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Timothy Beal, in his 2008 book Religion in America: A Very Short Introduction, reports:

“The fastest growing religion is Wicca, closely followed by Paganism, although both are still very small in numbers.”

Paganism is a generic term often used to refer to religious traditions which are indigenous and/or polytheistic. Thus pagans are non-Christians.

In English, the emergence of “pagan” as a word that somehow indicates or implies “non-believer” comes from Christianity. As Christianity spread through the Roman Empire, it spread more rapidly in the cities than in the countryside. Thus the people living in the country—known as “pāganus” in Latin, meaning “villager”—were the last to be reached by the new religion and hence most likely to be unbelievers. In English today, the Latin “pāganus” has become “pagan.”

The Latin “pāganus” is also the source of our English word “peasant.”

Looking farther back, “pāganus” comes from an earlier *pāg- meaning “fix,” which produced the English “page,” “pale” (meaning “stake”), and “pole.” The Latin noun “pāganus” was based on a metaphorical extension of the concept of *pāg- to mean “country area, village.”

There is, however, an alternative but related history of the origin of “pagan” according to some authorities. They claim that the Roman Caesars used “pagan” as a way of referring to civilians as opposed to soldiers (“milites” in Latin). Since the Christians referred to themselves as “Soldiers of the Lord,” all others—meaning non-believers—were pagans.

The emergence of “heathen” meaning “non-believer” is inspired by “pagan.” Etymologically, “heathen” refers to “someone who lives in the heather.” The heather is, of course, the wild, upcountry area which is inhabited by those who are uncivilized and savage. Thus, as “pagan” meaning “country person” came to mean non-believer, so did “heathen.”

“Heathen” seems to come from the proto-Germanic *khaithiz meaning “hearth.” Some linguists point to the etymological origins of “heathen” in the Old English hæðen and the Old Norse heiðinn.

Today, adherents to monotheistic religions such as Christianity and Islam use both “pagan” and “heathen” as pejorative terms indicating a non-believer. From a Christian perspective, “pagan” has been used for all non-Abrahamic religions. The Christian missionaries in Europe and in North America were determined to stamp out all vestiges, signs, and memories of the earlier paganism. Much to their surprise, paganism started to re-emerge during the nineteenth century in the form of reconstructed religions and pagan revivalism.


Shown above is a pagan handfasting ceremony at Avebury, England.

Hammer of Thor

Shown above is one of the primary symbols of Germanic Neopaganism, the hammer Mjöllnir.  

Neopaganism is a modern movement which revives and reconstructs pre-Christian religions. These would include Wicca and Neo-Druidism.

Note: the * indicates that the Indo-European or prehistoric word has been reconstructed by historical linguists.

Originally posted to Ojibwa on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 08:11 AM PDT.

Also republished by History for Kossacks, PaganKos, Street Prophets , and Cranky Grammarians.

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Comment Preferences

  •  If Paganism was a bad thing (9+ / 0-)

    Why did Christian co-op  Christmas from them ,lots of Church leader saw the Pagan had a good them going for themselves and saw  ,how profitable it could be to the Church

    •  The reason is simple. (8+ / 0-)

      It's a lot easier to coopt a festival than to abolish it.  It had nothing to do with profit.

      •  Actually, it often had a LOT to do (16+ / 0-)

        with profit--part of conquering people and enslaving them and grabbing their lands, as the Romans did.. Those lovely missionaries to Germany cut down the oak groves where the pagans worshiped. In Britain, they slaughtered the druids, whom they feared.  And profit for Constantine and the Empire meant profit for the church.

        The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

        by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:04:57 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I don't no about Germany (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, NonnyO

          but according to The Agricola by Tacitus, was the Romans who cut down the sacred groves of Britain and put the Druids there to the sword.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:39:12 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Ouch. know not "no". N/T (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            Nothing human is alien to me.

            by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:02:11 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Precisely. I've read Tacitus in the original (4+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, WB Reeves, NonnyO, duhban

            along with Julius Caesar, some Pliny, and Cicero's orations. And the Argonautica and the Aeneid. We had to take 2 years of Latin at my high school--I took three  followed by a class in the epic in college. Most important thing I learned is that one must take ROman commentary on other cultures with a ten pound bag of salt.

