Ask a Pagan, Part 2


#1

My previous "Ask a Pagan" thread is a little old now, so I thought I'd post a new thread rather than resurrect the old one. Mods: If you would prefer that I bump the old one, please let me know. I post on another forum that has strict rules re: thread necromancy, so I wasn't sure what to do in this case.

It's here, in case anyone is interested: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=572600&highlight=Ask+a+Pagan

My fellow Pagans (I know you're there!) should feel free to jump in. I am obviously not a Kemetic/Hellenic/Wiccan/Santera/[insert preferred faith here] so I might not be able to answer certain in-depth questions. I am familiar with many Pagan traditions, however, so I will try and answer as many questions as I can.


#2

I have a question about one of your responses in the previous thread:

[quote="Lokabrenna, post:11, topic:244913"]

Vanic Paganism (also known as Vanatru to some) is the worship of the Vanir gods of the Norse/Germanic pantheon. I call myself "Pagan" to differentiate myself from other people who worship the same gods but attempt to reconstruct the practices of pre-Christian Iceland, Germany, etc.

[/quote]

1) What exactly were the practices of pre-Christian Iceland, Germany, etc?

2) If you don't engage in those practices, how do you personally worship the Vanir gods?


#3

[quote="Crdl2Grv, post:2, topic:251849"]
I have a question about one of your responses in the previous thread:

1) What exactly were the practices of pre-Christian Iceland, Germany, etc?

[/quote]

A reconstructionist could give you a better answer, but I will say that what we have are "bits and pieces" that hint of practices in the written sources. We know, for instance, that oaths were extremely important to the Germanic tribes. Sometimes there are references to someone pouring a libation to a particular deity. There's a bit in one of the myths where a hammer is placed in Thor's (who was dressed as a bride at the time) lap to consecrate the marriage (obvious fertility symbolism is obvious).

Unfortunately, all of the material that we have to work with was written down by Christians who (understandably) weren't too interested in providing detailed ritual manuals. Modern Heathens have blots (pronounced "bloat") which may be as simple as a libation or as complex as a feast, and sumble, which is basically a ritualized toast. IMHO, nobody can know exactly how these cultures did things (until someone invents a time machine) but we can make educated guesses based on the written records and archaeological evidence.

2) If you don't engage in those practices, how do you personally worship the Vanir gods?

Right now, I am essentially a non-practicing Pagan (due to not having the space/privacy/funds to do so). However, even if I were practicing, without a Kindred, I couldn't participate in sumble, which is a group activity. I do have my interests, but I am very careful to separate things the Elder Heathens would have done and things that I find personally relevant. The Germanic tribes didn't have tarot cards, for instance (they're from 15th century Italy), yet I have quite a collection of cards sitting right next to me. Why don't I just use runes? Well, besides the fact that there's no evidence they were ever used in divination, the simple fact is that I'm a very visual person and relate more to the visual symbolism in tarot (I actually don't use my decks for divination--the future is always changing).

I should say that I think there is a certain appeal to following "tradition" but I also live in the modern world, and I think even the most hardcore reconstructionist Heathen doesn't have the time for a blot with all the bells and whistles. :)


#4

Question to the pagans.

Your gods' temples and scared places have crumbled to dust and are forgotten.

Your gods' priests and followers are but faint specks in history.

Your gods have been reduced to comic book characters.

Why would you worship such weak and flaccid beings?

Question to the witches

If you can control the material world, then create gold, platinum and gems out of nothing and make me wealthy beyond my imagination.

If you can control men's minds, then make Scarlett Johannson fall madly in love with me.


#5

[quote="Lokabrenna, post:3, topic:251849"]

Right now, I am essentially a non-practicing Pagan (due to not having the space/privacy/funds to do so). However, even if I were practicing, without a Kindred, I couldn't participate in sumble, which is a group activity.

[/quote]

I'm sorry, I don't quite follow. Did I miss the explanation of a "Kindred?" (Entirely possible that I did. I didn't read the previous thread too closely.) And why can't you participate in a sumble? What are the space/privacy/funds requirements?


#6

[quote="Crdl2Grv, post:5, topic:251849"]
I'm sorry, I don't quite follow. Did I miss the explanation of a "Kindred?" (Entirely possible that I did. I didn't read the previous thread too closely.) And why can't you participate in a sumble? What are the space/privacy/funds requirements?

[/quote]

Sorry about that, a kindred is basically a group of Norse Pagans. Wiccans have covens, Druids have groves, Norse Pagans have kindreds.

Sumbles are, by definition, group events in which a drinking horn is passed around and oaths are sworn (and witnessed) by the kindred. Technically, a "solitary sumble" would be called a blot or a faining (some say that blots specifically refer to blood sacrifice, whereas fainings are more generic, blot is the term you'll see most often, though). I can't think of a direct comparison in Catholicism, but it's a bit like how you can pray a novena, but you can't hear your own confession (although I believe there's an exception, "perfect contrition" or something?).

