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"Ask a Pagan" - love it!! :)

 

I don't know much about paganism (just disjointed bits and pieces). But I guess I would start with this question: If you had to sum up the essence of paganism in three sentences, what would you say?

 

I don't know if that's even possible, but I would find a succinct summary of paganism (from someone who is a practicing pagan - not just the theoretical stuff I can get elsewhere) very helpful.

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What does it mean to be a Pagan?

 

Much the same as what it means to be human, I suppose. (I suck at vague questions.)

 

Do you believe there is a God?

 

I'm an atheist in that I don't believe in any literal gods. I believe in all of them as ideas with power.

 

Do you believe Satan exists?

 

Only as a very powerful idea.

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"Ask a Pagan" - love it!! :)

 

I don't know much about paganism (just disjointed bits and pieces). But I guess I would start with this question: If you had to sum up the essence of paganism in three sentences, what would you say?

 

I don't know if that's even possible, but I would find a succinct summary of paganism (from someone who is a practicing pagan - not just the theoretical stuff I can get elsewhere) very helpful.

 

The term "Pagan" is an umbrella term for *so* many belief systems there probably isn't anything everyone believes in. Maybe other pagans can think of a meaningful answer, but I can't.

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The term "Pagan" is an umbrella term for *so* many belief systems there probably isn't anything everyone believes in. Maybe other pagans can think of a meaningful answer, but I can't.

 

Well, that explains my struggle to piece together a cohesive view of paganism. Thanks for answering anyway. :)

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What sorts of rituals do you perform and why?

 

Speaking on behalf of myself only, since you're using a second person pronoun.

 

I began observing the Wheel of the Year last May. There are a few reasons for that, but mainly because that's how it often is when you have kids. You start feeling that more spiritual structure would benefit the family. :)

 

I also have a personal ritual that isn't tied to that. I have a few candles on my altar dedicated to some ideas important to me. It's a way of sustaining hope and a form of personal growth, you might say.

 

I

have more questions, but I'm afraid they may be stupid and/or offensive. Honestly, I'm just trying to understand...

 

The odds of you offending one of the pagans here is slim to none. It's obvious you are asking in good faith, we are not particularly uptight about all that much and we'd consider it our problem if we were.

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Much the same as what it means to be human, I suppose. (I suck at vague questions.)

 

I'm an atheist in that I don't believe in any literal gods. I believe in all of them as ideas with power.

 

Only as a very powerful idea.

 

This is intriguing to me. Can you expand on your concept of "ideas with power"? What does that mean to you? How does this belief affect your day-to-day life?

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Well, that explains my struggle to piece together a cohesive view of paganism. Thanks for answering anyway. :)

 

 

There are themes. Most pagans believe we all have our own path to follow. You wouldn't have to look too far to find examples of pagans encouraging their friends in pursuing their own, non-pagan faiths. Most are earth centred to some degree. Most believe in deities. Most have a definition of "magick" but don't necessarily agree on the definition. Most wish Harry Potter style magic was real. :p I've not heard of anyone who believes humanity is the highest form of life. Most believe in karma. The amount of talk about ethics would probably surprise you, or at least all those who believe we are engaging in sombre coloured arts. ;)

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Rosie, it's late here, so I'm going to bed. Then tomorrow I'm visiting dad. But hopefully I'll be back sometime tomorrow. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions, and I'm sure I'll have more.

 

 

Any old time, Bethany. Pontificating on this topic is my idea of fun. ;)

 

All the best to your Dad. :grouphug:

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I used to be a pagan and now I'm definitely not, but my little altar was one of those things I was loathe to give up.

 

 

Do you have to? I know bunches of Christians who have prayer corners. They are much the same thing. I know secular people who have a cork board where they pin inspirational sayings and such. Again, same thing. Apparently it's a fashionable idea. :p

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There are themes. Most pagans believe we all have our own path to follow. You wouldn't have to look too far to find examples of pagans encouraging their friends in pursuing their own, non-pagan faiths. Most are earth centred to some degree. Most believe in deities. Most have a definition of "magick" but don't necessarily agree on the definition. Most wish Harry Potter style magic was real. :p I've not heard of anyone who believes humanity is the highest form of life. Most believe in karma. The amount of talk about ethics would probably surprise you, or at least all those who believe we are engaging in sombre coloured arts. ;)

 

 

This is helpful. Thanks Rosie!

