After taking a few days to step away from the "Pop Culture Pagan" controversy, I thought it would be interesting (and useful) to conduct a survey about modern Pagan and polytheist ideas about the notion of piety, in the hopes of uncovering more about the range of attitudes and approaches that are present in our religious movement concerning practices which are considered pious -- right acting, spiritually pure, whatever you want to call it.
I’ve been interested in Paganism for a few years, but I’ve gotten more serious about delving into it in the past month. I’ve been doing a ton of research and trying to read as much as I can about different viewpoints and paths within the umbrella term of Paganism. But I’m still so overwhelmed with all that is out there. I have so many questions I’m not finding answers to on the internet. So first of all I’m really wondering where I can find a teacher or mentor. I live in Madison, WI, which is a fairly open minded, liberal city, but I haven’t been able to find any groups that meet. Are there sites online where you can be paired with someone older and wiser, or do you suggest trying to forge a relationship in person.
Working with someone in-person will almost always be the best choice (and in some cases a requirement), when it comes to learning Pagan related material. Particularly if you are interested in any witchcraft or energy-based paths, attempting to learn via books or online can make it a daunting task. In general though, it will probably be somewhat difficult to find a mentor, until you are able to narrow down a particular path that you are interested in. In the meantime you can check places like Witchvox, where you can filter groups by state to see if there is anything near you. Occasionally you can find groups via Pagan Meetup as well.
As far as online resources, forums can be kind of hit or miss, with a lot of them being angsty drama filled areas, rife with misappropriation and misconceptions. So for a beginner it can be hard to navigate especially when you aren’t at a point where you are better able to distinguish good information from the bad. Having said that, I would suggest checking out the eCauldron Paganism for Beginners forum. They’ve been around for years, and seem to have done better than most at keeping it from getting too crazy around there (unlike some other more well known forums). Of course too you can always continue to ask questions here on the blog, or even via our FB page, or Tumblr page.
I tried my first ritual (a very simple one) for Beltane yesterday night, and I don’t feel like I did it “right”. I didn’t really get anything from it, or something?
First time rituals, especially for those who are practicing solitary are often less than spectacular. Part of it, is just because we are nervous and not entirely sure of what we are doing, and constantly wondering if we did it right, or if we have forgotten anything. As well, we have all these huge expectations, from what others have said, or what we’ve seen in movies, etc… and it’s usually not ever the same. Then sometimes, it’s just that “stuff” happens – even if we’ve done everything perfectly, the energy is off and it just wasn’t meant to be. All of which is perfectly normal, and the more often you practice and do ritual work, the easier it will get.
On that note though, if you are unsure of which path/religion you are interested in – what sort of Beltane ritual were you attempting? Not all Pagan paths celebrate Beltane – generally it’s only the Wiccan or NeoPagan related ones that do (though various others may have similar celebrations around that same time), so it could be too that it didn’t feel “right”, because it really wasn’t something that you are ultimately called to celebrate. The same holds if you called on a particular God or Goddess, it could also be that they choose not to respond, or that they are Gods of a path that you aren’t really being called to.
It’s also worth mentioning as well, that ritual workings are not typically an “instant” sort of thing. Especially if you follow a “Wheel of the Year” type model – what we plant in the Spring, we harvest in the Fall, and even outside of that framework, it can still (and often does) take time for energy/magic to manifest. So it may not be that it didn’t work, it’s just taking the appropriate time it needs to come to fruition.
Also, I’d done it outside, so I’d gathered all the materials together in a bag. I left it carelessly in my room when I got back in, and my mom noticed it in the morning (stuff was sort of falling out) and started looking through it, asking why I had candles and some clay bowls (which I’d borrowed without asking from her). I don’t want to tell her about my interest in Paganism quite yet, as I’m not even sure where I’m going myself. My family isn’t religious, and I know they’d be supportive, but my mom has a tendency to act like she understands when she doesn’t (she has good intentions). But she got really mad that I’d taken her stuff and kept asking why, and I couldn’t really think of an excuse. Should I tell her? I don’t really want to, but now she also thinks I was stealing or planning on selling her bowls. So overall, I’m sort of lost at the moment, but I also feel so happy about the idea of becoming further involved with this spirituality.
