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Archaeology, folklore & myth of Britain's pre-christian sites & heritage: stone circles, holy wells, maypoles, tombs, archaic cosmologies and human consciousness. Everyone welcome - even Southerners!

    This is THE BEST article on Paganism I have read to date


    Join date : 2010-12-25

    This is THE BEST article on Paganism I have read to date Empty This is THE BEST article on Paganism I have read to date

    Post  deadagaindave Mon Jun 06, 2011 4:37 am

    Neo-Paganism: An Old Religion for a New Age
    by Otter G'Zell

    I have often been asked to explain exactly what we mean by the term "Pagan". We find ourselves in the peculiar position of having a public image that was created not by ourselves, but by our persecutors. It is much as if the Nazis had succeeded in eradicating Judaism to the extent that, genera-tions later, the common opinion of what the j*wish faith was all aboutwas derived solely from the anti-Semitic propaganda of the Third Reich.

    In Europe alone, from tens of thousands to millions (the figures
    are still in dispute) of Pagans were martyred by the Christian churches
    during the Inquisition and Witch trials. Those figures do not even
    count the millions of other Pagan peoples in North and South yankland,
    Africa, Polynesia, Melanesia and Asia who fell before the advancing
    plague of Western Christendom.

    Today, the conception most people have of Paganism is the lurid one
    drawn by the Christian church to justify its own reign of terror, and
    bears about as much relation to reality as the similar propaganda
    Christianity once fostered about j*ws. In the 13th century the Church
    opened its long-drawn-out conflict with Paganism in Europe by declaring
    Witchcraft to be a 'sect' and heretical. It was not till the 14th
    century that the two religions came to grips.

    All through the 16th and 17th centuries the battle raged. The
    Pagans fought a gallant, though losing, fight against a remorseless and
    unscrupulous enemy; every inch of the field was disputed. At first
    victory occasionally inclined to the Pagans, but the Christian policy of
    obtaining influence over the rulers and law-givers was irresistible.
    Vae victis was also the policy of the Christians, and we see the priests
    of the Papacy gloating over the thousands whom they had consigned to the
    flames while the ministers of the Reformed Churches hounded on the
    administrators of the law to condemn the 'devil worshipers'.

    What can have been the feelings with which those unhappy victims
    regarded the vaunted God of Love, the Prince of Peace, whose votaries
    condemned them to torture and death? What wonder that they clung to
    their old faith, and died in agony unspeakable rather than deny their
    God. (Margaret Murray, The God of the Witches, 1931, Oxford GB 332, pp.

    'Pagan' does not mean "irreligious" or "barbarian". It is the
    correct anthropological term to describe indigenous folk religions,
    being derived from the Latin paganus, "peasant," which derives in turn
    from pagus, "village". The Latin comes from the Greek pagos, "standing
    stone," and paga, "sacred spring," representing, respectively, the male
    and female generative powers. Paganism is basically Nature worship.
    'Pagan' is a proper noun or adjective denoting the name of a religion,
    and as such, is properly always capitalized, as is 'j*wish' or 'Hin-

    Religions can be roughly divided into two distinct categories: the
    naturally evolving, indigenous "folk" religions of particular regions
    and peoples (the Pagan religions), and on the other hand the "revealed"
    religions: those religions owing their existence to a "revelation"
    taught by some great "prophet" and formulated in various creeds and
    dogmas. The latter category, of course, includes most of the "Great
    Religions of Mankind:" Judeo-Christian-Islamic, Buddhist, Confucian,
    etc. Though articulated by a great teacher, Lao-tsu, Taoism is
    essentially Pagan in philosophy and attitude, while Hinduism and Shinto
    are Pagan in origin and essence even though they have become institu-
    tionalized as State religions.

    Pagan religions are characterized by being "natural," both in
    origin and mode of expression, as opposed to the artificiality of
    constructed revealed religions. Paganism emerges out of the processes
    of Life and Nature, and continues to evolve as a living, growing,
    organic entity.

    Revealed religions are like buildings: an architect (prophet) get
    an inspiration (revelation) and lays down his vision in blueprints
    (prophecy; scriptures). Then contractors, carpenters, masons, etc.
    (disciples and followers) build the structure more or less according to
    his specifications. It is made of non-living materials, and does not
    grow naturally; it is assembled. When it is finished, it cannot grow
    further, and begins to deteriorate, until it is eventually so outmoded
    and rundown it is demolished to make way for new buildings. A world of
    revealed religions is like unto a city, with all the problems (hunger,
    war, hatreds, crime, pollution, dis-ease) of a city, and for much the
    same reason: alienation from the life-flow.

