Born Again Pagans – Unraveling Misconceptions of the Goddess Movement
The Neo-Pagan movement is on the rise… In fact, paganism is one of the most popular ‘religious’ activities on the Internet these days. It is interesting that under the egalitarian format of the Internet that Neo-Paganism has become such a large force to be reckoned with. Today’s technology allows ideas that have been withheld and maligned for centuries to come to the surface for inspection and consideration. A new universal language and understanding is being born.
As we have passed the change of the century and 12-21-12, many people find themselves ready to make changes in their perceptions of the world: the growing ecological movement, the rise of vegetarianism, the spreading of Eastern philosophies into the Western World through the New Age movement, the discovery of Quantum Physics, and the re-awakening of the Goddess for many.
It is a time for a paradigm shift. It is time to openly acknowledge that if the concept of God is to become more universal, it must acknowledge both masculine and feminine aspects; time to turn the focus from tearing down other’s ideas to building anew from our own sacred past and from the vast multi-national resources available in today’s modern world.
Male and Female – God and Goddess
The basic premise of most Pagan philosophy is that the divine is made up of both male and female, a God and a Goddess. Pagans also acknowledge the passing of seasons and the movements in the heavens. Their holy days or Sabbaths revolve around specific occurrences such as the summer and winter solstice and the vernal and autumnal equinox as well as the various phases and activities of the moon, sun, and stars. Paganism as a whole is a very balanced and accepting form of spirituality.
Most of the other titillating and often horrific activities associated with Paganism such as sexual rituals and human or animal sacrifices are complete falsehoods rooted in a negative publicity campaign generated for 2000 years by the Western religious right wing. Such activities are performed by misguided souls and social pariahs, not Pagans.
Pagans vs. Heathens
As mentioned earlier the word pagan actually comes from the Latin root ‘paganus’, literally meaning ‘peasant’ or ‘worshiper of many gods’. Because the gods worshipped were not “The God” condoned by the local authorities these ‘many gods’ were deemed false. At the time of its origin, anyone who was not a worshipper of Christ was considered pagan, whether or not they were pious or good people.
Historically the word pagan has been mistakenly associated with the word heathen (a word dating back to the Middle Ages meaning one who does not accept the God of the Bible or Koran). Heathen refers to an uncultured, uncivilized person usually with no religious or spiritual aspirations.
Multiple Christian Deities
As an aside, it is interesting to note that within Christianity we speak of God the Father, Jesus the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit, they are deemed one entity. Yet when a Pagan speaks of the God and the Goddess, two inter-linked aspects of the divine, they are deemed polytheistic. We see Jesus portrayed as a baby in the manger, a child in the temple, a young man being baptized, a learned teacher, and a risen savior walking with his disciples, and he is still understood as the same person. Yet when pagans speak of the Goddess as the young virgin, the bountiful mother, the aged crone, she again is deemed polytheistic. Truly this is paradoxical.
In order to entrench their power during the Middle Ages the early Church condemned and persecuted anyone not willing to pledge allegiance and ‘pay’ respect to their beliefs. One of the ways they did this was by vilifying spirituality of the local people and the medicine men and women who held power and respect in their communities. These were simple people who understood the herbs and plant-life around them and practiced folk medicine. They understood the power of prayer and meditation to aid healing. They saw the sense in respecting Mother Earth and Father Sun; that by having a personal relationship with the elements of existence one is more careful and loving of the world and others around them.
The results of these early persecutions still linger on today. When people hear the words ‘witch’ or ‘witchcraft’ it immediately conjures up a negative image filled with mythology of evil intent. Anyone who associates with such a word is greeted with suspicion and fear. For this reason most men and women in this century in the Neo-Pagan movement have chosen to use the word Wicca to describe their religious stance. Wicca really is not that different from the practices and philosophies of early witchcraft with one or two exceptions. By providing a new label Wicca allows people to return to their past knowledge of the sacred without fear of unjust persecution. And by incorporating the modern language of Eastern and Western and New Age thought, a more universal philosophy is created.
New Light on Old Ideas
We are really at the precipice of an exciting frontier of global awareness. Through technology, whether the Internet, or other forms of media, we have powerful tools for mutual understanding and self awareness. If we have a willingness to reach out and look at new ideas or even old ideas in new light, barriers will be broken down and we can discover and appreciate ways other than our own. It is time for humanity to be born again.