If you feel that she would be supportive (or at the very least not react negatively), then you should be honest with her, and explain that you are interested in Paganism, and that you were trying a basic holiday ritual. It’s definitely much better than being thought of as a liar or a thief.
While you are talking to her about it though, just let her know that you are still in the very beginning stages, and that you are still learning the basics. I would also apologize for taking her stuff, and let her know that you won’t do so again without permission (that could be why your ritual didn’t feel right either – if you were using items that didn’t belong to you, and you didn’t have the owner’s permission, it could definitely have affected the energy).
Overall, as mentioned previously – continue to study, and work on figuring out what particular path you are interested in. While there are a myriad of paths out there, as well as the potential to choose an Eclectic path (which requires quite a bit more work than one would think), it can also be fun to learn about the different cultures and practices associated with each one. So don’t stress too much if you start feeling overwhelmed, just take your time and eventually it will work itself out.
I have a difficult situation. My ex who is Wiccan was showing me various types of rituals and spells throughout our relationship. One of which was a “soul binding” spell which was intermixed with a handfasting. He explained it in brief to me and I was open to learning more about his religion, but after our relationship ended on what he would consider a rocky note, odd things have been occuring. Now I was raised Catholic and identify Christian but also have a strong base in spirituality, so I am not sure if I am just paranoid about the odd things happening or if it is real. From what I understand, what he performed is not “breakable” and tied his and my soul together possibly for eternity. Anyways, on to the weird things. I thought that I was completely over him, but of recent I have been thinking about him frequently as well has having dreams about him and a strong desire to be with him (even though he supposedly moved across the country from me and has since disconnected his phone so there is no way that I or even his family (from what I know) can get a hold of him). I talked to him just before he left nearly two months ago, he was wishy washy about wanting to stop by and say goodbye, which he didn’t do and left the last conversation saying “I have too much to do” and hung up. He did say that he can never be around me again because he “doesn’t trust himself” around me (as to not wanting more physically or emotionally) and had said that he was going to come back in a few years after he got done with this education program he apparently enrolled in and wanted me and my children to uproot and move with him where ever he was (NOT going to happen). I’ve known him since we were young kids and am close to his family, so this is especially hard to have him completely shut me out of his life, but up until recently I was just fine with it and had moved on.
A friend of mine who is Wiccian confirmed everything he had told me in reguards to this soul binding, but explained further that you cannot undo it and that you will forever be tied to that person, feel what they feel, have a part of them tied into you forever. This frightens me because as I later found out he has some serious problems mentally/emotionally. I just want this to go away. Is there anything I can do?
Something to keep in mind – if the two of you have known each other for most of your lives, and were close for a good bit of that time, as friends and then later romantically, it is very natural (and normal) for you to think about him – even if it seems random or out of the blue. When we have known someone for such a long period of time, odds are you will continue to “love” them in a way, even if you are no longer “in love with them” , or even want to have any type of relationship with them. The fact is that they have been there through a large part of your life, and that doesn’t just go away just because you split up and one party has since moved far away, or lost contact. You will likely continue to think about him off and on for many years to come – regardless of any ritual that was performed.
As to said ritual… I’ll be honest, the person who came up with the idea of a “soul binding” ritual should be beat with a stick (at the very least). It sounds perfectly romantic when you are reveling in the joys of new lover bliss – the idea of being with the one you love for all eternity. But the actual fact of the matter, is that keeping any sort of committed relationship (marriage or otherwise) together for the long-term, even within one lifetime, is difficult at best and takes a lot of hard work. So the idea of binding oneself on an energetic level to someone else through multiple lifetimes, when the odds aren’t even in favor of you sticking it out in this one, is folly. Inevitably the bliss wears off, and you are stuck (in a manner of speaking) with this person that – even when you part from them for perfectly good reasons, in theory you are now potentially going to be miserable for the rest of this life, and into the next when you aren’t with them. So even if you meet someone else who is perfectly wonderful and compatible with you, because of this ritual you may always find yourself feeling as if a part of you is missing – when in reality (if you hadn’t done the ritual), you might have been truly happy. It’s worth noting too, that for him to do this sort of ritual with you, without properly explaining the consequences of doing such a thing, is pretty reprehensible.
