As I have had this blog for awhile, I realize that there are few topics where I have change my views or grown in understanding. Therefore, from to time to time, I will be updating and correcting or adding to some of my older posts.
This is a update of my original post defining Pagan/Paganism.
First off, we should start by acknowledging that there is no agree upon definition of Pagan or Paganism. Though many might think this lack of clarity is unique to Pagans, disagreement on religious terms are quite common within traditions and the academic world. For instance, the definition of a Christian or ritual is still unclear in religious studies.
Being that there is tons of debates and infighting around the words Pagan and Paganism, some people refuse to define them at all. Settling instead by describing Paganism simply as a ” Umbrella or blanket term for various religions.” While, this description can be useful in certain incidences, it is not much help as a formal definition for students, professors, writers and lecturers whose audiences may need more insight. My personal suggestion for defining Paganism especially in formal writing is to do your own research, form your own opinion, offer a definition that fits your topic, audience and your understanding but be ready to defend your findings. Also, be flexible as your definition may be different given the topic, your experience or setting. For instance, a general and most inclusive definition may work for a big tent Paganism event while a nature based one may be more suitable for a ecology paper or a feminist one for a Women’s group.
Below are some definitions of Paganism ( all of which are acceptable in some circles and rejected in others)
Paganism is or a Pagan is a follower of…
* A nature, earth, universe based religion
* A polytheistic religion
* A Non monotheistic religion
* A Non- Christian religion
* A Non- Abrahamic religion
* A folk or ethnic religion
* A historical ethnic religion
* A magic based religion
* Cyber Pagan tradition
* An umbrella term for religions who deem themselves Pagans
Original meanings of Pagan/paganism
* Poor, Rural folk
* Country dweller
* ” Of the land”
Use as Slur
( none of these things are inherently bad but the term was meant as a bad thing for these groups or as a means of lumping groups together incorrectly)
* as a label for Non-Christian
* as a label for those not saved or doomed
* as a term meaning Satan Worshiper
* as a label for Black/Brown/Indigenous religions
* as a label for Jewish people.
One this blog, Paganism will usually refer to nature based, folk and magical traditions. I do talk about Hinduism and Buddhism however I prefer the term Asian, Eastern or Karmic religions for those traditions ( though I feel those who follow these traditions can call themselves whatever they please). I do not use Paganism as a blank term for all non- Abrahamic religions as some still view Pagan as a slur. Also, many religions have their own and more appropriate designations.
I also think Pagan is a reclaimed word and not everyone should have access to it. It is usually a word for religions and people who are outsiders or marginalized and is used to reclaim their roots or power.