Basically, I couldn't do a sumble because the ritual is meant to be a group activity. As for the other things I mentioned, I basically live with my parents who don't acknowledge that Paganism even exists, and I'm currently unemployed, hence the lack of funds (although some offerings don't cost a lot of money, say, produce you grow yourself).


#7

May I ask if you have any opinion on those who do not adhere to any religon officially?
If I could ask another question, it would be if there are certain actions that people take that are offensive to you or your beliefs or both.


#8

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:7, topic:251849"]
May I ask if you have any opinion on those who do not adhere to any religon officially?

[/quote]

No opinion, it doesn't really affect me. In fact, I went through a period where I identified as "spiritual, but not religious" so I understand how someone might feel alienated by religion in general. I don't believe in a "one size fits all" way of doing things.

If I could ask another question, it would be if there are certain actions that people take that are offensive to you or your beliefs or both.

You can ask as many questions as you like!
Now for the answer, I suppose it depends what you would consider 'offensive'? I think rape and murder are heinous crimes, for instance, but am I offended if one of my gods is portrayed in a cartoon or comic book? Nope, in fact, I love Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok, which is an anime series which heavily borrows from Norse mythology. I personally think my gods would have a good laugh at how they are portrayed in pop culture. (Interestingly, I know of one author who actually uses pop culture icons in magic).

Honestly, I think many Pagans (there are, as always, exceptions) realize that the majority of people don't worship these gods anymore. In fact, I know of many who actually enjoy shows like Charmed or Xena: Warrior Princess.


#9

I gave you some throw away questions but the important one I saved for now.

Do you use ketchup on your hot dog?

Chicago dweller asks


#10

[quote="StrawberryJam, post:9, topic:251849"]
I gave you some throw away questions but the important ones I saved for now.

Do you use ketchup on your hot dog?

Chicago dweller asks

[/quote]

Nope, mustard and onions, same as my dad :)
My brother makes up for it, he puts ketchup on everything, EVERYTHING.

I don't even put ketchup on my fries, I use either white vinegar, mayonnaise, or just eat them plain depending on where they come from (plain from fast food places, mayo for "casual" restaurants, and vinegar for the wedges we get from the grocery store).

Yes, I know, I'm a condiment heretic. :)


#11

:thumbsup:

We are sailing away on the heresy condiment boat then.

Good to meet you here!


#12

[quote="Lokabrenna, post:6, topic:251849"]

Basically, I couldn't do a sumble because the ritual is meant to be a group activity. As for the other things I mentioned, I basically live with my parents who don't acknowledge that Paganism even exists, and I'm currently unemployed, hence the lack of funds (although some offerings don't cost a lot of money, say, produce you grow yourself).

[/quote]

So just as a hypothetical let's say that all constraints space/funds/privacy constraints are off and you can worship your gods however you see fit. How would your religious life be different from what it is now?


#13

Hello, I figured that another pagan could help in this thread :smiley: I know personally, if those constraints didn’t apply, I would definitely start several temples since there has been an influx of interest in my path that I follow. I would conduct lessons on my path and also open my own shop I guess to help those starting on the path.


#14

[quote="Crdl2Grv, post:12, topic:251849"]
So just as a hypothetical let's say that all constraints space/funds/privacy constraints are off and you can worship your gods however you see fit. How would your religious life be different from what it is now?

[/quote]

First and foremost, I'd be able to set up an altar/focal point for prayer and meditation. There's a statue of Freyja that I'd like to buy, but Pagan statuary can be pretty expensive--not as expensive as, say, the statues you would buy for a church, most I've seen are from around $60 to $100 (with applicable taxes).

After that, it's really up to me. There's no "Sunday obligation" or anything like that. Some people honour a different god or goddess each day. I would try to do some sort of devotional ritual on Friday. There's some debate over whether the name is derived from Frigga or Freyja, but it's also named for Venus, so it strikes me as an appropriate day to honour a god and goddess of love (although Freyja is more a goddess of lust). I'm also thinking of incorporating lunar observances (many Heathens don't because of a lack of evidence and the perception that lunar rites are a "Wiccan thing") and there are the holidays of course: Yule, Freyfaxi, Midsummer, Eostre, etc.

Above all, I'd say it's important to honour the gods in word and deed. By this, I don't mean I should "go out and spread the word of Freyja and her brother to everyone". I'm not interested in converting anyone. Something as simple as baking bread or picking up trash in the park can be an offering. Beyond that, I'd say "Don't be a d*ck," sums up how I try to live my life.

I should stress that my working for a living shouldn't get in the way of religious observances. If I can't feed myself, the gods understand that I can't give them a food offering, for instance.

