Now pardon me while I get a bit long winded [-o<
As to the Pagan/Neopagan question, I would refer to myself as paleopagan. If you are unfamiliar with that breakdown, you can find out more about it at http://www.wwpn.org/Pages/pagan_faq.htm but I can give you the high points here.
Under the grand umbrella term "pagan" are several inclusions:
- Paleo-pagan Tribal/familiy/ethnocentric paths that have been preserved by handing the traditions down, generation after generation, through family lines and/or communal lines. These paths are highly restricted according to ethnicity, and birth and have been preserved throughout the ages and resisted becoming "civilized". This is also the classification for the "dead" paths even if the paths are being reconstructed. The classification does not apply to the Reconstructed path, only to the dead path that inspired Reconstruction. Examples are the Australian bush men (Aborigines), ancient Celtic religions (Druidism), the religion of the pre-'patriarchal' cultures of Old Europe (Romany), Norse religion (Odini), and the pre Colombian tribal paths of North and South America.
- Civilo-pagan The religions of "civilized" communities which evolved in Paleo-pagan cultures. Examples are the Greco-Roman mythoi, the Egyptian mythoi, Middle-Eastern mythoi, Aztec, Mayan, and other South American tribal paths.
- Meso-pagan Groups which may or may not still constitute a separate culture, which have been influenced by a conquering culture, but have been able to maintain independence in religious practice. This is the classification for most of the modern Native American tribal paths.
- Syncreto-Pagan Similar to Meso-paganism but has had to submerge itself into the dominant culture, and has adopted the external practices and symbols of that other religion. Examples of this are the various African traditions (Voudoun, Santeria), Culdee Christianity, most of the lesser know family traditions. Some of the paths under this heading over time have become more a focus on the rites and rituals used and have lost a lot of the focus on the deities they once worshipped. Also included in this category are reconstructed Paleo-Paganistic paths.
- Neopagan The paths under this heading are those that are modern interpretations of the other forms of paganism, in an attempt to reconnect with nature. The paths under this heading have selected the imagery of the other classes of paths but have adjusted them to the needs of modern people.
I was born into a "kumpa'nia"(camp village) of Romani. For those reading this that were unaware, Romani are one of three "natsiyas" (nations) of people thought of as Gypsies. Our ways are a little different even from the majority of pagans (we are less open and more rigid in our requirements in some ways.) This would, by the standards above list me as a paleo-pagan. I can understand it, walking onto a kumpa'nia is like walking into another time. The style of dress hasn't changed much since the 18th century and on some levels the mindset of my people is stuck there too.
I am not too sure about some of the comments I have read, but waiting is. Of the ones that provoked response in me so far:
- Poverty is unethical Unpleasant I can see, but how can it be considered unethical? Silver Spider can clarify this insight for me. I would think poverty would be ethical rather than unethical, though poverty can inspire some unethical actions if the person is weak in spirit.
- That's very naive. You may not have experienced some of the negative intellectual things I have experienced, so I can understand how you'd say that. I would think it more naive to believe that just because your experience has been negative that negativity is the norm. Maybe the negativity you were faced with was there to teach you how to handle it in a different manner or so that your perceptions could evolve to see the positive within the negative.
- This is an effort to hopefully put the point across that a Shaman is not the same as a witch or a Bhuddist or a Christian. Shaman in my perceptions is like our Tebe: a Tebe must be able to perform and demonstrate his or her powers, of vital importance is the Tebe's ability 'to see what is hidden and invisible to the rest of us and bring back direct and reliable information from the supernatural worlds', a Tebe fights against 'the powers of evil', uses 'magic' to 'cure the sick', 'divines the hidden', is a living embodiment of the virtues the people aspire to, and works to influence 'the events that affect the welfare of the people'.
- I’m not so certain of that…if I require an initiation, I start it myself if I have to, the Gods approving or not. That's nice if you are serving yourself. If you are serving the Gods then you testing yourself only works if you require more of yourself than your Gods do. If you aren't serving your Gods, then I hope you do not expect much from them. If you do expect much of them, you might want to let your gods set an initiation or two and see how they reward you for succeeding, you might like the experience.