            Nut, yes, they cut down the groves in Britain, and slew the druids on the Isle of Man. The other major lesson I learned was that Romans  were ass annoying and bigoted as hell--and a race of engineers. I got to tired of them making camp then breaking camp and going on a forced march, I rooted loudly for the Germans and the Helvetians ( Swiss). And as a proud Irish-AMerican, I was glad they barely got a toehold there. We fought 'em to a standstill--plus it didn't hurt that the barbarians were invading and they had to pull chocks yto defend ROme.

            The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

            by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:51:28 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  OT Note (4+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              WB Reeves, NonnyO, irishwitch, LinSea

              I'm currently work on a piece about the Irish Druids for my Ancient Ireland series. The Roman sources tend to be more fantasy than reality.

              •  Looking forward to your diary (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, irishwitch

                I wouldn't trust the Romans in general as far as their take on the customs of "barbarian" peoples. Their bigoted commentaries are clearly in the interest of justifying the onward march of empire.

                OTOH, when they do make the rare positive expression, I tend to give it credence as a statement against their own interests.  

                Nothing human is alien to me.

                by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:19:04 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  Yet it's amazing how very few people ever (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, WB Reeves

                question them.  I mean, they're ROMANS and the Celts were BARBARIANS. I almost got thrown out of my third Latin class at my Catholic high school for pointing out that in Pliny's letter to Trajan, as governor of Judea or whatever (it's been 45 years)he didn't g=hate or want to persecute Christians; he just wanted them to throw incense and and leave.  But they wouldn't cooperate. That kinda ruined my perception of all Romans as evil horrible people who hated Christians.  The nun didn't care for my sking questions.

                I wish to this day that I hadn't gotten two useless degrees (M.L.S., and a master's in TV/Radio) but had pursued my original goal of getting a Ph.D. in Lit, with a concentration on writers of the Celtic Twilight: Yeats, Lady Gregory, Synge, O'Casey. But I didn't. Instead I wrote Irish fairytales (having a great-grandmother under the same roof with a Galway brogue contributed) for fantasy magazines and anthologies. Which, all things considered, may have been the smarter choice.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:31:09 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

            •  That's an impressive resume (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              irishwitch, Ojibwa

              One I can't match. My smidgeon of Latin is second hand by way of my elder sister who was the true scholar in that field. By the time I reached HS, Latin was no longer required or even offered, mores the pity. All my reading of the classical sources came subsequent to school.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:26:26 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I HAD to take two years of Latin (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                Ojibwa, WB Reeves

                Turned out I was good at it. I won a national award from Auxilium Latinum.And I liked reading the material--taught me a lot more about the Roman Empire than a normal history class would have.  At the same time I was researching Irish history out of my own interest--and realized that the Romans were very, very biased, and that much we know of ancient Britain and Ireland comes from them.

                The epic course was actually a great deal of fun. I had a great teacher with a sardonic sense of humor.  We read the Iliad and the Odyssey in translation. ANd I learned that Aeneas was the MOST boring hero in epic poetry, and Dido was so hysterically  annoying that I finally cheered when she killed herself (if she'd gone on much longer, I was fantasizing about poisoning her myself).   My favorite epic hero is Odysseus because he has a brain and used it , unliuke Achilles.

                The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:37:29 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Ah, wily Odysseus (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Ojibwa, irishwitch

                  That man was never at a loss!

                  Nothing human is alien to me.

                  by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:51:37 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  I always preferred warriors with brains. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    WB Reeves, Ojibwa, Bronx59

                    My first h8sband who died in 84, had 3 black belts and two brown and was a competition fencer in high school, preferred to talk his way out of fights or pulling  something that scared the shit out of the toehr guys BEFORE the fight started. WHen you put out a lit cigar in the palm of your hand, they tend to think twice about taking you on (he was 5'11' and a 145 pounds, so he didn't look scary although, as one friend said, "Be nice to this guy; he knows a hundred different ways to kill you.").  My second husband was career Navy with a tendency to be a berserker at heart--but only if he had to. He won many an argument with higher ranking  NCOs because before he opened his mouth, he knew he had right on his side--and military law.

