Annoyed with "old" paganism

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Anonymous

Annoyed with "old" paganism

Post by Anonymous » Thu Feb 06, 2003 7:56 pm

Why is it that as a new religion, people in the pagan community feel the need to make it seem like we've been around for a few hundred years? I mean, I know that Gardener (1965!) based the neo-paganism off of some research from older spiritualities, but the fact remains that we've only been around a little over 35 years.



On Pagan Library, I recently read this article on the pagan holidays (http://www.paganlibrary.com/reference/festivals.php) and was quite annoyed to see statements about how Christianity had modified our holidays to convert people. This very well may have been true, but there's a lot of reasons why it probably wasn't:



1) Between the time that Christianity started converting people and the introduction of neo-paganism, there was a major date system change. The calander was modified to make it fit more closely to the astrological. This affords some date-shifting.



2) Most of the holidays celebrated by neo-pagans today were created LONG after Christianity had established itself.



3) Eostar, even IF it did exist before Easter was NOT stolen. The dating of Easter is based off of the lunar calander and falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the Spring Equinox. By the way, this holiday is also closely linked to Passover, a Jewish Holiday that has been around a hell of a lot longer than most.



I'm a pagan. I like the fact that people are proud of our diverse spirituality. I wish that we could get away from our flaky media image, but this is never going to happen as long as people keep claiming they're Napolean re-incarnated, they can psychically blast people from across the world, or that our religion is the oldest one in existence, 'cause guess what, it's not!

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Mythellin
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Post by Mythellin » Fri Feb 07, 2003 12:22 am

Sorry! Did I read that right! Paganism is new!!!! :o



I am an old Pagan in every sense. Firstly I am old myself, being well into my second half century, and have been a pagan my entire life. Secondly, my family have been mostly pagan for generations. Many of our family practices have been passed down for centuries. If you want to trace back pagan families in England you simply go and look at the local churchyard. The pagans are the ones whose gravestones are outside the boundary wall on unconsecrated ground.



Paganism predated christianity by a few thousand years. The Christians moved the events on their calendar to match those of the pagans because they could not find a way to stop the pagan celebrations. The actual date of say Easter, may have changed. However, as an Old Pagan, I follow the moon and tides and my celebration is not exactly on the Christian Easter, merely sometimes close to it. Other events such as the Solstice or equinox have existed and been celebrated since the dawn of (pagan) man.



Your problem is that you are thinking in terms of America, where there was a long break in the pagan tradition. (I'm excluding native Americans here, no offence intended). Paganism has existed in Europe all through the Christian period. Passed on through families and by word of mouth over the generations. Yes, it has changed and evolved and is stronger for that. Few of those families who carried the religion yet feel safe enough to come out into the open, much less write books about it!



Do not think that all you read is all there is. Try not to insult us old folk with your ignorance. :evil:
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Post by Debbrah » Fri Feb 07, 2003 1:12 pm

You need a third option on the poll. I want to click both.....



There is a historical fact that most of the christian holidays were given the dates they were assigned in order to corespond to the holidays of pagans in that area. That isn't as impressive as it seem, because if you really know your catholic holidays (inc. saints days) you cover the whole year (as do enough different pagan faiths' days.) They did assign the meaning of those days based on what points they were trying to make. Some holidays are going to follow the rebirth of spring theme. Christianity would not have had much credibility to the locals if they tried to ignore that the spring is renewing that which winter ended. The effect of combining that with the theme of the dying lord, however, allowed them to emphasize the difference between them and the pagans and imply resurection, not rebirth. You might want to look into Passover too, and consider it's historical roots....



On the other hand, as Mythellin points out, "Do not think that all you read is all there is." There is a lot of poorly researched material used as source material by other others that blow the connection between the holidays waaaaaaaaaay out of proportion. There are connections, but they aren't as important (or at least not in the ways usually implied) as these books claim.



The other point you're making (about the age of Paganism) also has some validity. Most of what is done is not the pagan faith of our forebears. We have adapted from many sources, often without there being a direct connection. Some connections do still exist, albeit shaped and altered by having to go underground. We're a living religion, we live with change.