    A Pagan religion, on the other hand, is like a tree: it emerges
    alive from the Earth, grows, changes (both cyclically through the
    seasons, and continually in upward and outward growth), bears flowers
    and fruit, and shares its life with other living beings. It is not made
    or designed according to any blueprint other than genetic. And when,
    after many thousands of years, perhaps, it should come to the end of its
    time, it does not pass from the world entirely, for its own progeny
    have, in the interval, begun to spring up all around, again from the
    Earth, and again, similar yet each unique. A world of Pagan religions
    is like a forest.

    Paganism includes Animism, Pantheism, Shamanism and Totemism.
    (Witchcraft is the survival or reconstruction of European Shamanism;
    i.e., the magical arts of tribal peoples.) Pagan are the native
    religions of the American Indians, the Africans, the various Island
    peoples, many peasants in the mountains of Asia, the Aborigines of
    Australia, and, at one time, the Gauls, Teutons, Norse, Celts and
    Faeries (as the invading Saxons called the pygmy neolithic race they
    encountered in the British Isles). Long before they encountered
    Christianity, the Faeries (known to archaeologists as Pretani, or Picts)
    had been forced by the Saxons onto the inhospitable Heaths of Britain,
    later to be called "Heathens" by the Church. By 1500 CE, they had been
    virtually exterminated, save for those who managed to intermarry or
    exchange their infants for those of the invaders ("changelings").
    Moreover, as it was later to do in the case of the Witches, who
    inherited much of the Faery lore and religion, the Church began a
    campaign to convince the world and future generations that these people
    had never existed in the first place, but were merely imaginary! The old
    Pagan religions were never "created". They had no founding prophets and
    no saviors. They grew up with their people, and their origins are lost
    in the mists at the dawn of humanity. What little we can trace
    indicates a descent from paleolithic and neolithic "fertility cults,"
    hence the common symbols of the Earth Mother Goddess, the Green Man and
    the Horned God.the fecund embodiments of living Nature. We find them
    therefore unanimous in their veneration of Nature and their sensual
    celebration of life, birth, sex and death as expressed in the seasonal
    Festivals of the Sacred Year. All these Great Festivals of Paganism,
    wherever they may be found, correspond in common with the Solstices,
    Equinoxes, and other natural annual cycles of life (animal mating and
    birth seasons, planting, harvest).

    Most of these remain with us today in more-or-less disguised form
    as the so-called "Christian" holidays of Christmas (Yule), Easter
    (Ostara), May Day (Beltane), Thanksgiving (Mabon or Harvest Home),
    Halloween (Samhain) and even Groundhog's Day (Oimelc). In addition to
    these six, there are two others, Litha (Midsummer) and Lughnasadh,
    comprising a total of eight Festivals (or Sabbats, as they are known,
    sometimes under different names, in Witchcraft). Thus it is obvious
    that the rich heritage of Paganism forms a solid foundation for the
    spontaneous emergence of a Neo-Pagan revival today. In the midst of our
    current spiritual and ecological crisis, it is highly appropriate that
    natural religions are once again finding a place among the children of

    Modern Neo-Paganism, however, is somewhat distinct from the Old
    Religion, in that it is to a large measure a relatively new phenomenon.
    Neo-Pagan religions are many and diverse. They range from the sublimely
    artistic Paradisal vision and reconstruction of old Pagan Mysteries of
    Feraferia to the astrological divination and ancient Egyptian religion
    of the Church of the Eternal Source, and from the Wiccan-oriented myth
    and ritual of the Pagan Way to the transpersonal psychology, science-
    fiction mythology and deep ecology of the Church of All Worlds.
    All of the dozens of Neo-Pagan religions now in existence, and most of
    the countless sects of Witchcraft, however, do hold certain values in
    common, and it is these values which relate them to Paganism in the
    older sense.

    One of the key values of Neo-Paganism is its insistence on personal
    responsibility. The Church of All Worlds expresses this in the phrase,
    "Thou art God/dess," implying total personal freedom and individual
    responsibility on the part of every one of us. Paganism has no concept
    of "original sin," and hence has no need of saviors. Neo-Pagans do not
    expect Divine retribution for breaking social taboos. Rather, concepts
    of "sin" and "atonement" are restated in the framework of ecological
    awareness and karma. If our actions are discordant and in opposition to
    the evolutionary flow of Life, we suffer the ecological consequences, in
    much the same way, and for exactly the same reason, as diseased cells in
    the body are attacked by the antibodies and other natural defenses.
    Whatever energy we put out returns to us multiplied threefold. Love
    returns love; hate returns hate. Robert Ingersoll observed: "In Nature
    there are neither rewards nor punishments; there are consequences". The
    total responsibility (and hence the total freedom) rests in our

