Paganism

As a homeschooler, I think it is extremely important for our children to learn about all religions and not just your own practicing religion. There is not just history within each religion and specific regions but you are also teaching your child that when they can understand someone who is different in thinking, they can be respectful. Your children can learn more too. That doesn’t mean your children will automatically go follow that new religion. For me as a human, I think it shouldn’t matter who you are or where your from or what you belief but to be kind, be generous and help others. Actions speak louder than words and unfortunately, even in 2020, certain religions still get hate. We can not be teaching hate so here is what Paganism is about. I’m going to dive into other religions as well so don’t worry.

Paganism is really an umbrella term for many sub religions which we will talk about. Paganism is the ancestral religion of the whole of humanity. This ancient religious outlook remains active throughout much of the world today, both in complex civilisations such as Japan and India, and in less complex tribal societies world-wide. It was the outlook of the European religions of classical antiquity – Persia, Egypt, Greece and Rome – as well as of their “barbarian” neighbours on the northern fringes, and its European form is re-emerging into explicit awareness in the modern West as the articulation of urgent contemporary religious priorities.

The Pagan outlook can be seen as threefold. Its adherents venerate Nature and worship many deities, both goddesses and gods.

The many deities of Paganism are a recognition of the diversity of Nature. Some Pagans see the goddesses and gods as a community of individuals much like the diverse human community in this world. Others, such as followers of Isis and Osiris from ancient times onwards, and Wiccan-based Pagans in the modern world, see all the goddesses as one Great Goddess, and all the gods as one Great God, whose harmonious interaction is the secret of the universe. Yet others think there is a supreme divine principle, that “both wants and does not want to be called Zeus”, as Heraclitus wrote in the fifth century BC. Or which the Great Goddess Mother of All Things, as Isis, was to the first century CE novelist Apuleius and the Great Goddess is to many Western Pagans nowadays. Yet others, such as the Emperor Julian, the great restorer of Paganism in Christian antiquity, and many Hindu mystics nowadays, believe in an abstract Supreme Principle, the origin and source of all things. But even these last Pagans recognise that other spiritual beings, although perhaps one in essence with a greater being, are themselves divine, and are not false or partial divinities. Pagans who worship the One are described as henotheists, believers in a supreme divine principle, rather than monotheists, believers in one true deity beside which all other deities are false.

n the present day, the Pagan tradition manifests both as communities reclaiming their ancient sites and ceremonies (especially in Eastern Europe), to put humankind back in harmony with the Earth, and as individuals pursuing a personal spiritual path alone or in a small group (especially in Western Europe and the European-settled countries abroad), under the tutelage of one of the Pagan divinities. To most modern Pagans in the West, the whole of life is to be affirmed joyfully and without shame, as long as other people are not harmed by one’s own tastes. Modern Pagans tend to be relaxed and at ease with themselves and others, and women in particular have a dignity which is not always found outside Pagan circles.

Modern Pagans, not tied down either by the customs of an established religion or by the dogmas of a revealed one, are often creative, playful and individualistic, affirming the importance of the individual psyche as it interfaces with a greater power. There is a respect for all of life and usually a desire to participate with rather than to dominate other beings. What playwright Eugene O’Neil called “the creative Pagan acceptance of life” is at the forefront of the modern movement. This is bringing something new to religious life and to social behaviour, a way of pluralism without fragmentation, of creativity without anarchy, of wisdom without dogma. Here is an age-old current surfacing in a new form suited to the needs of the present day.

What are the Different types of Paganism:

Wicca

Although there were precursors to the movement, the origins of modern Wicca can be traced to a retired British civil servant, Gerald Brousseau Gardner (1884–1964). Gardner spent most of his career in Asia, where he became familiar with a variety of occult beliefs and magical practices. He also read widely in Western esoteric literature, including the writings of the British occultist Aleister Crowley. Returning to England shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Gardner became involved in the British occult community and founded a new movement based on a reverence of nature, the practice of magic, and the worship of a female deity (the Goddess) and numerous associated deities (such as the Horned God). He also borrowed liberally from Western witchcraft traditions. Following the 1951 repeal of England’s archaic Witchcraft Laws, Gardner published Witchcraft Today (1954), founded his first coven of followers, and, with input from its members, especially author Doreen Valiente, developed modern witchcraft into what today is known as Wicca. It spread quickly to the United States in the late 1960s, when an emphasis on nature, unconventional lifestyles, and a search for spirituality divorced from traditional religions were especially in vogue.