Finally, Mythellin, your comment "Your problem is that you are thinking in terms of America, where there was a long break in the pagan tradition." What makes you think some families didn't (by choice or otherwise) end up over here too....?
"There's not much that's contrary to nature if you just know how to coax her along a little."- Mad Amos Malone (A. D. Foster)

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Post by Mythellin » Mon Feb 10, 2003 12:19 am

Quite right Debbrah! I made the assumption that all immigrants to the "New World" were Christians (such as the Pilgrim Fathers). Obviously some of the millions who moved there must have been Pagan. There is a very strong pagan following in Eire and many Irish families moved to the states.



Incidentaly, there is also a Welsh Druid community in Argentina with an unbroken pagan history. Just goes to show how strong and enduring paganism is! :D
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Post by Firelord » Wed Feb 12, 2003 3:54 pm

I wanna vote! Debbrah makes a good point, lol.



Anyhow, Ostara (the tradition of the eggs) actually, from what I've read, it is a hell of a lot older, sorry for the language, I figured you'd be okay cuz that's the terms you used.



Most of the pagan holidays are a lot older, even though wiccans gripe about them, they have somewhat of a right to because they're still not recognized as being actual pagan holidays when they very well should be. Of course, most of us just worship on the holidays under wraps so to speak so why should we care at all?



They don't even need to know why we may decide to exchange presents on the winter solstice instead of "Christmas Day". Why even worry about it any more? I've fought this battle before... no one wins because christians won't accept any kind of proof that it was pagan first.



Also, if Ostara wasn't stolen and made Easter then why do they still go on egg hunts? Hello, if this were a real christian holiday they go inside, pray for some Saint, sing and it'd be over with!



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Easter Eggs & Chocolate Bunnies

Post by crone » Thu Feb 13, 2003 7:12 pm

Easter Eggs represent fertility, the rebirth of the land, of life itself, and many many Europeans cultures practiced colouring them in honour of the Goddess. :roll: My heritage (in this walk) is Ukranian, and my ancestors turned this into an incredible art form, blowing out the insides and "painting" Goddess symbols on the shell using beeswax and dyes. Over the centuries of Christian influence, the meaning of the symbols changed to Christianized values, but the symbols did not! Chocolate bunnies. Ah yes, show me where in the Bible (any one's version!) where it talks about rabbits! :roll: Chocolate bunnies are the remnant of honouring the hare, sacred to the Goddess, one of Her "shamanic" animas as a Goddess of fertility. In Ireland, the hare was (and is) recognized as such, and the people will not eat rabbit (it'd be like eating your grandmother!) And while I'm on the subject, hot cross buns are not about the cross on Calvary, but rather are the remnant of sacred cakes left at the crossroads to honour Dianna, Hecate, etc.! :wink:



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Post by Rocketdive » Sat Feb 15, 2003 9:45 pm

well, the calendar was modified ASTRONOMICALLY not astrollogically, and you know it ;)



and about the christian holidays, well, sometimes it's true because some holidays dates were not exactly known and they replaced important jewish holidays with the new christian ones... it's not a surprise because the first christians and Jesus himself were jews



now, the easter egg and rabbit are not christian traditions, at least not a catholic one, and it's more an american pilgrim's tradition. as you said: maybe some of the pilgrims were pagans, and of course they had to keep it secret from the fundie pilgrims :P (remember the salem witches episode? I don't think they would like to burn) and then they had to disguise it as a popular tradition with chocolate bunnies and egg hunts :)



that's what I think :)

Anonymous

Still thinking with the term pagan

Post by Anonymous » Thu Feb 20, 2003 5:11 pm

Okay, so people have brought up a lot of good comments on the validity of reading material written by sources. I have a problem with the material posted on paganlibrary that states that Christian holidays are only a reflection or an attempt to convert early pagans. The majority of people who have read my post have a problem with the fact that I don't believe these statments carte blanche.



The fact of the matter is that what the majority of people practice today is a form of neopaganism which HAS only been around little more than 35 years, even if they were BASED ON older traditions (see first post). For those who claim to follow older forms of paganism, I'd like to ask which practices in specific they practice that are specifically pagan. If we're talking about something as simplistic as worshipping multiple deities, then sorry, paganism doesn't have the market share on that. Using wholistic remedies? Psychic phenomenae? Eating babies? (just kidding on that last one :) )



People have gone so far with protecting their rights to practice the religion they choose that some have started attacking other religions as false, inferior, or downright stupid. All of these are a form of intolerance that I left my particular old faith to get away from. As I said in my first post, I love paganism, I currently practice a form of neopaganism. I'm just trying to look at it through the lense of reality and sensibility.

