Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Pagan!!! Do you worship the Devil?

          I have been a Pagan the majority of my life. During my high school days a friend of mine introduced me to the world of magic, witchcraft, and Paganism. I have never gave much thought about what it meant to be Pagan until I started 'coming out' of the closest, so to speak, about my spiritual path. Even then it was extremely hard to define really what Paganism was. Once I stepped out there were all kinds of questions thrown at me, things like: do you eat babies? do you sacrifice animals? do you worship naked? do you have orgies? Though my favorite has always been: do you worship the Devil?
          Before we go any further we might want to look at the term Pagan. The term comes from the Latin word paganus, which in Late Latin had the meaning of "region delimited by markers. However in the late 14th to early 15th centuries is came to mean "related to the country side", "country dweller", and even "unlearned". Here is what Peter Brown had to say in his book Late Antiquity: 

The adoption of paganus by Latin Christians as an all-embracing, pejorative term for polytheists represents an unforeseen and singularly long-lasting victory, within a religious group, of a word of Latin slang originally devoid of religious meaning. The evolution occurred only in the Latin west, and in connection with the Latin church. Elsewhere, "Hellene" or "gentile" (ethnikos) remained the word for "pagan"; and paganos continued as a purely secular term, with overtones of the inferior and the commonplace.

Sometime in the earlier parts of the 5th century paganus took on the religious connotations that a person was not of the Christian faith. Then in more modern times the term was adopted by groups who were trying to create religious and spiritual paths that hearkened back to the days of polytheistic practices, times before monotheism dominated most of Europe.

          To define what the modern Pagan is can be a near impossible task. Each person asked will have a different definition. So I figure I will give you my general broad definition and answer a few of the questions I have been asked over the years.

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          For me Paganism is any religious or spiritual path that does not original from the Abrahamic religion (Judaism. Islamic, or Christianity faiths). Being Pagan for me is reconnecting to the Earth Mother, honoring the gods of old, our ancestors, and the nature spirits around us. It is being one with the web of life, no separate from it. Now... for some answers to those questions I keep getting asked. 

Do we eat babies? Well I can honestly say I have never ever once met a Pagan that would even consider eat or sacrificing a baby, not even an unbaptized one. That is seriously misinformation that is spread by those that fear losing their perceived dominance over other religions.

Do you sacrifice animals? Now this is a tricky one. Though most Pagans will tell you they do NOT and will NOT have anything to do with animal sacrifices there are a few traditions that still perform these. The most notifiable is Voodoo. Other than that you will not see or hear of this very often at all. Matter of fact, the majority of Pagans I have ever met are major animal lovers.

Do you worship naked? Well this is another tricky one. There are some traditions that work 'sky clad' which simply put is naked. Those that do tended to be rather closed circles for obvious reasons. The tradition I follow, ADF, does not allow nudity at its rites. We are a public tradition which does not lend itself to nudity. Besides do you really think the gods care if you are clothed or nor?

Do you have orgies? This is one of those questions that I always, ALWAYS, have a smart-ass answer to in my head. But that is where it stays because most people who ask this are doing so very seriously. The answer to this is: no group I have ever been a part of performed orgies of any kind. I have heard of groups that did, specifically related to Beltane (time of year associated with fertility rights). But again the tradition I belong to does not allow these kinds of activities.

Do you worship the Devil? No! No! No! No! And let me tell you why... The Devil, as people are 99.9% of the time referring too is part of the Christian faith. This means if someone is worshiping the Devil they are Christians, not Pagans. Though some Pagan traditions reflect a figure that can be cruel and sometimes extremely dark, over all we understand that the gods, much like humans, have a light and a dark side. This does not make them the Devil. 

          So yes, we modern Pagans can be a bit strange, even weird in some cases. We can be extremely eccentric but we are people who just want to connect to the divine in our own way. We try to live by the principles which govern our religion and spirits paths.

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