Pagans Can’t Be Pegged

Above my desk in the Washington Post newsroom, amid other souvenirs of stories I’ve written, is a bumper sticker saying: … Continued

Above my desk in the Washington Post newsroom, amid other souvenirs of stories I’ve written, is a bumper sticker saying: “Save Our Wiccan Chaplain.” It bears a Wiccan five-pointed star, or pentacle, surrounded by the symbols of 10 other faiths, including a cross, and the words: “All Gods … Are One God.”

It was given to me by David and Tama Oringderff, leaders of the Texas-based Sacred Well Congregation. They have worked tirelessly, and so far fruitlessly, to persuade the U.S. military to appoint a Wiccan chaplain.

This week, as Wiccans and other pagans pressed their demand for a chaplain at a July 4 rally outside the White House, the bumper sticker reminded me of a question I face every time I write about their faith.

Namely, do they worship some gods, one god or all gods? How can I explain Wicca to readers when Wiccans don’t seem to agree among themselves?

Here are a few of my pitiful past efforts:

From a July 4, 2006 article: “Some Wiccans call themselves witches, pagans or neopagans. Most of their rituals revolve around the cycles of nature, such as equinoxes and phases of the moon. Wiccans often pick and choose among religious traditions, blending belief in reincarnation and feminine gods with ritual dancing, chanting and herbal medicine.”

From Feb. 19, 2007: “ … Wicca, a blend of witchcraft, feminism and nature worship that has ancient pagan roots.”

From April 24, 2007: “ … Wicca, a blend of witchcraft and nature worship that is one of the country’s fastest-growing religions.”

For help, I turned to the organizer of the July 4 rally, Caroline Kenner of Silver Spring, Md., whose eclecticism is an example of why it’s so hard to write anything about Wicca that is both meaningful and true.

Kenner, 50, sometimes calls herself a “Washington witch doctor” but says the proper title is “pagan shamanic healer.” She’s an “initiate” of the Assembly of the Sacred Wheel, an association of Wiccan covens based in Delaware, and a member of the “magical family” of Janet Farrar of Kells, Ireland, whom Kenner described as “one of the founders of the modern witchcraft revival.” Plus, she’s a follower of Cuban santeria.

Both Celtic and Afro-Cuban gods “are dear to me,” she said. “I’m just an overachieving Bryn Mawr anthro grad.”

Back on point: Kenner acknowledged that “it’s extremely difficult to define Wicca concisely because it means a great many things to different people.” Wicca, she said, is “a loose ritual style shared by people who worship diverse gods.” Some are polytheists, believing in many gods. Others are “duotheists,” believing in one god and one goddess. Still others, according to Kenner, are monotheists who believe that all the gods worshipped around the world since time immemorial are just “facets of a single, unified gem of deity.”

About that “loose ritual style,” which includes creating sacred circles and summoning spirits (including, by patriotic Wiccans on July 4 in Lafayette Park, the spirits of the Founding Fathers). Back in 1999, President Bush told ABC TV that, “I don’t think witchcraft is a religion.
… ” He seems to have intended that remark as a condemnation, not a reflection on how hard Wicca is to define. But in a very narrow sense, he had a point. Witchcraft is a practice, not a religion. Knowing that Wiccans practice witchcraft does not tell you very much about what they believe. It may even be misleading, connoting to many people — perhaps even the president — a form of devil worship, which every Wiccan I’ve met has adamantly rejected.

Some of the Wiccans I’ve interviewed have contended that Christianity is equally diverse. Some have also noted that Wicca is an “initiate” religion, one that involves a series of initiations into mysteries; to the uninitiated, it’s, well, just mysterious.

In Kenner’s view, the difficulty of defining Wicca — not to mention the entire pagan family of religions — is a positive thing.

“There is no unity of belief among us. That’s one of the beauties of it, and one of the gifts we have to bring to this world. Instead of seeing the differences among us frightening and threatening, we find them exciting and stimulating,” she said.

Maybe it’s one of those ideas that actually fit on a bumper sticker.

Alan Cooperman has covered religion for The Washington Post since 2002. This month, he will become the senior editor for non-fiction in the paper’s literary section, Book World.