I’m not even sure I’d consider a “soul binding” on my deathbed, even if I’d been deliriously happily married to the same person for 50+ years. While the idea is nice, it seems that if someone was truly meant to be my soulmate, then we would already be bound – so there is no need to manually force the issue. Even if we aren’t together in every lifetime, odds are we will meet up again and again throughout our incarnations. Besides the alternative is much worse – being stuck with someone who you have later determined is not “the one”. Potentially as well, just because we are happy in this life, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other happy opportunities to come in future ones with other people, and doing such a ritual, would change those coming experiences.
Having said all that, your best bet would be a parting ritual of sorts. It may not completely sever the ties, especially since you have no way for him to participate with you, but it should help to minimize some of the effects of the original ritual.
The following is a really simple and to the point “Parting Ways” ritual that you can do. Ideally you would want him to do the ritual with you, but as that’s not possible, if you have an item that represents him that should be fine. Also if you have a picture of the two of you together (that you don’t mind cutting up), that would be good as well – or any other symbol of the two of you together (that can be cut in half).
- Normally you would do an “ending” spell with the waning moon, however as this one is focused more on starting fresh, you could do it with either. Other than that it’s fairly simple – just say it like you mean it.
our paths diverged
new lives to start
what once was merged
here now must part
with blessings bright
we’ll start anew
the time is right
we know it’s true
- While chanting the words, focus on the image or item that symbolizes the two of you being bound together – visualize each of you going your separate ways, and then physically cut the image/item in half – literally cutting the ties that bind you together. Chanting is a good way to raise energy, so if you want to you, can say the chant several times as you cut (helps to reinforce and gives added focus). Three times is always been a sort of magical number, or you can correspond it to the number of years the two of you were together (since you did the original ritual), whatever feels right. Once you are finished you can either bury the leftover pieces of the picture/item, or burn them – again whatever works best for you.
I also would suggest checking out this previous post on Dissolving a Handfasting, which while not quite the same situation, there are some correlations, and the information and example rituals there might be useful to you.
I could not find where to specifically ask a question, so I apologize if this winds up attached to someones blog. So I have been Shaman for a long time, but an atheist one. I did not believe in any gods or goddesses. The last few years Odin and Freya have been appearing to me. I started to believe in them and wanted to identify with their tradition.
My husband practices what is called Asatru, but he prefers to be called heathen. I found out why, when researching our faith every American Asatru network was connected to neo nazisim and the most hateful practices.
I am so upset and I feel like I am losing my faith. My husband swears those people are not part of actual Asatru, and that this is why most followers of Asatru now just call themselves Norse Pagans or Heathens. The Odin and Freya I am familiar with were the most loving beings I’ve ever encountered and I feel like a whole that was filled is being emptied. As the mass American belief in this is so horrible I don’t know how to find what the information I need. I am scared that the whole belief might be like this and I just didn’t realize. I hope it’s not true, because for the first time in my life I felt fulfilled and at peace, and then I went to research it and everything changed. I’ve been told repeatedly by my husband that what I do, healing people, healing nature, communing with spirits and following the example of Odin and Freya is what the religious followers actually do and the other people just perverted and poisoned it, but the problem is is that I cannot find ANY information on the old ways, which is what we both practice. I will never ever associate myself with neo nazism, even if it means losing my religion, but I hope my husband is right. That those people perverted it and what they do has nothing in common with true Asatru. Sorry for how long this is, this has been really hard on me. Any help would be wonderfully welcomed.
Your husband is correct – as with any religion there are always going to be those who are fanatics, or who just completely misuse or misinterpret things and go off on their own crazy path, and in that sense these NeoNazi groups that you’ve come across are about as legitimately Asatru as the Westboro Baptist Church is Christian… which is to say not at all (regardless of what they might claim to be). Also, even though certain religions may be more popular with those who might identify as white supremacists, that does not mean that the religions themselves are racist, or promote racism in any way. Not sure why your searches are only turning up those sorts of resources but they are definitely not the norm by any stretch, and in fact there is very little in the lore that supports any sort of racism, or hatred such as those groups espouse. It’s unfortunate as well, that the media often picks up on these types of groups, which makes it seem that they are all like that, when in truth it’s only a very small representation, and not a very accurate one at that.