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This is intriguing to me. Can you expand on your concept of "ideas with power"? What does that mean to you? How does this belief affect your day-to-day life?

 

 

I don't think I have anything useful to say on this topic, really. I imagine I mean what everyone else would mean if they'd said it. Ideas have power. They influence the way people see the world, how they feel and how they act. Homeschooling is an idea that has changed all our lives and our children's lives, no?

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Being Pagan never means being a Satanist. They are their own mob.

 

 

Yeah, that is what I meant. It has been bugging me since I posted it like tht. But there are some people who have bee taught that if one is Pagan then one is (automatically) a Satanist. So I phrased it that way knowing someone would take issue. You beat me to clarifying while I was making tea and toast.

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I don't think I have anything useful to say on this topic, really. I imagine I mean what everyone else would mean if they'd said it. Ideas have power. They influence the way people see the world, how they feel and how they act. Homeschooling is an idea that has changed all our lives and our children's lives, no?

 

I agree. And that's why I asked, because it's surprising to me (with my admittedly limited knowledge of paganism) that a pagan might perceive the ideas of "God" and "Satan" as ideas with power.

 

That the idea of "God" is powerful doesn't surprise me all that much, because I understand that pagans might believe in various gods and/or goddesses. But I figured pagans would probably dismiss the idea of "Satan". The concept of Satan seems to be mostly limited to monotheistic belief systems. So that does surprise me.

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I'm going to poke my nose in again because I've been around a long time and can see what might be coming down the pike. Being Pagan does not automatically mean being a Satanist.

 

Of course, that doesn't mean that if this thread goes on long enough, someone isn't going to say it does. :rolleyes:

 

And then we'll have to go into Cupcake and Kilt mode to try to calm things back down. :glare:

 

I hope this thread stays friendly. I'm finding it very interesting. :)

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I agree. And that's why I asked, because it's surprising to me (with my admittedly limited knowledge of paganism) that a pagan might perceive the ideas of "God" and "Satan" as ideas with power.

 

Honestly, one would have to be pretty immature not to think so. There are millions on the planet who have chosen to follow one and fear the other.

 

That the idea of "God" is powerful doesn't surprise me all that much, because I understand that pagans might believe in various gods and/or goddesses. But I figured pagans would probably dismiss the idea of "Satan". The concept of Satan seems to be mostly limited to monotheistic belief systems. So that does surprise me.

 

One doesn't have to believe in Satan to recognise him as a powerful idea. I don't believe in Satan, but I sure believe in the affects of people believing in him. I don't walk around with a bag on my head. :p

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Here is my short answer list:

God-idea to attribute things we can't explain to

Satan-see above and scare tactic

What I do believe in is the chemical connection of all living things. Big bang and such. Evolution. I don't need to know what's out there in the great beyond.

 

Rosie you are doing a smashing job on this!

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I find the concept of a wheel of the year intriguing. I see people of various religions here anticipating different times of the year as it turns and there always seems to be something coming or current. In my (Christian) denomination, celebrating times and seasons has been sort of frowned upon. If you do celebrate certain times of the year, it must be in a secular way (ha).

 

I can see the need to have a ritual connection to creation in some way. It seems so stable and grounding to know that something concrete can be counted on and appears to be a permanent part of a lifetime, no matter what you believe.

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Rosie, I love you.

Just wanted to say that first. :D

 

Your wheel of the year sounds a lot like my liturgical year. We have a

that has 52 little wooden blocks set in a circular channel, and we use it to explain the Circle of The Church Year. (In this link, she is practicing the story, so it's a little longer than the actual one, but it gives the gist.) It provides a rhythm that I really appreciate.

