The Pentagram and the Hammer: discussion time

We all know that pagans are for the most part multi-optional folk, each following their own distinct path to the divine.  But what exactly links us all together?  Have a read of The Pentagram and the Hammer, which concluded that between two strands such as Wicca and Asatru, there is very little common ground.  Do you agree?  Is it a case of pagans banding together not because we have general themes of belief in common, but that we have even less in common with non-pagans?  Can you see paganism becoming a focussed group of beliefs and having, say a National Pagan Council with representatives from all major paths being able to contribute to government policy, the process of religious education relating to paganism and the maintenance of state sponsored sacred spaces?  Can you see a seperate system of law evolving in parallel, such as Jewish or Sharia, specifically for pagans?  Or maybe pagan quarters developing in major cities?  Or is the very strength of modern pagan diversity preventing us from cohesive evolution?  Do you think that paganism is capable of further evolution as a major belief system, if so, where do you see it going, or where ideally would you like to see it go?

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3 thoughts on “The Pentagram and the Hammer: discussion time

  1. Once again I feel the urge to add my two penn’orth to the discussion. I think the differences between the factions of Paganism are not the issue. What holds us together is just one thing: we have a belief system which is not regulated by prescribed creeds and dogmas. If there is a commandment that encompasses all of us it should be AND IT HARM NONE, DO WHAT THOU WILT. Taken seriously this is surely a harder commandment to abide by than any other I have read or heard about.
    Because we are such a diverse community, I cannot see us having a focus group to co-ordinate our beliefs, any discussions would take far to long to reach any meaningful conclusions, so contributing to government policy could only be done by taking a Humanist stand or making a point taking no particular religious view into consideration. As to education, specifying the multitudinous paths of Paganism would not be practical further than simply listing the major paths. After all Christianity for example is not individually represented in multi faith groups. Just think how many people would be involved if even every facet of Methodism were to have their say, not to mention all the other offshoots from Church of England/Scotland/ America/Catholisism, Muslims, Judaeism etc etc.
    A state sponsored Sacred Space could be feasible; we all belive in a Creator, who does not need to be named, so somewhere with many symbols of our individual beliefs, of which we are all tollerant, would I feel bring us together rather than divide us. Can you imagine Jews, Muslims and Christians doing this? There is a feel of it at the Dome off the Rock in Jerusalem but it falls far short of what I am trying to hypothesise here.
    Do we have a law system like the Jews and Muslims? If we do I have never been aware of it, perhaps we could formulate a system that would work for Pagans but would it be compatible with State Laws? As to set-aside areas for Pagans within the community, this I find as repugnant as the Jewish ghettos of the past, I know they still gravitate together for the purely convenient needs of shopping and worshipping and I see no objection to this as long as it is not exclusive to other faiths. With all our tollerance of each other, surely we do not need an exclusive area in which to live, mix and match is a much better idea to my way of thinking.
    We are evolving, no doubt about it. Having been a watcher of humaity for many decades, I can see there has been foreward progress and long may it continue. Who can tell how society will change as the world population continues to rise. New ways of organisation will have to arise to accommodate us all, and I would hope that Paganism would have a place in showing less tollerant factions how to behave in a more crowded world.
    I am keen to hear other opinions on this subject. Blessed Be.

  2. This is a personal bugbear/teeth grinder for me. Paganism is something which cancels itself out sometimes isn’t it? Think of it like this –
    1) Wicca was/is a new religion, like it or not. Even the “threefold law” of deeds returning to you, especially in magick, was completely and utterly invented out of thin air by Gerald Gardner. Most of the Wicca rites for summoning the Goddess like “drawing down the moon” were also completely made up from nothing by Doreen Valiente.
    2) Witchcraft existed well before anything else. Although there are next to zero writings of a reliable source that give much of an indication to any organised rites or rituals the religion itself is undeniably old.
    3) We don’t know how to practise it as it has been practised for thousands of years…….which is irritating at best. Have we made something old and completely valid into something new and ridiculous?
    4) So, where does that leave us?

    For me, I like to think it’s all about feel. It’s about what feels right, I know for myself that when I worship sometimes you can almost see, touch, hear the Goddess and the God. I don’t believe in the 3fold rule as it was made up on the basis of nothing, and from personal experience if it IS true I’ve got a lot more love and goodness coming to me than I’ve got, believe me! Some things work, some don’t, it’s trial and error, but the things that do work seem to work over and over again, that can’t be made up surely? I must have read a hundered books on witchcraft and paganism over the 25 years I’ve been involved in it and there are many common themes that you can find, and I’ve found which work for me…like casting a circle, using an athame or a wand, and truely leaving the magick bit out as much as possible. Getting in touch with nature, and most definately watching that you don’t attract things you don’t expect and certainly don’t want hanging around! You’ll know when that happens, and boy, it’s not good!
    I agree with newboldwitch on the shared heritage that most paths have and the acknowledgement of a higher being of sorts. I always get pestered by an old work colleague who is a born again christian and thinks I’m going to hell. He says it’s either christian or bust, you either sign up with him or you’re history. I reply that spirituality is like a desert (the sand thing, no chocolate!) and each religion is a small camel train making it’s way slowly across that desert. They all have different starting points, carry different things, have different people on them, but they are all heading to the same place, under the same stars, with the same wind on their faces.

    Take time out from all the different gumph you can read and get into, settle down in a less formally cast circle, open your heart, and see what you find. Throw out the overly sombre rituals and do something free’er like our ancestors did.

    And of a “State sponsored place of worship” for us lot. Well, I think it’s all around us in the quiet places and the wild places and the old places. I just wish they’d be given over to us and respected a little more by us and the public. No-one wants to walk across Stanton moor to the nine ladies to be greeted with a rubbish tip and a heap of pissed up buffy the vampire slayer wanabees………

    IF people would only stop inventing all these fabricated off-shoots of paganism like some of the more silly ones you come across and really just look into history of the land your living on, the ancient places, and feel in your heart what is right; and ask the goddess to guide you sincerely, all will fall into place. First thing I’d ever advise anyone, not that I ever have of course, is – Put your books, your wands, your crystals, your indian headresses, the robes, the £10.99 specially inscribed altar candle, and your latest “Kev’s grimoire” away, go to a local stone circle or barrow and open up your heart.

    Love to you all.
    Ben

  3. Well said Ben, especially your last paragraph. Long Live the OLD RELIGION in its original form and let the wisemen/women, the true meaning of WITCH exsist in harmony with nature and humanity.
    P.S. although my user name includes the epithet “witch” I do not consider myself an expert in any way on any subject and still study a wide field of subjects, greedy for knowledge which I either accept or reject on its own merits.
    Blessed Be.

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