There are a small number of groups that take a more “folkish” view of things – in that they feel that one must have Norse or Germanic blood in order to practice Asatru. They consider it more of a tribal religion, related to one’s own culture, rather than a more open religion that can be practiced by anyone. Again though – this is not how the majority of those who practice see the religion at all, and while in a technical sense these folkish groups are often referred to as being racist, it’s not anywhere near on the same scale as the violent NeoNazi groups. It’s also not a case where they feel being a particular skin color is better or worse than anyone else, it’s a matter of feeling that the religion is tied to one’s ancestry, and thus closed to “outsiders”.
As far as practices and beliefs, as well as general history of the Norse culture and customs, Gods and Goddess, etc… I would suggest picking the following:
- Our Troth Vol I and II by Kveldulf Gundarsson (somewhat expensive but well worth the price).
- The Poetic and Prose Eddas (which can be found online at Sacred Texts)
- Gods and Myths of Northern Europe by H.R. Ellis Davidson
- Essential Asatru by Diana L Paxson (is a brief overview, but covers the basics in an easy to read format).
As far as online resources there’s:
Definitely can be a bit upsetting when you think that what you’ve been called to may not quite be what it seemed, but in this case you really don’t have anything to worry about. :)
Hi, i’m new to paganism and am wondering about Pan, and if he is a loving deity. I think our culture has stereotyped the idea of the devil so much that searching for understanding/differences/alternatives is difficult. I’ve heard of the green-woman but not very much about her. Goddesses interest me, its just that compared to the hypocritical ideas in christian religions of a loving god + hell, other kinds of male deities interest me too… i’d like to believe in good ones in general that work for me.
Going strictly by the original lore – I wouldn’t really categorize Pan as a “loving” deity, at least not in the sense I think you mean. Clearly he’s not one deserving to be vilified as he has been, but he’s also not necessarily gentle and kind either. Though primarily a God of “shepherds and flocks, of mountain wilds, hunting and rustic music”, there is also a good reason why his name can be seen in the word “panic”. As a companion of Dionysus, he is more rightfully associated with pleasure and wild abandon, instead of more placid pursuits. As such, he was often found chasing Nymphs, though they they clearly did not return his affections, and in many cases went to extreme lengths to avoid being “caught”.
If you are interested in getting a pretty detailed picture of Pan, at least as far as the lore is concerned, I would suggest reading over the Theoi Project page on him. It’s a great overview and links to the related texts and source materials, which you can use for further research.
The thing to keep in mind with most Gods and Goddesses, at least from a Pagan perspective, is that “good” and “bad” are sort of relative terms – it’s usually not so cut and dry. While some Gods or Goddesses may be more caring and loving (or whatever other “good” qualities one might look for), in many cases it’s more a matter of them having good days and bad days just like everyone else. The question to ask too, is… What is “good”/“bad”? Some people don’t like to acknowledge things that make them uncomfortable, even if those things are perfectly normal or necessary. From a more conservative perspective “pleasure” and “wild abandon” are often considered taboo, yet there can be joy and even healing in such actions. To be sure, too much of anything can be a bad thing (and there is definitely the potential for it to be taken to an extreme with Pan), but even so, letting our hair down every once in awhile is a wonderful release.
If you are just looking for “good” Gods to work with, you may have a difficult time finding what you are looking for. There are many Gods who are known for being kindly, and/or less demanding than others, but even most of those have another side to them as well. If there is a particular God or Goddess that you feel called to, it’s probably going to be a matter of either accepting them as they are, or declining the call. It usually doesn’t work out very well when we try to force our Gods into being something that they really aren’t.
For those following us – if any of you work with Pan on a regular basis, please feel free to share (as much as you are able, or willing to) any personal experiences, that would give more insight as to his general nature. We’d love to hear from you!!