 

When I moved to Florida from Ohio, I realized how much I needed the 4 seasons to provide that rhythm, too--I missed the seasons terribly. I saw how some families created their own rhythms, from using holidays to having special nights or some traditions that they did every year, and some families didn't--and they seemed less grounded or something. It was like a dangerous place to be, somehow, living without a grounding cycle or rhythm. LOL--yeah, dangerous may not be the right word...a little too dramatic...But truly, it felt like not being in some sort of cycle or pattern or something just stripped people of something essential.

 

Don't know if that makes any.sense.at.all.

 

:D As usual.

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"Ask a Pagan" - love it!! :)

 

I don't know much about paganism (just disjointed bits and pieces). But I guess I would start with this question: If you had to sum up the essence of paganism in three sentences, what would you say?

 

I don't know if that's even possible, but I would find a succinct summary of paganism (from someone who is a practicing pagan - not just the theoretical stuff I can get elsewhere) very helpful.

 

I'm one of the resident Pagans here (with a sprinkling of other stuff thrown in) so I'll throw in my two cents. :) I'm still working on my coffee, so this won't be nearly as eloquent as it would be a little closer to noon.

 

All life is one; we are all part of something bigger than ourselves, and this is what I refer to as "God," or "the Universe," or what have you. Energy/life force/call it what you like flows through all life and the world, and prayer and/or ritual and/or magic directs this toward a goal. We should do what makes us happy as long as we do not cause harm, and as long as we do our best to prevent harm to others from any source.

 

Ack, computer's about to die and the child wants breakfast. I'll be back.

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Hmm, I don't know that I'm ready to embrace the term "pagan" just yet, it seems so vague so I don't mean to co-op, but I think it's a pretty inclusive term, and it might embrace me. :)

 

I can relate to what Rosie and Delany are saying, so perhaps I can offer my perspective too.

 

I don't believe in gods. I don't believe in Satan or angels or demons--not in the way I did when I was a Christian, as "real" beings.

 

I believe in the power of ideas. People sometimes love and are sometimes terrified and sometimes a big of both. Let's use Jesus for instance, because most of the religious people on this board are Christians. Their idea of him can give them strength, weaken them, give them courage they don't think they could have had on their own, etc.

 

Same for any of the various gods, supernatural beings, etc. These ideas are powerful because of how a person views them, not because they actually exist and intervene in people's lives. They choose to embrace these ideas because of the positive response they do when they focus on them. Even the negative aspects of these spiritual ideas. Even the idea of Satan. For instance, believing in Satan for Christians also empowers to believe in their god even more strongly. When they can identify the working of Satan (bad stuff), they can be happy to know that God is also involved, and working for (good) on their behalf--and perhaps even more strongly since they are under attack by evil forces (ie even stronger good forces are on the way).

 

For me, I don't take courage, hope, etc. from beings like this, mostly because I don't think they exist. I suppose I could recognize them as powerful entities in my own life, in the sense that they could help me even if I don't believe in them literally. However, I don't like what belief in deities tends to do to people, communities, cultures, etc.

 

For my spirituality, I like nature.

 

I saved a trimming from my wedding bouquet, some ivy. It grows now in my bedroom. I nurture it and love it in a sense, and it's a symbol of my marriage. I tend it like I tend my marriage, in a way. When I take a moment and appreciate the ivy, I meditation on my marriage and my spouse and think how I can take care of it as well. I make "intentions" sometimes, when I'm with the ivy.

 

I have a flower bulb I received when my first child was born. It's reminiscent of her name. When I tend to it, it's an extension of my love for my children. It helps me remember my relationship to my children. I tend them. I nurture them. I help them to grow.

 

I love rocks. I always have been a rock hound. I've collected rocks from the many countries I've visited and have a little collection of them arranged prettily. Sometimes I can sit an admire them and remember the places I've been, and experiences I've had and the people I've met in those countries, and I allow myself to be grateful for such an interesting universe with so many people. . .and so many rocks.