Covens, which ideally number 10 to 15 members and are entered through an initiation ritual, sometime align with one of many coven associations. As coven members master the practice of magic and become familiar with the rituals, they pass through two degrees of initiation. There is a third degree for those who wish to enter the priesthood. In Gardner’s system priority is given to the priestess, and leaders in the Gardnerian community trace their authority through a lineage of priestesses back to Gardner’s coven.

By the 1980s there were an estimated 50,000 Wiccans in western Europe and North America. Although the growth rate slowed by the end of the decade, Wicca gained increasing social acceptance and diversified to include numerous variations on Gardner’s original teachings and rituals. Moreover, new Wiccan groups emerged independent of the Gardnerians, including one led by Alexander Sanders (1926–1988), the Dianic Wiccans who saw Wicca as a woman’s religion, and the parallel Neo-Pagan movement, which also worshipped the Goddess and practiced witchcraft but eschewed the designation witch. A major controversy developed in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, when a faction of Wiccans broke with Gardner’s notion that clothes inhibited magical workings and chose not to follow his practice of worshipping in the nude. Instead they donned ritual robes, claiming pre-Gardnerian sources for their beliefs, and called themselves Traditionalists.

As Wicca and Neo-Paganism moved into their second generation, belief faded in the notion that Gardner had inherited a set of witchcraft rituals and practices that had been passed on through a tradition with unbroken ties to pre-Christian paganism. Although many Wiccans once cited the work of Margaret Murray, including The Witch-Cult in Western Europe (1921) and her article “Witchcraft” published in the 14th edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica (1929), in support of their belief in the ancient origins of their religion, they now generally recognize that Wicca began with Gardner and his associates.

As the 21st century began, Wiccans and Neo-Pagans were found throughout the English-speaking world and across northern and western Europe. Estimates of adherents ranged dramatically, with the number of Wiccans in the United States believed to be between 100,000 and more than 1.5 million. The Pagan Federation, an international fellowship, serves the larger Wiccan/Neo-Pagan community.

** Now I do want to note that you can be Wicca without being a witch***

Druidry

The Order of Bards, Ovates & Druids works with Druidry as a spiritual way and practice that speaks to three of our greatest yearnings: to be fully creative in our lives, to commune deeply with the world of Nature, and to gain access to a source of profound wisdom. Each of these yearnings comes from a different aspect of ourselves that we can personify as the Singer, the Shaman and the Sage. In Druidry, Bardic teachings help to nurture the singer, the artist or storyteller within us: the creative self; Ovate teachings help to foster the shaman, the lover of Nature, the healer within us; while the Druid teachings help to develop our inner wisdom: the sage who dwells within each of us.

Druidry, or Druidism as it is also known, manifests today in three usually separate ways: as a cultural enterprise to foster the Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages; as a fraternal pursuit to provide mutual support and to raise funds for good causes; and as a spiritual path. Each of these different approaches draws upon the inspiration of the ancient Druids, who were the guardians of a magical and religious tradition that existed before the coming of Christianity, and whose influence can be traced from the western shores of Ireland to the west of France – and perhaps beyond. Caesar wrote that the Druids originated in Britain.

The practice of Druidry was replaced with Christianity by the seventh century, and even though little is known about these ancient sages, groups in Britain who were inspired by the idea of the Druids began to form in the early eighteenth century. Like seeds that have lain dormant for centuries before suddenly flowering again, Druidry began a process of revival, started by scholars in Britain, France and Germany who became fascinated by the subject, and continued today by a small but rapidly growing number of people around the world who are inspired by the tradition, rituals and teachings that have evolved over the last two and a half centuries, which draw upon mythology and folklore whose origins lie in the pre-Christian era.