I was curious about something I have heard of in pop culture as well as many ancient stories from around the globe, the usage of curses or “dark magic.” I have heard from many pagans that dark magic doesn’t exist and from others that it does exist but it is a double edged sword. the ones who say it exists say that if you tried to curse or hex someone you would also curse/hex yourself because the energy gathered to preform the curse/hex would first flow through yourself. The others say that it is impossible to use magic in that way. What are your thoughts?
It never fails… spend enough time browsing around any sort of Witchcraft related book, site, forum, etc… and eventually you will come across comments that describe magic in terms of color. While there are a variety of shades that might come to mind, the most commonly seen tend to relate to “black” and “white” magic – which of course (more often than not), leads one into the “dark” vs. “light” conversations as well.
While labels are sometimes useful – in that they can help us to understand an idea or concept at a glance; the converse is, that one word rarely conveys everything, which then leads to misinformation or misunderstanding. In this case, the truth is that assigning color to magic, shows a fundamental lack of understanding of exactly how magic works.
It probably shouldn’t be surprising that this happens, so many books out there are trying desperately to cater to the “rainbows and ponies” world vision when it comes to the Craft. So long as it’s presented with glitter and sparkles, then how could it possibly be wrong, or hurtful? After all, white/light is good, and black/dark is bad – right? Ehh… not so much, as both are genuinely necessary “forces” in the universe.
At its most basic, magic is simply manifesting a desired goal, or affecting a desired change through force of will. The fundamental lack of understanding that I mentioned above comes in, right about here – magic has almost entirely to do with the intent of the person casting it. This means that a spell which might typically be considered “white”, can absolutely be used to cause harm, while one that could be considered “black” can be used to heal. A good example of this is magic that can be used when working with someone who has cancer, in which banishment spells (considered “black magic” by many) are often used.
The point in all of this, is that magic is colorless, and if one is going to do magic (be it witchcraft, or any other form that one might choose), then it’s something that we all need to accept. Magic is what it is, and the only thing that really matters at the end of the day, is how we use it. And while there may be many people who will never cast a hex or curse in their life (or even consider the thought), the fact is that there may be times when one is justified, and in most cases there is nothing that prevents anyone from doing so, if they should choose to.
As to energetic issues resulting from cursing/hexing, there is always the potential for backlash (of a sort) if one doesn’t ground properly, but that is true of any magical working. In the same way that magic is colorless, when you are raising energy, it’s just “energy” – it hasn’t been shaped or focused to any particular purpose. When you do purpose it, it’s being directed into (or at) something/someone else, so even though the energy comes from you, or as a result of your actions, you are only the channel for that particular component, not the actual mixing bowl (so to speak). Sort of like baking – you gather up your ingredients, and mix them all in a separate container. So even if the milk comes from a jug, the jug doesn’t get dirty because you’ve poured just the milk you need into the bowl, and then sealed the jug back up to use next time.
Only real instance where such a thing could be plausible, would be if you ask deity/spirit/entities, etc… to work through you, or to use your body as a conduit of a sort – which potentially could leave “residue”. But it’s still more of a grounding/shielding issue, which typically isn’t lasting (unless you somehow manage to screw something up big time). Guess too though, it would depend to what degree (if any) someone holds to the Three-Fold Law, or similar concept. I could see where someone could find themselves regretting a curse/hex, and it probably causing them to feel like they were cursed instead (by the guilt).
Along with that though, if one does hold strongly to a concept like the TFL, (or something like the Eclectic interpretation of “an it harm none“) there could potentially be actual backlash if one verbally incorporates it as an oath in a working. If you always invoke some such as a part of your ritual language, for example, it will become a part of your magical practice that actually has impact. You would then have given this idea power to affect you through your own words and actions.
So… long story short, it really depends on the person, the Tradition/Path involved, and any number of other factors. It’s just not one of those things that is going to be the same for everyone, which is really somewhat typical of many things related to Witchcraft, and even Paganism in general.
Our sincerest apologies for not posting the last month or so. Seems like the last Mercury Retrograde of the year hit hard, and despite it heading off on it’s merry way a couple weeks into November, between the Holidays and everything else, posting fell to the wayside. (Must of been all the prepping for the end of the world!! XD) In any case hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season, and as always we would love to hear about your experiences.