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  • Mandy

    The same thing can be said for Christianity, Islam, Judaism, and all other major religions. The problem is MAN/Flesh/Humans. The problem isn’t necesarily the religion. What people fail to realize is that as humans, everyone questions, everyone has some unbelief in something. Everyone wants something that will suit and benefit their personal needs. That person will generally flock to a specific denomination of a specific religion or belief or non at all. That is where the problem is. Each denomination of Christianity (And Christianity in itself) came from something or someone who didn’t “Fit-In” to the normal of the original. Christianity came from the Jews who converted to a belief in Christ once he died. There were no Christians (the term Christians) until in Acts during the days of Pentacost. And there in itself we have a denomination of Christianity (pentacostal). You have Catholics who are Orthodox and New aged. You have Jews who are Orthodox or New aged converts who just want to say “I practice Judaism” (as so many of the famous people out there searching for something). You have Christians orthodox, baptist, pentacostal, methodist, AME, Episcopalian, all of that stuff. But what CHristians fail to realize is that to be a Christian you must be a disciple of Christ. And to be that you must accept him into your life. You are not a christian based on the denomination you come from. So as to the writer saying that Wiccans don’t have a cohersion of beliefs, well it appears that most of all other religions don’t either.How is it that a Muslim can say he wants to kill all Christians and then another muslim says that’s not in the Quran. Which is it? Aren’t they reading the same book. How is it that some Christians believe in war and others say that it isn’t Christ LIke to be at war? I personally am one that KNOWS WITHOUT A SHADOW OF A DOUBT THAT WAR IS JUSTIFIED BY GOD! Then some say it’s left up to interpretation. Well guess what! No one cares what you want to interpret. What does God say. If everyone would read the bible through the eyes of God rather than our own selfish misguided personal needs then we will see what the Will of God is. Another problem is Religion. Myself as a Christian, I don’t follow “Religion”. I have a relationship with the one who created me. I can only do that through daily worship and communication with God. That communication comes through prayer and meditation. Prayer OUT LOUD. There is no such thing as a “SILENT PRAYER”. Those that are deaf, use sign language. Meditation is NOT prayer. You meditate by focusing on the good that is in your life and what good God has given to you. That’s different than Prayer. But so many Christians have this so Wrong that’s why so many former Christians have such hatred toward Christians. They didn’t understand. They were confused. As are the Wiccans. They are only in it for selfish gain. They are searching for something that isn’t there. The only way the emptiness can be filled is filling it with the Love of Jesus. Then we are RECONNECTED with the Father of Heaven that Created us.

  • sunfell

    This was an excellent article, but I do have a nit or three to pick. Why did you put “initiate” in quotes? Would you do the same for a “graduate” of a seminary or an “executive” of a large company? Initiation is a very important religious accomplishment, just like getting a degree or a high powered job. It isn’t something that should be diminished or made exclusive by putting it inside quotes as if it were something questionable or not quite kosher. I also see that you quote-diminished “Magical Family”. Would you do the same for an actual family or a congregation of a mainline church? Yes, a magical family is a hybrid of a congregation and an actual family, but it is no less a real thing to those who participate in it. It is these subtle diminishments, exclusions and dismissals that people outside the mainstream- including Pagans- have to fight almost daily. We’ve made great strides in being accepted as normal, ordinary hard working people, not wild-eyed crazies who’ll whip out the whammy-wand on you if you look at us sideways. But we still fight the battle of being called ‘self-proclaimed’ when our particular faith and beliefs are mentioned. Christians are ‘self-proclaimed’ also, but no one ever puts that into print. They’re also “baptized” too, but no one uses the quotes.Fair treatment. That’s all we ask. No surrounding a possibly strange idea in quotes. No diminishing a belief or an action. Inclusion- not exclusion. Yes, we’re real. Yes, we’re here, and our numbers are growing, our religions maturing. It’s time to accept and include us, and move on.

  • Ann O.

