Monday, July 10, 2006

Pagan Misconception #3

Pagan Misconception #3 – Paganism/Wicca can be whatever you want it to be.

Yes, there are different denominations of Pagan religions, but that doesn’t mean that you can make them what you want. That is one of the points of proclaiming that you are a part of a religion. It tells people a little bit about you and your beliefs, without having to explain everything. Contrary to common understanding, Pagan religions do have specific beliefs, ethics and Gods.

This is a misconception that is used against Pagans all the time. Critics use this one as a way to “prove” that this set of religions isn’t vaild. When you say that Paganism can be whatever you want, you seem to be saying that you can ignore the parts of the religion that you don’t like. Your choice of religion is a serious decision and if you make light of it by ignoring the issues that you don’t like, it make your choice seem trivial and it is then easy for others to question the choice that you have made.

Where did this misconception come from? This is something that I saw many times while looking at websites about ten years ago. It was mostly from Pagans themselves claiming that their religion allows them to believe whatever they want. I do think that this is a product of learning how to define what Paganism is, especially being that that it is a newish set of religions. While it is not something that claimed as often as is used to be, it is something that has stuck in people’s mind.

Here is a great article about this misconception from Witches Voice.


Dr. Greg Brown said...

Are you familiar with Hiebert's book, Understanding Folk Religion? It is decidedly a Christian book written primarily for that audience. Yet, I think you would find the book in substantial agreement with what you are saying in this post at least in terms of the beliefs that have traditionally been labeled "Pagan." The book builds a very scholarly framework in order ot get people who are often from very narrow backgrounds and beliefs to recognize that these beliefs are real, complete, and meet real needs in the lives of those who practice them.

But, near the end you stated that paganism represents "newish" religions? That puzzled me enough to wonder if I am correctly reading the rest of what you are saying.


Sojourner said...

I was mostly referring to Wicca and the other similar earth religions that that had their start when Wicca was introduced by Gerald Gardner in the 1950's.

In the scheme of things, they are rather "newish." Most Pagans today do not claim that their religion comes from an ancient religion.

Thanks for the book recommendation. I am always interested in new books to read. I will check it out.

Cosette said...

Thanks for this entry. This is one of my biggest pet peeves.

Sojourner said...

It is mine as well. This is the misconception that really makes Wicca look "fluffy."