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The Pagan Thread

  1. Sep 2, 2003 #1
    I want to rediscover the religions of my ancient European ancestors and become a Pagan.

    I suppose some of you already consider me one, but I think that there must be more to paganism than just mere hedonism.

    Could someone give me some tips?

  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 2, 2003 #2

    Back in the days of the Roman empire, the countryside was called the "pagus". Those who lived in it, the country bumpkins, were the "paganus".

    Now, in the first few centuries AD, christianity was spreading primarily in Roman cities. It became very popular in Rome and a few other places. It was a city religion, followed in places of tjhe most cultural change. Those religions still followed away from such cities, out in the countryside, were known as "pagan" religions BECAUSE they were out in the pagus, believed by the paganus.

    In the fifth century AD, I think it was, the Senate declared christianity the state religion and outlawed all "pagan" religions, meaning every other belief followed away from a few major cities.

    There is no such thing as a single religion or belief called "paganism". There is no "pagan pantheon", or anything like that. To call yourself a pagan literally means you are calling yourself a person who follows some religion other than the state religion. It could be anything; Buddhism, Shinto, Hinduism, some form of Animism, anything.


    Beware anything that says "this is the way the Celts were", or "this was the religion of the Celts". Why? Because there has NEVER been any single racial/tribal group called "celts". The term "celt" comes from the Greek "keltoi" or "celtoi". They used it to refer to ALL the many, varies peoples of Europe north of the Greeks and their neighbours, and west of the Slavs. Basically everyone in the northern border of the Greek world to Scandians. That's a lot of different cultures.

    Religions of ancient Europe

    First, read the few genuine sources of information on this topic, such as works by Julius Caesar and Tacitus. You will NOT find anything even remotely based in reality in any book on "paganism" by some unemployed trailer park trash idiot who calls himself White Feather or some such. There are only a few decent sources, and they are all around two thousand years old.

    As for religious/superstitious practices. Well, in one region they used to put the skulls of enemies on posts around their territory, a "ghost fence" to keep out dangerous spirits and such. That was on the mainland, in Germany somewhere I think. Over in Britain they liked stacking stones in rings; the reason is debatable. The Sun was quite commonly an important symbol in lots of Europe.

    Important note

    There never was any single religion/mythology throughout Europe until christianity wiped the slate clean and took over. So any book claiming "this is the way the Celts/Pagans were" or some such is full of crap.
  4. Sep 2, 2003 #3


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    If this is true (not arguing), then since the United States doesn't have a state religion, wouldn't that make an American christian a pagan?

    Anyhow, I used to believe in Wicca a lil bit when I was younger. I've later found it most to be mumbo jumbo and most the magic has something to do with running circles around a fire (to get you dizzy) and some to even drink. No wonder why people thinks its magic.

    I don't know much about traditional europian religions, just wanted to ask Adam about that, cause it would be most enjoyable to start calling christians pagans.
  5. Sep 2, 2003 #4
    Listen. Wicca, if you are talking about casting spells and the lot, is modernized crap. This might be something for you to look into, but you are going to have to get past the sensationalism.

    Instead of looking for Wicca, why don't you do a little search for the "Sacred Feminine". This is what you actually want.

    You see, when Christianity was building, back when it was only in the cities, the sacred feminine threated the church. The church said that man could only reach God through a preist. The people who worshiped the sacred feminine also believed that he could through unity with woman. The church balked against this and turned a lot of the SF symbols into "Satanic" symbols. That's where you get the magic, spells, etc. stuff to this day. In fact, the Pentagram has nothing to do with Satanism. It's a SF symbol.

    Adam was right, the word Pagan does come from Paganus. You'll find another interesting world "villain". It simply comes from the latin villa or "country house". Basically, villain just meant: of the village. The Church was frightened of these non-city folk who didn't worship their style of Christianity, or even Christianity at all.

    Anyway, the point is that maybe you should search for the Sacred Feminine. You will find that you don't even have to rebel against other religions. In fact, you might want to start with a book called Magdalene's Lost Legacy, which is simply about Mary Magdalene. The author is Margaret Starbird, and you might be interested in some of her other works as well.
  6. Sep 2, 2003 #5


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    Actually, Adam, Although I agree with your statements about Paganus (rural, villager etc.) I think the reason Christians adopted the word Pagans is because prior to their adoption of the term it was also used as military slang for civilians or untrained soldiers. When the Church developed a military symbolist view the term pagan was adopted, along with other militia type imagery such as "soldiers for Christ" etc.
  7. Sep 2, 2003 #6
  8. Jun 12, 2004 #7


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    I came upon this thread by accident and liked what
    one person said earlier:

    "Religions of ancient Europe

    First, read the few genuine sources of information on this topic, such as works by Julius Caesar and Tacitus. You will NOT find anything even remotely based in reality in any book on "paganism" by some unemployed trailer park trash idiot who calls himself White Feather or some such...."