Druidry appeals in particular to people who have become disenchanted with much of conventional religious practice, and who are seeking a sense of spiritual connection with the land, and with their ancestors. In today’s fast-moving and environmentally-threatened world, they are looking for a sense of rootedness in Time and in Place, and for a sense of reverence for the Earth.

Astaru

 Heathenry as a new religious movement, and more specifically as a reconstructionist form of modern Paganism. Heathenry has been defined as “a broad contemporary Pagan new religious movement (NRM) that is consciously inspired by the linguistically, culturally, and (in some definitions) ethnically ‘Germanic’ societies of Iron Age and early medieval Europe as they existed prior to Christianization”, and as a “movement to revive and/or reinterpret for the present day the practices and worldviews of the pre-Christian cultures of northern Europe (or, more particularly, the Germanic speaking cultures)”.

Practitioners seek to revive these past belief systems by using surviving historical source materials. Among the historical sources used are Old Norse texts associated with Iceland such as the Prose Edda and Poetic Edda, Old English texts such as Beowulf, and Middle High German texts such as the Nibelungenlied. Some Heathens also adopt ideas from the archaeological evidence of pre-Christian Northern Europe and folklore from later periods in European history. Among many Heathens, this material is referred to as the “Lore” and studying it is an important part of their religion. Some textual sources nevertheless remain problematic as a means of “reconstructing” pre-Christian belief systems, because they were written by Christians and only discuss pre-Christian religion in a fragmentary and biased manner. The anthropologist Jenny Blain characterises Heathenry as “a religion constructed from partial material”, while the religious studies scholar Michael Strmiska describes its beliefs as being “riddled with uncertainty and historical confusion”, thereby characterising it as a postmodern movement.

The ways in which Heathens use this historical and archaeological material differ; some seek to reconstruct past beliefs and practices as accurately as possible, while others openly experiment with this material and embrace new innovations. Some, for instance, adapt their practices according to “unverified personal gnosis” (UPG) that they have gained through spiritual experiences. Others adopt concepts from the world’s surviving ethnic religions as well as modern polytheistic traditions such as Hinduism and Afro-American religions, believing that doing so helps to construct spiritual world-views akin to those that existed in Europe prior to Christianization. Some practitioners who emphasize an approach that relies exclusively on historical and archaeological sources criticize such attitudes, denigrating those who practice them using the pejorative term “Neo-Heathen“. A 2009 rite performed on the Icelandic hill of Öskjuhlíð, Reykjavík

Some Heathens seek out common elements found throughout Germanic Europe during the Iron Age and Early Middle Ages, using those as the basis for their contemporary beliefs and practices.Conversely, others draw inspiration from the beliefs and practices of a specific geographical area and chronological period within Germanic Europe, such as Anglo-Saxon England or Viking Age Iceland. Some adherents are deeply knowledgeable as to the specifics of Northern European society in the Iron Age and Early Medieval periods; however for most practitioners their main source of information about the pre-Christian past is fictional literature and popular accounts of Norse mythology. Many express a romanticized view of this past,sometimes perpetuating misconceptions about it; the sociologist of religion Jennifer Snook noting that many practitioners “hearken back to a more epic, anachronistic, and pure age of ancestors and heroes”.

The anthropologist Murphy Pizza suggests that Heathenry can be understood as an “invented tradition”. As the religious studies scholar Fredrik Gregorius states, despite the fact that “no real continuity” exists between Heathenry and the pre-Christian belief systems of Germanic Europe, Heathen practitioners often dislike being considered adherents of a “new religion” or “modern invention” and thus prefer to depict theirs as a “traditional faith”. Many practitioners avoid using the scholarly, etic term “reconstructionism” to describe their practices, preferring to characterize it as an “indigenous religion” with parallels to the traditional belief systems of the world’s indigenous peoples. In claiming a sense of indigeneity, some Heathens—particularly in the United States—attempt to frame themselves as the victims of Medieval Christian colonialism and imperialism. A 2015 survey of the Heathen community found equal numbers of practitioners (36%) regarding their religion as a reconstruction as those who regarded it as a direct continuation of ancient belief systems; only 22% acknowledged it to be modern but historically inspired, although this was the dominant interpretation among practitioners in Nordic countries.

