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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in pagan identity

Posted by on in Culture Blogs
The Compleat Pagan

 

In Hopi, the expression ka-Hopi means “un-Hopi.” It describes, not non-Hopi (who, after all, cannot rightfully be expected to act like Hopi), but rather fellow Hopi whose actions lie outside the Hopi way.

It is not a compliment.

Similarly, among the Kalasha, the last remaining pagans of the Hindu Kush, the phrase sau Kalasha, “completely Kalasha,” describes someone who embodies the Old Ways in their entirety.

It is the highest praise one can offer.

In the absence of a universal definition or central authority to decide paganness, pagan identity is largely a matter of individual determination, and I (for the most part) am willing to take people at their word. Who, after all, better knows the truth of your heart than you do? Certainly not me.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

I often see the words “label” and “identity” used interchangeably, but to me they have rather different connotations. A label is something society thrusts on you, to organize information- keep track of possible discrimination, to access services and accommodations or medical treatment in the case of disabilities and medical conditions. It’s something that you don’t have a lot of choice over.

An identity by contrast may be chosen, or it is a choice to make a label one’s own. It is a way to connect with other people in a community. There are also some that I find are kind of in the middle- as in “I identify as X, but it’s easier to access community and explain things if I use label Y”

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Why Pagan theology is so unimportant among Pagans

When I first become a Pagan many years ago, I tried to find theological studies of What It All Meant within our literature.  I found many discussions of rituals, magick, and how Witches were correctives to patriarchy. But beyond some brief (and good) discussions in Margot Adler’s Drawing Down the Moon and the Farrars' The Meaning of Witchcraft,  there was almost nothing on the underlying meaning of a Pagan reality.  As I learned more about the broad Pagan tradition I began exploring literature discussing African Diasporic and Native American Pagan religions. Here to, by monotheistic standards the pickings were remarkably thin.

In Brazil I learned most Pagan literature consisted of spell books and details about rituals.  Among the traditional Crow people in Montana, individuals had different interpretations of their practices’ deeper meaning and of the status of figures like Coyote, but no developed theology.  Within my own coven I learned my coven-mates had different beliefs about who the Gods were. Classical Pagan religious writing was rarely sectarian and the major one that could be so described, The Golden Ass, was more an adventure story than a treatise on the Gods.  Pagan cultures were not particularly peaceful, but I know of no adherents to a Pagan religion waging war on those of another for not worshiping the right Gods. Unlike the monotheisms, unity of belief didn’t seem very important in the Pagan world.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    Can you see the irony in the fact that you've defined Paganism as superlatively permissive, but then have marginalized an entire f
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Absolutely no irony here at all. None. Beginning in your first paragraph you distort my argument. I wrote Pagan religion is room
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I will add one more point about thinking theologically about our own experiences as a way to deepen them and perhaps improve on ou
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I also tried to "like" your comment Macha, but it doesn't work either. So thank you!
  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    Thanks, Gus. I think I'll print this for the men in the San Quentin circle.
Gaia Gathering: The Canadian National Pagan Conference


Dominique SmithThis weekend, which is a holiday long weekend north of the 49th Parallel, Pagans from all over the vast expanse of the Canadian landscape will be meeting in Gatineau, Quebec (which is just across the river from our capital city Ottawa) to discourse on what it is to be Canadian and Pagan, exchange ideas, study workshops, exchange chants, review scholarly works in our field, and of course, socialize.  It's called the Gaia Gathering (the Canadian National Pagan Conference,) and I believe this to be the most exciting thing currently going on in the Canadian Pagan community.  I made an epic journey to the 2010 conference in Montreal to present at a couple of panels, as well as one of their first workshops, and it was a life-changing experience.  This year, I am unable to attend but I was able to interview "Winnipagan" Dominique Smith, the current Chairperson, via Facebook about this outstanding event:

Question: So from your perspective, what is Gaia Gathering all about?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
"Pagan" is a constellation, not a star

A constellation is not an object, it's a pattern of objects visible from a certain perspective.  Look from a different perspective, and the pattern disappears.

That's what's going on right now with the raging controversies over the meaning of the word "Pagan."  From some perspectives it makes sense, from others it does not.  And since no single perspective has authority, neither does any single definition.

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UPDATE BELOW

Joseph Bloch has made an interesting case that Pagan religion cannot always be labeled a “nature religion”  because  historically most weren’t. Instead they were concerned primarily with human affairs. I argue here that he is wrong, and do so in three steps. The first two explore crucial concepts he ignores. The third looks at errors of fact.  Grasping how he is mistaken deepens our understanding of what Paganism is and how we relate to the world today. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I just posted a discussion of how a Pagan perspective gives us insight into the nature of our protected wilderness areas over at P
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I just posted a discussion of how a Pagan perspective gives us insight into the nature of our protected wilderness areas over at P
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    Dear Elani- The points you raise require more space to reply than this format makes comfortable for readers. I think I might do a
  • Elani Temperance
    Elani Temperance says #
    Dear Gus, I think this is the time I will bow out of this conversation. I see the value in your points, but disagree with them. Y
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    And to you Elani.

Posted by on in Studies Blogs

In my previous post, I discussed why I thought identity was an essential principle of magic and explored what magic as an ontological practice might look like. In this post, I want to unpack identity further so that we can learn what makes up identity and how we can work with it as a magical principle. Some of what I discuss below can also be found in my book Magical Identity.

Your Family is one of the foundational elements of your identity. Your mother and father, and siblings (if you have any) provide you the initial experience of the world, as well as modeling behaviors about how to interact with the world. They pass down both their functional and dysfunctional behaviors, both in terms of how they interact with you and around you. It's fair to say that your identity is shaped by them for your entire life. I'd argue that your family is one of the more influential elements of identity and one that needs to be carefully explored in order to change a lot of your own behaviors. Your family also models financial and health skills to you. Even if they never explicitly discuss finances or health, they nonetheless provide you with standards that impact how you handle both throughout your life.

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