In November we celebrated we not only celebrated our One Year Anniversary, but we also passed our 10,000 view milesote!! So we are definitely excited about that. Here’s to a prosperous and joyous 2013 as we continue our journey together!!! It’s already off to a great start, as we have 2 questions lined up for the month, and we are looking forward to many more. So if you’ve got a question you’ve been dying to know the answer too, or need a different perspective on – please feel free to ask!! That’s what we are here for. We will also be continuing the Pagan Insights Project, so feel free to join us in that as well!!
For those that are interested – The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report us, so if you’d like to check out some of the highlights that you missed…
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 11,000 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 18 years to get that many views.
Happy New Year!!! :)
Hello. I find myself in a number of a tough spots concerning my spirituality.
I am a male eclectic who tends to consult the female divine before the male, with an emphasis on the Norse gods of my ancestors, though I also worship Lilith.
But this has created a number of problems for me, as I live in a strongly christian family and community.
My worship of Lilith has led to me being likened to a virtual satanist by members of my parent’s church, and I am often ignored completely by those people, even when I volunteer my time and effort to help them set up sound or computer equipment as an act of good will. Nobody speaks to me unless they have no other choice, yet when I was a christian, they were the nicest possible people to me.
My parents are a little better, but they still repeatedly try to convert me to Christianity by trying to guilt me, or worse yet by calling the stories of my Norse ancestors, which I cherish as much as any christian cherishes the word of Christ, “fictional tales”, which I find deeply insulting on a number of levels. I love the gods and stories of my ancestors, and I wish that my parents could respect that, if only when I was around, at the very least.
It’s sad, because I feel I should be able to speak to my own parents about spiritual matters without facing constant ridicule.
Despite my friends who are all supportive of my path, I feel very alone, and I would like to know how I might approach these situations in a manner that is kinder and more respectful than how I have been treated so far.
Not sure how old you are, and if you are still living at home then I’ll speak to that as well a bit later on, however if you’ve tried being nice and/or the “smile and nod” approach whenever they start denigrating your beliefs, then it’s probably time to be more forceful about it all. Make it very clear that if they can’t respect you and your beliefs, that they need to either keep it to themselves, or if they can’t manage that, then (if you feel strongly enough about it) you need to tell them that you want nothing to do with them – at least until they can stop being rude and disrespectful to you. It may seem harsh, but if you don’t – they will likely keep harping at you over it. It’s understandable, as in their minds they are attempting to save you from “Hell”, so on the one hand, we should (in some small way) appreciate their concern. Of course on the other, we aren’t in need of that “saving”, so it’s annoying at the very least, and at worst abusive and hurtful.
The flip side, would be to continue trying to educate them, so that they can understand that you aren’t a Satanist (or that even if you were – that’s not a bad thing). I would also maybe make it clear as well, that there is very little difference between the Bible, and something like the Eddas and other Sagas – in terms of provable facts (certain things may have basis in history, but on the whole, not so much). So if they feel that your sacred texts, are just a bunch of stories, turn the tables on them, and see how they like it. If they complain that you are being disrespectful to them, or about their beliefs – mention that they’ve been doing the same to you, and if they don’t like how it feels, then at least now they know how you’ve been feeling. Hopefully they will get the point and stop.
Of course in the end they still may not stop, and unfortunately there’s just not much that can be done about it, other than to (as I mentioned previously) limit contact. Personally if I was helping out at a church, and they were being rude or disrespectful to me, I’d stop volunteering my time there. There’s no need to put up with that sort of thing. It’s probably worth mentioning as well though, that this is one of the unfortunate pitfalls of being open about our beliefs. So once we’ve made that choice to tell others, then we have to accept that it’s probably going to be a bumpy ride – at least for a while.
If you are still living at home, or are underage, things are a bit more tricky. The key is to be really calm and respectful about it – since it’s their house… their rules, however I would explain to them how the way they’ve been treating you makes you feel, and that you would appreciate it if they would please stop. If they are not open at all to being understanding of your situation, you may seriously need to consider going back into the “broom closet”. There is a point where it’s not worth it to be open, and if it’s negatively impacting your life, then that may be the best option. It’s definitely not fair to us (I’ve had to do it before), but if it makes things a bit more manageable, then it’s something to think about. This doesn’t mean you have to turn around and pretend to embrace their beliefs either – we definitely do not advocate lying to one’s parents, but if you remove any outward signs of your beliefs/practices, then whatever assumptions they want to make are up to them.