Pantheon based

Pantheon based Paganism is a catch all term for the various Pagan traditions that are centered around a specific pantheon rather than a set of guidelines. Asatru, given its emphasis on the Norse pantheon, could technically be considered a variant of pantheon based paganism, but the guidelines and organization within Heathenism set it slightly apart from many pantheon based paths. 

Pantheon based Paganism is exactly what it sounds like. It is Pagan religions that are centered on a specific ancient pantheon, such as the Greek pantheon or the Celtic pantheon. These religions are generally less well defined than more organized and commonly recognized traditions such as Wicca and Asatru.

Electic

Eclectic Paganism is the epitome of “no dogma.” This Pagan tradition is most commonly practiced by Solitary Pagans or Pagans who do not belong to a coven or grove which are two sorts of Pagan “congregations.” 

Eclectic Paganism is exactly what it sounds like. It is a Pagan path that pulls from a variety of traditions. They may worship Odin and Hera but use Celtic rituals. They might also observe a unified pantheon or follow the guidelines of another Pagan tradition but create their own, unique, individual rituals and practices. Eclectic Paganism is difficult to define even by Pagan insiders because there is no official dogma in Paganism. As such, the lines between traditions blur which makes it hard to decide who is pulling from multiple traditions.

Pagan religions are difficult to define because there is no set doctrine that states “this is what it means to be a Druid.” Instead, Pagans are left to figure out for themselves what it means to be Wiccan or Eclectic. Much to the frustration of curious outsiders, defining Pagan traditions is often an individual matter and a sense of feeling. A Wiccan may not have a perfect definition of Wicca, but they know their faith well enough to look at something and say “that is not Wiccan” or to feel the energy of another person’s ritual and know that they are looking at a Wiccan sister.

Holidays:

Yule – 

Midwinter, known commonly as Yule or within modern Druid traditions as Alban Arthan, has been recognised as a significant turning point in the yearly cycle since the late Stone Age. The ancient megalithic sites of Newgrange and Stonehenge, carefully aligned with the solstice sunrise and sunset, exemplify this. The reversal of the Sun’s ebbing presence in the sky symbolizes the rebirth of the solar god and presages the return of fertile seasons. From Germanic to Roman tradition, this is the most important time of celebration.

Practices vary, but sacrifice offerings, feasting, and gift giving are common elements of Midwinter festivities. Bringing sprigs and wreaths of evergreenery (such as holly, ivy, mistletoe, yew, and pine) into the home and tree decorating are also common during this time.

In Roman traditions additional festivities take place during the six days leading up to Midwinter.

Imbolc – 

The cross-quarter day following Midwinter falls on the first of February and traditionally marks the first stirrings of spring. It aligns with the contemporary observance of Groundhog Day. It is time for purification and spring cleaning in anticipation of the year’s new life. In Rome, it was historically a shepherd’s holiday, while the Celts associated it with the onset of ewes’ lactation, prior to birthing the spring lambs.

For Celtic pagans, the festival is dedicated to the goddess Brigid, daughter of The Dagda and one of the Tuatha Dé Danann.

Among Reclaiming tradition Witches, this is the traditional time for pledges and rededications for the coming year and for initiation among Dianic Wiccans.

Ostara- 

Derived from a reconstruction produced by linguist Jacob Grimm of an Old High German form of the Old English goddess name Ēostre, Ostara marks the vernal equinox in some modern Pagan traditions.

Known as Alban Eilir, meaning Light of the Earth, to modern Druid traditions, this holiday is the second of three spring celebrations (the midpoint between Imbolc and Beltane), during which light and darkness are again in balance, with light on the rise. It is a time of new beginnings and of life emerging further from the grips of winter.

