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Pagan tropers. Discuss general faithy stuffs, how you became a pagan, how fucking hilarious it is that this forum is called troper covens, etc.
Arguably I could be considered one; my beliefs are in the Norse gods.
I think I've always been pagan on some level. Even as a child, when I was as faithful a Christian as anyone could hope for, I felt most comfortable in a natural setting. I talked to animals and trees and made "potions" out of things from the backyard—oranges and weeds and gravel and such. When I was a little older, I was told that my aunt, my mother's oldest sister, "thinks she's a witch," and I always thought, "Well, she should know whether she is or not." I knew thanks to The Wizard of Oz that if there were wicked witches, there were also good ones, and it didn't bother me at all to think that my aunt was a witch. I thought it would be pretty cool to be one, especially in the modern world where people had stopped expecting magic.
As I said, I grew up Christian, but I reached a point in my teens where I just couldn't buy it anymore. There were a lot of reasons, but probably the most important one was the total lack of spiritual fulfillment I felt in the church. For whatever reason, the Christian God just wasn't talking to me. But the Earth was, whenever I managed to get out away from the city. I got out on my own for a little while (during my brief college experiment), got some books, tried out being a Witch for myself. And it felt right, although it took me a while to get to my current eclectic, technically-agnostic position.
Yeah, I said agnostic. I don't presume to know whether the gods are really real. I am real, and Nature is real, and the people around me are real, and if I do right by all three of them, any gods worth worshiping will consider it enough. I don't do much in the way of formal practice. I don't think I've ever done a complete Circle casting. I think a lot of Neopagans get too caught up in the ceremony and put up a barrier between their day-to-day life and their spirituality, and that defeats the purpose. I'm a Pagan everywhere and all the time, not just on front of my altar or when the Moon is full.
That reminds me—I need to make that fertility charm for my sister. She's trying to get pregnant, and I want to give it to her when she comes over for Imbolc. (No, she's not Pagan herself, but she knows better than to turn down free food.)
DyslexicEclectic Pagan here. Guess what kind? Go on, guess.
Ten bucks says Dianic.
I understand what you mean. I've met a lot of pagans who put ceremony before spirituality. I myself don't keep an altar; it never made sense to me. The way I see it is that magic and the goddess are with me everywhere, not on a table with candles and such.
Of course, I'm not Wiccan at all, so I suppose it's different. :)
Modern Celtic Neo-pagan. Within that umbrella term, I am a bard.
I was born Catholic, but while I agree with its basic tenents that I should be a decent person, I stopped believing in God around thirteen/fourteen because it just didn't feel right anymore. I became sort-of Wiccan for a while, but then I watched a documentary on Ravens and Crows which had a folk song about the Morrigan. She sparked my interest in Celtic paganism, and then I decided to study as a bard because that's where my talents lie.
I don't keep any sort of altar/magical tools, because while I like writing about magic and whatnot, I don't concern myself with it in real life because I don't really NEED it. Life is magical enough. Plus it's kind of counter-intuitive to how physical and up-close the Morrigan is, and I don't think she'd like it if I went around using magic to solve all my problems. There's a personal side to the general "don't use magic when the Mundane Solution is fine"; I was pretty much a doormat when I was younger and accepting the Morrigan as my patron goddess was my first step in getting self-confidence.
Why is that? Well, the very idea of her scared me shitless, starting with the song that called me over:
I fear that bead-black eye that pierces me to the bone The cruel stare, the glassy glare That fingers me alone.
She deals in the black arts Runs with the soldier and wolf The battle sounds, death rattle mourns Then steals the eyes for herself.
Imagine hearing that when you're fourteen years old and barely out of your fluffy-bunny phase. Since I wasn't really paying attention I could only remember one line and the Morrigan's name (plus, you know, not liking the Nightmare Fuel inherent in a song about a war-goddess), but after a few days I stopped being scared shitless and started to actually learn about her, which helped lessen the fear. Then I discovered that most of her followers take up some sort of martial art, coinciding with me getting over the worst of chronic depression, so I started learning archery and Shaolin Kung Fu.
...She's not too picky with details. Generally if I'm physically fit and I can defend myself, she's fine with it. Compared to God and his omniscience, the Morrigan is refreshingly hands-off.
edited 1st Jun '11 3:43:19 PM by Sharysa
I don't identify as Wiccan either, anymore. After a point in my studies I realized that Wicca was not only too focused on ceremony but too culturally specific for my tastes. I do keep an altar, though, with seasonal decorations that I rotate throughout the year. Right now it's done up for Imbolc, with a white cloth, a floral arrangement with silk carnations, a Brighid's cross, and a lot of candles.