    Thanks for the article, Mr. C. It brings out a very common problem in all sorts of dialogues these days, not just religious ones. It’s the problem of “family resemblance terms”, as the philosopher Wittgenstein called them. These are groups of similar words, like “witch” as in the Wizard of Oz, and “witch” as in some Wiccan religious groups, and “witch” as applied to medieval women who were expert in healing, etc., etc., etc., etc. The point about these uses is that there is no one thing they have in common which specifies all of them as being “a witch”. In other words, they are not limited to having just one meaning — they cannot be defined because *when they are used* they are in fact given many different meanings.This doesn’t mean that individual uses don’t *have* a clear meaning. It’s just that the meanings differ from person to person, book to book, movie to movie, etc., etc. And this is legitimate. It is also confusing.The solution is to offer our own meaning in any particular conversation or context. But many people are convinced there has to be some *one* meaning that that is the “real” meaning, that naturally *belongs* to a word — you know, “its” meaning. The word “it” is the problem. For family resemblance terms there is no one “it” that the different uses stand for. So there is no one “it” that is “the” Wiccan faith, etc. And the same thing seems to be true of other faiths — and that’s where we get into problems of orthodoxy.Yes, in some faiths we do want to discover the meaning(s) of our founders. But there’s the rub — to find what, for instance, just what Jesus meant.

  • Faith Morvant

    I agree that Wicca can be hard to define. At times I hesitate to use it in describing my religion to others because depending on which ‘Wiccans’ they have met in the past I may or may not agree with their teachings. The differences in our beliefs from tradition to tradition is similar to the differences in the Christian beliefs from denomination to denomination. If you describe a Christian based on the beliefs of a Catholic say and then apply that to the beliefs of a Baptist you will find that you have missed some important points. They are both Christians, yet both have beliefs not consistant with the others. Same thing with Pagans. There a many titles to follow under the Pagan beliefs. Some general ideas are shared while others are more diverse. One rule you will find consistently with most is ‘Harm None’. I am by no means an expert, just a practioner. The prejudice regarding my religious choice is frustrating. I was raised Christian. As an adult I searched for a religous choice that was closer to my beliefs. There are many areas of Christianity in which I was told I needed to believe, but found I could not agree. Such as the theory ‘believe as I tell you or burn in hell’. I just can’t accept that. As I solitary practioner I read, study, listen to many ideas, theories, and doctrines. I take what feels right and incorporate it into my own beliefs and practices. That is why no two are exactly alike. We aren’t forced to accept anyones opinion, but allowed to use our own knowledge and insight to validate beliefs and practices.

  • Anonymous

    It seems to be this division and disparity that makes Pagans in general such an ineffective social force.

  • Mary Cunningham

    This was a good article and reflects the puzzlement that many–like me–have in determining core pagan beliefs and/or myths. There are so many to choose from! MandyRe:Catholics Orthodox or New AgedWell, on this allegation I hope I can shed some light. Catholics, defined as those who belong to the Roman Catholic Church, do not fall into the category of the above. They are defined by their membership in a global church–the Roman Catholic Church–whose main authority is vested in the Pope, who they hold is the direct successor of St Peter, and from him, the Church’s ultimate founder: Jesus Christ Himself. All Catholics are required by the Church to attend Mass and partake of the sacraments as well to adhere to Church teachings on ethics and morality. Priests are required to hew to Church teachings on the same: for example, if a priest proclaimed at mass that abortion was permitted he could be expelled (excommunicated) from the Church. The liturgy of the Mass itself is highly standardized, although available in the vernacular, with the result that a Catholic could take Mass and the Eucharist at any Catholic church worldwide and recognize the outlines of the service. It has a central authority which defines the main tenets of the faith & a cathecism which it disperses to the faithful. Any altar in a Roman Catholic church is highly specified and must contain certain holy items. As a consequence, they look similar to believers whereever they are. It is a highly centralized faith, a monarchy really, and has endured now for almost two thousand years.

  • chanikynes

    Thank you for explaining our diversity.

  • chanikynes

    Thank you for explaining our diversity.

  • Fred

    I am an atheist, not a Wiccan. But in all these “On Faith” panels I have found the Wiccans the most amiable, tolerant people as compared to the lot of condescending, truth-possessing Christians. The idea to worship the miracles of nature to me has a thousand times more common sense, more truth, more modesty than the idea of the scapegoat death of Jesus for our “original sin”, one of the most abominable concepts in Christianity. The “eternal” hell fire, an archaic infantilism, as a punishment for the mentally healthy denial of a preposterous belief should detain any person with a grain of self-dignity from this sort of a “faith”.The “emptiness” and “self-serving” of Wiccans is the same as the “emptiness” and “self-serving” of every other brand of religion. And they all are looking for something that isn’t there.To quote “even” Bush as a spiritual authority is one of the lowest points I have come across so far in these religious discussions.

