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Common ground in pagan religions
07-01-2013, 10:06 PM
Post: #1
Common ground in pagan religions
There are many things that make the different pagan religions different. This thread is finding out what is common in pagan religions. I have been interested in pagan religions most of my life but only recently made the decision to become pagan in my faith. When I went to learn more about the pagan faiths I was first overwhelmed and the diversity and began to wonder what the name pagan meant in our times. I want to introduce one or two ideas at a time that are common to pagan religions and make them distinct from other religions. I am not saying these are absolute that must be accepted; I am introducing them to create a dialog about what makes a belief system pagan and to better understand pagan religion. Here are the first two with others to follow. They may seem obvious but you have to start somewhere.
1. Multiple Gods. This principle is related to the fact that people are different so their are different Gods. This can also refer to people who believe in one main god with multiple lesser gods or spirits which represent different aspects of the one god.
2. Earth centered spirituality. The Universe, Earth, and nature are intimately connected with the religion.
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07-03-2013, 10:43 PM
Post: #2
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
So, for example, an Atenist would not be a pagan?
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07-04-2013, 11:27 AM
Post: #3
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
I appreciate the challenge concerning the faith called Atenism. Aten is a god from the Egyptian pantheon who was associated with the sun disc. Pharaoh Amenhotep IV chose Aten as the royal patron and supreme state god, as many kings prior would do to represent their reign. The royal patron god was one of many gods worshiped consistent with pagan religions and this was true initially with Amenhotep IV. Amenhotep IV changed his name to Akhenaten (Spirit of the Aten) and declared Aten as the only god that could be worshiped. This is when atenism brakes with pagan religions and I would no longer consider the Atenism of Akhenaten a pagan religion. This does not mean that the worship of Aten can not be pagan but the atenism of Akhenaten.
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07-04-2013, 03:11 PM
Post: #4
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
So, for you, why is a soft polytheist more pagan than a monotheist? If someone believes that there is only one god, and all of the gods people have worshiped through history are simply misunderstandings or facets of that god, why are they still pagan to you?

How does that differ from the Catholic church saying "Oh, that god you were worshiping is really just a saint! Here's what they believed!" Both make the gods lesser than what they were.
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07-04-2013, 05:11 PM
Post: #5
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
You need to get rid of the term soft paganism. It does not make any sense unless it is meant in an arrogant manner. Look at the example 0f the American Native concept. Are they soft? The Algonquins believed in orenda, the Hawaiians in mana. These were primal forces of all spirits or gods. They pray to the a great spirit yet pray to mother earth. But if you believe that pagan cannot refer to any polytheistic faith that may have "great spirit" in its tradition then maybe other people can comment. I do not see why those faiths should be excluded. But that is why I started this thread. The other aspect is how do we know that Norse or Celtic faiths did not have a concept of a first creator or that a common primal force in their gods? Just an idea. Now for two other aspects that may be in common to pagan faiths.
1. Action over scripture. . Pagan religion is based on action rather that words. It is how you act and what you do that is more important that the way you believe or what you know. In a comparison the Christian faith places the greatest importance on what you know and believe more that actions. It is more important that you believe Jesus is the son of God and he was crucified and has risen than the deeds that you do. In pagan religions there is no set scripture so what you do is all important. To you honor the animal spirit, ancestor, God/Goddess, or the Great Spirit.
2. Animism - pagan religions give importance to things other than human. Rocks, forests, animals have a spirit. There was a big debate whether a dog as a soul in a Christian faith. This is not a question in pagan faiths.
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07-04-2013, 06:49 PM (This post was last modified: 07-04-2013 06:50 PM by Satyros.)
Post: #6
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
(07-03-2013 10:43 PM)Niva Wrote:  So, for example, an Atenist would not be a pagan?

Akhenaten was and is generally seen as a blight on Kemeticism and/or Ancient Egyptian Paganism. His religion and relevance lasted only as long as he did; once he was gone the old gods were reinstated.

(07-04-2013 05:11 PM)ethelwulf Wrote:  2. Animism - pagan religions give importance to things other than human. Rocks, forests, animals have a spirit.

