There is apparently some confusion as to what the Pagan in International Pagan Values Blogging month means. I think that that both of the Wikipedia definitions above are a good start. Although I tend to agree with those who dislike the word Neopagan, as I too have heard it used one too may times in a sarcastic us-vs.-them/our-form-of-Paganism-is-more-inherently-special-than-yours-nyah-nyah childishness inside the Pagan movement.
But what about “Pagan”? As I said both of the above linked definitions, they are a piece of the puzzle. I also am recently enamored of the beginning definition found at the Pagan Pride Project website…
“A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
- Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
- Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
- Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
- Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.”
I think this is a good beginning, I’ve already posted about the Values and Virtues and Ethics I have found in Witchcraft; and I’m still studying and exploring the Ethics of the Ancients as I explore Greco-Egyptian Polytheism as I balance these practices within my life and spirituality. All of these are also a part of the puzzle of what Pagan means, at least to me.
I called Paganism a movement earlier…
I see Paganism as a religious, spiritual, and social movement made up of several overlapping and intertwined religious and regional communities. These smaller communities are beginning to coalesce into larger national and international communities and networks of communities.
I believe our movement is growing in the direction of an over arching arcing network of regional and religious communities brought together by the fundamental similarities in the basic journey that the many forms of Paganism take us on.
It seems to me that for the many different Pagan faiths and paths there is a shared overall theme of individual and group development into being a better person(s), through personal growth, and perhaps enlightenment although it is not necessarily phrased as such. This growth is gained by practicing various rites, and developing our relationships with the Divinities (or the essence of All That Is) and with the Spirits of the World Around Us (Elements and/or Land Spirits and/or Ancestors), and by living numerous intertwining and overlapping virtues and values.
Eventually, personal growth and development, both within ourselves and in our relationship to our Deities, leads us quite naturally into engagement with other branches of Paganism. Not only do we end up building our relationships with others in our own faith, and regional Pagan, communities as we live those virtues and values and practice our rites and ways; we meet others who share our beliefs or who share some form of Paganism and live in our area.
Then, from there, as we seek to live our paths and our values in our everyday lives we are led as Pagans into engagement with the rest of Society. Whether or not you participate in the Pagan movement or in our larger societies as a Pagan, you still have to decide how you as a Pagan are going to relate to them both.
… I guess I would rather focus on the important things about Paganism the virtues and values and ideals that we are trying to live and carry forward into the world, than on how one form or branch or faith or path is “Paganer-than-thou” fundamentalist stuff garbage.