Beltane – 

Traditionally the first day of summer in Ireland, in Rome the earliest celebrations appeared in pre-Christian times with the festival of Flora, the Roman goddess of flowers, and the Walpurgisnacht celebrations of the Germanic countries.

Since the Christianisation of Europe, a more secular version of the festival has continued in Europe and America, commonly referred to as May Day. In this form, it is well known for maypole dancing and the crowning of the Queen of the May.

Celebrated by many pagan traditions, among modern Druids this festival recognizes the power of life in its fullness, the greening of the world, youthfulness and flourishing.

Litha- 

Midsummer is one of the four solar holidays and is considered the turning point at which summer reaches its height and the sun shines longest. Among the Wiccan sabbats, Midsummer is preceded by Beltane, and followed by Lammas or Lughnasadh.

Some Wiccan traditions call the festival Litha, a name occurring in Bede’s The Reckoning of Time (De Temporum Ratione, 8th century), which preserves a list of the (then-obsolete) Anglo-Saxon names for the twelve months. Ærra Liða (first or preceding Liða) roughly corresponds to June in the Gregorian calendar, and Æfterra Liða (following Liða) to July. Bede writes that “Litha means gentle or navigable, because in both these months the calm breezes are gentle and they were wont to sail upon the smooth sea”.

Modern Druids celebrate this festival as Alban Hefin, “Light of Summer.” The sun in its greatest strength is greeted and celebrated on this holiday. While it is the time of greatest strength of the solar current, it also marks a turning point, for the sun also begins its time of decline as the wheel of the year turns. Arguably the most important festival of the Druid traditions, due to the great focus on the sun and its light as a symbol of divine inspiration. Druid groups frequently celebrate this event at Stonehenge.

Lughnasadh / Lammas – 

Lammas or Lughnasadh is the first of the three Wiccan harvest festivals, the other two being the autumnal equinox (or Mabon) and Samhain. Wiccans mark the holiday by baking a figure of the god in bread and eating it, to symbolise the sanctity and importance of the harvest. Celebrations vary, as not all Pagans are Wiccans. The Irish name Lughnasadh is used in some traditions to designate this holiday. Wiccan celebrations of this holiday are neither generally based on Celtic culture nor centered on the Celtic deity Lugh. This name seems to have been a late adoption among Wiccans. In early versions of Wiccan literature the festival is referred to as August Eve.

The name Lammas (contraction of loaf mass) implies it is an agrarian-based festival and feast of thanksgiving for grain and bread, which symbolises the first fruits of the harvest. Christian festivals may incorporate elements from the Pagan Ritual.

Mabon -The holiday of the autumnal equinox, Harvest HomeMabon, the Feast of the IngatheringMeán FómhairAn Clabhsúr, or Alban Elfed (in Neo-Druid traditions), is a modern Pagan ritual of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth and a recognition of the need to share them to secure the blessings of the Goddess and the God during the coming winter months. The name Mabon was coined by Aidan Kelly around 1970 as a reference to Mabon ap Modron, a character from Welsh mythology. Among the sabbats, it is the second of the three Pagan harvest festivals, preceded by Lammas / Lughnasadh and followed by Samhain.

Samhain –

Samhain is considered by Wiccans to be one of the four Greater Sabbats. Samhain is considered by some as a time to celebrate the lives of those who have passed on, and it often involves paying respect to ancestors, family members, elders of the faith, friends, pets, and other loved ones who have died. Aligned with the contemporary observance of Halloween and Day of the Dead. In some rituals the spirits of the departed are invited to attend the festivities. It is seen as a festival of darkness, which is balanced at the opposite point of the wheel by the festival of Beltane, which is celebrated as a festival of light and fertility.

Many Pagans believe that at Samhain the veil between this world and the afterlife is at its thinnest point of the whole year, making it easier to communicate with those who have left this world.

Now there is a lot more to Paganism and this is just a glimpse. As I stated in the beginning, I will be going more in depth, nit just on paganism but also other religions.

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