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Neo Pagans And Wicca


Shekinah
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Since going through some experiences and researching the inner side of religion for several years, I have wondered what's with the interest in the Neo-Pagan and Wicca stuff. I have no judgements on them at all. I'm sort of ignorant. I see the true nature of religion as an inner-leading to outer transformation of man. Seen in the contemplative/transformative side of the major traditions and practices. I don't see this in the Pagan practices. Am I missing it?

Are the gods and goddesses archetypes of the true nature of existence? Is there like a deeper mystery to the magic and practices?

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  • 8 months later...

Since going through some experiences and researching the inner side of religion for several years, I have wondered what's with the interest in the Neo-Pagan and Wicca stuff. I have no judgements on them at all. I'm sort of ignorant. I see the true nature of religion as an inner-leading to outer transformation of man. Seen in the contemplative/transformative side of the major traditions and practices. I don't see this in the Pagan practices. Am I missing it?

Are the gods and goddesses archetypes of the true nature of existence? Is there like a deeper mystery to the magic and practices?

 

Hi Shekinah. I just joined the other day and noticed your post. My wife is Wiccan and while I'm okay with it, it's not really my own cup of tea insofar as a spiritual path. I have, however, absorbed enough so I might be of a bit of help. At that, I can only speak specifically of Wicca and not other neo-pagan faiths, and even that only as my wife practices it. Any corrections and additions would be welcome. My wife did recommend one of her books, "The Truth about Witchcraft Today" by Scott Cunningham, as a good concise introduction so this may be of more help.

 

Well, here goes...Basically, connection to the divine specifically and predominantly through nature is the main distinctive of Wicca. It includes contemplation, but also involves actively trying to raise interior spiritual power through spiritual exercises, including esoteric exercises known as magick. Witches are encouraged to use this power ethically, believing that you get what you do to others (good or bad) returned threefold. (Why may be literal, or may be a symbolic way of saying you get more than you bargained for.) Presumably this does lead to inner and outer transformation, but with apologies I'm not really clear on how.

 

Wiccan sacred holidays or Sabbats are celebrated at, and approximately halfway between, solstices, and mark the Earth's yearly cycle of birth, growth, and death. Unfortunately the only major sabbat I can describe adequately offhand is the most holy sabbat, Samhain, more widely known as Halloween (Oct 31). On that day Wiccans mark the turn of the earth towards death, and also remember the dead who were close to them in life. The Christian All Saints Day is the next day and has a similar function, though of course adapted for Christian beliefs.

 

Wicca is open to both men and women, but in my admittedly limited experience seems more attractive to women than men. This is because it is arguably more friendly to women than mainstream Christianity, and it emphatically is more honoring of the feminine divine principle than mainstream Christianity usually is. This was one of the primary reasons why my wife converted.

 

I'm not much help on the issue of archetypes. There likely may be groups who worship a polytheistic pantheon where the god/esses thereof have their own individual existence. In my wife's own personal faith, there is one God, or at most a single separate male God and another separate Goddess, and all other deities are simply manifestations thereof.

 

I hope this helps some.

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  • 1 month later...

I have many neo-pagan and wiccan friends and have walked the neo-pagan path myself.

 

I will be happy to anwer, as best I can, questions people may have ragarding these paths.

 

Neo-paganism is generally seen as a revival or return to the roots of pre-Christian religion and spirituality, worshipping the Divine as made manifest in Nature.

 

Some neo-pagans have very strong negative feelings about Christianity, others consider themselves friends of Jesus.

Often the feminine aspects of divinity are given predominate regognition and worship as the Goddess.

 

There are probably as many different sects, sub-sects and belief systems in the Neo-pagan movement as there are in Christianity so it is difficult to make sweeping statements.

 

A good starting place for understanding the movement is the book "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margot Adler, anthropologist and NPR correspondent.

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DaveC,

 

In your experience, what would you say is the difference between neo-paganism and deism?

 

I'm attracted to deism because it seems to be rooted in rationality and real-world practicality rather than in faith and superstition. It affirms a Creator, but rejects revealed religion where "truth" is supposedly revealed to only one person or in only one book, etc. And the deists find evidence for God, not from stories and myths of miracles, but from looking at the design and life-affirming structure of nature.

 

Any thoughts on the similarities or differences between the two?

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  • 1 year later...

I do have a few wiccan friends. I see the same desire I have to improve on the triple love of Diety (however we may see/experience the divine), neighbor, and self. As such, I tend to see their spirituality as a manifestion of God's spirit working through them, just as I see God's spirit working in those who identify as "Christian" (among whom I find myself).

