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This blog is all about all the things that make me up. I am a Mother, I am a Pagan Witch, I am a Wife, I am a homemaker, I am a student, I am Spiritual, I am a Teacher, I am Liberal Hippie, I am a Voter, and I am extremely opinionated! Plan to see it all! If you don't like what you see, feel free to leave! However, chances are, if you stick around, you'll find more to love than hate!


Monday, January 14, 2013

Ask a Pagan: Basic Questions

There are some questions that just about every Pagan will eventually answer - in most cases you'll answer these time after time. I think most people outside of the Pagan community either have or have had these questions at one point and unless they are lucky enough to have a close Pagan friend or family member, chances are they have never gotten a clean answer. So I chose the questions below from those I am most commonly asked to answer in this installment of "Ask A Pagan."

THESE are these questions:
I would love to answer further questions in future posts, simply contact me with your questions and I will happily post them!

Q.)  What does it mean to be Pagan?
A.)  This tends to be a very common question, however the answer tends not to be so Black & White. The term Pagan has quite a few meanings. First, Pagan is an umbrella term meaning "non-Abrahamic" religion, or non-Jewish, Christian or Muslim. Second, it's a term used to describe those people who lived before Christianity.  Third, it's a title used for a collection of Religious and Spiritual beliefs. When you hear someone use the word Pagan to label themselves and their beliefs, it's generally this third meaning they are using, and for that reason it is this meaning I will focus on here...

However, even once we have defined the word Pagan it's difficult to really define what it means to be one. A Pagan is someone who will generally be poly or duel-theistic. They MAY belong to a religious group such as Wicca, Asatu, Druid, Native American, or they could be more Eclectic in their beliefs and follow their own spiritual path. Paganism tends to be a very spiritual and personal path which makes it difficult to define easily.

Q.)  What are the most basic pagan beliefs? 
A.)  Because of the broad nature of the "Pagan" Belief system it's difficult to even give a simple list of basic beliefs.  However, there do tend to be at least a few basics which MOST (again, not all) Pagans will at the very least agree with. 
  1.  A respect, if not love, of nature.
  2.  A belief in some form of higher power -Although what the higher power is could vary.
  3.  A belief in an after life or reincarnation of some kind
  4.  A strong belief in tolerance and peace
  5.  A general belief in some form of Karma or Energy Return 
Q.) Are All Pagans Witches?
A.)  This one is very simple to answer - NO. Witches come in all belief systems, Pagans however are their own belief system.

Q.) What is the difference between a Witch and a Pagan?
A.)  Paganism is a way of life, a belief system or a religion...
       Witchcraft is a Practice... It's simply the practice of working with energy in order to create change. There are Witches from every background and every religious belief - including Abrahamic. 

Many Pagans ARE Witches, but that doesn't make them all Witches. Nor does it make all Witches Pagan. In fact I know a great many Christian Witches, Atheistic Witches and even a few Jewish Witches.

Q.)  Do you believe in a single deity? Are there several?
A.)  Paganism can be Polytheistic, Dueltheistic, Monotheistic or just generally Spiritual in nature.

Polytheistic Pagans believe in more than one God & Goddess. Most who consider themselves polytheistic are what we call "Hard Polytheists" which see each different God & Goddess as an entity separate from the others. However, many who use this title are more along the lines of Duel-theistic

Duel-theistic Pagans believe in One God & One Goddess.  Many believe that ALL Gods are different incarnations of this One God and ALL Goddesses are different incarnations of this One Goddess.

Monotheistic Pagans tend to believe in ONE Deity, which simply has different aspects represented by the different Gods and Goddesses. This is the "All Are One" approach or belief.

Those who are more "Spiritual" in nature, tend simply to believe there is something bigger out there, but aren't generally willing to label it as "GOD." You'll generally hear these Spiritual Pagans refer to this higher power as "the Universe" rather than god or goddess...

Q.)  Do pagans have a "master" or "teacher" how do they learn their faith? Do they just make it whatever feels right?
A.)  There are generally no masters, teachers or prophets for Paganism. However, for those who belong to a coven or grove they may have a Priest or Priestess (or similar person) who presides over their group. They tend to serve as leader, teacher, guide and so on. There are also those Authors who tend to act as teachers for many, but more than anything they are just experienced and educated - something anyone can be!  Different Pagan paths - such as Wicca or Druid - will have specific teachings and beliefs, just as any other organized religious group would. However, the vast majority of Pagans today are more eclectic and solitary in nature. Solitary and Eclectic paths tend to be FELT rather than LEARNED. Many Pagans refer to their finding of Paganism as "Going Home" because it's simply walking a path that they have felt was natural to them. It's about living by your heart over living by standards others have set.

Q.)  What happens after you die?
A.)  Because there are so many different forms of Paganism there are many different beliefs about this as well. The majority believe in some form of Spiritual afterlife and a great many believe in a physical reincarnation. Most that I have spoken to believe that in order to achieve "oneness" with the universe or a permanent place in the Spiritual Underworld (which could go by any number of names) one's spirit must achieve "wholeness." In order to do this we must go through a succession of lives, each with it's own lesson or purpose. Only once we have learned all of our "lessons" can we transcend to something higher.

Q.) What are some Pagan Holidays and how do you celebrate them?
A.)  For Pagans who follow a path such as Asatru, Voodoon, or other Native or Culturally based Pagan religions, their holidays are going to reflect the beliefs of those peoples who "founded" the belief system. However, the vast majority of them, culturally inspired or not, reflect the cycle of life or the cycle of the year in one way or another.

For most Pagans in the US, Canada and Europe, the "Wheel of the Year" is followed, at least loosely. I have an entire post devoted to the Wheel of the Year, so rather than try and put all the information here, I'm simply going to send you there... I also have been posting more in depth posts as we approach each day, but here are the basics - Wiccan Wheel Of The Year

Q.) What does Paganism say about people who do harm? Are there consequences? 
A.)  Most people understand the concept of "You Reap What You Sow." Well, although there are some Pagan belief systems which have different beliefs, the majority of Pagans believe in a concept similar to this. The belief is that we get what we put out... If we put out positivity, we will receive positivity. If, on the other hand, we prefer to do harm or put out negativity, we're getting the same in return. 

Wicca teaches the "Threefold Law" teaches that what we put out we get back times three, while the exact belief in what "three fold" means varies, the idea is the same for all. Now, not every Pagan follows this understanding, but a great many see it as a good guideline regardless. 

Others believe in a form of Karma, others in the "Law of Attraction" and others simply fall back on the "You Reap as You Sow" attitude...  For me, I see all these ideas as one in the same... The basic idea is everything you do generates energy and that energy returns to us as we send it out...

**I am hoping that I answered at least the most basic questions that you may have. If I have not, please feel free to post your questions in the comment section or contact me with them directly and I will address them as well.

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