The role of esotericism in Pagan religion

Altar

I had the good fortune to just come across a two-part article in Patheos by John Halstead in The Allergic Pagan. He explores whether there would be NeoPaganism in the US had Gerald Gardner never existed. He answers a resounding “yes,” and then makes a fascinating exploration of the similarities and differences that would exist today were that so. To my mind Halstead makes a compelling case that a Non-Wiccan NeoPaganism would arise and that it would (initially) be different in not incorporating wh … [Read more...]

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The Parliament of the World’s Religions and the Future of Religion

Image by PHOTOCREO/Michal Bednarek, courtesy of Shutterstock.

The Parliament of the World’s Religions, held from October 15-19, in Salt Lake City, was one of the most powerful spiritual experiences of my life. For 5 days nearly 10,000 people gathered in Salt Lake’s enormous Salt Palace, virtually all of us as serious practitioners of our religious paths. With few exceptions all of us also appeared to accept paths other than our own as well worth walking.Over 50 religions were represented. Among modern NeoPagans (as I use the term) Wiccans were joined by … [Read more...]

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Looking to the future: Pagan religions in 50 Years

Gus diZerega

Pantheacon 2014 was unusual in the level of acrimony some Pagans raised towards others about a supposed ‘Wiccan privilege’.  I will soon have a article devoted to it here, but that is not this one.  Here I want to explore the kinds of changes in America’s Pagan religions that made it possible for some to bring this charge. For in the years to come these changes will only increase. Our future is a diversity dwarfing what we presently are experiencing.I will start with two basic observa … [Read more...]

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Don Frew on saving Pagan lives, ‘Wiccan privilege’ and interfaith

Don Frew

The recent discussions here over what constitutes Pagan religion raised a number of issues with which Wiccan elder Don Frew has an unusual degree of experience.  Few if any NeoPagans have been more active than Frew in our interactions with the wider religious world.  Given that so much of our history is unavailable except orally, or in very specialized venues, I offered him an opportunity here to put some of these issues  into a historical and I think very interesting context. - Gus di … [Read more...]

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What is Paganism? Part VI: The New Age and the Limits of Pagan Religion

Gus diZerega

Religious stories are about how we as a community can make sense of the ultimate context of our existence. I am not attempting to describe all possible basic religious stories, only those most relevant to our community.It seems to me what we call “New Age” religions deserve their own category. I am fascinated by how historically modern New Age religions are so closely intertwined  with NeoPaganism. At least in the American context they haveintertwined roots sending up vigorous shoots within a … [Read more...]

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What is Paganism? Part V: ChristoPaganism and the Limits of Pagan Religion

ChristoPaganism is getting a lot of attention within our community, in part because it claims to combine two religious traditions considered irreconcilable. Does my analysis shed any useful light on the subject? From this perspective, what are we to make of ChristoPaganism?At the level of spiritual practice, some ChristoPagans report powerful and moving spiritual experiences.   I believe them. But what is ChristoPaganism’s relationship to Pagan and Christian religion? Is it identified with on … [Read more...]

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What is Paganism? Part IV: Interfaith Recognition

Gus diZerega

In many ways, the most convincing evidence supporting the definition of Pagan religion that I have discussed in this series is traditional Pagan peoples’ reactions when they meet modern NeoPagans in interfaith work.A few years back it was trendy in some Religious Studies circles to argue that NeoPagans were so different from indigenous and African Diasporic religions that we should not all be lumped together as "Pagan." Enmeshed within theoretical categories decisively shaped by secular a … [Read more...]

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What Is Paganism? Part III: Pagan Religion from a Historical Perspective

Gus diZerega

As is well known in our community, the term “Pagan” was not initially a religious one, and when it took on a religious meaning, it was in contrast to “Christian.” Over the years it has gradually solidified to refer to religions that are not Abrahamic and not Buddhist. Hindus seem to go in and out depending on the writer and the context. So at first, it seems to be a catch-all in historical terms, a kind of linguistic wastebasket into which religions not granted equal status with the “great” ones … [Read more...]

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What is Paganism? Part II: A Spiritual Taxonomy

Gus diZerega

Biology arranges all of life in taxonomic ranks based on what are believed to be important similarities.  The term mammalia is a class, the class of all mammals. Within this class there are orders, such as primates. Within the order of primates there are families, such as hominids. Within a family there are genuses; if we follow the line leading to us, within the hominid family our genus would be Homo. And within the genus there are species, as in our own narcissistically named Homo Sapiens.  S … [Read more...]

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What is Paganism? Part I: The Basics: Religion, Spirituality, and Stories

Gus diZerega

I was recently involved in an intense discussion arising over an article linked from The Wild Hunt. The article complained about a friend’s statement describing Paganism to an interfaith audience, and I responded by defending him. After that the discussion took off in the direction of “Who is a Pagan and how do we know?” I continued until, in my judgment, we were getting too testy. Best to stop.But most of the issues discussed were important.Afterwards I realized I had accumulated what co … [Read more...]

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