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Thread: Why are there so many paths in paganism?

  1. #41
    Join Date
    May 2010
    What's the matter with lots of paths? Too much freedom?

    Taciturn and prudent, and in war daring, should a king's children be;
    joyous and liberal every one should be until his hour of death.

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  2. #42
    Join Date
    Aug 2009
    West Virginia
    The more freedom, the better. Like Left Eye once said, be a free spirit!
    "If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years how man would marvel and stare." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

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  3. #43
    Join Date
    May 2011
    I'll take a shot.

    Why are there so many paths in Paganism?

    -If you're talking about Paganism and not just Neo-Paganism then every religion that isn't Islam, Christianity or Judaism is considered Pagan, and that's a lot of religions.

    -If you're asking why there are so many Neo-Pagan paths formed in such a short amount of time in contrast with how long it's taken other religions to diversify, I think that's because the world is different today from what it was when Christianity was really the only option, or even before European people were converted to Christianity (I do know that religion was always diverse-I just don't think it was as diverse within say...70 years. Even when every hill had it's own mythology, it was probably very old mythology that had been established for a long time.). Following tradition wasn't an option, it was a rule. People weren't given the chance to make their own decisions. They were whatever religion they were because it benefited the community and the society they lived in. Now a lot of us are brought up in a culture that pays a decent amount of attention to the individual on top of having access to so much information and so many different experiences. Diversifying under these conditions seems normal. Humans are curious. We want to try new things and have new experiences.

    I also think that so many people are drawn to Neo-Paganism from a kind of illusion or idealism. On the one hand you have people who have "the grass is greener on the other side" kind of attitude and so they flit from one religion or one path to the other always thinking that whatever the next one has will be the ideal. On the other hand you have people who see Neo-Paganism as a kind of fertile ground for creating religions that truly fit people of this age, instead of people from 2,000 years ago. So maybe the people who are coming up with all of these new paths are trying to give us a religion that doesn't impose boundaries that are outdated on us?

    Of course it is possible that Neo-Paganism isn't as diverse as it seems. Everything that is a broken or not an established religion tends to go under the Paganism umbrella. Basically then, as we try to rebuild so many religions, those religions that before Christianity would have just been the religion of that area are now considered Pagan. I don't know if I'm explaining this too well. Say you have Mayan influenced Paganism and Norse influenced Paganism and Middle Eastern influenced Paganism you would have three forms of Paganism under today's terms, but before they would have just been Mayan religion and Norse religion and Middle Eastern religion and really wouldn't have anything to do with each other. So I guess what I'm saying is that specific paths that before wouldn't have been connected are now connected, but only superficially.

    Or maybe I'm wrong and it's none of these things. Would not be the first time.

    The last reason that I just remembered is intent. People have all different kinds of intentions when they come into Paganism. Some want to revive their dead ancestor's religion, some want to create a utopia, some want to act out fantasies. Different intent leads to many paths?
    Last edited by Sophronia; May 25th, 2011 at 05:19 PM.
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  4. #44
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    As an initiate, I can say Voudun, Lukumi and Candomble are not Catholic Folk Traditions. That would imply that they were started by Catholics that began to syncretize African, Native American and spiritist practices into their Catholicism. The exact opposite is actually true and historically / Anthropologically very easily verified. They were started by African slaves that adopted folk Catholic practices to disguise the real practice of their transplanted religions. That is why there was Saint iconography, terrerios and Cofradias (mutual aide societies), processionals on feast days, etc. The African has always had no problem syncretizing other practices that they saw value - Bruce Lee - use what works.
    And someone needs to explain to me how references to "Papa Legba" pre date Voodoo.....whose practice has been established to be at least 5,000 years old????

  5. #45
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    NJ, USA

    Thumbs up

    Here's an argument about why nowadays we have so many variations of spaghetti sauce, mustard and coffee. Nowadays? Yes. According to this speaker, the variety we allow ourselves today, and is allowed us by food manufacturors, is only 1 to 2 decades old.

    It's not about food. It's about whether or we accept that we differ. Just like we do with our religion.


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  6. #46
    Umbress's Avatar
     is offline Shadow walker and feeder of felines
    Join Date
    Nov 2010
    between two states of mind
    Quote Originally Posted by Sophronia
    If you're asking why there are so many Neo-Pagan paths formed in such a short amount of time in contrast with how long it's taken other religions to diversify, I think that's because the world is different today from what it was when Christianity was really the only option, or even before European people were converted to Christianity (I do know that religion was always diverse-I just don't think it was as diverse within say...70 years. Even when every hill had it's own mythology, it was probably very old mythology that had been established for a long time.).
    Christianity BEGAN diversified – Been debating a priest on and off for almost year I am decent with my early christian history – Look up Nicaea council of 325 – called by the emperor Constantine to reach a consensus regarding the divine nature of Christ and his relationship to god the father – That's right some early christian churches did not even see Jesus as being equivalent to god the father but regarded him as a lesser deity and some did not see him as a deity at all – So the christian church STARTED out as various fractions but for Roman political reasons were FORCED into reaching a consensus - So religions FREQUENTLY start out diverse and become more centralized later only if pressured to do so in order to survive or by political force.