 

I enjoy the seasons. The "turning of the wheel" I guess. I appreciate when the earth goes to sleep in the winter and wakes up in the spring, and flourishes in the summer, and turns all dozy in the autumn. I like to recognize them by feeding the birds in the winter, hummingbirds and butterflies in the summer.

 

When I look around in nature I feel connected and I feel camaraderie. I'm connected to this wonderful nature, and it's connected to me, and we're all a great web.

 

I can let it pass without thinking about it, and I do sometimes.

 

Or I can take time to reflect, recognize, engage with nature in ways that are meaningful to me (rituals like planting, canning, meditating, creating pretty landscaping or "altars" in my yard). Some people like more of this. They have highly developed rituals and tools. I don't.

 

I wonder if this is why lots of Pagans don't have "religious" communities. What's meaningful to one person isn't necessarily meaningful to another.

 

I have a little bag that I've crocheted and beaded, it's filled with tiny stones and I sometimes go through before I sit to write. I hold them and remember where I got them. I stroke them. Some make me feel very happy, their texture, or their temperature, or the memory of how I came by them. No one is going to have the same response to them that I do.

 

Some people enjoy the stars and planets and feel connected and have rituals regarding them. I don't. It's just not meaningful to me.

 

So, even if you're a religion that doesn't believe in these ideas--you can see that they're actually powerful to some people. Similarly, I see the ideas of deities as being powerful.

 

They're not powerful of themselves, rather it's how we interact with these ideas, how we let them change us, and how we use them that are powerful.

 

At least, that's my perspective as a possible-Pagan. :)

 

FWIW

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I also have a personal ritual that isn't tied to that. I have a few candles on my altar dedicated to some ideas important to me. It's a way of sustaining hope and a form of personal growth, you might say.

 

How does the idea of an altar work without a god? Is it a reminder of things to you, or a "getting in touch" with something outside yourself? I guess I'm wondering what the candles "do" for you. Which makes me wonder if I could put into words what mine do for me, so while I really appreciate you starting this thread, it looks like it's going to lead to some deep thinking on my part. :p

 

I used to be a pagan and now I'm definitely not, but my little altar was one of those things I was loathe to give up.

 

It's not uncommon among Catholics to have a home altar. It's helped my kids understand the liturgical year, they like when it's their turn to change the color of the altar cloth (because they get to rearrange the rest of the stuff), and it's a nice focal point when our prayer time gets distracted, or a comforting place to hang out when things are tough. No wonder some people accuse Catholics of being anything but Christian. ;)

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What does it mean to be a Pagan?

Do you believe there is a God?

Do you believe Satan exists?

 

Embracing beliefs somewhat like what has been expressed so far. There are as many different flavors of Pagan as there are Christian. We all sort of believe roughly the same big things, and vary wildly on the details.

 

Yes, I believe in God, though not in the sense that there's a sentient, omniscient being that knows everything about us. I believe we are all part of God but that we don't completely understand everything, like the ant who doesn't comprehend that his hill is part of something much bigger and more complicated.

 

No, I don't believe in Satan.

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What sorts of rituals do you perform and why?

 

I have more questions, but I'm afraid they may be stupid and/or offensive. Honestly, I'm just trying to understand...

 

I suppose I have one ritual I like to do from time to time whenever I'm about to have a time that I need intensive concentration.

 

I take the incense my mother gave me and pick whatever color fits my mood. I burn the incense and close my eyes and meditate on what I need to do just for a minute or so, the class I need to study for, the grading I need to do, whatever. I wave some of the incense over my head and I make a circle of incense around myself, and the place where I'll be working, just to tell myself, "This is the time, this is the place. It's time to concentrate now."

 

It's a way of ritualizing the undertaking and making it special and meaningful in that moment.

 

I don't think it's "magic" in and of itself. It's a "psychodrama" in a way. I'm making the moment meaningful, and my mind and intentions can follow.

 

I'm doing it intentionally, and that's where the idea of "setting intentions" comes in.

 

I don't do it all of the time, just when I need to formalize an undertaking I need more focus on.

