Thursday, October 22, 2015

What is Paganism?

So...new post about minority stuff. In particular paganism, but first a note about minorities in general.

It's a fact of life that this is a very diverse planet, and that it's impossible to know about all the minorities out there. The fact is that we're all going to make blunders on occasion, and it's easy to find that we're spreading false info about someone because of our ignorance. However, we can listen when someone of that minority speaks up to say "Um...no, that isn't exactly right." So long as you do that, I figure you're probably ok.

This is coming up as a result of a friend (who's also an activist for other minorities, which is how I met her) sharing something on Facebook. It was the following text beneath a pentacle:

pentacle, found at clker.com
"Contrary to what you may have been told, this religious symbol is used by a large number of people who share a common belief in the sanctity of life. They don't sacrifice living things for any reason. They do not worship the Christian Satan, nor do they revere any similar figure; most do not even recognize the existence of Satan. They do not cast spells to cause evil to befall others, for they believe that causing evil will bring back evil to the one who causes it. Their religion is based on nature, and is founded on the belief that the whole world is interrelated, that everyone is responsible for their own actions, and that peace, love, and tolerance should be encouraged by everyone, everywhere.

"And yes, I am one of them."

When some of my fellow pagans tout all the above as absolute fact I can hardly blame others, such as this friend in question, for believing it. But that doesn't change that it's misleading of paganism as a whole.

Are there pagans and witches who follow and believe all of the above? Yes, but we need to remember that many don't. It's like saying that all Christians adore the Pope. Catholics generally do, but some Protestants say he's going straight to hell. It's something that some, but not all believe, but if you're only around certain Christians you might think that all of them revere the Pope.

As to what pagans as a whole look like...I'm laughing because we're impossible to sum up in a single post. There are so many diverse beliefs that it's impossible to say anything without making generalizations, which of course won't apply to everyone.

Some pagans are vegan because they don't want to harm another living creature. Some pagans sacrifice pigs. Some pagans would never intentionally hurt another person. Some pagans join the military in honor of their gods. Some pagans dance around bonfires naked. And some pagans can't imagine getting naked in front of others, even for a ritual.

One last tidbit, for anyone who's still feeling lost...which is totally understandable. "Pagan" is an umbrella word that encompasses many different religions, hence the wide variety of often contradictory beliefs and practices.

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