                    The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

                    by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:03:50 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

            •  Isle of Mona.... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... currently the Isle of Anglesey, was the stronghold of the druids where Paulinus Suetonius' Roman armies destroyed the druids.  It's off the coast of Wales.

              Isle of Man is further north in the middle of the Irish Sea.


              I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

              by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:32:10 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Too bad for our Irish ancestors. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              the reinvasion wiped out the ancient religion and brought the Roman state religion. Legend has it that it was St Patrick of coarse.

          •  The Annals of Imperial Rome (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, WB Reeves

            ... has the description of the murder of the druids and the Roman soldiers' fear of fighting women on the isle of Mona [modern-day Anglesey].

            Julius Agricola was the aide de campe of Paulinus Suetonius, and he related the story to his son-in-law, Tacitus.

            Tacitus, Annals, Book XIV, Chapters 29-37

            While Paulinus was doing that, the Boudiccan Rebellion began.  Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni [in what is today's Essex, or thereabouts] gathered together several Celtic tribes and led an army which destroyed three major cities, starting with Colchester, then on to London and St. Albans.  Archaeologists still find that burnt layer at digs in those locations.

            By the time Paulinus force-marched his armies back across Britain (the word England was not coined until after the Anglo-Saxon invasions, when one section of Britain became Angle-Land, which was shortened to England), the other towns had also been razed to the ground with virtually everyone in each location killed in retribution for the flogging of Boudicca and the raping of her two daughters.

            The location of the battle between Paulinus' troops and Boudicca's army (they outnumbered the Romans) is not known.  The description survives, and wherever it was, the old people and children were behind the fighting Celts on baggage wains on rise of land.  The Roman army began a pincer movement and with the baggage wains and people blocking a retreat, the Celts were slaughtered.  The Celts had numerical superiority, but they had no discipline; their fighting ways were never that of the disciplined Roman military forces.

            Whatever Boudicca's fate - suicide by poison, fell ill and died, wounded/killed and her body too badly disfigured to be identified - she disappeared with/after that battle.

            Caesar tried twice to invade Britain (55 & 54 BCE).  He disliked the Celts for sending reinforcements to help the Gauls he was trying to subdue (see The Conquest of Gaul aka Gallic Wars; I read it as a book with the former title).  Even more, Caesar loathed the druids for their influence over the Celts.  Paulinus destruction of the druids' stronghold on Mona accomplished what Caesar was unable to do.  Since the druids had none of their knowledge written down (they considered it a point of mental laziness if they couldn't remember their knowledge and pass it on), their knowledge died with them.  Between the Romans and the Catholic priests who wrote their impressions of the Celts and histories and mythologies, I'm afraid we have a distorted picture of the druids and their knowledge nowadays.

            If you like your history to be entertaining as well as knowledgeable, I recommend The Eagle and the Raven by Pauline Gedge.  She uses old Roman texts for info on Boudicca and the Celts and the Romans and follows them closely.  The book also delves into the other contemporary Celtic queen in Britain and also mentioned in the Roman sources: Cartimandua, Queen of the Brigantes.

            Or, read the histories by Tacitus, Caesar, and Dio first, then read Gedge's book.

            I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

            by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:20:02 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Half right. It is easier to co-opt the festival (10+ / 0-)

        and thereby to maybe increase the number of followers. However, like all else, this was done for profit and power, the true goals of most organized religions. In the, IMHO, rare case that the founder wasn't cynically perpetrating a fraud and a con-job in order to acquire power, profit and authority, then his or her movement soon would be co-opted by subsequent priests and sacerdotes for that purpose.

        That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

        by enhydra lutris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:10:42 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Well, when it comes to the eary missionaries (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, enhydra lutris

          such a Padraic or Columba, this wouldn't seem accurate. Both of them operated well outside the protection of Christian authority and neither ended up particularly rich or powerful.

          The motives of the Chieftains and "Kings" that they converted are a different question.

          Your description fits Charlemagne to a tee though.

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:47:31 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But they operated, all the same, under the (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves

            pope, and it fits all of them since Constantine.

            That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

            by enhydra lutris on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:33:59 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sure (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Ojibwa, enhydra lutris

              but what was the significance of that under the conditions that prevailed in the latter half of the 5th century A.D.? We don't have much in the way of a written record and the practical reach of the Pope's authority from Rome to Ireland would likely been severely limited. In a real sense Patrick would have been largely on his on.

