Sunday, October 02, 2005

No 'paganism' without 'religion'?

This question may sound simplistic, naive or even ignorant. But I believe words and how they are used are powerful. They can shape thought and action. This question is one I re-visit (and it has been discussed here) many times. It's about the word 'religion'.

I have no problem with religions of any stripe (as long as live sacrifice or huge cash donations are not involved).

The problem is, I see a trend that while slowly growing for quite a while, is now at the 'top of the class'. Which is fine. But it puts quite a number of people out in the cold.

I spent quite a while this morning reading and re-reading the definitions here and other places as to what constitutes 'paganism'. Of course , the word religion came up a lot,i.e. "Paganism is a term for a number of religions" etc. Here's the twist:

What if one 'self-identifies' with paganism, but does not consider what they do a 'religion'. Following that logic, one can't call themselves a pagan.

I've noted a number of letters to beginners lately stating 'paganism is a religion'. Or, a number of posts with "What does your religion ask, tell, require of you" or "How do you see your religion in these terms ________" etc., etc.

I realize that for a lot of people here, this question is irrelevant. But it's important for those like myself who see this trend that all paganism can be neatly tucked in the box marked 'religion (s)' to understand if this is where 'paganism' stands in the world (at least the Western World) now.

Also, it causes one to pause before putting input into a thread or one has to preface everything with "Well, I don't have a 'religion', do I still have a say?" (yes, I know one does, what I mean is one gets the feeling after awhile that they are somewhere they don't belong, or have to 'ask permission', KWIM?)

So, do most people consider what they do 'religion'?

Is a 'Chaos magician' following a religion?
Is 'Reconstructionism' in whole 'religion'?
Is the belief and crafts which some follow which has been given the nomen 'witchcraft' , a religion?
Are Ceremonial Magicians (priests or acolytes) of a religion and would it be the Christian religion or a variant of it or something else entirely?

If all one does is magic, is that 'religion'? Of course, the answer is no, and yet it seems this is changing. Magic is something that can 'accompany' a religion , but cannot stand on it's own. (or, so some say).

And so forth.

Is it all 'religion' now? And please, this is a serious question and one that is being talked about among quite a few people. I am prepared for the 'what does it matter?' response, but it's a 'bigger' question, not just personal to me, but a question of what 'space' paganism occupies now in the culture.

Template by - Abdul Munir | Daya Earth Blogger Template