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25 October 2013 @ 01:29 pm
R U Pagan  
Over the years I have heard many people who society would consider Pagan declare that they are not Pagan. Polytheists intent on rediscovering the old ways go to Pagan gatherings, where they don't meet people who practice in the same way they do, and declare that they are not Pagan. I have never really understood this conclusion. It would seem to me that the conclusion would be that they are Pagan, but that they are not Pagan in the same way that the people attending these gatherings are Pagan.

Let's consider the history of Paganism up to 1954. If someone considered themselves to be following in the traditional non-Christian traditions of the Norse, Celts, Greeks, Italians, Egyptians, or so on, we would have no problem looking at these people as partaking in the Pagan traditions. Then Wicca started growing in popularity and overtaking the Pagan movement to the point that the modern Pagan activities are significantly different from the old Pagan activities. Does this mean that the non-Wiccans are not Pagan, or that they are just different from most of the Pagans they meet?

Quite frankly, these people declaring that they are not Pagans have more claim to the Pagan title than the Wiccans. Wicca draws primarily from a combination of the occult and witchcraft. neither of these things are necessarily Pagan. Witches have traditionally used any sources of power, including psalms or the lords prayer, and still do (#LBRP). Granted, movements can change, for instance 150 years ago, the Republican party stood for significantly different things from what it stands for today. So yes, the Pagan movement can change, but what it is to be Pagan is too old a concept to change that quickly.

I think that one of the basic problems is that when we try to define Pagans for the general public, the tendency is to use the phrase, "Nature Based Spirituality." Down deep, I'm sure that most of us know that that label is PR bullshit, but we keep using it because many of us like it and it allows us to feel like we are more in tune with nature, and therefore in touch with something pure and true. Then we pull out our tarot decks off our well maintained altars and try to predict the future. The truth is that trying to define a Pagan is clumsy, messy and confusing. Most of us can't do it. It's more that if you study enough history, eventually you get a sense of it and can spot it when you see it, which honestly is a much more Pagan answer.

So yes, when someone tells me that they are a reconstructionist appealing to the non-Christian old ways of some tradition, but they aren't Pagan, I am going to look at them funny. I might even question them. Deep down, I probably wont truly accept their answer.

If it looks like a duck, it walks like a duck, and it quacks like a duck, it might think it's a rabbit, but it's still a duck.
mplsfish: me with duck eggmplsfish on October 26th, 2013 05:41 am (UTC)
Well said. :)