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What is Neoaganism?
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Earrach 1988, 1998 Sassafras Press

The term "Neopaganism" describes a mode of modern religious expression which uses many of the motifs and religious practices of ancient Western pre-Christian animisim, pantheism, and polytheism.

Being creative, eclectic and often openly pluralistic in their religious outlook, Neopaganism's followers reflect a wide range of theological positions, at once embracing those which would be defined as Theistic, as well as those deemed Humanist or Agnostic. Although in the minority, many of the latter consider such an apparent contradiction to be one of Neopaganism's central religious mysteries.

In adopting a positive use of the term "Pagan ," Neopagans are referencing its original meaning from the Latin which meant "rustic folk" or "follower of the old-ways" and do not mean to give the impression that their code of ethics is of any lower caliber than those of the other, "mainstream", western religions. Quite to the contrary, Neopaganism's very identity as a "nature-religion" reflects its desire to repair the damage done by the unethical ecological politics of mainstream western religion whose ethics have largely dwelt somewhere between "laissez-faire" and the principles of active exploitation.

'"The Earth is our mother; we must take care of Her. . ." '
-from a popular Neopagan chantsong based on an American Indian prayer

Some of the "traditions" (denominations) included under the umbrella-term "Neopagan" would be:

  • Goddess Worshipers
  • Wiccans ("Witches" -see "A word about . . . " at the end of this tract... )
  • Dianics ( Feminist or Womyn's Spirituality and Lesbian Spirituality )
  • Druids ( Celtic, and Pan Indo-European Religions )
  • Native American ( -particularly those open to persons not of Native American blood)
  • Shamanism
  • Asatru / Odinists ( Norse Religion or 'Northern Tradition' )
  • Ceremonial Magicians ( absolutely not so-called"Satanists" -see "A Note..." @ bottom of page )

Theological, symbolic, mythic, and cultural sources drawn upon:

  • Celtic mythology, folklore and customs (espec. Brit. Isles)
  • Scandinavian mythology
  • European & Middle Eastern Archaeology
  • Greek & Roman pantheon & mystery tradition
  • Mesopotamian & Sumerian mythology
  • Egyptian Mythology
  • The Kabbalah (Judaic Mysticism)
  • Hermetic Philosophy
  • Elemental Magic
  • The Tarot
  • Astrology
  • Native American Religions
  • Jungian Psychology

-and many other sources, both ancient and contemporary.

Duotheism, a common motif

- rare elsewhere, is central to many Neopagan systems.

"Worship" of:

  • The Lady of the Night (Female: Moon / Earth Mother) Dianic Triple-Goddess (Maiden, Mother, Crone)

'together with'

  • The Lord of the Day (Male: Sun / Sky Father) Cernunnos("horned one"): Celtic Kronos (sower/reaper)

These two grand aspects of existence, here polarly differentiated by terms of gender, are often addressed in a manner that could be described as an eco-mystical western Taoism. Marketed within Neopaganism as "the Old Religion" this is an essentially new approach to divinity for the Western mind; there's a profound lack of evidence to be found in support of its actual antiquity. To that extent, Neopaganisim is a religion of the future; not a religion of the past.


The Wheel of the Year (calendar of feasts)

The Quarterdays: The Crossquarterdays:
Dec. 21, 22: Yule Solstice February 1, 2: Imbolc
Mar. 20, 21: Vernal Equinox Apr. 30, May 1: Beltane
June 21, 22: Summer Solstice July 31, Aug. 1: Lammas
Sept.22, 23: Autumnal Equinox Oct. 31, Nov. 1: Samhain

Most Neopagans observe these festivals or holy-days which follow both the Astronomical Year and the old cycle of Celtic agricultural celebrations from the British Isles and Western Europe which were later Christianized and carried into our modern civic and religious calendar.


Rites:

 (forms of religious expression / methods of worship)
                                    
  • Ceremonial Invocation of the God/dess forms
  • Ecstatic Ritual (also Ritual Dance, Chanting, Drumming)
  • Ritual Drama (enactment of Religious Mysteries)
  • Elemental / Natural Magic
  • Healing and Divination

In a sense, each individual is a priest/ess synthesizing her/his own religious system. The forging of new abridged and revised versions of ancient mystery religions makes up the greatest part of the individual's personal activity in Neopaganism. It is therefore largely self-authored and tailored to the individual's spiritual and aesthetic needs.

Neopaganism steps forward and unabashedly lifts the veil from the creative character of spiritual expression and reveals:

'Religion is an Artform!'


A note about the relationship of Neopaganism to Christianity:

Some Neopagans refer to themselves as "witches" and to their religion as "Witchcraft", or "the Craft". The connotation here is a positive one and must be understood in the context of the historical roots of the movement and BY NO MEANS be taken to imply that Neopaganism has anything to do with Satanism or so-called "devil worship".

"The Devil", or "Satan", are concepts intrinsic to Christianity as are "the Saints", or "the Messiah", and have no relevance in Neopaganism whatsoever. Neopagans recognize that to believe in Satan, one must therefore accept the basic elements of the Christian world-view; in other words: to be a Satanist, or even to believe in Satan, one must BE a Christian.

Neopaganism is no more "devilish" or "evil" than Judaism, Mohammedism, Hinduism, or Buddhism; it is simply a somewhat new, somewhat old, NON-Christian religion.

Note: the content of this tract represents the opinion of the writer attempting an informed set of generalizations and should not be construed to be representative of the beliefs or practices any single individual. If you wish to know what an individual thinks, ask that individual.

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