I neglected to mention that I'd use some of the money I'd get from working to buy books! There are some nice Pagan devotionals out now that I'd like to pick up. I'm a sucker for devotional literature, honestly.


#15

[quote="Lokabrenna, post:14, topic:251849"]
First and foremost, I'd be able to set up an altar/focal point for prayer and meditation. There's a statue of Freyja that I'd like to buy, but Pagan statuary can be pretty expensive--not as expensive as, say, the statues you would buy for a church, most I've seen are from around $60 to $100 (with applicable taxes).

After that, it's really up to me. There's no "Sunday obligation" or anything like that. Some people honour a different god or goddess each day. I would try to do some sort of devotional ritual on Friday. There's some debate over whether the name is derived from Frigga or Freyja, but it's also named for Venus, so it strikes me as an appropriate day to honour a god and goddess of love (although Freyja is more a goddess of lust). I'm also thinking of incorporating lunar observances (many Heathens don't because of a lack of evidence and the perception that lunar rites are a "Wiccan thing") and there are the holidays of course: Yule, Freyfaxi, Midsummer, Eostre, etc.

Above all, I'd say it's important to honour the gods in word and deed. By this, I don't mean I should "go out and spread the word of Freyja and her brother to everyone". I'm not interested in converting anyone. Something as simple as baking bread or picking up trash in the park can be an offering. Beyond that, I'd say "Don't be a d*ck," sums up how I try to live my life.

I should stress that my working for a living shouldn't get in the way of religious observances. If I can't feed myself, the gods understand that I can't give them a food offering, for instance.

I neglected to mention that I'd use some of the money I'd get from working to buy books! There are some nice Pagan devotionals out now that I'd like to pick up. I'm a sucker for devotional literature, honestly.

[/quote]

:thumbsup: sounds good to me, btw which statue were you wanting? PM me so I can see it lol. I love Freyja.


#16

My questions :)

1) Why be a pagan when you can be a monotheist (Christian, Jew, Muslim)?
2) How sure are you of your faith?
3) What do you find appealing in paganism that you do not find in Christianity?
4) How do you feel when monotheists claim that any worship not directed to the One Living God is worship of the devil?
5) If enlightened by the truth of monotheism, especially the Truth that is Christ, are you prepared to leave your traditions and pagan beliefs (in this regard, are you open-mined enough to consider Christianity)?

That is all. God bless you :D


#17

[quote="richard_wang, post:4, topic:251849"]
Question to the pagans.

Your gods' temples and scared places have crumbled to dust and are forgotten.

[/quote]

Really? The Parthenon's been forgotten? How about the temple of Apollo at Delphi? True, there's not much left of them, but remnants have survived, and archaeologists dig up temples every day. In recent months, a temple to Demeter and Persephone was unearthed (they built a monastery on top of it). Even places that don't have physical sites haven't been forgotten.

Your gods' priests and followers are but faint specks in history.

Enheduanna (one of the first published authors, also a priestess of Sin who also wrote hymns to Inanna), Sappho, Pythagoras (who gives his name to the Pythagorean theorem), Alexander the Great, Flavius Claudius Julianus Augustus (A.K.A. Julian the Apostate), and that's just a tiny sample of the Pagans who have shaped history, to say nothing of legendary figures like Boadicea (who sacked London), Sigrid the Proud (who was called a "heathen b*tch" and decided to call off her marriage to a Christian king...and raise an army against him), Radbod of Frisia (who refused to convert to Christianity because he: "would rather be in Hel with his ancestors than in Heaven with a passel of beggars"). I wonder if Alexander the Great in particular would appreciate being called a "faint speck in history"?

Your gods have been reduced to comic book characters.

The Bible has been made into graphic novel and manga format, you know? I actually like an anime that's based off of Norse mythology. There's a video game series (Shin Megami Tensei and the Persona series) I play in which Jesus, Lucifer, and Mary exist side by side with the gods. (I actually keep Lucifer/Helel in my party because he's quite powerful).

Why would you worship such weak and flaccid beings?

I have to laugh at the way you describe my gods as 'flaccid'. Freyr's cult statues often had an erect phallus. It strikes me as a very appropriate descriptor. :)
That said, the gods have survived in the names for the days of the week, in the expressions we use every day, we even name companies after them. I would say that the fact that the gods survived even after attempts were made to wipe them from memory is not a sign of weakness, but strength.

Question to the witches

If you can control the material world, then create gold, platinum and gems out of nothing and make me wealthy beyond my imagination.

Why would I make you rich when I could just make me rich and give you some of the money? :)

Seriously though, magic (as many witches practice it) doesn't work that way, that's TV magic. TV magic isn't real. I'm not a witch and even I know that. (I see magic as more of a psychological phenomenon, others believe in it in a more literal sense).

If you can control men's minds, then make Scarlett Johannson fall madly in love with me.