              These considerations have even greater applicability to St. Columba in as much as he was active in the 6th century A.D. when conditions were, if anything, even more chaotic.

              It's a mistake to imagine that the church emerged from the collapse of Rome as a fully integrated, centralized organization, official church dogma not withstanding .

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sun Mar 17, 2013 at 12:49:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

  •  My Icelandic grandfather married my (16+ / 0-)

    Cupeño grandmother, so I got heiðinn from one side, and pagan from the other!  Either way, we're just people from out in the sticks, and like it that way.

    "We refuse to fight in a war started by men who refused to fight in a war." -freewayblogger

    by Bisbonian on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:01:30 AM PDT

  •  Fascinating, as usual, Ojibwa! (11+ / 0-)

    I think there must be a Venn diagram of overlapping circles showing the relationship of pagans to heathens.  Personally, as an agnostic/atheist, I always sort of considered myself to be a heathen but not necessarily a pagan.  

    I do live in a small rural community, maybe either label would be "historically" appropriate!  

    Metaphors be with you.

    by koosah on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:01:50 AM PDT

    •  Today, it's pretty clear. (8+ / 0-)

      Heathen is used to refer to followers of Asatru, or Norse paganism (sadly, white supremacists have tried to co-opt this faith which most heathens resent because they are not violent white supremacists). Pagan refers to anyone who follows a pagan faith, usually not monotheistic, who is not Wiccan. They follow a Greek pantheon, an Egyptian one, etc.  Wicca refers to a specific religion, re-constructed from celtic paganism, and WIccans follow the Rede (google it and "cahrge of the Goddess" and you'll have prett much msot of the rules and beleifs of my faith).  WIccans are often called witches, but there are also non-WIccan witches who use folklor-based magic and are not bound to do no harm as the Rede requires Wiccans. Yeah, it gets confuding, so if soemone say he or she is a witch, I ask "What tradition?" because there are many different versions of WIcca, all following the Rede but doing things a little differently.

      The last time we mixed religion and politics people got burned at the stake.

      by irishwitch on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:10:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And there are non-Wiccan Pagans (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Ojibwa, Alexandra Lynch

        who follow the Rede as well, including my tradition, Church of All Worlds.

        Organ donors save lives! A donor's kidney gave me my life back on 02/18/11; he lives on in me. Please talk with your family about your wish to donate.

        Why are war casualty counts "American troops" and "others" but never "human beings"?

        by Kitsap River on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:08:58 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks, Ojibwa. (15+ / 0-)

    For me, religion no; spiritualism yes. In the sense that I feel a strong connection to the great unknown and unknowable, to the Earth and all her flora and fauna, her rivers and oceans and puddles.

    I'm a heathen, I think. As in my preferred environment of living in the heather.

    Inspiration is hard to come by. You have to take it where you find it. --- Bob Dylan.

    by figbash on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:04:25 AM PDT

  •  As an agnostic (8+ / 0-)

    my favorite Christian holiday--Easter--particularly appeals to me because of how deeply rooted it is in Western culture, through Jewish and pagan tradition.

    Christianity, as it originated and spread, was forced to stretch considerably to "engulf" local traditions.

    Thanks for the diary.

    It's here they got the range/ and the machinery for change/ and it's here they got the spiritual thirst. --Leonard Cohen

    by karmsy on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 09:12:49 AM PDT

    •  Ireland (11+ / 0-)

      I teach a number of courses on ancient Ireland, often focusing on pre-Christian Ireland. In talking about the early monastic period, I usually point out that monasteries, sacred sites, and churches were often built on places which the druid had used for ceremonies. In fact, some of the Druid deities came Catholic Saints.

      •  Do you teach about human sacrifice? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Notreadytobenice, karmsy, zinger99

        That was one of the main reasons Christianity triumphed in Ireland. You're life wasn't in danger, only your afterlife.

        •  Oh for Goddess sake! (5+ / 0-)

          The only GOOD sacrifice is a willing sacrifice -- just killing someone and saying you did it for some divine being does not give you brownie points in the hereafter, no matter how much ritual you dress it up with...

