Pit Bull Informational Pages
by Diane Jessup 

About The Old Religion

pagan, the old religion, diane jessup
Warning! This contains "religious content"!
I've found that most people have no idea what the pagan religion is about.
If you are interested and secure in your beliefs, read on!

 

Pagan or Christian (or anything else), in my opinion the very best book on religion ever written is Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. It is an interesting and challenging look at how we all think of "God", and what
Christianity has become. Written a couple of hundred years ago by a man who truly loved "God", it remains the best book on the subject.

 

WHAT DOES "PAGAN" MEAN?

The definition of pagan differs dependent upon whom you are speaking with. To a pagan, it is the name given to their belief system; today most often referring to early Celtic and Northern European religions. Christians almost always use the word incorrectly, either describing someone who does not "believe in [their] god", or as someone who worships the Christian deity"Satan". Nothing could be further from the truth - the pagan religion is far older than the Middle-Eastern belief system called "Christianity". Christianity has taken from the pagan beliefs, and in the case of common holidays such as Easter, May day, Halloween, Christmas and others, has out and out "swiped" them! This mixing of ancient religions occurred in Europe during the middle ages when Christianity was imported from the Middle-East and forced upon the peasantry by the ruling class. Christianity has remained since that time an excellent tool for controlling the masses.

Christianity has often borrowed from pagan beliefs, but the pagan religion was a going concern eons before Christ, so it would be impossible for the older pagan religion to be based on the much more recent Christian religion. There is no Satan in the pagan belief, however Satan in the Christian belief is often depicted as a representation of the "greenman" or the male manifestation of Nature. Hence the horns, hooved feet and other symbols of male Nature. No where in the bible does it describe Satan as having these physical manifestations. They are a direct result of early Christians attempting to make anything to do with the older, established pagan religion "evil".

Just as there are untold thousands of Judeo-Christian sects, so too there are countless variations on pagan beliefs. Many world religions claim to have access to The Word of "God", either on golden plates, tablets of stone, or in the person of some likable (and often long dead) human. However, when push comes to shove, these plates and tablets cannot be produced, and a human is, after all, only a human, and as for long dead humans, anything related by them at this point can only be considered "hearsay". Not good enough for a court of law, and certainly not good enough to attribute as being something as important as "The Word of God". As Thomas Paine states, surely it is an insult to "God" to attribute to him no better way to spread his word? Unlike most world religions, paganism is not based on man-made laws, scriptures written by human hands and other oh-so human dogma.

Simply put, to be a pagan takes some spiritual work - it is not a canned, "heat and eat" religion. Paganism is not for those who wish to sit back and be preached to, who believe that others have a closer, more intimate relationship with a supreme being than they do. Paganism is not for followers. It is not a religion which would be able to symbolize its followers as sheep.

Pagans are born, never made. I've never known a pagan who wanted to convert people to their belief system, and I believe this is because you either are one or you are not. I do know pagans (and I'm guilty of being one) who do try, on occasion, to help someone break the bonds of fear which hold them to some other religion. Most often this fear is a belief, instilled in childhood, that a horrible retribution will occur at death as punishment for not believing in a jealous god. But no one can "make you" a pagan - the affinity with The Mother is either there, or it is not. The only exception to this are some sad individuals who try and "become" pagans because they see it as a way to rebel against Christianity, or authority, or they just think it seems cool. These folks come and go. But, like the estimated five million people (mostly woman) killed by Christians when the new religion was brought back from the Middle-East by crusaders and forcibly pressed on the European population, true pagans cannot be converted to any other religion.

There are folks, like myself, who always were pagans, but did not have a name to attach to our feelings. When I found that how I felt was indeed the ancient religion of my ancestors, it was a feeling of "coming home". Many others have expressed this same feeling.

Basic Beliefs Of Paganism

Because of the lack of dogma, paganism is incredibly difficult to describe. Each person follows their own spiritual path, and hear different whispers. Like Christianity, there are many, many variations on the theme, some more bizarre than others. And, like Christianity, there are some who call themselves pagans (as some call themselves Christians) who are unhappy, disturbed people looking for answers and a peace they will never find.

There are two main types of pagans. Those who believe they can manipulate Nature (magic) and those who do not. I fall into the second category. The experiences I have had with those in the first group lead me to the reluctant conclusion that more often than not these folks are suedo-pagans, unhappy people who, lacking control in their lives, seek to give themselves status by belief in their ability to call upon "forces" to do their bidding. For pagans like myself, nothing could be more "un-pagan".