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What sorts of rituals do you perform and why?

 

I have more questions, but I'm afraid they may be stupid and/or offensive. Honestly, I'm just trying to understand...

 

Any rituals we do here at my house have to do with the wheel of the year. They help us to understand and feel closer to the Earth.

 

I'm not offended by honest questions, even if they seem offensive on the surface. Ask away. :)

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I think paganism is wayyyyy too broad a term to use unless there is some kind of consensus here as to what it means :)

 

The term means "peasant farmer" - well, originally did, and referred to the rural classes that still believed in the "old gods" when Christianity started becoming dominant. I don't think the pagans back then ever called themselves that, and it was usually used in a derogatory manner.

 

Then there was a long period of time when the term could mean ANYONE who wasn't Christian, Jewish, or Muslim.

 

Now I think it may have kinda morphed into a term for people who are part of belief systems that are predominantly connected with nature.

 

I've said, half jokingly, that we're pagan simply because we aren't any of the "Big 3", lol. We're Deists, so we don't really fit anywhere :)

I'm not sure, though, if I count as a pagan for this thread :)

 

Looking back at the comments on the altars and Orthodox iconography, there was a huge pagan influence on Eastern Christianity (also - think about the statues of Saints and the emphasis on Mary in western Catholicism). It was very difficult for a pagan to complete abandon everything they were used to, and much of the art and icons carried over and mixed.

 

Keeping an altar around would be rather traditional, actually :)

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Hmm, I don't know that I'm ready to embrace the term "pagan" just yet, it seems so vague so I don't mean to co-op, but I think it's a pretty inclusive term, and it might embrace me. :)

 

I can relate to what Rosie and Delany are saying, so perhaps I can offer my perspective too.

 

I don't believe in gods. I don't believe in Satan or angels or demons--not in the way I did when I was a Christian, as "real" beings.

 

I believe in the power of ideas. People sometimes love and are sometimes terrified and sometimes a big of both. Let's use Jesus for instance, because most of the religious people on this board are Christians. Their idea of him can give them strength, weaken them, give them courage they don't think they could have had on their own, etc.

 

Same for any of the various gods, supernatural beings, etc. These ideas are powerful because of how a person views them, not because they actually exist and intervene in people's lives. They choose to embrace these ideas because of the positive response they do when they focus on them. Even the negative aspects of these spiritual ideas. Even the idea of Satan. For instance, believing in Satan for Christians also empowers to believe in their god even more strongly. When they can identify the working of Satan (bad stuff), they can be happy to know that God is also involved, and working for (good) on their behalf--and perhaps even more strongly since they are under attack by evil forces (ie even stronger good forces are on the way).

 

For me, I don't take courage, hope, etc. from beings like this, mostly because I don't think they exist. I suppose I could recognize them as powerful entities in my own life, in the sense that they could help me even if I don't believe in them literally. However, I don't like what belief in deities tends to do to people, communities, cultures, etc.

 

For my spirituality, I like nature.

 

I saved a trimming from my wedding bouquet, some ivy. It grows now in my bedroom. I nurture it and love it in a sense, and it's a symbol of my marriage. I tend it like I tend my marriage, in a way. When I take a moment and appreciate the ivy, I meditation on my marriage and my spouse and think how I can take care of it as well. I make "intentions" sometimes, when I'm with the ivy.

 

I have a flower bulb I received when my first child was born. It's reminiscent of her name. When I tend to it, it's an extension of my love for my children. It helps me remember my relationship to my children. I tend them. I nurture them. I help them to grow.

 

I love rocks. I always have been a rock hound. I've collected rocks from the many countries I've visited and have a little collection of them arranged prettily. Sometimes I can sit an admire them and remember the places I've been, and experiences I've had and the people I've met in those countries, and I allow myself to be grateful for such an interesting universe with so many people. . .and so many rocks.