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Post by alexmegami » Thu Feb 20, 2003 5:39 pm

Rocketdive wrote:
now, the easter egg and rabbit are not christian traditions, at least not a catholic one, and it's more an american pilgrim's tradition. as you said: maybe some of the pilgrims were pagans, and of course they had to keep it secret from the fundie pilgrims :P (remember the salem witches episode? I don't think they would like to burn) and then they had to disguise it as a popular tradition with chocolate bunnies and egg hunts :)




Also, to quote Robin Williams, you don't really want parents spreading jam on the front lawn going "c'mon kids, let's go find Jesus!" and getting children to eat cream-filled crosses. ;)



A lot of the problem, I think, is that "pagan" is a catchall term for any non-ChristianJewishMuslimBuddhist (etc.) form of worship. So is believing in the old Norse or Greek gods pagan? Sure, why not. Is worshipping a Goddess pagan? Frequently. So yeah, there may be common links between the past druids, pagans et al. and today's pagans - but Judaism and Catholocism are not entirely the same religion, and Catholocism isn't entirely like any Protestant Christian religion.



Though I'd like to note something here - you know how nowadays, every church has a Christmas tree, and pagans are always saying "that's a pagan symbol! Hah!"? Well, originally Christmas trees were banned from churches for that very reason. Catholocism and Christianity didn't steal the trees - political correctness demanded that they include them ;)

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Post by Rocketdive » Thu Feb 20, 2003 10:00 pm

alexmegami wrote:
Also, to quote Robin Williams, you don't really want parents spreading jam on the front lawn going "c'mon kids, let's go find Jesus!" and getting children to eat cream-filled crosses. ;)



A lot of the problem, I think, is that "pagan" is a catchall term for any non-ChristianJewishMuslimBuddhist (etc.) form of worship. So is believing in the old Norse or Greek gods pagan? Sure, why not. Is worshipping a Goddess pagan? Frequently. So yeah, there may be common links between the past druids, pagans et al. and today's pagans - but Judaism and Catholocism are not entirely the same religion, and Catholocism isn't entirely like any Protestant Christian religion.



Though I'd like to note something here - you know how nowadays, every church has a Christmas tree, and pagans are always saying "that's a pagan symbol! Hah!"? Well, originally Christmas trees were banned from churches for that very reason. Catholocism and Christianity didn't steal the trees - political correctness demanded that they include them ;)


mmm... I'm not sure if you understood my post...



the pagan thing I said was according Mythellin's post about pagan pilgrims (read above) and I'm not saying all non-christian are pagans.



now, the christmas tree

I don't know if it's your case, but in catholic churches there are only a nativity set, I have not seen any tree, have you? :)



well, as I said, maybe pagan pilgrims disguised their tradition into a popular one to avoid being burned, it's like when christians hid their first cults in the catacombs to avoid being eaten by the lions in the colisseum...

hmmm and about the cream-filled crosses... well, sometimes the nuns cook delicious cross-shaped cookies :D

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Post by AmayaRocketdive » Thu Feb 20, 2003 10:03 pm

yess and with gooy (sp?) fruit filling o^_^o when I was little I¥d buy a whole bag for myself XD



*ahem* sorry about that off topic... ^^U
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Post by Firelord » Fri Feb 21, 2003 12:00 am

Well, I have several things to say here.



First off, neopagans have a right to complain as the traditions that they practice derive from traditions practiced in much older religions. The traditions have not changed. Being they are under a different religion this makes no difference/they are still practicing it in representation of the same thing. Therefore, they still have every right to site the way christians use the holidays in misrepresentation.



Secondly, you must study the christian religion a little bit to understand the argument which has come up. The Protestant churches started springing up AFTER the Roman Catholic Church, which set the rules for all other churches. Slightly after 150 AD, the Roman Catholic Church, under an attempt to convert more pagans which already existed within their rule, began converting holidays. When the protestant churches sprung up at a later time they had already adopted these "Christianized" holidays. So being protestant does not automatically make you in the right. You can't go and try to say that Jesus was actually born anytime in December. Fact has proven that WISE men don't walk in the dark in the freezing cold!



musesShadow, to answer your question, I practice Druidism. I believe in reincarnation, I practice the art of magick in the act of making things happen.



