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Occasionally I wandered in where I was not wanted and gave truthful answers.
Sometimes I even did it deliberately. A little disruption now can prevent disaster later.

Really real pagan

Mercury retrograde      Lady in the Court of Stars      waning gibbous moon

Last week there was a piece at The Wild Hunt about the need for pagan homelands. Intentionally or not, this came across as "more pagan than thou."

I live in a 50s tract house, fairly well maintained but nothing fancy. Most people would not call it pagan. I've talked before about how I am very much a technopagan. I like my internet. I like my clean sheets and hot running water. I like being able to get fresh food at the grocery store without growing it myself.

That might be where we need to start. Gardening takes time and effort. My time spent spreading compost and pulling weeds takes time and effort away from other things. As it happens, I enjoy it. As long as it doesn't get to be too much. There's a tradeoff, I would rather spend money getting reasonably fresh food than getting it all myself. I don't have space to keep a goat or a cow, so if I want milk I either get a bigger place or I go to the store.

Even something like chickens takes time.

And if I want meat, that complicates things. Butchering animals takes skill and a strong stomach. If you butcher a large animal, that means storing the extra meat once it's dressed out.

Freezers aren't very "pagan."

Other commenters in the original thread mention medical procedures and medicine. I can't help but think of all the things we'd give up. I'm a naturist, but I also really like being warm. That means clothing and especially fuzzy socks.

There are tools I love using all the time. Give me my Leatherman. Paracord and duct tape are some of the amazing things ever.

Then there is my water cooler. Hot or cold water on demand, freshly distilled and sanitary water.

Don't knock it, billions of people live without it.

So what on Earth is a really real pagan?

According to some members of the Big Three monotheisms, it's a smear word. Pagans worship multiple gods and haven't evolved enough to worship the One True God®. Of course, they're busy arguing over which One True God® and if this One is an aspect of that One and if this other can be Three-In-One. Maybe a monotheist answer isn't the best one.

Are the Australian aborigines and the Native Americans pagan? There have been libraries of books arguing over that one. Throw in the various African faiths and things get more complicated. Some gods and spirits seem to belong to several cultures, some do not. About all they share is that they are not the Big Three monotheisms.

But neither are atheists or agnostics.

Frankly, I don't think the Big Three monotheisms serve as a good standard measure. It's too easy to say that anything that fits the measure is GOOD and anything that doesn't is EVIL. And if you dare question the measure, well, it won't be pretty and you'll probably be labeled EVIL for the rest of your days.

Even if the label doesn't quite fit.

That's the problem with labeling something using something that it is not. Bonewits called it dualism. A or NOT A. All that is A is good while all that is NOT A is evil.

The first thing we need to do is limit our scope. All that is not monotheism is not necessarily pagan.

Pagans look for and experience the natural cycles around them.

The wheel of the year, the moon cycle, greeting the sun, these are all examples of natural cycles. These are not the only natural cycles. Not every pagan will use these.

Pagans recognize more than one god. Or at least more than one godmask. Stars above, I could write books on that. At it's simplest, Shiva is not Loki who is not Brighid. Do not treat each of them the same. Do not expect the same from each of them. Respect them on their terms and make that respect a part of your life.

I just did another rule of three again, didn't I?

Since I did, let's round this out with a third distinguishing feature for pagans.

Paganism is an experienced faith, not a revealed one. And I have written this before.

Way back when before humans started writing things down, matters of faith were broken into two parts. The Outer Mysteries, the forms of the rituals, the introducing of the supplicant to the gods, these were the things that everyone was expected to do. This was the "going through the motions," the revealed part of faith.

The Inner Mysteries, those were reserved for the priests and priestesses, the intermediaries between the gods and this world. This was the point where the worshipper moved through the forms to what lay on the other side. This was the Ordeal, the Fool Stepping into the Abyss, the Binding and Loosening, or any of a thousand other descriptions that don't quite describe it.

The Outer Mysteries give the forms, but the Inner reveal the reasons for the forms.

It is the difference between the Story and the Journey. One is told while the other is lived. The only two purposes of the story are to honor the memory of those who have gone before and to teach you to recognize where the path begins for your own journey. The rituals are not the faith. The map is not the territory. The words are not the thing. You can only be responsible for your journey alone because it is your journey and no one else’s.
Recognizing and respecting the World makes you pagan enough for me.

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A narrow slice of life, but now and again pondering American neopaganism, modern adult pagans & the World.

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