  • Franklin Evans

    Mr. Cooperman, I offer with a bit of tongue in cheek an answer I’ve found useful, since I have to deal with this situation almost daily.On behalf of Pagans everywhere, I apologize for the major inconvenience of not being easily described in a few words as mandated by the editors to which you must answer.If you think dealing with definitions of Wicca is tough, roll that up with needing to deal with pagans in general, as I do with my local organization. When a person, during an introduction, starts it off with one or more general terms (like Wicca, druid, shaman(ic), etc.), I am often required to ask them to save the rest for later so I can keep up with the general flow of an event. I know, in the meantime, that I’ve only been given a scratch on the surface.We are esoteric. We cover a wider range of beliefs and belief systems than most are used to seeing. We are also, many of us, twice shy for having seen violent (physical as well as verbal) reactions to the labels we would use to describe ourselves.In the meantime, allow me to express my personal gratitude for your efforts. That you wish to understand us better is enough. How long that takes to accomplish is what it takes. If nothing else, those of us who care have an abundance of patience.

  • Athena

    Yes, thank you for attempting to define Paganism. It is rather difficult, because we encompass everthing from religious reconstructionists to Native Americans to Santeria to Erisians who worship the Goddess of Chaos. Our differences, however, aren’t as great as one might think. Hence, you can get someone who is knowledgeable in Shamanism, African Religions, Wicca, etc. without cognitive dissonance. I’ll pass this along to Caroline. I don’t think that she’s seen it yet.

  • Travis

    “How can I explain Wicca to readers when Wiccans don’t seem to agree among themselves?”Obviously, you can replace “Wiccans” in this question with any religion or sect that has more than one follower.Your fear of our confusion seems to be based on the monotheism v. polytheism diversity within Wicca. But what’s difficult to understand about that? Some Wiccans believe in one god and others, more than one. Based on your explanation, perhaps the Wiccans who only believe in one god simply haven’t had the other gods “revealed” to them yet. Who knows? The point is, this disagreement of theirs is no harder to put in perspective than any other aspect of any other religion. Gods are inherently nebulous, so I can’t see how multiplying the number of them suddenly introduces a cloud of confusion into the discussion.Their choice is based on faith and people will believe whatever they want to believe. It’s really that simple.

  • jwest

    How can you explain christianity when christians can’t explain it to themselves??

  • galadriel

    Your article is confused. Paganism is a wide group of religions, neo-paganism a narrower group of religions. Wicca is one particular full-blown neo-pagan religion and has been judged by US courts and academic experts (such as Ronald Hutton) to have all of the features of a religion in its early phases. Wicca is more open and honest about its diversity of beliefs than generally Christianity (for example) admits of. But there are core tenets of the Wiccan religion. The pentacle (the pentagram with one of its points upright in a circle) is its symbol. The Wiccan creed includes “An it harm none, do what thou wilt” as a moral guideline along with the rule of threefold return (what you do comes back at you threefold, so it better not including hurting others). Most Wiccans celebrate the Sabbats: two equinoxes (Mabon and Eostre/Ostara), the two solstices (Litha and Yule)and the four crossquarters (Lughnassa/Lamas, Samhain, Imbolc and Beltane). Many Wiccans celebrate the Esbats (full moons). We believe that there are many gods but all goddesses are one Goddess, all gods are one God and the Goddess and God are ultimately one Ineffible Reality. Underlying this, though, is a diversity of opinion about the nature of the gods. This diversity of opinion is found in other religions such as Christianity (some Christian philosophers have been interested in pantheism, panentheism etc. as a description of God). The Christians’ Bible has several gods: Yaweh, El and Jesus to name but three. Originally Yaweh and El were different Near Eastern gods that have been syncretized in the Christian Bible.Wicca has sacred documents such as the Charge of the Goddess and many of its principles, like those of Christianity (for example), are drawn from pre-Christian paganism.Wicca does use “magick” in its rites. But if you seriously think that this is much different from Christian Communion or Christian prayer or their belief that “faith can move mountains”, then you are drawing distinctions which are carved purely for the purposes of unfairly singling Wicca out.Wicca is more tolerant of a variety of interpretations and for good reason, since pagans have suffered under the intolerance of the Christian church (and indeed Christians have suffered under the intolerance of, for example, pagan Romans). If we can’t learn this tolerance and ability to keep somewhat of an open mind, we shall see the West degenerate into the sort of situation you see in the Middle East where endless cycles of violence are the product of intolerance. Vive la diversite.

