Explores the challenges of living and practicing Paganism in a Christian-dominated culture.

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Alphabet Soup for Pagans

I'm writing in response to Tess Dawson's excellent post about honoring the differences among the numerous Pagan paths. There are many tributaries of this mighty river: Druidry, Wicca, Heathen, Asatru, Kemeticism, Thelema...the list could go on and on. Even within each of those tributaries, there are several streams that feed into it. Just within Wicca, there are Gardnerians, Dianics, Reclaiming, and more.

I agree very much with Dawson: our paths are not the same path. I believe that the right path is the path that sings in your heart; like Nature, I believe diversity is strength. I don't need to make every path the same in order to respect it.

However, we are linked in some way. Why else are we represented on this very website? Many have tried to find that spring from which our various streams have emerged, but apparently they have failed. We are not all Earth-based. We are not all polytheists. We are not all reconstructing an ancient religion, nor are we creating a new one. Perhaps one day, as our paths have been trod by more generations, someone will find that common source. But really, it's not important.

What is important is that today, right now, all of us are subjected to some degree of persecution in many places. Here in the Southern US (the states of the former Confederacy), non-Christians of all stripes face job and housing discrimination, loss of custody of our children, and even violence for our beliefs. Our oppressors don't care what our internal squabbles are. They will yank a child out of an Asatru household as quickly as they will from a Wiccan one.

We must stand together despite our differences. Since using the label "Pagan" seems to be ineffective (if not counter-productive), let's agree on another label. Let's create a banner that we can all be happy under.

My first suggestion, which I hope will be discussed and refined further, is PWDRT:

  • Pagans
  • Wiccans/Witches
  • Druids
  • Reconstructionists
  • Thelemites

Obviously we can't name every specific non-Christian religion, or we might as well use the whole alphabet! So perhaps these might be larger labels that encompass many smaller paths. The important thing is that every label must be acceptable to the people it applies to.

I hope to get more feedback to make this label work for everyone. In the spirit of creating alliances among diverse peoples, Blessed Be!

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D.R. Bartlette, an ordained priestess, has been practicing what she calls "Zen Wicca" in her native Ozark Mountains for 27 years. She tries to serve her community (both spiritual and geographical) by participating in outreach and education in behalf of Wiccans and Pagans. She is also a freelance writer who teaches at a small community college.

Comments

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 27 May 2013

    Love your idea, sweetie, but a single problem jumps out at me. Your acronym is unpronounceable in any language I'm familiar with. As in "no vowels!"

  • Joseph Bloch
    Joseph Bloch Monday, 27 May 2013

    Perhaps it's Welsh.

  • Anne Newkirk Niven
    Anne Newkirk Niven Monday, 27 May 2013

    Oh, yeah, also... you left out non-theists. (Gaians, humanist Pagans, Jungian Pagans, and atheist Pagans.) Given that for a good five year period (during a dry period between deities communicating with me) I was a self-proclaimed Gaian, tending towards naturalistic Paganism, I think folks of that persuasian belong here, too. (Which is why I've invited a fair number of them on this forum.)

  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette Thursday, 30 May 2013

    It's not meant to be pronounceable - neither is LGBTQ! But I'm interested in including non-theists. Perhaps PWDRNT? That's a bit long...And I'm not even sure Thelemites would want to be included. Hopefully all the various Pagans (humanist, Jungian, athiest) could be happy under just "Pagans."
    I know what you mean about naturalistic Pagans/Gaians. I still use the label Wiccan because it's easiest, and the forms and rituals still speak to me, but I don't believe in gods per se. More like a natural force, with a yin/yang or Goddess/God aspect, which we humans conceptualize as deities.

  • D. R. Bartlette
    D. R. Bartlette Thursday, 30 May 2013

    So the question is how many letters in our acronym - meaning, which categories will work? Would all Earth-centered religions be happy under "Pagans"? Including Wiccans and Druids? Would all historically-based polytheists be happy under "Reconstructionists"? I'd love to see a large survey taken, so we could start coming up with a workable solution.

  • Dominique Pierson
    Dominique Pierson Tuesday, 04 June 2013

    I'm liking this idea. As to the question of what binds us, why are we in this community together? The same question could be asked of the LBGTQ community. What does the Trans community have in common with the Gay and Lesbian community? One group's issues deal with gender identity and the other group's issues deal with sexual orientation, two completely different issues. Then you have the Poly community and the Bondage community that sometimes hang out with the Queer community too. The folks involved in the LGBTQ can be varied indeed, but they see enough similarities in each other's causes that they have decided to ally together under the same umbrella term. This isn't always conflict free allegiance either. Biphobia and Transphobia aren't exactly unheard of in the LGBTQ community, for example.

    As with the Pagan/Polytheist/Occult community I can one thing we all have in common, we are all under represented and often misunderstood religious/spirituality minorities.

    As for my suggestion for an acronym. What about PROA, for Pagans, Recons, Occultists and Alternative Religionists & Spiritualists. Wiccans, Eclectics and Naturalistic Pagans, seems to have no issue with the term Pagan. Are Druids okay with being called Pagan? I'm don't know much about Druidism honestly so I don't know. Occultists could cover Thelemites, Chaos Magicians, non-pagan Witches, Satanists. Alternative Religionists and Spiritualists could cover non-pagan Goddess Worshipers, New Agers, and non-pagan mystics who like to sometimes hang out in our community. Or we can add Mystics to the mix be the PROMA Community.

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