As you know, we get much of our fodder from Facebook groups and pages. There are so many diverse opinions, there, and when one strikes a nerve we just have to discuss it on the CFTP_FB page. This one, however, is still lurking around in my brain; so much so, that Uruzz was awakened this morning by my talking in my sleep. Apparently, I was having a wonderful and in-depth conversation with the Admin of the page our current 'gem' comes from:
"I practice a tradition of paganism that requires no belief".
Because I am that asshole who likes to make sure we're all on the same page, I've copied a few definitions and inserted links for people who might not be keen on the current vernacular....
Paganism has become the identifier for a collection of new religious movements attempting to continue, revive, or reconstruct historical pre-Abrahamic (pre-Christian) religion. In the book, A History of Pagan Europe (1995) "pagan religion" [paganism] is characterized by the following 3 traits:
1. Polytheism: recognizing a plurality of divine beings.
[What is the point of recognizing many gods without a belief in them?
This would be atheism.]
2. "Nature-based": Pagan religions have a concept of the divinity of Nature, which they view as a manifestation of the divine
[By this definition we tap into what is commonly referred to as earth religion,
and it is a form of neopaganism that some people have determined to
be a contemporary, and separate form of paganism.]
3. "Sacred feminine": recognizing "the female divine principle", identified as "the Goddess" (as opposed to individual goddesses) alongside, or in place of the male divine principle.
[This is the concept of deity as female.]
With all these entities that paganism endorses, why are there traditions of paganism, suddenly, popping up that require absolutely no belief system, whatsoever? So, I went back into my personal book hoard to grab a few oldies off the shelf.
Ann-Marie Gallaher's Spells Bible (2003) has this to say from page 9:
"We know, from spells inscribed on cave walls or sheet of lead found in sacred wells,
that our ancestors practiced and believed in the efficacy of magic."
This statement has no divinity in it; simply stating that there was a belief in magic. Of course, there should be a belief in magic - a requirement, if you ask me! What is the purposed of performing magic if you don't believe in it?
Sally Dubats' Natural Magick (1999) points out:
"Many witches believe hexing sends negative energy into the world..."
This addresses witches, alone. Practitioners of magical arts whose belief systems may, or may not be pagan. By this, I refer to Vivianne Crowley's Wicca ...
"What the Church later lumped together as 'witchcraft' had 2 elements-
pagan worship and magic." (pg. 18)
Laurie Cabot's Power of the Witch expounds more on why 'witchcraft' and 'Wicca' are sometimes viewed synonymously on page 14:
"The word 'witch'...has evolved. There are different opinions about its origins.
From [root words] we derive the word 'Wicca',
a term many in the Craft use today to refer to our beliefs..."
Vivianne Crowley, apparently, agrees to an extent, saying:
"Wicca...is a living, growing system of thoughts, beliefs..."
So, why 'Wicca', and not just 'paganism'...? Because of the differences in the practices. Paganism is a religion that embraces magic without making it a priority for worship. Wicca is a religion that has prioritized magic over that of worship. Don't believe me? Then why even cast a magic circle before an esbat or sabbat? Neither form of paganism seeming to lack a need for belief.
Laurie Cabot continues on page 20:
"Pagans believe that biological processes are spiritual processes and
that there is divine meaning in every natural event."
Hell, Stewart Farrar has an entire chapter in his book What Witches Do starting on page 40, titled: "What witches believe."
What is the point to doing any of this, if you don't believe?
Belief is the acceptance that something exists.Something one accepts as true or real; a firmly held opinion or conviction. Faith is confidence or trust in a person, thing, deity, or in the doctrines or teachings of a religion. It may also be belief that is not based on proof.
Taking up a course of study to explore paganism is something we have all done. After the day is done, though, you either have faith in your pagan religion and gods, or, you don't. Why do faithful pagans have to make accommodations for those who simply like calling themselves such, without the belief in deity (or nature) that defines paganism as a religion, in the first place?
[Ikinde Skreja Ominnsaer, 2013, Conversations from the Porch]