Actually, Shary, depending on the interpretation, Morrigan IS a goddess of magic (well, one of her aspects, not sure which one). Though I do understand what you mean about magic not being necessary in an already awesome world- I think the last time I cast a spell was somewhere like eight months ago, and that was. . . desperate.
On an unrelated note, I've always thought the Morrigan would be an excellent patron; felt a kinship with Ravens and Crows since I was born, but the Morrigan herself has never called to me.
Ah, Imbolc. If there's one thing that unites pagans everywhere it's our kickass parties deeply spiritual holidays.
I suppose since everyone else is sharing how they acquired their faith, I might as well do the same.
I grew up Christian, in a church-going household. It was all good for a while; like most Christians, I overlooked the more. . . unpleasant aspects of the faith. I was content up until about ten, when my Mum married a preacher. He was very strict, militant almost, and hated everything I loved (fantasy novels, the music I listened to, etc.) and generally unpleasant. He encouraged me to read the bible, and so I did. I read it about half a dozen times, and became more horrified each pass. I discovered that the god I had worshipped my whole life was a psychopath who destroyed towns and tortured his followers to test their faith. By thirteen, I was completely disillusioned with Christianity and indeed the entire concept of an omniscient, omnipotent deity.
I was a Deist for a while; I knew there had to be something somewhere, but it wouldn't be like the Christian god. I refused to believe that the being that nurtured the universe was such a monster.
I am, and have been since around six, bipolar; I sometimes got angry enough to kill others and sad enough to kill myself for long periods of time. One of the latter times, I was in my room with a sick feeling that wouldn't even let me cry. I felt I'd lost my purpose; I had no reason to exist. I figured I couldn't do anything; I was only a crazy blind kid. I had no benefit to the world.
And then, she called me. I heard a voice like the wind rustling through the leaves of a tall tree. It held the passionate light of the sun and the calm serenity of the night sky, the firm strength of the stone and the fluidity of a river. I could not comprehend the words it spoke, but I knew what they meant. I had a purpose. It was my duty to make the world a better place, one small deed at a time.
And so I've don ever since. I've been told that what spoke to me was everything from yhwh to allah to the Wiccan Goddess to athena. The way I see it, I don't care; she might be any deity, she might be every deity. I've formed my own perception of her, but I understand that everyone's perception is unique and that as long as you don't worship something that tells you to do something horrid or that anyone anywhere is horrible for having a faith that isn't yours, it is all good.
edited 28th Jan '11 9:06:25 AM by Diamonnes
Huh. You learn something new every day—I know she's definitely got the standard deity powers (shapeshifting, illusion, etc.), but I've never heard of her being a goddess of magic, per se. On the other hand, she does work In Mysterious Ways.
Has anyone else who follow a particular deity noticed that the longer you've been following them, the less you need to talk about them? When I was sort-of Dianic sort-of Wiccan, I pretty much treated Athena and Artemis like I would celebrities—with constant gushing and gratuitous mentions in my journal and what not. Ugh, the memories. Conversely, now that I've been a Celtic neopagan for three years, I don't really mention the Morrigan even in my journal because I don't really need to.
RE Holidays: I've always liked that my birthday is just on the cusp of spring (March 20), because it coincides with Ostara. I never decorated or anything for holidays (partly because I live with my parents, also because I'm broke), but I do set aside some quiet time.
Which is why I was relieved to not be Wiccan anymore, because some of my online friends were posting really awesome pictures of their blinged-out altars every holiday and it made me feel inadequate.
edited 28th Jan '11 9:25:37 AM by Sharysa
both of my parents are pagan. while we lived in a rural community they actually got the rights to run a non-denominational pagan church. thing is, they didnt have a building to use, so they ended up using our house as a church.
Thats right. For about 2 years, I lived in an official pagan church. Weird huh?
I remember some nights when they would have circle in the living room, they would have to open the circle with the athame (spelling?) for me to go to the kitchen to grab a snack. They would also fill this small metal pot with herbs and alcohol and sage-brush and set it on fire, and the flames would glow in different colors. it was all rather pretty.
Alas, my parents never forced me to be pagan, so I am not one. this shall be my last post in here, for that matter.
edited for accuracy.
edited 28th Jan '11 2:26:55 PM by Dynamod
Yeah, some people definitely go overboard with the altar decorations, with new floral centerpieces every year and a museum-replica statue for every god and athames and goblets fashioned during the correct astrological correspondences and—Sheesh! Tone it down a little! I stick with the basics: altar cloth, silk floral, and candles, and maybe some other minor goodies.