  • Patrick

    It seems to me to let Wiccans present thier own religius beliefs. i do not understand how Christians feel qualified to “understand” every religion when they do not “understand”.If i want to understand Wiccan I shoud ask someone that actually practices the Wiccan religion, and not someone trying to understand the Wiccan religion.No diferent than getting a doctor that understands my problem and has specific experience with my problem and not justexperience with problems in general.The same is true for Christians and Wiccans, I believe. if I want to know how a Wiccan practices, I should ask a Wiccan practitioner. If I want to know how a Christian practices, I should ask a Christian practitioner. simple I think.

  • Fran Taylor

    Let’s ask a bunch of “Christians” this question:—Hoe can you explain “Christian” to readers when they can’t seem to agree amonst themselves?

  • CC

    “How can I explain Wicca to readers when Wiccans don’t seem to agree among themselves?”As opposed to all that strict uniformity amongst Christians, is that it?Ye Gods (no pun intended), but is it even possible for you folks to be more clueless?No, no, don’t answer that — it was purely rhetorical.

  • Fran Taylor

    At first, I didn’t like this column because it’s clearly slanted toward narrow-minded people who call themselves Christians, but now I like it, because it’s amusing to see these self-righteous twits make fools of themselves and show us that they’re really hateful bigots.

  • Julius O

    Jews can’t be pegged either. I was born into a Jewish family and I don’t know a fraction of the crazy rules we’re supposed to follow. Then again it depends on if you’re reform, conservative, orthodox, Hassidic, etc. Each have different ways about them.Then there’s the Christians. Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Anabaptist, Lutheran, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, etc.. There’s gotta be differences between those, right? Why else have a schism? What are those differences? Damned if I know. You know what? No one of any religion can easily be pegged. I love how anything new is considered a cult. Sure believing a comet is a space ship that will carry people to Xanadu sounds kooky, but you know what else does? The idea that the all powerful creator of the universe impregnated a Jewish virgin to give birth to competing religion. What were the people who came up with that smoking?It’s so cute to see you people debate these things as though any religion makes any kind of sense. It’s all nonsense. All religion. None of you can be pegged except as possibly deranged for putting so much faith in religion.

  • Julius O

    What a simplistic and obtuse point of view.Do you think Wiccans are the only ones who can’t be pegged?Jews can’t be pegged either. I was born into a Jewish family and I don’t know a fraction of the crazy rules we’re supposed to follow. Then again it depends on if you’re reform, conservative, orthodox, Hassidic, etc. Each have different ways about them.Then there’s the Christians. Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Baptist, Anabaptist, Lutheran, Catholics, Greek Orthodox, etc.. There’s gotta be differences between those, right? Why else have a schism? What are those differences? Damned if I know. You know what? No one of any religion can easily be pegged. I love how anything new is considered a cult. Sure believing a comet is a space ship that will carry people to Xanadu sounds kooky, but you know what else does? The idea that the all powerful creator of the universe impregnated a Jewish virgin to give birth to competing religion. What were the people who came up with that smoking?It’s so cute to see you people debate these things as though any religion makes any kind of sense. It’s all nonsense. All religion. None of you can be pegged except as possibly deranged for putting so much faith in religion.