    It would not be a mistake, in any case, to read some of the writings of julius caesar and tacitus

    and other writings which go back to early times and are interesting in themselves.

    personally I am very fond of the national history book of the norwegians
    which was written back around 1250 or so IIRC
    but has a lot of stories remembered from earlier

    the man who wrote down the Heimskringla was named Snorri and he had a respect for the truth----so it does not matter very much whether he was this or that---or what his religion was. He was an icelander and an observer of Norwegian history and a recorder of the stories.

    much of the history recorded by Snorri was in a couple of centuries when
    danish kings were trying to christianize (and strenghten their political control over) norway
    and when the norwegians often objected to paying taxes or doing whatever the king wanted
    and so by way of telling the history Snorri describes some of the religion of the people----among other things---and the means which the kings found
    effective for suppressing it, and how various people reacted etc etc.

    there is a lot of humor in the Heimskringla as well.

    the norwegians still value and love this book

    modern norwegian is not too different from norwegian of 1250 or so.
    icelandic (the language of Snorri) is even more stable
    I think there may be modern icelanders who can read Snorri in the original

    has Entropy---who started this thread----permanently gone away, or is he/she still here? what a strange idea to want to rediscover ancestral feelings and imagery
    it is best done through reading original literature I suppose
    (but also one could try the writings of the unemployed trailer park trash idiot named White Feather to whom the earlier poster referred, one never knows)
  9. Jun 12, 2004 #8
    I'm thinking he may have been banned.
  10. Jun 12, 2004 #9


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    what a pity, well no doubt he deserved it
  11. Jun 12, 2004 #10


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    I just looked up Snorri and he was born in 1177
    so the heimskringla that he wrote is even older than I said
    at first

    I gather from the sagas that a lot of people back then were skeptical of superstition and mythology of any sort-----they werent as credulous in circa 1200 as is sometimes made out. When Bue's son was about to have his head chopped off he cooly proposed an experiment, he didnt talk about Odin or somebody he said let's find this out. I forget the man's name.

    And then there was the guy who got tired of having the priests on his ship and threw them overboard. It didnt matter what kind of priests he was just a practical man and they werent serving any purpose.

    but maybe Entropy is looking for something to believe in

    (when I look for roots I look for people who dont have a strong need to believe one thing or the other---dont have a psychological need to commit to this creed or that----and for people whose music is good)
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  12. Jun 12, 2004 #11


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    Try finding translations of The Mabinogian, The Eddas, and The Kalavalla for a sampling of Celtic, Germanic and Finnish beliefs. I think there will be only distorted fragments of belief systems though. Like the equivalent of reading the Odessy to learn ancient Greek beliefs.

    A source of ancient Roman beliefs might exist in the translations of Virgil and Ovid. Pliny (I forget if it was the elder or younger) was a prolific chronicler of minutia before Christianity tool hold.

  13. Jun 12, 2004 #12


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    those seem like reasonable suggestions and I would rather read the odyssey to find out what the listeners to homer believed
    than read some 19th century scholar's reconstruction of their
    'belief system'
    because with the scholar he gets all the fun of reading the orig.
    sources and he also slips in his own prejudices

    in odyssey I find quite a bit of sophisticated amusement with the myths.
    the gods are made funny
    brought in for comic relief
    like a puppet farce
    in between serious human struggles and dramatic moments
    not a lot of reverence

    i think people have not gotten uniformly less credulous over the years

    credulity and pietism comes and goes

    American political leaders of the 18th C, theism, etc.

    have you looked at Rod Merrill's new verse translation of the Odyssey
    it is musical and uses the original metric form that homer used
    (but with stress substituting for length)
  14. Jun 12, 2004 #13
    Paganism is hogwash why waste your time with it? And no paganism is not hedonism, there is actually much more to paganism then people in this thread are telling you but it is a waste of time to even consider it.
  15. Jun 12, 2004 #14


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    you are in danger of throwing out the hog with the hogwash
    because the Odyssey and the Heimskringla of Snorri are
    very fine reading and full of good stories

    however the book by White Feather the unemployed trailer trash idiot
    that the earlier poster mentioned may indeed be hogwash and
    you may have been reading that and got this unfavorable impression

    also the Old Testament of the Bible has some pretty good stories
    rather racy too in places

    the past is the past
    and people who lose a gut feel for it
    are screwing up and also if they forget its stories
  16. Jun 12, 2004 #15
    What? All I read was "blah blah blah." What is your point? I'm talking about paganism, not whatever you are babbling about or your erroneous broadly defined version of paganism. As well I am referring to this person who is discussing becoming a follower of these pagan ideologies. I mean really, "blah blah blah."
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  17. Jun 12, 2004 #16

    Les Sleeth

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    If you weren't so busy being rude you might have gotten his meaning.

