09 January 2013

Defining "Pagan"

This is just an index of links, so I don't lose them, pending a later real post on the subject.

Here's Michael York, summarizing the definition of Pagan from his book Pagan Theology: Julian Betkowski

The ‘broad” definition of paganism that I use is “an affirmation of interactive and polymorphic sacred relationship by the individual or community with the tangible, sentient and/or nonempirical.”

A ‘narrower’ definition replaces the ‘and/or’ conjunction with a simple ‘and’. Briefly, I see paganism as a celebration of life, a celebration of the world, a celebration of the physical, and a celebration of pleasure. Its component features are drawn from a grab-bag of nature veneration, the this-worldly, corpo-spirituality, enchantment, humanism, hedonism and multiple and gender-differentiated understandings of godhead or the divine. Different individuals and different communities select from this grab-bag differently. There is no dogmatic authority. The underlying ethos within a pagan orientation can be understood in terms of wishing, health, wonder and freedom. Most succinctly, paganism is root-religion — the root of all religion. And where the fashion is now to say, “I am not religious; I am spiritual,” I would rather say, “I am not spiritual; I am pagan!”

Here's a tweet from the Pagan Alliance:

Can Pagan mean any earth-based, nature-centered, polytheistic OR indigenous faith? that's how we've defined it n our org

6 comments:

Lady Jake said...

There's also:

Three Legs on the Pagan Cauldron, or Must Pagans Be Polytheists?
http://tinyurl.com/bro9z6k

There's Far More to Paganism than Worshiping Gods and Goddesses:
http://tinyurl.com/d23e3rl

both in response to
Bringing Back the Gods
http://tinyurl.com/cuzx5uk

Ann Hatzakis said...

http://greekreconmommy.blogspot.com/2013/01/why-fuss-over-polytheist-vs-pagan.html is an attempt to look at the issue.

Jeff said...

People might be interested in a few posts of mine from 2011, in which I tackled the issue from a linguist's perspective (i.e. not what should it mean, but what it does mean):

The Pagan Knot: Why Pagan is the Perfect Name for Us

Defining Paganism: Word Wrangling

Defining Paganism: Foundations of Word Meaning

Defining Paganism: Prototypes of the Pagan

Defining Paganism: Is Paganism a Religion?

Teo Bishop said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Teo Bishop said...

I just read this post and loved it. Inspired by the ongoing community dialogue, Themon goes in a slightly different direction. His conclusions are exciting, and challenging.

The Nature of the Gods

Yewtree said...

Here's another attempt to collate others' attempts at defining or describing Paganism.