    Perceval23 – I am not even sure where to start – The Jews got many of their religious ideas from the Chaldeans and Zoroastrianism with a hint of Egyptian thrown in for good measure – Christian connection to Jewish tradition is seen only by the Christians. The Jews thought of christian as another heretic polytheistic pagan religion that was bastardizing their religion hence the prosecution of Christians by the Jews as written about in the New Testament PAGAN practices as in pre-christian ones INFLUENCED Christianity as much if not more so than the Jewish traditions the Christians claim .

    That is why many who are studying ancient religions LOOK at early christian writings because early Christians absorbed/wrote condemning practices from the surrounding pagan cultures. Catholic churches modified their own practices as a means of encouraging local pagans to convert. Many of the pagan influences are evident in the catholic ceremonies So if the truth be known it is pagans re-claiming what is left of their traditional practiced via way of christian traditions/writings NOT the other way around - History offers evidence beyond the shadow of a doubt that pagan religions were here first.

    Indigenous tribes who usually did NOT write their traditions down are probably the closet to “pure” but then again as people moved about and traded with other tribes, and people from other lands they influenced each other – We are social creatures designed to interact – Every time we interact we are influenced by those with whom we interact with regardless of whether not we agree with them.

    Wicca is a drop in the primordial religion bucket as far as influences go – Paganism was around long before wicca as some one already pointed out the practices just wasn't called paganism

    Next point shamanism was NOT a design of ingenious tribes of Europe, Australia or north american. The word was used by the natives of Siberia, to describe a specialized type of holy person. It is now understood to indicate a certain style of spiritual journeying or trance work.

    Oh and the shaman example by Adelphos

    Quote Originally Posted by Adelphos
    As far as the "old religion" is concerned, Shammanic practices go back to before recorded history, and have been practiced by various peoples world-wide without interruption. I don't think Aleister Crowley had any input here.
    The point here is that this form of spiritual practice was NOT influenced by Wicca Crowley or even Neo-pagan popularity because it is one of the oldest spiritual practices dating further back than antiquity. Shamanism influenced religion through out the ages – Even Christians have shamanic experiences they simply used different terms to express it – Jesus could have easily fit into the role of traditional shaman healer!

    Please hop off the wiccan carrousel – the religion has it's place in modern pagan culture but it is not in the place you want to put it. My practices have little if any thing to do with wicca – Wicca and Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn are not the same thing – wicca resembles Catholicism more than the hermetics which tend to favor mystical Jewish ideology.{the kabbalah being an example} The hermetic ideologies are an eclectic belief system drawing ideas from a variety of spiritual, ceremonial and intellectual sources with wicca being one of the few exceptions simply because wasn't around!
    Last edited by Umbress; June 1st, 2011 at 07:41 AM.

  7. #47
    Join Date
    May 2008
    The Colonies
    Quote Originally Posted by Adelphos View Post
    The last statement is where perceval and I are in disagreement. He claims all Pagans are Wiccan.
    I don't think that's what he's doing. He's saying that several neopagan paths are influenced by Wicca in a way that is very integral to their outlook and practices. He might be a bit wrong to say "most", but I think he's thinking in terms of non-reconstructionist, eclectic paths. Which is pretty true.
    I think he's mostly just pointing out that Wicca deserves a lot of credit for getting the ball rolling in the middle of the 20th century. It jump-started neopaganism's popularity in the 1960's and 70's. Whereas proto-neopagan groups and ideas were a lot more limited.

    Quote Originally Posted by perceval23 View Post
    Not quite. Wicca and Thelema started Neo-Paganism, and they're both rooted in the Order of the Golden Dawn, which is, itself, rooted in the Christian Mystery traditions. Most Neo-Pagan Paths are heavily influenced by Wicca, regardless of what they call themselves.
    Thank you for making this point in my absence. It's a strange fact of history that, yes, Wicca owes a lot of its ideas and practices to Christian mysticism and occult. Though those Christian Esoteric ideas have roots in Neo-Platonism and Pythagoras,'s come full circle?
    Either way, Wicca as it is now is one of several neopagan paths, within the whole spectrum of polytheistic revival religions.

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