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What do we call ourselves for the rest of the world?

Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 2:01 pm
by Stormy
I had an interesting and rather odd question from my husband the other week - odd considering he rarely asks me anything these days about me being Pagan.

His question was "What do you call yourself - what are you?"

When I started to answer with a long winded reply that started out "Well, it's hard to put a label on anyone who doesn't follow a specific tradition..." He cut me off and said "NO, I don't want to hear that, I want a one or two word answer - what you would tell someone else who asked and didn't know anything about this - I want the SHORT version."

The final outcome of it was simply "I am a Pagan." He didn't even want to hear "Ecelectic Solitary". I still have no idea what so ever why he wanted or needed to have a concret answer, but that's what we "agreed" was most "agreeable".

Which begs the question - What should we call ourselves when asked by total or near total strangers? There are so many vast and varied specific traditions as well as the many eclectic offshoots, Chaos Mages, etc. etc. But, as my hubby said, a person asked "What is your religious belief" would most likely answer very simply as "Christian" or "Jewish" or "Hindu" etc., why don't we have a single blanket term that we all use all the time, instead of, as he put it, getting into all this "confusing, complex crap that no one understands anyway".

Re: What do we call ourselves for the rest of the world?

Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:07 pm
by Lotus
Stormy wrote:Iwhy don't we have a single blanket term that we all use all the time, instead of, as he put it, getting into all this "confusing, complex crap that no one understands anyway".
My answer is that "We" try to lump too many groups that have nothing to do with each other into one category. "Pagan" just simply means not christian. Also, too many of us want to distintion between the other paths.
Some people do not view wicca as a valid tradition and do not want to be associated with it. Its just like my last topic about satanism vs definintion of "not christian" the satanists are indeed pagans.
I perfer the term ceremonalist. It does not have the negative conotations that "witch," "heathen," "pagan," or "wiccan" has tied to them.
This is all really a catch 22. If we come out then we have to face discrimination and other ill effects. If we do not come out then we will not get the acceptance.
To people of organized and standard religions *we* are just full of fruity, "confusing, complex crap that no one understands anyway" without validation.
The point is that "WE" do understand it. Its just not outsider friendly.

Of course:
Getting a bunch of "pagans" to agree on something is like herding cats.

Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 4:38 pm
by Rain ForestMoon
I think that sometimes we try to be far too precise in defining our own beliefs, and then this zeal of precision is carried through to talking to outsiders.

I think it's good to, on this forum for people to identify and sprecify what their particular leanings are, so that we, who are interested and (probably) versed in the subject matter, know whom we are talking with.

But to a person who is probably only mildly interested in these sorts of things, I believe the term Pagan or Heathen is enough. (In some parts of the world Wiccans seem to have quite a bit of exposure, so there a Wiccan could well be justified in saying they are Wiccan). Then, IF the other person is sufficiently interested and asks a question or two, we might decide to elaborate or not.

As an example. If a christian is asked what religion they are, they will say something like: I'm a christian, or, perhaps, if they want to be specific, I'm a Methodist. But if someone tells you first up: "I'm a christian methodist, although as far as predestination is concerned I hold a more calvinistic view, but with the exception that I don't subscribe to the doctrine of OSAS."Your reaction will be "what sort of a nut have we got here....."

So, I deliberately keep it simple, and tell people (if they ask) I'm a Pagan. If they are interested and start asking questions, then I'll tell them more.

Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 6:38 pm
by Kitsune
I simply say that I follow the path of Neo Cullis, a form of Neo-Paganism.

That way, I'm not confusing them too much, and still saying what I prefer to be known as!


Posted: Mon Oct 23, 2006 7:00 pm
by SageWolf
The Main reason I say I'm a pagan is because many people (mainly unfortunately Christains) look at me like I all the sudden sprouted 2 heads and so I've learned the Hard way that instead of going into a long drawn out aclaim of who and what I am I just say I am a Pagan, if they show interest or want more details then I'm more then Happy to share. I know it kinda sucks to lump us all in the same catorgory but in the Christian religion there are more then one branch of christianity, and alot of them just say Christian, but it's just the way things are I guess.


Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 1:11 am
by katsu
Fortunatly I can just say "Druid". Over here, at least, it's less scary than saying Wiccan or Witch or Pagan.
I just wish my Gf's parents understood that(or was it the fact that the first picture they saw was of me in kilt????? :lol: )

Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 6:28 am
by Willow
I have trouble naming myself too, some people get quite offended when I try to mush my Christian beliefs with my pagan beliefs. So In my head I am a Christian pagan, when I am takling to someone who is easily offended i tend to stick with one or the other (unless I am in an offensive mood ;) )

On that note, I was called a nostalgic agnostic post Christian once...that was an interesting description.

Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 8:05 am
by Ragnar
Willow wrote:(unless I am in an offensive mood ;) )
LIKE it. :lol:

Not that I ever am. :roll:

It depends on who you are talking to. with Scandinavians you are dead safe saying Sammi. They ALL know what that is, the same as Americans know what "American native" is.

But I tend towards "Germanic Heathen" or "Germanische Stammesglauben"

Which losly translates as "Germanic tribal belief". It covers a lot more than "Norse Heathen", and covers all North European identiys from Wiking, to Pruzz, Saxon, Friesische, Jutish etc.

Posted: Tue Oct 24, 2006 9:38 pm
by Windwalker
I tend to go with "Pagan". I used to go by Wiccan but my beliefs have migrated so far from that now that it's no longer suitable, and Witch isn't really helpful (not to mention causing some trouble). Pagan is a nice word, and vague enough.

Posted: Wed Oct 25, 2006 4:47 am
by forgotten oceans
I too tend to go with Pagan, it feels safe. Wiccan sounds too fluffy for me, it's over exposed. You say Wiccan and ppl are all "oh, wow, I might be Wiccan too, there was this one time....." and then I'm stuck in a conversation when I was only trying to be polite. Or even worse, "is that like that movie (insert typical Hollywood)..." and again, another conversation that seems way too familiar. When I was young and gung ho I went with Witch alot, funny how that word spreads so fast and you find other witches in your area alot easier then before. Of course then you also find more fundies then before too. The word witch will do wonders for teaching you tolerence and patience with the feeble minded, it'll also teach you the finer points of fist fighting. Gods bless the south! lol :lol: But now that I'm not looking to pick fights anymore, I go with Pagan.

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 3:02 pm
by MettaPax
I say I am a Buddist Pagan. :-D It's pretty funny to see other pagans with that "Wha?" look on their face. :lol: Although, technically it's much more than just that, it's just the "easiest for me" thing to say. 8-)

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 5:19 pm
by daibanjo
If someone is serious then i will say i follow the druid path, or even the pagan path, though i prefer the former.
If the person is not a serious questioner then i tell them that i don't discuss religion or politics. That is a shame though because all that's left is sex and soccer, and americans know nothing about either. :-D

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 6:21 pm
by Willow
Well you can always ask Canadians about the former

"True definition of a Canadian is someone who can have sex in a Canoe without tipping it."
Can't remember the source.

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 7:36 pm
by Rain ForestMoon
Willow wrote:Well you can always ask Canadians about the former

"True definition of a Canadian is someone who can have sex in a Canoe without tipping it."
Can't remember the source.
Of course the REAL question is: Is it a one-person Canoe, or a two-person Canoe? ;)

Posted: Thu Oct 26, 2006 10:58 pm
by daibanjo
"Sex in a canoe" is my definition of Budweiser.
Let those who know explain to those who do not.