First of all, many witches (particularly of the Wiccan variety) would never use magic to manipulate another person. If Scarlett Johannson fell in love with you due to a spell, would it really be love? No, because the spell would be compelling her to love you. That is absolutely unethical. Now, it's worth noting that some traditions (particularly those derived from the African diaspora) don't have a problem with such magic, but I expect the opinions of individual practitioners vary.

However, even assuming that I was a witch who wouldn't have an ethical problem and that the magic I perform actually works (instead of just being a psychological "crutch" of sorts). Think of how many people who would be after the same goal as you. How many Scarlett Johansson fanboys (and, quite possibly, fangirls) daydream about having sex with her/marrying her/having children with her? In that case, their intent is working against yours, and that's a lot of intent. It's also why the "Why don't you cast a spell to win the lottery?" deal doesn't work, almost everyone wants to win the lottery, and pitting your will against the entire collective will of North America isn't a good idea.


#18

Do you believe the gods of old are real, tangible beings, or are they just old stories that explained concepts of nature?


#19

Number 2 is the question I’d like most to hear the answer to. Also, I wanted to know if you believe that following paganism has some advantage over following another religion, i.e. Christianity. Do any pagans believe that their religion is objectively true, and other religions are not? Note: If you believe objectively in the existence of pagan gods, then you have to believe objectively that Judaism, Christianity, Islam are all false because these three religions all declare that there is only one true God. To say that all religions are true is a logical contradiction.

I have never heard of Pagan apologetics, Pagan theological discussions, etc. The vast majority of pagans I’ve met don’t seem interested in absolute truth but rather in what they feel suits them. I cannot fathom why anyone would follow a religion unless they had good reason to believe that its teachings were true. To me a god whose nature is decided by me is no god at all but is rather a sort of “pet” god made in my own likeness, rather than vice versa.

I do not mean this post in a derogatory way, I just want to know what your thought processes are.


#20

[quote="CivisRomanusSum, post:16, topic:251849"]
My questions :)

[/quote]

Great! I love questions!

1) Why be a pagan when you can be a monotheist (Christian, Jew, Muslim)?

I could just as easily ask: "Why be a Christian, Jew, or Muslim when you could be a Pagan?" :) I think this question is best answered by the ones below it, though.

2) How sure are you of your faith?

Short answer: I'm not, that's why they call it faith, you know? It's entirely possible that I might go to Folkvangr or Hel when I die, it's also possible that atheists are right and no part of us survives death. For all I know, maybe the Muslims are right...

3) What do you find appealing in paganism that you do not find in Christianity?

As a woman, it never sat right with me that women couldn't be priests. Very few Pagan traditions don't have priestesses in this day and age. The claim is that "Well, women can't be priests, but they can be saints" leaving out the fact that by the time a saint is a saint, they're dead and can't speak for themselves. In Paganism, women can be priestesses AND goddesses. Speaking of which, I also found that there was a lack of diversity regarding women's roles. Mary is THE quintessential role model for women in Catholicism, but as someone who doesn't like children that much, I never really connected with her as wife and mother. Catholicism is lucky in this regard because the saints are quite diverse. The fact is, no matter how often it's said that "God is gender neutral/beyond gender/neither male or female," try referring to God using anything but masculine pronouns and you get in trouble. Goddesses, on the other hand, are wives and mothers, lovers, warriors, queens and priestesses. There are even deities who are hermaphroditic or who go against their "proper" roles in society.

Another thing I found was that there's less of a focus on sin and guilt. When I was a Catholic, I constantly worried whether I should really be watching X movie or playing Y game. I see lots of threads on this very forum to that effect. Since becoming Pagan, I've felt a lot freer in this regard. Anger isn't one of the "Seven Deadly Sins", it's very good for you (as long as it doesn't turn destructive).

4) How do you feel when monotheists claim that any worship not directed to the One Living God is worship of the devil?

I know you do this inadvertently, but sometimes the devil sounds like a really cool guy. I mean, he likes sex, drugs, and rock and roll, right? (Actually, I'm not into drugs, but sex sounds cool and rock and roll is awesome).

Honestly, I don't get too choked up about it. Believe what you want. I do, however, feel strongly about religious beliefs (ANY religious beliefs) influencing public policy.

5) If enlightened by the truth of monotheism, especially the Truth that is Christ, are you prepared to leave your traditions and pagan beliefs (in this regard, are you open-mined enough to consider Christianity)?

I was Christian for over a decade (Catholic, actually) as were many Pagans. Could I go back to a book-based religion? Honestly, no. I don't believe religious texts were divinely inspired. I believe they were written by people about figures who may or may not have existed, with a certain agenda in mind. (I actually have more in common with atheists when it comes to hermeneutics). I don't believe that there is a Universal Truth that applies to everyone, but I think all religions have an element of truth (or, at least, are true to their followers).


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