 

I enjoy the seasons. The "turning of the wheel" I guess. I appreciate when the earth goes to sleep in the winter and wakes up in the spring, and flourishes in the summer, and turns all dozy in the autumn. I like to recognize them by feeding the birds in the winter, hummingbirds and butterflies in the summer.

 

When I look around in nature I feel connected and I feel camaraderie. I'm connected to this wonderful nature, and it's connected to me, and we're all a great web.

 

I can let it pass without thinking about it, and I do sometimes.

 

Or I can take time to reflect, recognize, engage with nature in ways that are meaningful to me (rituals like planting, canning, meditating, creating pretty landscaping or "altars" in my yard). Some people like more of this. They have highly developed rituals and tools. I don't.

 

I wonder if this is why lots of Pagans don't have "religious" communities. What's meaningful to one person isn't necessarily meaningful to another.

 

I have a little bag that I've crocheted and beaded, it's filled with tiny stones and I sometimes go through before I sit to write. I hold them and remember where I got them. I stroke them. Some make me feel very happy, their texture, or their temperature, or the memory of how I came by them. No one is going to have the same response to them that I do.

 

Some people enjoy the stars and planets and feel connected and have rituals regarding them. I don't. It's just not meaningful to me.

 

So, even if you're a religion that doesn't believe in these ideas--you can see that they're actually powerful to some people. Similarly, I see the ideas of deities as being powerful.

 

They're not powerful of themselves, rather it's how we interact with these ideas, how we let them change us, and how we use them that are powerful.

 

At least, that's my perspective as a possible-Pagan. :)

 

FWIW

 

this is all really, really beautiful.

 

I am a Christian, but much of what you spoke really resonates with me as well. I am a very non-traditional Christian. ;)

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How does the idea of an altar work without a god? Is it a reminder of things to you, or a "getting in touch" with something outside yourself? I guess I'm wondering what the candles "do" for you. Which makes me wonder if I could put into words what mine do for me, so while I really appreciate you starting this thread, it looks like it's going to lead to some deep thinking on my part. :p

 

 

 

It's not uncommon among Catholics to have a home altar. It's helped my kids understand the liturgical year, they like when it's their turn to change the color of the altar cloth (because they get to rearrange the rest of the stuff), and it's a nice focal point when our prayer time gets distracted, or a comforting place to hang out when things are tough. No wonder some people accuse Catholics of being anything but Christian. ;)

 

I love the idea of an altar.

 

In Japan, in offices and busy stores you often see small corner displays. (I can't remember their names). But they're often a flower or a poem and maybe a small shoji screen. Uncluttered and lovely.

 

It's not for a deity, it's just a little meditative piece of beauty.

 

One is to look on it and calm oneself and meditate for a moment.

 

That's sort of what an altar would be to me. Mine would have pine cones, my elk antler, rocks, my air plant, etc. Some day, I'll create one. :)

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Rosie, I love you.

Just wanted to say that first. :D

 

Your wheel of the year sounds a lot like my liturgical year. We have a

that has 52 little wooden blocks set in a circular channel, and we use it to explain the Circle of The Church Year. (In this link, she is practicing the story, so it's a little longer than the actual one, but it gives the gist.) It provides a rhythm that I really appreciate.

 

When I moved to Florida from Ohio, I realized how much I needed the 4 seasons to provide that rhythm, too--I missed the seasons terribly. I saw how some families created their own rhythms, from using holidays to having special nights or some traditions that they did every year, and some families didn't--and they seemed less grounded or something. It was like a dangerous place to be, somehow, living without a grounding cycle or rhythm. LOL--yeah, dangerous may not be the right word...a little too dramatic...But truly, it felt like not being in some sort of cycle or pattern or something just stripped people of something essential.

 

Don't know if that makes any.sense.at.all.

 

:D As usual.

 

this makes sense.

 

We live in the tropics, so no real seasons, but we do definitely find markers for the turning of time.....we aren't Orthodox or any denomination that's particularly Liturgical, so the church calendar doesn't work for us either, but definitely we mark time in little ways within our own family.