  • Ian Corrigan

    Christian attitudes about religion can make it difficult to understand Pagan and Wiccan religion for several reasons. One of the keys is the question of the place of ‘beliefs’. Christianity practically defines observance by a set of doctrines which the member must (or does) hold to be ‘true’ – they are generally encouraged to be viewed as being objective in the way physics or carpentry is objective. Islam has the same quality – one must ‘believe’ that there is one god and muhammed is his prophet.Ancient Pagan religions, on the other hand, were not ‘credal’ – they didn’t require acceptance of any particular philosophical position, much less the placing of ‘faith’ in a statement of doctrines – the ‘creeds’ that came to define christianity. These ancient paths were defined, rather, by the customs and practices they kept – observance of feasts, performance of ceremony, etc.This characteristic is generally shared by neopagan paths (I don’t even use the term ‘faiths’ for neopagan ways, because they don’t depend on any specified faith). Wicca, for instance is a body of group and personal ritual and spiritual practice. One can tell when one is at a Wiccan-type ceremony by how they work their rituals, not by what beliefs they hold. Most Wiccan rites will not include any group statement of belief – the religion is actually done, more than described.Wicca (and most other Pagan paths) doesn’t really care what philosophical explanation the worshippers adopt for the deeds and effects of the rites and practices. Certainly there is internal discourse, and one finds various nascent ‘schools’ of explanation. These include the spectrum that Mr Cooperman describes. Some Pagans are ‘hard’ polytheists – each of the many God/desses is a separate being, with its own will, etc. Others take a more monistic position, holding that the many divine persons are ‘aspects’ of some smaller number of deities. Most historically, Wicca is duotheistic – the ultimate divine manifestations are the male and female all-beings commonly called the Lady and the Lord. With the influx of new members in recent times, some monotheist influence has been felt, and sometimes modern Wiccans try to reconcile all the gods into One God, in some way. In practice a majority of Pagan and Wiccan groups functionally worship the cultural divine persons we think of as ‘the gods’ – Diana, Dionysos, etc, even if they hold a philosophical opinion that they are part of a unified divine existence.Neopaganism and Wicca are new religions – we have some 60 years of work behind us, but forever ahead of us. I think the broader culture is just going to have to get used to a set of religions that are defined by practice, not by doctrine. It’ll be confusing at first, but I think we can manage it.

  • Paganplace

    It should be noted that the failure of others to understand our religion, or in fact, failure of others to agree with us about what religion ‘should be,’ (as in, like theirs) …Does not invalidate our beliefs, our status as an identifiable religious minority, or, in fact, mean we’re the ones who are ‘confused.’These explanations are a courtesy, and meant to offer interfaith understanding:But let’s get this clear: This does not mean we have to explain ourselves to you, or that our rights are contingent upon this. These things are guaranteed by our liberty as unalienable, *not contingent upon your approval.

  • Terry

    Various kinds of Christians have, at many points in the past, been quite willing to kill each other over their differences. I suppose some Wiccans have, too, but don’t recall any historical coverage, except for Salem . . . oh, right, that was Christians killing other Christians who they thought were Wiccans. Oh well.

  • Justin

    Keep doing your homework. I’m a Wiccan and I don’t practice Witchcraft at all.

  • Damien Williams

    Diversity within a religious tradition is nothing to be afraid of, if you can simply recognise, from the outset, that you will get it wrong. No matter the “revealed tradition” or living interpretation, people will take the information that they have very differently. This means that no matter the “core message” of the tradition, everyone gets it a little wrong.From the first follower downward, it’s a multiplication of misinterpretations. But you try, and you read, and you engage what you believe to be the spirit of the thing, with the knowledge that you have of the origins of the tradition.Of course, some things make that difficult, when the disparity between the traditionally understood starting point and the academically accepted starting point is just so very large, indeed.

  • Anonymous

    Which religion is it that says there’s a God in the sky? Is that Paganism or is that Christianity?

  • Paganplace

    Umm, before you look at the ‘sky,’ look at your ‘eyes.’ This ain’t about radio signals. 🙂

  • Donna

    Hey, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What do you think of me?

  • Donna

    Hey, I am one of Jehovah’s Witnesses. What do you think of me?