Not all Pagan Traditions have animist principles, nor do they exist in equal degree. I cannot think of one Pagan tradition (of the definition being pre-christian religions of Europe) that believes rocks to have spirits. Trees or glades have spirit guardians in some Traditions, but that's as close as it gets.

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07-04-2013, 09:27 PM
Post: #7
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
Quote:You need to get rid of the term soft paganism. It does not make any sense unless it is meant in an arrogant manner.

I'm not using it to be arrogant. I find the idea that Woden and Jupiter are just facets of one big god to be insulting to my gods. I find the idea that Frige and Hera are the same to be insulting to my gods. Do you understand that?

I can tolerate and admit that yes, someone who is a soft polytheist can be a pagan. That doesn't mean that I agree with their god concept. However, I would also say that someone who is an Atenist is also a pagan. You're excluding one because they believe in one god, but not the other. Does that make sense?

Quote:The other aspect is how do we know that Norse or Celtic faiths did not have a concept of a first creator or that a common primal force in their gods? Just an idea.

Because there is absolutely no evidence for this. We have nothing in any lore that suggests it.

Quote: In pagan religions there is no set scripture so what you do is all important.

There's this thing, in Kemeticism, it's called "The Book of the Dead" it quite explicitly says what happens to you if you do bad things. It still values action over belief, but every Kemetic Polytheist I know considers it scripture.

Quote:Animism - pagan religions give importance to things other than human. Rocks, forests, animals have a spirit. There was a big debate whether a dog as a soul in a Christian faith. This is not a question in pagan faiths.

Kind of is. I don't consider rocks or forests to have a spirit. I'm not even sure all animals have a soul.

Quote:Akhenaten was and is generally seen as a blight on Kemeticism and/or Ancient Egyptian Paganism. His religion and relevance lasted only as long as he did; once he was gone the old gods were reinstated.

Brought it up only because I know an Atenist. Haha.
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07-04-2013, 09:42 PM
Post: #8
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
They're still around? That's a new one on me...

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07-05-2013, 02:58 PM
Post: #9
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
To Niva - I am not here to insult any god. The question is what is common to pagan religions not your religion. I proposed that what you refer to soft pagan religions are still pagan religions. There is a book by Jordan Paper who takes a harder stand on this view in his book "The Deities are Many". He has some very interesting arguments but I still do not agree with him. My reasons for this thread is to inquire what pagan believe constitutes a pagan religion. I still feel there is a need to understand this. The differences are easy to see but I argue there are still many commonalities. My objection of the word hard or soft comes from the conflicts in the past between those who based there pagan beliefs on linguistics, archeology, what little reports from the past on pagan religions that are accurate, and scholarly works from those studying what information we have. I believe there is evidence that some pagan religions had a concept of a unifying god as well as local gods. I will try to present it in the future. But there are two things that also need to be considered. Pagan religions changed with time and are dynamic and continue to change unlike the dogma driven Abrahamic faiths, and what these people actually believed in can never be represented with certainty. They had an oral tradition in Northern Europe and the poems that were written were written often at a much later time by those who were already influenced by the Christian faith.

To Satyros - As for animism I believe there is ample proof of it in the Germanic faiths although a single rock could be an exception.

SO far what is common is
1. Multiple Gods with the noted concern for soft pagans. Maybe they will change their minds
2. Earth/universe centered
3. concern for action oriented than scripture because of the book of the dead.
4. concern for Animism should we include rocks and lower animals and do things have a spirit or is the spirit just associated.

Well this is a start. For your comments thank you. Whether I agree or not the debate is still important at least to me.
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07-05-2013, 03:29 PM
Post: #10
RE: Common ground in pagan religions
(07-05-2013 02:58 PM)ethelwulf Wrote:  As for animism I believe there is ample proof of it in the Germanic faiths although a single rock could be an exception.

No, there really isn't. We have alf (comparable to the French faerie or Greek daemon,) that protect and manage the various aspects of nature; rivers, streams, trees, etc, but that is not animism exactly. Animism is better presented in native North American beliefs.

To your list of "common traits";

1. Not likely. Soft Polytheism is their belief, and we're not here to force Hard Polytheism purely for the sake of having "common traits."
2. I'm not sure what you mean, here.
3. More or less.
4. No. Not all Pagan Traditions are animist.

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