I am a pagan. I have been for about 19 years. I love our many paths, our community, our arguments, our festivities. I am true to my gods and goddesses: Sun, Moon, Earth, Green, Horn, Storm, Winds, Sea and Fire. I create rituals, I help at gatherings, I practice magic, I publicly defend our ways.
But, unlike many of my pagan brothers and sisters, I don’t believe (and, yes, I practice magic, but that’s a previous post). I guess you could call me a “pagan atheist”, but don’t. I’m pagan. There is no statement of faith in our religions. There is no creed. Which means I can stand right in ritual right next to someone who does believe, and we’re both pagans. Neither of us is wrong, or bad, or less-than-authentically pagan.
Let’s leave our Christian baggage at the edge of the circle.
8 thoughts on “This I believe…”
What is it you don't believe? In the physical and literal reality of the pagan gods and goddesses?? Or something else…..just curious 🙂
I cannot answer for Frebur. However, I use the Pagan Gods and Goddesses as a framework, as examples, as stories in my life. However I do not believe in their “literal reality”. And sometimes I am given shit for this. I think this comes from most Pagans in America being recovering Christians and having a need for “faith”. And from the mixing of Witchcraft and New Age. My beliefs are not new, many ancient Pagans, including the Greek philosophers, also did not “believe”.
I like the way you stated that you are “true” to the gods and goddesses. That is how I feel also, I try and honor what they represent, the personification of different parts of the divine, humanity, nature etc. It seems to work for me so far. But, I'm a new pagan, so I'm still figuring out what my path is! I enjoy your blog (^_^)
You don't believe in structured deities or in higher powers in general? Not picking, I think I just missed something. 🙂
Interestingly, as someone who runs in Reconstructionist/hard polytheist circles, there are many in these communities who feel disconnected from the greater “Pagan” subculture, and many of us (I cannot speak for all) believe in the gods as physically real beings who interact with the physical world.
And a lot of us grumble about New Age influences/Monotheist baggage in the greater Pagan subculture. Many recons and hard polytheists I have spoken to no longer even call themselves pagan, considering that (for example) Kemetic, Asatru or Hellenismos rituals bear little to no resemblance to each other or to Wiccan ritual structure; really they are separate religions that fall under the pagan (for lack of a better term) umbrella.
Using “Pagan” as a “one size fits all” term for what is in actuality just one set of practices and beliefs seems to be the problem. Just my thoughts from the other side of the theological fence.
There's also an important element to the idea of what religion is that I think a lot of people miss; orthopraxy vs. orthodoxy. Orthodoxy is right belief; and it is most commonly emphsasized in *monotheistic* religions. Belief is the most important thing. The very fact that “faith” is used interchangeably with “religion” indicated how deeply ingrained “right belief” is in Western thought.
Orthopraxy is “right action”, and it is found in more indigenous religions. It is “living life in accord with specific ideals and principles” as laid out by your religion or culture. It is often combined with “right belief” but the emphasis is more on the action part.
At least this is how I have come to understand things.
Excellent points, lowenmensch. I personally believe that there is great strength in our loose federation of religions, and that it's still worth trying to find common cultural ground. I'm not sure that we appear that distinct from one another to those on the outside.
Thanks for your intelligent input!
I DO “believe” in my gods and goddesses, by the way, because they are physically real (see above). We might just disagree as to whether or not they are indeed gods and goddesses. I'm the hardest hard polytheist there is! 🙂