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How does the idea of an altar work without a god? Is it a reminder of things to you, or a "getting in touch" with something outside yourself? I guess I'm wondering what the candles "do" for you. Which makes me wonder if I could put into words what mine do for me, so while I really appreciate you starting this thread, it looks like it's going to lead to some deep thinking on my part. :p

 

 

 

It's not uncommon among Catholics to have a home altar. It's helped my kids understand the liturgical year, they like when it's their turn to change the color of the altar cloth (because they get to rearrange the rest of the stuff), and it's a nice focal point when our prayer time gets distracted, or a comforting place to hang out when things are tough. No wonder some people accuse Catholics of being anything but Christian. ;)

 

Well, we aren't RC and we have a home altar. It is exactly what is described...a comforting place when you need it, a focusing spot, a place to remind yourself that as the world spins, there is a greater calling and don't forget it. Ours is an actual altar table left over from the church family that had to leave this building due to finances. So, I feel a special focus when lighting a candle, praying, or just passing by because it held the Lord's Supper Elements for so many years for so many devoted believers, and it sits under my BIG stained glass window. However, I will be honest, I only know a handful of protestants that have a home altar.

 

Even though the same beliefs do not apply, I would imagine that for other faith systems, the home altar as much of the same significance to the family that mine does.

 

I love this thread. One of the most important aspects of a respectful discussion like this is that it helps everyone lay aside their preconceived ideas about others. I think that if we had an "Ask a Buddist or ask a Protestant or ask an Atheist, or ..." whatever thread, what we would find is that regardless of which worldview system we were raised in, we were badly misinformed about all of the other worldview/faiths and that general terms are, exactly that, really very general. I know that for dh and I, we are stuck with the moniker "Protestant" and yet it does not describe us at all. We don't even fit the criteria really. We have a belief range within Christianity that includes some Orthodox/RC elements as well as some typically Protestant elements, but the blend is so significant that we don't really have a faith home that could be described as anything except maybe "Jesus follower."

 

So, I think this thread is amazing because hopefully we can keep it respectful and learn from one another. My ears are wide open and I'm going to print the responses so my boys can read them.

 

I too would be interested to have Rosie explain more about the wheel.

 

Faith

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Any rituals we do here at my house have to do with the wheel of the year. They help us to understand and feel closer to the Earth.

 

I'm not offended by honest questions, even if they seem offensive on the surface. Ask away. :)

 

so, the wheel of the year would include things like celebrating the equinoxes, etc? changing of seasons, all of that? or is there more to it than that?

 

honestly seeking to understand, because it really intrigues me.

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Well, we aren't RC and we have a home altar. It is exactly what is described...a comforting place when you need it, a focusing spot, a place to remind yourself that as the world spins, there is a greater calling and don't forget it. Ours is an actual altar table left over from the church family that had to leave this building due to finances. So, I feel a special focus when lighting a candle, praying, or just passing by because it held the Lord's Supper Elements for so many years for so many devoted believers, and it sits under my BIG stained glass window. However, I will be honest, I only know a handful of protestants that have a home altar.

 

Even though the same beliefs do not apply, I would imagine that for other faith systems, the home altar as much of the same significance to the family that mine does.

 

I love this thread. One of the most important aspects of a respectful discussion like this is that it helps everyone lay aside their preconceived ideas about others. I think that if we had an "Ask a Buddist or ask a Protestant or ask an Atheist, or ..." whatever thread, what we would find is that regardless of which worldview system we were raised in, we were badly misinformed about all of the other worldview/faiths and that general terms are, exactly that, really very general. I know that for dh and I, we are stuck with the moniker "Protestant" and yet it does not describe us at all. We don't even fit the criteria really. We have a belief range within Christianity that includes some Orthodox/RC elements as well as some typically Protestant elements, but the blend is so significant that we don't really have a faith home that could be described as anything except maybe "Jesus follower."

 

So, I think this thread is amazing because hopefully we can keep it respectful and learn from one another. My ears are wide open and I'm going to print the responses so my boys can read them.

 

I too would be interested to have Rosie explain more about the wheel.