  • Crystal Dolphin

    ***How can I explain Wicca to readers when Wiccans don’t seem to agree among themselves?***While I think your article is well researched and written – The simple answer to your question is, in my opinion – don’t try. One who wants to learn about Wicca can find many Wiccan/Pagan resources to learn from – and if they so choose to follow such a spiritual path, they will find the right one for them. And as far as that question…as others have said, the same can be said for Christians…do all divisions of Christianity agree amongst themselves? The Protestants and Catholics in Ireland have been fighting amongst themselves for how long now? No religion or spiritual path can be summed up in one simple article.Mandy, I have read the Bible. If you choose to see this as the Will of God, then that is your choice and I respect that. I choose to remember that the Bible was written by humans – as was any other written resource that may very well contain wonderful insights and valuable life lessons.As for those who make statements like: **Wiccans are in it for selfish gain**and that we’re **trying to control the forces of nature**You obviously have not done your homework on the basics of Wiccan religions and practices. And you don’t have to understand them or learn about them if you choose not to, but then please, please don’t make false/inaccurate statements or pass judgement on that which you don’t understand.As for one commenter who asked “Where are the Wiccan charity groups?” Many solitary Wiccans as well as groups are in fact involved in charities within their communities. As one example, the Coven I attend Sabbat rituals with holds food drives at every Sabbat (that’s 8 times a year) for local food banks and homeless shelters. As another example, myself and several of my Pagan friends participate regularly in fundraisers for our local humane society. We do our share in trying to help others, as we would like to see the world be a better place for ALL. We revere and respect Nature and the Earth and that includes all its inhabitants.***If we can’t learn this tolerance and ability to keep somewhat of an open mind, we shall see the West degenerate into the sort of situation you see in the Middle East where endless cycles of violence are the product of intolerance***Well said Galadrial!!! Does it really matter who believes what or what spiritual path one follows? We are all people. As long as we are all respectful of each other’s rights – can we not all just find a way to accept each others’ differences and live peacefully? Can’t we learn from one another instead of passing judgement on one another?I am Wiccan, that is my choice. I accept others’ beliefs as their personal choices and respect them for such. They are no more or less valid than mine. I can not sum all that I believe and practice into one or two simple sentences. But at the core of my beliefs -I follow a code of ethics, and I take responsibility for my own actions, accepting the consequences for such…meaning if I (knowingly or unknowingly) do something wrong or make a mistake, and it bites me in the butt, then I have nobody to blame but myself. (though IMHO, I think this is what all people should do and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with religion or spirituality.) As people, we are not perfect. We all make mistakes on occasion. Hopefully we learn and grow from them.It saddens me that we as a people can not look beyond our differences and work together despite such to make the world a better place to live for all of us. I question…if we all thought and believed the exact same things about religion, politics, sports, whatever! – what would we have to talk about with each other? Is there really a need to hate or be negative to those who are different from you?If we were all exactly the same – wouldn’t life be rather boring? Do you ever notice that if everyone around you, say at the workplace, is in a bad mood, you tend to end up in a bad mood too? Though if others around you are happy and laughing, you are likely to feel good and laugh with them? Positivity spreads just like negativity. Tolerance and acceptance spreads just like hatred and intolerance. Why can’t we all focus on spreading positivity, tolerance, and acceptance, and stop fighting with each other about things we are not going to change about one another?

  • Anonymous

    Ya Ya.

  • x2

    I thought Wiccans worshipped Pan or Cthulu and danced around naked under a full moon while playing a flute.

  • x2

    I thought Wiccans worshipped Pan or Cthulu and danced around naked under a full moon while playing a flute.

  • Emma Cousens

    And do all who say they are true Christians agree with the definition of what a Christian is? The fact is that Religion is and always will be a personal thing for each and every individual. If we were all just alike we would not be having all of these discussions. I am a solitary Wicca, I grew up in the Mountains of Virginia with Nature all around me. Born in 1949 and baptised in the Methodist Church at age 8. I can honestly say to you that I did not know what I was doing when I agreed to the Baptisim. I was taught what to say, told how I would feel and what to think. I was not taught to think for myself. If I dared to question the teachings, I was told I would die a sinner and be damned if I did not believe. Once I began to think for myself, I realized that I did not need someone to tell me what it was I was feeling. I began to search for that satisfaction for my soul. I found Wicca to be the only true feeling of serinity and giving that I need. I believe that everyone has to find what satisfies their souls and that I am not here to be an ‘enforcer’ of my faith. As a Wicca I believe the creed, “Harm None” and that means even in our every though and deed. I can not honestly say that I have not harmed anyone as my actions, my spoken words or my thoughts. These are interpreted by those that see or hear them with THEIR own minds. No two persons think the same. Likewise, no 2 persons will agree 100% in what Wicca is, just as no 2 persons agree 100% with anything. Again, religion is a personal thing for each and every one of us.I try to live my life an an example and if it touches another life in a positive way, so be it. If not, it is not because I didn’t try. We all need to try, we all need to be free thinkers and we all need to learn to be more tolerant of everything and everyone that comes into our lives.Blessed Be,

  • Gwydion Song

    Growth in Knowledge is a wonderful thing.I encourage you to dig further.I commend you on your not being satisfied with the status quo in your own understanding of something you find mysterious.You might make a good pagan someday.