So what is a pagan? Here is the answer I will give you. Paganism is the name of the religion practiced by natives of Europe up until Christianity forcibly replaced it (for the most part, it has never died and thrives today). While there are differences between say, Nordic and Celtic pagan beliefs, it is safe to say that paganism can be defined as being a "Nature-based" belief. While it is possible today to find pagans who actually believe in supernatural beings such as "fairies" or perhaps Norse gods, it is more common to find that pagans who believe that "spirits" exist in Natural things such as rocks, trees or mountains. The word "spirit" today generally means an "unidentified power source" or "unidentified consciousness".

The pagan path I follow is based on an ancient Celtic "tree year". The tree year is divided up into the 13 moons of a "year". (Hence the Christian revulsion for the number 13). Each month is represented by a tree, and each tree represents a virtue. It is a fine thing, to me, to reflect each month on the virtues of the month-tree, and to consider how these virtues feature in my own life.

Because the pagan world is ruled by the phases of the moon, it may seem that Pagans worship the moon. What they worship is all that is represented by the moon; much as a Catholic will worship to a statue of Mary. (Mary is a very popular deity, particularly in cultures recently forced from paganism, because she so clearly represents "The Mother").

The Moon:

The moon represents the female half of Nature. Planting, nurturing, growth. The Mother. We speak of "Mother Earth", and indeed, the Earth is our mother, but the moon has come to represent the cycles of life.

The Greenman:

The Greenman is often the cause of confusion where "devil" worship is concerned. The male half of Nature is often represented by the mythical "Greenman" complete with horns and oak leaves about his head. He is Nature, but the wild, male side. The classical god "Pan" was such a representative, with his hooved feet and horns. He was the original Nature Boy!

The Greenman represents the harvest, winter, the harder, harsher elements of Nature. All just as essential as the softer female half.

 
 


Basic Beliefs Of Pagan

In general, most pagans do not celebrate the "normal" Christian holidays- i.e.: Easter, Christmas, etc. This of course, is not a 100% statement, as many Wiccans celebrate with these holidays with their relatives who are not pagans. We have our own ancient holidays known as Sabbats, and also celebrate Esbats, or full moons. Sabbats occur at the quarters and cross-quarters of the year, and some names and dates may sound familiar- Samhain on Oct.31, Yule about Dec.21, Imbolc on February 2, Ostara about March 21, Beltane on May 1, Midsummer about June 21, Lughnasadh on Aug.1, Mabon about Sept.21. When Christianity was getting its foothold on Europe, religious leaders took most of the Pagan holidays and traditions and assimilated them into Christianity. Evergreens in December, pumpkins in October, eggs at Easter, all of these and lots more are Pagan traditions which were adopted by the church to facilitate a smoother transition when they converted Pagans. Incidentally, the term Pagan simply means "country dweller".


When the church was trying to fill it's pews, they found that the city people were easier to convert than those out in the country, so it became known as a derogatory term.

Do pagans worship satan at all - even a little?

No. Pagans do not believe in Satan, do not even believe he exists. Satan is a Christian concept. Witchcraft predates Christianity, therefore no pagans have ever worshiped Satan. Period.


The Nature of Our Way

As often as possible, hold rites in forests, by the
seashore, on deserted mountaintops or near tranquil lakes.

Seek out wisdom in books, rare manuscripts and cryptic
poems if you will, but seek it out also in simple stones and
fragile herbs and in the cries of wild birds. Listen to the
whisperings of the wind and the roar of water if you
would discover magick, for it is here that the old secrets
are preserved.

Books contain words; trees contain energies
and wisdom books never dreamt of.

Ever remember that the Old Ways are constantly revealing
themselves. Therefore be as the river willow that bends
and sways with the wind. That which remains changeless
shall outlive it's spirit, but that which evolves and grows
will shine for centuries.

There can be no monopoly on wisdom. Therefore share
what you will of our ways with others who seek them.

Mock not the rituals or spells of another, for who can
say yours are greater in power or wisdom?

Ensure that your actions are honorable, for all that you
do shall return to you three-fold, good or bane.

Be wary of one who would dominate you, who would
control and manipulate your workings and reverences.

Honor all living things, for we are of the bird, the fish,
the bee. Destroy not life save it be to preserve your own.

And this is the nature of our way.

 

A Very Good Pagan Site, and the source for above. Click here.

 

 

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