 

Faith

 

the bolded is me, too. I have more than once contemplated starting a new blog and naming it "congregation of one" because I feel like such a misfit among all typical, traditional Christian groups....very much a hodge-podge.

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I love the idea of an altar.

 

In Japan, in offices and busy stores you often see small corner displays. (I can't remember their names). But they're often a flower or a poem and maybe a small shoji screen. Uncluttered and lovely.

 

It's not for a deity, it's just a little meditative piece of beauty.

 

One is to look on it and calm oneself and meditate for a moment.

 

That's sort of what an altar would be to me. Mine would have pine cones, my elk antler, rocks, my air plant, etc. Some day, I'll create one. :)

 

It's funny that you should say this. That's what I try to do with my entire house. Every room, except my children's and our all purpose junk/sewing room, is arranged in such a way that every way I turn there is something to think about, a connection to the past, or beauty to meditate on. I feel unsettled otherwise.

This is such a part of my nature that I can feel ill or depressed if my house gets too off kilter.

 

I've left the children's rooms to thier devices because I feel that is their personal space. I have plans for the sewing room. :-)

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so, the wheel of the year would include things like celebrating the equinoxes, etc? changing of seasons, all of that? or is there more to it than that?

 

honestly seeking to understand, because it really intrigues me.

 

Yup, that about sums it up for me. :) There's also a story of the death and rebirth of the God that goes along with it, though I've always taken it metaphorically, not literally.

 

If you want to do more research on this yourself, google "sabbats."

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For those who do not believe in Satan, do you believe in the concept of evil? If so, from what source does it originate? Should we work to combat it and how? To clarify, by evil I mean those humans who would intentionally terrorize, rape, torture or kill other humans or animals, especially those more innocent or defenseless.

 

I am a Christian, but IME, the closer I live with nature, the less I feel the need to mark its natural passage symbolically. Does that make sense? When we lived in the city, marking the seasons, etc was a really big deal to me. Now that I live on a farm, smack dab in the middle of it, I don't need rituals. I see the plants beginning to bud, I can smell the changes in the trees and earth, I hear different signs, I can observe which animals are now nesting and preparing to bear their babies. For me, it isn't a "celebrate the change today and tomorrow begins a new season". I see it more as a sliding scale. It never happens all in one day or at one special moment. (Sorry, just rambling here)

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For those who do not believe in Satan, do you believe in the concept of evil? If so, from what source does it originate? Should we work to combat it and how? To clarify, by evil I mean those humans who would intentionally terrorize, rape, torture or kill other humans or animals, especially those more innocent or defenseless.

 

I am a Christian, but IME, the closer I live with nature, the less I feel the need to mark its natural passage symbolically. Does that make sense? When we lived in the city, marking the seasons, etc was a really big deal to me. Now that I live on a farm, smack dab in the middle of it, I don't need rituals. I see the plants beginning to bud, I can smell the changes in the trees and earth, I hear different signs, I can observe which animals are now nesting and preparing to bear their babies. For me, it isn't a "celebrate the change today and tomorrow begins a new season". I see it more as a sliding scale. It never happens all in one day or at one special moment. (Sorry, just rambling here)

 

"Evil" comes from many places.

1. people with brain disorders that mess up their ability to feel empathy

2. Selfishness

3. indoctrination that by committing certain acts is actually a good thing, when most people believe they are an evil thing. (insert examples of religious genocide here.* People who murder and torture others because they're taught it's the "good" thing).

4. Genetics and upbringing (related to #1)

 

To me, each of these is extremely more likely than the story(ies) of Satan, and we actually have plenty of identifiable evidence that they are so.

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The idea about the incense and the focused intention sounds wonderful to me! I need to work more on focus and intention in my life.

 

Regarding the pagan connection with nature...I always thought that pagans believed in nature as some kiind of diety or higher power in itself. Is that not correct? Or what purpose do the dancing/other nature rituals serve? Is the nature just a connection with "all things" so to speak, or does nature have some specific higher power in itself?

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