 

Unfortunately, I know very little about the specifics, particularly the ones you mention, Shekinah. I do hope to learn more from my friends though.

 

Peace!

Derek

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In having ventured and explored a bit into a number of faith and religions traditions both within my own religion of Christianity significantly different from my own, and other religious/faith traditions, one thing I have found consistently true. The range of just how, on a personal level, any member of any faith or religious tradtion community incorporates the principles and teachings of that tradtion varies as widely as it does in any religious community any of us might be more personally familiar with.

 

What I mean by that, just as we can easily see such a range in other Christians, from that of religion being simply a cultural/social context into which their life is set, for whom many of the traditions and ways of thinking are simply woven throughout their social adaptations, to those heavily invested in the trappings of their religion, yet on a superficial level, to those that embrace it fanatically, and beyond, to those that may not demonstrate open socially recognized forms associated with religion, but whom have embraced very fully and integrated very deeply the underlying principles and values.

 

Just as I've met Christians that make a big deal about putting Christ back into public and commercial Christimass celebrations, getting prayer back into schools and God back into the pledge of alliegence, that make an obvious show of bowing heads in prayer before eating in public, make church attendance an inviolable ritual in their lives, yet, to some of us here would seem to have entrely missed the most basic principles of what be Christian is about, so can such be found in any other tradition. And just as its hard to tell with many American Christians whether they've wrapped their cultural and ethnic identity and nationalism around their religious beleifs, or the other way around. so is true in other religious/faith traditions and people's ethnicity, culture, nation of origin, or race. Amercans are probably more observant of this when they look at muslims or Hindu, without recognizing it in themselves. Indeed, American Christians don't even seem to relate Christians of other cultures in the world to being as their own. I've encountered a lot of the entanglement with racial and cultural identiy among Native Americans, finding both close rapor with some deeply spiritual shamans, without regard to my racial or cultural heritage, while at the same time shunned and excluded despite my over 50% NA genetic heritage, for my not being full-blood, not clearly showing my genetic heritage in my physcial appearance, but most of all for my having been "raised white." I understand that to a good extent, many of those people have suffered wounding, crushed self-esteem, from discrimination and mistreatement in their history, and a sometimes desperate need to hold onto what distinguishes them as a unique people. My own full-blood Osage reservation-bron maternal grandmother's racial identity was changed to 'white' on the amended birth certificate issued when she was adopted by a white family, and all I know of my commanche paternal grandfather was he was considered 'that drunken Indian' that stayed around just long enough to impregnate my grandmother...my Dad was legally adopted by her second huband, who was to become the grandfather I knew. I later learned that grandmother herself had 'hidden' Seminole ancestry, hidden not just for the "Indian" part of that, but worse, that there was a lot of Negro blood known to have mixed into in the Seminoles! There was so much shame attached to it all.

 

In my encounters with Wiccans and other pagans, I saw a great deal of that variation, plus another, to me, quite uncomfortable one...that of many there not there for having the drawn toward Wicca so much as having rebelled, rejected, and run away from a Christian background, most often a fundamentalist evangelical background. It seemed also these whose interests, ideas, and practices of Wicca or other paganism were most likely to have incorporated at least some elements more correctly associated to Satanism. There is no place for Satanism in pure Wicca or paganism, for there is no belief in a Satan figure. What I felt was going on was just a different manifestation of the anger many raised in fundamentalist backgrounds have from it, their having turned to what their parents and other had hated the most.

 

That said, I did find rapor with some within those other traditions, from Wicca to Native American spirituality, and other religious tradtions, including Islam, especially Sufism. But what I discovered is that among the more mystic traditions, or at least among those most sincerely embraced into the mystical traditions, of many very different religions, is a thread of commonality, rapor, between the mystics of those different traditions that is stronger than the ties that bind each to its mainstream religious forms.

 

This makes trying to learn about any other religion a really two-phase endeavor...the beliefs and teachings and ritualized forms of 'organized' religion, which is very much cultural, ethnic, and social, and the entirely separate, the underlying spirituality.

 

Jenell

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  • 6 months later...

The concept of the Divine in nature is something that has absolutely always resonnated with me. I don't follow the Neo-Pagan/Wiccan way, personally, but I have always felt the presence of God in the natural elements very strongly.

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Neo-pagan is an interesting name to take as paganism is historically associated with polytheistic religion (like Zeus and his family and staff). I would have thought neo-animism would be more descriptive. But, nobody checked with me before naming the movement.

 

George

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