversity in modern paganism becomes easier. 

      In case anyone is uncertain, I am completely serious about this.  We *need* to emphasize our diversity, while celebrating our interconnections.  As just one example, my primary Craft practice doesn’t “celebrate 8 sabbats and 13 esbats”.

      • http://PaganCenteredPodcast.com Dave of Pagan Centered Podcast

        I don’t think that’s a narrow definition of Wicca.  Pondering on it a bit, it still remains inclusive of polytheists, non-theistic Wiccans (a very small crowd, admittedly), homosexuality in the context of Wiccan practice.  With exception of the word “initiatory” – that’s the best working definition of Wicca I’ve heard in a while.  

        A lot of my issue with that word though has to do with:
        - I don’t see self-initiation in Wicca as being a valid initiation, to me that’s merely dedication.
        - I refuse to diminish the sacred nature of initiation just to be permitted to identify as practicing a specific religion. 

        Overall though, I very much like the idea of emphasizing the diversity within Wicca as a means of getting this done :) - Dave of PCP

  • Anonymous

    When I talk to people with a clue, I tell them I am Heathen or Asatru.  If I get a blank look I have a choice of either following with “Norse Paganism”, “the pagan faith of Northern Europe”, or the ever popular “Viking religion”.

    If I go with the former two, I get to deal with the pot smoking, tree hugging, polyamourous sterotype the Christian community seem to hold (serious sexual inferiority complex going on there too).  If I go with Viking religion, I then get to deal with the imediate widening eyes as the wait to see me Berserk and burn down the local parish and ravage women and farm animals with equal verve (which is really ironic when you consider it was the Christian Charlemaign who brought the Saxons conversion by the sword, and war between faiths).  Those who have heard of Asatru and are not Pagan themselves generally then assume I’m a prison/biker/racist.

    Pagan is less accurate, but causes less problems.

  • John_T_Mainer

    When I talk to people with a clue, I tell them I am Heathen or Asatru.  If I get a blank look I have a choice of either following with “Norse Paganism”, “the pagan faith of Northern Europe”, or the ever popular “Viking religion”.

    If I go with the former two, I get to deal with the pot smoking, tree hugging, polyamourous sterotype the Christian community seem to hold (serious sexual inferiority complex going on there too).  If I go with Viking religion, I then get to deal with the imediate widening eyes as the wait to see me Berserk and burn down the local parish and ravage women and farm animals with equal verve (which is really ironic when you consider it was the Christian Charlemaign who brought the Saxons conversion by the sword, and war between faiths).  Those who have heard of Asatru and are not Pagan themselves generally then assume I’m a prison/biker/racist.

    Pagan is less accurate, but causes less problems.

  • Rua Lupa

    “A few years ago I expressed something very similar to what Drew
    expressed in his article “Why I’m not Pagan” – except he expressed it
    with far more tact and grace than I did….Perhaps I can do a better job now.”

    You most certainly articulated your position very well, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Thank you for sharing your view, as I feel many feel similar.

  • Rua Lupa

    “A few years ago I expressed something very similar to what Drew
    expressed in his article “Why I’m not Pagan” – except he expressed it
    with far more tact and grace than I did….Perhaps I can do a better job now.”

    You most certainly articulated your position very well, and I agree with it wholeheartedly. Thank you for sharing your view, as I feel many feel similar.

  • Maddgoddess

    my problem is that most people tend to assume when they hear the word “pagan” that it means “wiccan” as well… there are SO many more faiths that fall under this umbrella term “pagan” that have NOTHING to do with Wicca

  • Maddgoddess

    my problem is that most people tend to assume when they hear the word “pagan” that it means “wiccan” as well… there are SO many more faiths that fall under this umbrella term “pagan” that have NOTHING to do with Wicca

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363456518 Ira Lee

    I don’t know if this helps, but unless you are abrahimic, you are pagan. Its like an algae reluctantly going along with the idea of being a single celled organism. whether or not some ignorant folk in the pagan community choose to acknowledge it or not, you are pagan. You might not see things the way they do, but that is inherent in paganism as we are the “everyone else”. We are Aboriginals, we are Animists, we are Greek, we are Kemetic, we are Celtic, we are Hindu, we are Zoroastrians, we are Asatru. Those who can’t wrap their minds around this are the weaker of our paths.

    If you are not Jewish, if you are not Muslim, if you are not Christian, and yet have a religious/spiritual belief, you are Pagan. Its a HUGE tent that encompasses every other spiritual philosophy that has come along since before, during and after monotheistic beliefs.
    You can’t truthfully say I honor Marduk, but I’m not pagan. And just because it doesn’t fit in with the Neo Pagan idea of pagan spirituality, doesn’t make it invalid, nor less pagan. One could argue that it is more pagan, whether or not its true, but that is another can of worms.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1363456518 Ira Lee

    I don’t know if this helps, but unless you are abrahimic, you are pagan. Its like an algae reluctantly going along with the idea of being a single celled organism. whether or not some ignorant folk in the pagan community choose to acknowledge it or not, you are pagan. You might not see things the way they do, but that is inherent in paganism as we are the “everyone else”. We are Aboriginals, we are Animists, we are Greek, we are Kemetic, we are Celtic, we are Hindu, we are Zoroastrians, we are Asatru. Those who can’t wrap their minds around this are the weaker of our paths.

    If you are not Jewish, if you are not Muslim, if you are not Christian, and yet have a religious/spiritual belief, you are Pagan. Its a HUGE tent that encompasses every other spiritual philosophy that has come along since before, during and after monotheistic beliefs.
    You can’t truthfully say I honor Marduk, but I’m not pagan. And just because it doesn’t fit in with the Neo Pagan idea of pagan spirituality, doesn’t make it invalid, nor less pagan. One could argue that it is more pagan, whether or not its true, but that is another can of worms.

  • http://www.duncanheights.com/blog V.E.

    I’m interested to hear about your experience having an easier time as a polytheist with non-Pagans… I think I’ve had the opposite experience. People have told me that my patron deities are fictional and that my religion “isn’t real” and have actively excluded me from gatherings just because I follow a path they don’t understand.

    I agree with John when he said, “Pagan is less accurate, but causes less problems.” Kudos to you for having accepting people around you, but forgive me if I’m a little more bitter about the response I’ve received.

  • http://www.duncanheights.com/blog V.E.

    I’m interested to hear about your experience having an easier time as a polytheist with non-Pagans… I think I’ve had the opposite experience. People have told me that my patron deities are fictional and that my religion “isn’t real” and have actively excluded me from gatherings just because I follow a path they don’t understand.

    I agree with John when he said, “Pagan is less accurate, but causes less problems.” Kudos to you for having accepting people around you, but forgive me if I’m a little more bitter about the response I’ve received.