October has been a very busy month, not only on at TIP, but off-line as well, so definitely still trying to play a bit of catch-up. We”d also like to take this opportunity to send out a bit of love to all those who have been affected by Hurricane Sandy, and wishing a speedy recovery from any damages or injuries that have been incurred. <3 <3
If you are new to the Pagan Insights Project, we’d like to take this opportunity to welcome you. If you you’ve been us since the start, we’d like to say a big thank you as well. We’ve really enjoyed reading your posts, and are looking forward to seeing further insights from everyone in the month of November.
Again if you are just joining us, please check out the main Pagan Insights Project page (linked above), and be sure to add your blog to the list of those who are participating. We also encourage everyone to leave a comment below, letting us know how you are doing with the project. If there is a particular PIP post from October that you feel is particularly worth sharing, please feel free to link it in comments as well.
Also a reminder, we are always looking for reader submissions for our Sacred Moments posts, so if you have a devotional, prayer, chant, please feel free to send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org This can also include images of your altar or shrine, as it’s decorated for a particular ritual or celebration, or art work as well. If there is a particular TIP you’d like to see, please feel free to let us know. And of course, if you have any questions… just Ask A Pagan… we’re always happy to help!
Have a wonderful November!!
What does Paganism say about sexual orientation, if anything?
In a technical sense – Paganism, being an umbrella term that encompasses all non-Abrahamic religions - doesn’t really say anything at all, as each of the paths and religions under that umbrella may (or may not) have their own ways of dealing with the issue.
Having said that though, I think it’s fairly safe to say that in a more general sense many Pagans and their associated religions are in some ways more welcoming, or at least more sensitive to the LGBT community, than many of the more mainstream religions might be. However, that is not to say that you won’t find anti-gay, or even downright homophobic individuals or groups within Paganism as a whole.
Some traditions/paths that do have known stances…
- If you look at recent events at PantheaCon the last couple years, to the controversy surrounding “women” only rituals and the comments and actions of Z Budapest (founder of Dianic Witchcraft). This is an ongoing case where it is clear that those who are transgender, are particularly not welcome within certain paths.
- We often hear about racism within some Heathen groups (though it’s important to note that this is not something that is at all condoned by the wider Heathen community), and along with that often comes homophobic sentiments as well. Interestingly in this particular case, it’s something that is not necessarily supported by the lore, as there are definite cases where the Gods – Þórr and Loki in particular, take on gender-opposite roles. In the Þrymskviða, (Poetic Edda) Þórr dresses up as Freyja in order to retrieve Mjölnir, which the jotnar Þrymr has stolen. In the Gylfaginning (Prose Edda), we learn that Loki is actually a mother. Having changed himself into a female mare in order to save Asgard from losing Freyja and the Sun and Moon, and as a result gives birth to Sleipnir. There is some indication though that it may have been considered “unmanly” for a man to do “women’s” work, however that didn’t stop Óðinn from learning Seidh. The following is an interesting read on the topic in general.
- Within Wicca specifically, though Gardner himself was known to be extremely homophobic, my understanding is that many covens will welcome those who are LGBT. Something to keep in mind though, is that though one’s sexual preference, when one is not working with one’s coven, is generally up to them – due to the nature of the religion (being a fertility cult and all that entails), within ritual work, it all comes down to the plumbing (so to speak). Men take on the traditional male rolls, women take on the traditional female rolls, regardless of one’s normal sexual preference.
- There are various groups who are completely inclusive, and clearly welcoming to those of all orientations or gender identities, there is Reclaiming, or Feri, and some Traditional Witchcraft paths – though those are more apt to be gender specific, such as the Minoan Brotherhood, or Dianic.
So in general there are many choices if one is looking for LGBT support within the Pagan community. Of course like any where else in life (at least until we can get to a point where one’s sexual preference/gender identity is no longer an issue), it’s matter of finding place that fits us the best.