    History isn't just the list of events and dates they occurred. To really understand, it helps to get a feel for what people believed and looked to for inspiration, courage, wisdom, etc. Their religions and myths can be a great source of insight about the past, as well as the influences that shaped our present. One can find paganism interesting without being interested in being a pagan.

    And if you don't agree with someone wishing to become a pagan, why don't you explain why it is hogwash. Any fool can go around labeling things hogwash.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  18. Jun 12, 2004 #17
    Les, why are you giving me a lecture on history, this is a discussion of paganism. The person I responded to was giving me some unwarranted litany on history, as well as literature, and erroneously defining paganism. Now you are giving me some unnecessary history lesson, I don't see, does anyone want to stay on topic? The doctrines mentioned are hogwash because they are unjustified, irrational, and absurd. This thread is not a platform for you to discuss historical significance or the significance of history and stop insinuating that I am ignorant of the topic. However you feel about the Odyssey or whatever literary work has no relavence with respect to the validity of paganistic doctrines or neo-paganism. Before you jump on some kind of bandwagon to bash me you should evaluate your own positions first.

    -- I will say this though, with everyone wanting to give me a history lesson, despite having nothing to do with this thread, it looks as if you all you should just be quite and listen to Adam. I missed it the first time but he is the only one saying anything correct about paganism =) Cheers Adam.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  19. Jun 12, 2004 #18

    Les Sleeth

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    No lecture intended. Mine was a point of logic, which is that you are being rude.

    Make your case please. Show us how Marcus was defining paganism! He and Njorl broadened what was likely to be a deadend topic. No one else was worried about that. At Physics Forums, Marcus has many times proven himself to be a thoughtful, considerate man. In a few short posts you have only proven to be so enamoured with your own perspective you can't appreciate another point of view.

    Maybe when you are made a mentor you can monitor threads and autocratically determine what a thread platform is or is not to be. If no one else objects, then why should you be so outraged?

    Do you realize you are in a forum where reason and evidence are most highly valued? What do you think we can take from an analysis that can give no insights, but instead falls back on mere slurs like "unjustified, irrational, and absurd." That tells us nothing. Make your case!

    You remind me of a friend who will discount Steinbeck's entire body of work because he has found technical grammar violations.

    To tell you the truth, I can't relate to myth. I like things expressed more concretely. But I do at least recognize that other personalities appreciate and benefit from perspectives that escape me. To me, that is respecting others. If I thought I were God, then maybe I would believe what is good for me should be the standard for all humanity.

    I have no bandwagon or bashing aspirations other than the bandwagon that bashes rude boys when they show up here apparently for no other reason than to boost their sagging ego by trying to make others look stupid.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  20. Jun 12, 2004 #19
    Les, I don't know what your problem is. I apologize if I have been rude but you have done nothing but inflate a problem that doesn't even exist. You didn't understand the point of either response I made and yet you continue this attack on me. As far as how Marcus defined paganism he defined it as someone who does not follow a state religion and that Jews and Christians may be considered pagans which is poppycock. I let it go but you insist on bringing it up. The original poster said "I want to beome a pagan can someone give me tips" and I simply said "Why? It is a waste of time and it is hogwash," and I have you all jumping on me giving me literature and history lessons. I've been a member long before you so don't tell me how in a few short posts I have shown myself to be anything. It is entirely irrelavent. As well any academic knows that "unjustified, irrational, and absurd" are not slurs. I don't use the common vernacular or whatever it is you use so I think there may have been a misunderstanding and apologize. However it does not change the fact that paganism is absurd but if you would like a rigorous analysis of paganism and neo-paganism then I am sure I can oblige, but I do not think it is necesary.

    As far as I reminding you of a friend of would "discount" Steinbeck, I fear you should reread my posts and the entire thread as well. I did not discount the Odyssey or other literary works, I discounted the relavence of the literary lessons in this thread. The implication that the act of my discounting the validity of "paganism" by extension discounts the significance, quality, etc of various literary works and the study of mythology as its own ends-is entirely proposterous. I think you misunderstood. You imply that one cannot enjoy a vampire novel or play without accepting the veracity of vampire mythology, nonsense.

    I am very interested in mythology and religions and am probably more well versed in the details of various theistic ideologies than most on this forum. However I do not subscribe to them. Nevertheless, I have been hounded for doing nothing more than responding to the original poster and have been attacked for making implications which are even entirely irrelavent to the thread, so I have made no such implications. Anyway, stop insulting me with these personal attacks about ego and so forth, I have made no such ad hominem to you and I think it only shows that you suffer from what you accuse me of, if there were any truth to such accussation at all.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2004
  21. Jun 12, 2004 #20


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    i have read that ancient christianity was the new religion integrated with paganism...holidays such as christmas and easter were decided on the time of year that they were to incorporate the new ways of the christians (winter solstice and the beginning of spring) along with pagan ways of life...it was a slow process that eventually gave the society of the times the impression that paganism was evil and christianity was the way, although chrisitanity bases many of its holidays right along with pagan ones...
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