Monday, April 20, 2009

On "New Age Paganism"

Okay, so I had a rant on the IMDb boards again. :look This time, in response to the term 'New Age Paganism' being used on the Richard Dawkins boards:


New Age and Neo Paganism are two different things that don't necessarily go together. New Age = dolphins, angels, crystals, channeling, rainbows and generic fluff favoured in majority by quasi-Christian post-menopausal women. Neo Paganism is practiced by both men and women and is more about earthiness and connection with nature. Then there are some who like mixing the two (I know I do!), but most New Agers get a rather blank expression on their faces when a Pagan starts talking about athamés, cauldrons and circles - just like most Pagans would do the same when hearing a New Ager talk of having lived a previous life as a highly enlightened spirit-being somewhere in the vicinity of the Pleiades... so bit of a crowbar separation there. ;) (Okay, so most of the New Agers I know are a little more connected to reality than that!)

Neo Pagans normally frown upon New Agers and their "pay for salvation" policy on going on expensive courses and retreats, wheras the New Agers tend to look upon the Neo Pagans as being a bit too "dark" and potentially full of negative energy for them, as they're all about light and positive energy and stuff like that, and quite often with seriously Christian overtones, as a lot of them won't shut up about God and especially angels. Meh. Once upon a time I was the secretary for a spiritual organisation in my home town. We had a board meeting where we were trying to think of speakers for the upcoming period and I suggested maybe some of my Pagan friends would like to give a talk on what Neo Paganism is and that sort of thing, as I thought that could be quite an interesting topic. One of the New Agey ladies' response was something along the lines of "oh no, black magic is bad, mmkay? We don't want any of their kind here." WTF?! So basically, New Agers get my goat a lot more than Pagans do, and I count myself as belonging to both camps, while at the same time firmly believing in the non-existance of God and that fundamentalism is bad regardless of the faith that's being peddled.

Anyway.

For Wiccans to say that their religion is ancient is deluded - Wicca was invented by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s. His religion might well have been INFLUENCED by ancient druidic beliefs, but Wicca in itself is a recent construction. There ARE pagans out there who really DO try to be historically accurate in regards to ancient religions (save maybe for the ritualistic slaughter which clashes with the "everything is sacred" and "an it harm none" beliefs), but for the most part, no. Most people just want to get on with their lives and try to live more in harmony with nature rather than trying to destroy it or have other things that are more important to them than to worship eg. Eostre in a historically correct fashion.

I've never personally encountered any Pagans "dressing up like a bunch of tits" at ceremonies, but then again, I have met a bunch of Pagans outside of ceremonies who insist on dressing in all black, dying their hair black and that sort of thing, which I don't get. I mean, just because you go Pagan doesn't mean you have to go Goth at the same time, right?

The two halves of nature - it's a Yin & Yang type balance thing. I like the duality aspect of Neo Paganism, I just don't buy into the duality as deity concept. If I want an invisible friend, I'll invent one that doesn't want me to kill everyone who doesn't believe in him/her.

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