    As in the Old Religion, Neo-Pagans conceptualize Divinity as
    manifest in the processes of Nature. Indeed, in a very literal sense,
    Mother Nature, Mother Earth, is "Goddess," and She has been recognized
    as such since time immemorial. Thus ecology is seen as the supreme
    religious study: "Nature is Divinity made manifest...It is creativity
    continuity, balance, beauty and truth of life.
    "Everything we encounter in the Biosphere is a part of Nature, and ecology reveals the pattern of that is-ness, the natural relationships among all these things and the Organic Unity of all of them as a Biospheric Whole. Thus
    ecology shows the pattern of man's proper and creative involvement with
    Nature, that Nature which encompasses his own life and on proper
    relation to which his survival and development depend:Of all man's
    secular studies, ecology comes closest to bringing him to the threshold
    of religious relationship to his world. Ecology not only confirms the
    wonders of form and function that other secular studies have revealed,
    but it brings these into organic union with each other as one dynamic,
    living Whole; and it points out the conditions for the wellbeing of both
    this overall Unity and the parts that comprise it.

    An intensive realization of these conditions, and of one's own
    immediate role in their sustainment and development, brings one to the
    threshold of religious awe. To worship Nature, therefore, is to
    venerate and commune with Divinity as the dynamically organic perfection
    of the whole.

    Neo-Paganism is a recent mutation of the Old Religion which had its
    earliest emergence during the European Renaissance with the rediscovery
    of the ancient Greek philosophers via Arabian texts brought by traveler-
    s. However, this was also the time of the Burnings, and the budding
    Neo-Pagan emergence was suppressed until the late 1700's, when it found
    expression in the Romantic Period of art, music and literature,
    especially in Germany.

    This Romantic flowering of Neo-Paganism, especially the element
    known as the Bavarian Illuminati (whose mottoes were "eternal flower
    power" and "eternal serpent power"), greatly appealed to a visiting
    American named Benjamin Franklin, and upon his return to the colonies,
    it became a major spiritual force in the post-Revolutionary yankland of
    the 1780s, where its influence continued to shape the new nation through
    the presidencies of the Adams family. It was Monroe and the War of 1812
    that managed to suppress this movement for a time, but it re-emerged 60
    years later in the form of the Transcendentalist Movement, exemplified
    in the poetry and writings of Whitman, Thoreau and Emerson, and the
    overnight mushrooming of the commune movement in the 1840's. The Civil
    War, Reconstruction, the conquest of the West and the Gold Rush drained
    the Nature-oriented spiritual energy from the people of yankland for
    another 60 years, but it blossomed again through the Art Nouveau
    movement in the 1900's. Then came the World Wars, the Depression,
    McCarthyism...60 more years had to pass before the gathering impact of
    Eastern religious philosophy, especially Zen, and Existentialism gave
    birth to the "hip" "underground" counter-culture of the Beatniks, whose
    experimentation with drugs, sexuality, music, poetry, communal living
    and alternate lifestyles paved the way for the Hippie phenomenon of the
    1960's (which spontaneously resurrected the old Illuminati motto of
    "flower power").

    The seeds of Neo-Paganism which had again lain dormant for three
    generations took root in such fertile soil, and emerged once more into
    the light, to be joined in the '70s by the heirs of Wicca, the last
    vestiges of the Old Religion of Europe. The New Religion is still very
    much Paganism, for its inspiration and orientation today is based, as
    was that of its predecessors, upon an understanding and relationship of
    Humanity within the larger perspective of Life, Nature and the Universe.
    Fred Adams of Feraferia coined the term "eco-psychic" to describe the
    type of awareness that permeates the New Religion.
    Revealed religions, especially of the monotheistic variety, tend to
    see man as a special creation, exalted above all Nature, and the epitome
    of God's handiwork. Thus the Biblical injunction to Man to "have
    dominion over all the Earth" is not seen by Judeo-Christians as
    outrageously presumptuous; nor is God's destruction of all life on Earth
    in the legend of the Deluge seen as insanely immoral ecocide. Both God
    and Man are considered to have a "divine right" to desecrate the Earth
    at their pleasure. This is in direct opposition to the view of
    Paganism, which sees humanity's duty not to conquer Nature, but to live
    in harmony and stewardship with Her. Every revealed religion claims
    to have its own direct pipeline to the Divinity, and its own essential
    precepts from direct, unassailable revelation. Neo-Pagans, on the other
    hand, have outgrown egotistical and temperamental gods, and expect no
    intervention from some Big Daddy in the Sky to solve the problems of our
    times. Instead, we look to Nature (through the clear glass of ecology)
    for inspiration and direction, and to ourselves as the instrumentality
    for all that needs to be done.

    Thou art God/dess!
    Otter G'Zell, 1970

    Join date : 2010-12-25

    This is THE BEST article on Paganism I have read to date Empty Re: This is THE BEST article on Paganism I have read to date

    Post  deadagaindave Wed Jun 08, 2011 1:12 pm

    e changed is name to otter because e thought it was cool.

      Current date/time is Wed Jul 17, 2024 9:55 am