The silk floral centerpieces are my pride and joy; I made them several years back when I briefly worked at Michael's Arts & Crafts and managed to score several wire frames from a massive post-Christmas clearance sale. Each frame includes sockets for three candles, although I rarely light the candles anymore after one Litha when one burned down too far and set the silk on fire!
@Shary: I'd probably be that way if I didn't swear so much. As it is, the more time goes on it feels less like the goddess is some great and magnificent being to be looked upon with awe and more like a close friend.
@dyna: Come to the dark side. We have cookies and kickass Viking Metal and Celtic music. I'm surprised. I could've sworn you gave off a paganish vibe. Must just be your upbringing.
edited 28th Jan '11 1:13:08 PM by Diamonnes
on a side note: if you're into some EPIC pagan music (at least i think it is, might just be green, but my mother loves it), then CHECK THIS OUT:
Diamonnes pointed this thread out to me over somewhere in Yack Fest, so — hello.
I'm a self-guided Pagan with a fair but not exclusive affinity to the Norse Gods and a dedication to Freyja in particular. I would not identify as a Norse reconstructionist and thus not Asatru or any of the other terms applied to that, though. I refuse to limit myself so, and I have a distaste for the judgmental nature of many in that scene (as well as the racism found in a distressing subset of even those who claim not to be).
Alana (my spouse) is a witch with a Celtic affinity and a dedication to the Morrigan, particularly (it seems) the aspects of her concerned with justice. My housemate Richie is pretty serious about his Norse Heathenry, but has a more general pagan background that he doesn't hide. So we have quite a collection there.
Lucky. I'm one of two people in my area who are (known) pagans, and she was classic Wiccan.
I have friends who are Wiccan or related traditions; I'm fine with it, but I wasn't looking for a regimented religious practice, nor a mystery/initiation-based faith. Doesn't work with my personality.
yeah, hazing is bad.
One thing I've always had trouble with is really feeling a connection to any established deity or pantheon. None of them have ever really clicked with me, and I'm not sure why. (Not that this is anything new—in fact it's about on the level of "story of my life"). I do have a nagging suspicion that anything I tried to adopt beyond the level of "distant admirer" would fall under the heading of Cultural Appropriation, which as any remotely sensitive American knows is a big no-no.
Perhaps it's that very fear of cultural appropriation that is part of the barrier?
It's also not, in my opinion, cultural appropriation if you are of that culture, or one descended from it. You can still make an ass of yourself, of course, which is why treating things with respect, realizing that there's a lot to learn, and realizing that no matter what, you probably can't get it right, and it doesn't matter.
Also: in the case of European pre-Christian deities, the original religions and the cultures they grew up in are gone. I don't think "cultural appropriation" is much of a deal in that circumstance. Everyone who finds an affinity for such a religion or a deity from them is reviving something almost completely lost.
I don't think any (sane, anyway) specific religious reconstructionists are too offended if someone takes a liking to a deity from the religion they practice, so long as they do the research and don't think they're an expert after having read a few paragraphs in some book. They do tend more to get offended by the fleeting, grab-bag approach many Wiccans (and similar) use, where they drag in a couple of random deities they know nothing about for some ritual or other, do no research to find out anything about them except look them up in some Big Book Of Goddesses, and treat them as part of some great big cosmic deity deck.
@Diamonnes: You owe me ten bucks.
Well...yes, I pretty much said just that. It's not the only part of it, of course. I literally have never had that experience of going "That's for me!" when studying any ancient pantheon or the traditions surrounding its worship. Worrying about how respectful it would be for me to adopt a given practice is a secondary concern when I don't even want to.
I don't see it that way, not for myself. My ancestors came to this country the same year it became a country, and haved lived totally vanilla middle-class Protestant lives ever since. Those are my roots. I don't have any interesting family folkways on which to base a paltry attempt at reconstruction.
I have Irish ancestry, and I used to think that sort of obligated me to lean in a Celtic direction. But all my reading on the subject just had me going "Wait, what?"
That's another part of my problem, I think. The world I live in is not the one in which those traditions were last seen. They have not been adapting organically to the changing times.
Well, fortunately, I don't do that either.