          At some point in history every known culture has killed people, sometimes for their gods, sometimes for other reasons.

          Christianity's hands are not clean -- only it has a tendency of killing its' fellow Christians just because they worshipped their god in a different manner.

          Look up the Cathars, the Albigensians, the Coptic Christians (during the Crusades), and the whole spate of wars and persecutions set off by the Reformation.  

        •  it wouldn't be a thead about Paganism (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Alexandra Lynch, Ojibwa, karmsy

          without someone bringing up human / blood sacrifice. (a common accusation from religions against other religions - see the Jews.) As a modern Pagan, we get that on occasion, along with the you worship Satan accusations. I can't say for sure what the ancients did in practice, as we only have the word of conquerors, but everything I know about modern Paganism tells me life is sacred and interconnected and a core tenet is the principle of 'harm none." Therefore it seems like the idea of human sacrifice (as implied in the term human sacrifice, in other words an unwilling victim) would be anathema to those beliefs.

          "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, a liberal, fanatical, criminal..."-7.75, -5.54

          by solesse413 on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 12:29:45 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Meso-American Religions Set the Tone (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ojibwa, justintime, karmsy

            Unfortunately, the great Meso-American religions are the last organized pagan faiths which the Western world has encountered and they did rely quite a bit on human sacrifice.  Clearly, since they were the most recent, they're the best remembered and extended to all pagan religions.  Few people today know that the last pagan religion in Europe was among the Lithuanians, against whom the Teutonic Knights actually crusaded over centuries until the Lithuanians converted in only about the 14th century.  That didn't stop the Teutonic Knights from continuing their crusades against the Lithuanians though.

            "Love the Truth, defend the Truth, speak the Truth, and hear the Truth" - Jan Hus, d.1415 CE

            by PrahaPartizan on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 03:08:14 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Modern Paganism only dates from the 1890s (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            and and is rather benign. I never said anything about organized Wicca groups ritually killing people. I was talking about prechristian Ireland, when they certainly did do it.

            When I first went to China, I was horrified to learn that the Han dynasty practiced human sacrifice, and that it continued well into the second millennium CE (exactly when, I was never able to find out).

            There is evidence that Odin and Thor received human sacrifice, and not that many centuries before Cortez conquered Mexico either.

            When we are talking about "neo-paganism" or Wicca, we are NOT talking about ancient polytheism and vice versa.

        •  Where's the evidence (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Ojibwa, NonnyO, karmsy

          for human sacrifice in Ireland?

          Nothing human is alien to me.

          by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:55:25 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Sorry to kill your illusions, but (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            WB Reeves
            •  What illusions? (0+ / 0-)

              I just asked for the evidence, which I will now examine.

              Project much?

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:28:52 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  Okay thanks for the link (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              NonnyO, Ojibwa

              I suspected that you were referencing the bog men/women. I'm familiar with such finds as well as with the academic debate as to whether or not are they are condemned criminals, sacrificial victims or both. I wasn't aware that an expert consensus on the questions had been reached. Here's a key passage from the article:

              Eamonn Kelly said the find ‘mirrors that of Oldcroghan Man in 2003, which was on the boundary of the territory centred on Croghan Hill, where the ancient kings of Uí Fáilge were inaugurated. Like Oldcroghan Man, it is believed that Cashel Man was killed as part of a sovereignty ritual.’

              He added: ‘Wounds noted on the body suggest we are dealing with a victim of human sacrifice.’

              What's missing here is an explanation of why "it is believed" that Oldcroghan Man was a ritual sacrifice or why the wounds on Cashel Man "suggest" that he was a victim of human sacrifice. Moreover, it isn't clear exactly who's belief is being referenced or whether that belief is a general academic consensus or subject to continued debate.

              Guess I'll have to inquire further.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 06:47:49 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  This at least answers the question of whose belief (0+ / 0-)

              is being referenced.

              I have to point out that none of the evidence presented in the article necessarily dictates the conclusion that the individuals were sacrificial victims.

              Nothing human is alien to me.

              by WB Reeves on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 07:15:27 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

    •  They were ordered from Rome... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, karmsy

      ... to adopt and adapt local religious (i.e. "pagan") sites and goddesses and gods because then it would be easier for the local people to accept the new religion.