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Re: Still thinking with the term pagan

Post by Debbrah » Fri Feb 21, 2003 2:39 pm

musesShadow wrote: I have a problem with the material posted on paganlibrary that states that Christian holidays are only a reflection or an attempt to convert early pagans.
Okay. I'll agree. No question that the holidays also serve a purpose. There are basic needs every religion has got to attempt to meet. Many of the Christian holidays are adaptations because they were what the people knew when they converted to Christianity. They did the job. Some of the reasoning was, however, that if the didn't do it, the locals would remain pagan. You can do the research in church documents to prove it. Popes even endorsed it.


The fact of the matter is that what the majority of people practice today is a form of neopaganism which HAS only been around little more than 35 years, even if they were BASED ON older traditions (see first post).
Yes. Consider it similar to being a new sect/new branch of Christianity. Many Protestent groups don't feel that some of their traditions are any less theirs because the sect wasn't arround when the tradition started (ie, Christmas on dec. 25)


For those who claim to follow older forms of paganism, I'd like to ask which practices in specific they practice that are specifically pagan.
Honestly? Everything and nothing. There aren't any of the basic ideas that can't be found in religions like christianity, which leads back to there isn't anything in christianity that can't be found in paganism (but we can claim to be older, or at least be connected to something older.... :P .) What is special is the way the pieces are put together. Trying to explain that, however, would make for a very long post, and a lot of it I don't think I would be able to try to post because it doesn't translate well to words. It's the stuff the traditions are as opposed to what they claim. It's the little details that cause and are the cause of a different mindset.


People have gone so far with protecting their rights to practice the religion they choose that some have started attacking other religions as false, inferior, or downright stupid. All of these are a form of intolerance that I left my particular old faith to get away from. As I said in my first post, I love paganism, I currently practice a form of neopaganism. I'm just trying to look at it through the lense of reality and sensibility.
Like I said, there isn't anything you can't find in paganism that you can find elsewhere. We have fanatics and fundies too. I suggest you research some of the source material before you make too many judgements about what is reasonable. Read some of the writtings and church documents from the first couple centuries A.D and the Middle Ages. You seem very dedicated to the idea that there can't be anything to the idea. Why is that so certain? Why not some very important truths that are exaggerated?
"There's not much that's contrary to nature if you just know how to coax her along a little."- Mad Amos Malone (A. D. Foster)

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For musesShadow

Post by Asatru in Arizona » Wed Apr 02, 2003 6:22 am

You have to remember something: Paganism and Wicca are two separate things. Wicca is the young religion you're describing. The first piece of Wiccan literature to ever come out is Gerald Gardner's "Witchcraft Today" (1954). On the other hand, Paganism is a generic term for just about anything not in the same family of religions as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, although Paganism is generally meant to include any polytheistic religion. To that effect, I don't quite consider Wicca a Pagan religion, but rather its own path. Most Pagan paths predate Christianity, even predate Judaism. Wicca has at the most a 50-year history.



Although Passover is a valid Jewish holiday, Christianity never adopted Passover. Christianity had no holidays until force-conversion was conducted in Europe. The very holiday of Easter you're describing, at least in the middle European sense, was stolen from those who worshipped the Anglo-Saxon Spring Goddess Ostara. In other cultures, such as Greek, Easter was taken from Spring Equinox. In the Norse countries, Easter replaced Springblot, in which the Goddess Idunn was honored. Christianity adopted these holidays, among others, to aid in the conversion of native peoples throughout Europe.



Although you have valid points, muses, you suffer under one too many misconceptions. Remember, there never was and never will be a unifying religion known as Paganism. Paganism is too general of a term in the first place to be any specific religion. To that effect, remember that the terms "Paganism" and "Wicca" aren't interchangeable. They mean distinct and separate things.
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A personal frustration of mine

Post by Asatru in Arizona » Wed Apr 02, 2003 6:30 am

Sorry to harp on this, crone, but the Easter Eggs were actually in honor of whoever the local Fertility Goddess was, not the Wiccan Goddess. There was no Wiccan Goddess until Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente culminated various Pagan and non-Pagan sources into Wicca in the mid-20th Century. I hate to keep harping on this, but why can't Wiccans accept the fact that there are Gods and Goddesses out there who are separate and distinct from their God and Goddess?
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