What I've done is taken some of the deity archetypes or "themes" that appear in numerous pantheons, like the Love Goddess and the Trickster, worked out my own associations with them, given each one a pompous title (no names, though—I don't presume to name the gods!), and used those as the focus of my worship. Inevitably, of course, some of the associations come from the mythologies I've studied, simply because those are part of my consciousness, but it's not the same as a conscious decision to ape those traditions. By doing that, I've arrived at something that speaks to me even though the original sources do not.
Ah, that might be the difference; I'm not from here. I'm not an Nth generation American whose roots are here. I'm English-born and English-raised, of equal parts Northern English and Irish stock. That's what resonates, and — well, I like it well enough in California, but it's not home. So different things work in my mind and everything else. I most definitely feel a connection with my European ancestors and their myriad faiths, but then, shouldn't I? They're still there, for me.
So of course our feelings about those things will differ.
That said, a lack of connection to my current place of residence is a problem in itself, and I need to work on that.
I also think you accurately identify the problem with blind reconstruction: historical religions evolved and changed over time as their worshippers and their circumstances changed, and to import that to the modern day with no regard for those changed circumstances is a recipe for problems.
For me, I have no problem with my Freyja not being the same in all details as the thousand-year-old version. She is real for me the way she is, and she's made that very well known numerous times in my life.
But that's me.
If you never feel that, there's nothing wrong with either of us, just that our ways are different thus far.
Another thought: most of our upbringings raised us in the idea that there was One True Way. Christianity believes that. It's easy to find multiple different ideas of the One True Way among Christians, but they don't tend to have the idea that maybe they're all as valid as each other; rather, it's imperfect humanity not quite understanding God's message.
Pagans ... should, I feel, acknowledge that there are multiple routes. Intellectually, we often do. Subconsciously / emotionally? I'm not so sure. It seems to me that the disagreements among pagans frequently reflect that.
Oh, I've never worried that I was doing it "wrong," it's just a little awkward when other Pagans are talking about the deities they follow and I don't have anything recognizable to contribute.
Then, too, you get some people who fall prey to the "Age = Validity" line of thinking.
edited 31st Jan '11 9:45:25 AM by Karalora
I assume when you mention 'age=validity', you're talking about the deep-seated need people appear to have to believe that their religious practices are ancient?
Yeah. Been a problem with the modern pagan revival since its beginning. (By "modern" here, I mean anything 20th century or later; and the same issues can be seen with various religious and spiritual practices in earlier centuries as well.)
People seem to be able to accept things much better if they are dressed as 'ancient practices rediscovered or kept hidden through the ages' rather than 'Look at this new thing I just created'.
Most modern paganism is stuff invented in the modern age. A lot of the rest are things from previous centuries, but really not that far away — a hundred years or two. There's a leavening of things from actual, historical pagan practices, and a little from surviving folklore.
And everyone seems to be rather embarrassed about the fact that most of it is actually modern creation and sweeps that under the rug and pretends nobody can see the lumps.
To which I call 'bullshit'. What makes the spiritual and religious practices come up by someone thousands of years ago better than something originating in modern times? We are no dumber than they. They were no dumber than us. And the world has changed a lot in some ways.
This ignores, of course, the strict reconstructionist Pagan religions, such as Norse, Greek, Roman and Egyptian reconstruction. Even there, the fact is that they are trying to make a whole jigsaw puzzle when two-thirds of the pieces are missing. Christianity managed to successfully wipe out most knowledge of the religions that preceded it, and in any case, many preceding religions didn't write as much down.
The Greeks and the Egyptians did, but there are big holes, especially to do with day-to-day practice rather than the big stuff. The Norse wrote some things, but most existing knowledge of it comes from the fact that in Iceland, the oral retelling of the traditional sagas persisted after Christian conversion, and the things were written down later on by Christian scholars (who treated the sagas largely as oral histories muddled with mysticism).
Which is all my long-way meandering to these points: 1) Age of your religious practices doesn't mean shit, and 2) most of what's sold as old ain't. Even those snooty Asatru followers who turn their noses up at Wicca et al. because it's all modern are actually doing stuff that's 60% or more modern creation. They had to, because the pieces are missing.
I don't think the mental process in operation is as simplistic as "Older = better, and that's all there is to it." I think it's more of an assumption that the world itself was more magical/spiritual/supernatural in Ye Oldene Dayes, and things like the gods openly revealing themselves, or faeries stealing your milk, just don't happen anymore. Not to mention, back in those days, people's traditions and lifestyles were solid and taken seriously. Everything nowadays is ephemeral and conditional. Therefore, how could a new tradition be based on anything "real"? It must be your imagination.
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