      That's how so many Xian churches were built on sites of old pagan worship, and how so many Xian saints were adopted from pagan worship..., particularly Goddess worship by making Mary a high deity.

      The oldest forms of matriarchal worship had the Maiden, Mother, Crone female trinity.  It was the ones who were used to worshiping a female deity who had to be won over more than any others.

      Paleolithic sites all over Europe have unearthed multiple female statues - perhaps the most famous is the Venus of Willendorf.  There are many other small feminine statues, too.  
      Venus of Dolní Věstonice
      Venus of Petřkovice
      Venus of Hohle Fels
      Venus of Brassempouy
      More info on Venus figurines.

      The year I decided on my minor studies (Art History), I was able to arrange my studies so everything was coordinated.  Literature was the earliest known, art was the earliest known, and music was the earliest known.  Across all disciplines, I was studying the earliest known for one whole year.  It was quite thrilling.

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 04:52:09 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Ēostre is an old Anglo-Saxon Goddess of Dawn (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Ojibwa, karmsy

      I'm sick of attempts to steer this nation from principles evolved in The Age of Reason to hallucinations derived from illiterate herdsmen. ~ Crashing Vor

      by NonnyO on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 05:07:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  animism and pantheism: (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, blue muon, Notreadytobenice

    Cut and paste theology from Wikipedia:

    Animism is not the same as Pantheism, although the two are sometimes confused. Some faiths and religions are even both pantheistic and animistic. One of the main differences is that while animists believe everything to be spiritual in nature, they do not necessarily see the spiritual nature of everything in existence as being united (monism), the way pantheists do. As a result, animism puts more emphasis on the uniqueness of each individual soul. In Pantheism, everything shares the same spiritual essence, rather than having distinct spirits and/or souls.

    The Catholic church regarded pantheism as heresy. Italian monk Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in 1600 for heresy, is considered by some to be a pantheist. Baruch Spinoza's Ethics, finished in 1675, was the major source from which pantheism spread.

    For a time during the 19th century pantheism was the theological viewpoint of many leading writers and philosophers, attracting figures such as William Wordsworth and Samuel Coleridge in Britain; Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph Schelling and Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel in Germany; Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau in the USA. Seen as a growing threat by the Vatican, it came under attack 1862 in the Syllabus of Errors of Pius IX.

    Albert Einstein:  "We followers of Spinoza see our God in the wonderful order and lawfulness of all that exists and in its soul as it reveals itself in man and animal."

    The Vatican mentioned pantheism in a 2009 Papal encyclical and a 2010 New Year's Day statement, criticizing pantheism for denying the superiority of humans over nature and "seeing the source of man's salvation in nature".

  •  I had a professor (4+ / 0-)

    who had simpler definitions:

    Pagan:  Believing in other gods.
    Heathen:  Outside the (our) church.

    Those can be useful concepts, but I really like the linguistic approach Ojibwa used here.  Gives it some nice depth.

    And there's always "PAGAN:  People Against Goodness And Niceness" from the movie.  :D

    I am not religious, and did NOT say I enjoyed sects.

    by trumpeter on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:17:58 AM PDT

  •  Went to Avebury ~40 years ago... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Driving around SW england and saw stones sticking out of the ground. Walking around and came across a young lady dressed in black with goth type makeup. She gave me the evil eye so didn't try to start-up a conversation.

    From the back, she looked just like the woman first from the left in the Avebury picture. Ah, memories.

  •  Judeo-Christian god (5+ / 0-)

    Didn't this god call on Rick Perry to run for President and then throw him under the bus? What kind of god is that?
    And the Rain God brought rain to Houston before many other parts of Texas. Houston had not voted for Rick Perry.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 10:52:13 AM PDT

  •  I've never liked the word "pagan" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    as a catch all for the wide variety non-Abrahamic beliefs.

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sat Mar 16, 2013 at 01:06:29 PM PDT

  •  When I was an inmate at Catholic elementary (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ojibwa, PrahaPartizan, NonnyO

    school, we had classroom drives to cough up our pennies for "pagan babies." The youngest of us hadn't a clue what the term meant though it conjured images of immense suffering that could be alleviated by those of us who were already spared such horrors. Holy hell.
    Thanks for the diary, Ojibwa.

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