Defining "Pagan" – Seriously?

I’ve been skimming through a lot of the stuff over on the Wild Hunt concerning this debate over what is and what isn’t “Pagan” or “pagan”.  I say that I skimmed the material because there’s really only so much of this kind of “debate” that I can read before my eyes roll up in my head and I start looking for other things to do.  I’ve heard the debates over what is or isn’t Pagan — and usually when stuff like this kicks up, I excuse myself quietly from the conversation and find something else to do or somewhere else to be.  Sitting around and arguing over a concept of what doesn’t meet muster to some definition of what is or isn’t “Pagan” has that same feeling of arguing over who is more correct in running this country:  Liberals or Conservatives?  Honestly, if I had the chance to gather around a fire with a group of Pagans with a wide range of beliefs and backgrounds – the last thing I want to do is get into some inane argument over whose beliefs are more “correct”.  That makes about as much sense to me as lining up a group of guys and seeing who can piss the furthest.  I’d rather spend my time celebrating the fact that we have a common thread of wanting to be around the fire, sharing a gorgeous evening under the stars (or the sun if its daylight) through singing, laughing, dancing, and story-telling.  I’d rather spend the time cementing a friendship based on what we have in common, instead of finding ways to differentiate ourselves from one another.

Don’t get my point of view twisted out of line here.  I’m not saying that Pagans should squish debate over such things.  Far from it.  Debate is a healthy thing – when it is started from a place of commonality not from a line of differentiation.  When that common ground is met and understood – debate on the differences can be had.  The key is to hold on to the common concepts and not let the differences become the overwhelming dominator in the conversation.  Discussion on differences should always, in my opinion, swing back to the common factors that were understood prior to the start of the topic.

One of my favorite tunes from the days of the duo Kenny and Tzipora went along the lines of:


We are brothers of the forest
We are sisters of the Goddess
We are nothing without each other

I couldn’t honestly see it any other way.  We all come from different Paths – yet we share common threads:  we love our trees, the forests.  We want to be accepted for who we are and are accepting of others for who they are, regardless of Path or Belief System.

$.02

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3 thoughts on “Defining "Pagan" – Seriously?

  1. VG Lovecraft

    I agree with you here. Honestly, though I respect and admire Jason Pitzl-Waters very much, I feel that he sometimes can take himself too seriously.No offense intended, if you're reading this, Jason. You're not the only one who does it. The fact that the "Pagan" definition is so widely debated proves that. And if I'm being honest with myself, I must admit that I, too, have been too serious about things which don't matter all that much!

    Reply
  2. TommyElf

    I don't know that I completely agree with that. Jason's work is definitely aimed at a much more scholarly/serious perspective. And while I don't read the Wild Hunt that often (maybe once or twice a week), I think he does an excellent job connecting with his audience on topics that they can discuss quite easily amongst themselves. I grok that folks like to debate things – its just that I'm not really one of those people.

    Reply
  3. VG Lovecraft

    Honestly, I don't read the Wild Hunt regularly, either. I do agree that Jason connects well with his audience, and I, too, shy away from debating issues much of the time. In the example of "defining Pagan", all I would say is this: What matters is each person's definition. I don't see anything productive in debating someone who says, "I am (or am not) a Pagan. Your definition is incorrect."

    Reply

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