  • m.whitehead

    The Armed Services now allows a Wiccan symbol on the tombstone of soldiers who want it in Arlington National Cemetery. Would that be a Wiccan symbol on a cross? And how can that be when there is no Chaplain to conduct a service?

  • Paganplace

    Oh, M. Whitehead, that’s simple, the regulation grave marker is no longer in the form of a free-standing cross or Star of David, anyway… the symbols are simply carved. As for actual ceremonies, you don’t have to be a military chaplain to perform a funeral in a national cemetery, or over a VA headstone.

  • Brian

    Why are we always trying so desparately to put God in a box? Is there not enough room in an infinite Divinity to be expressed and understood in an infinite number of ways? What is the big deal if one cannot define Wicca because everyone has their own view? People keep missing the beauty of the diversity. God is many various manifestations on the one hand…total undifferentiated unity on the other. The greatest spiritual (NOT religious) figures in our history have said the same thing. Established religion (both East AND West) have more often than not produced conflict and discrimination because they have attempted to put a label on that which can not be defined. Maturing humanity will eventually realize that each person has their own path to God.

  • Anonymous

    Why are the Pagans and Wiccans all hesitiant to define what they THEMSELVES believe? OK, We get it- you don’t want to be defined by someone else.

  • Andrew

    >> Why are the Pagans and Wiccans all hesitiant to define what they THEMSELVES believe?Several reasons.1) If I speak in a public forum and claim to define Wicca, without authority to do so (as I do not see myself as a religious figure, or a priest, or have a coven or other following) . . . I am responsible for the consequences if people such as yourself take what I say as Gospel. Not to my fellow co-religionists, but to the God and Goddess via the Threefold Rule.2) What I personally believe is sacred to me. I don’t usually disclose it casually. I don’t feel the need to spread my faith. I have confidence that others will find their path as I believe I have found mine.3) Pagans in general have feared persecution for centuries. I do not fear persecution, but I accept that it is one of the prices that I might have to pay for talking about my faith in certain circles. It is easier to keep quiet, if not always wise.4) Not all Wiccans have thought their beliefs out carefully enough to share their beliefs in what may well be a hostile public forum. It is one thing to have personal beliefs — it is another to subject them to public attack.5) We don’t have a central authority to speak for us in our beliefs. We have to make it up as we go along, and that process of creating our own belief is an essential part of initiation and of spiritual growth. I’m not very far along my path compared to many others I know. You might think of me as a “lay pagan” to the extent that such a thing exists. Holding out an “answer” to our beliefs, as if it were privileged, would cause some people to stop there instead of growing further.Wicca is not a religion for those who don’t want to think about life, death and the possible hereafter.>> but none seems to have the courage to say what they, individually, actually believe. What’s the big deal?My personal beliefs are utterly conventional by comparison to many Wiccans and pagans.I believe in a God and Goddess, and feel more personally drawn to worship Her while respecting Him. I believe in the Rede and the Threefold Rule. I believe that I have only this life to do what is right and turn away from what is wrong, as there may well be no Heaven or Summerlands. I define sin as “hurting others unnecessarily” and love as “when another person’s well being is essential to my own.” My personal faith denies me the comfort of life after death. I may well die dead, and return to dust. If this is true, then there is a correspondingly greater responsibility to GET IT RIGHT during the life that we have, because there could be no other.I view death as part of the natural processes of life. Untimely or unnatural death I see as a mortal enemy-general of all humankind, much as a devout Christian would see Satan. A timely death due to age or illness, or a death to save others, I see as a “good death” to be cherished and celebrated. It is right and proper that we celebrate the lives of those heroes who give their lives for this country, even if their willingness to give is wasted by incompetent politicians.When opportunity permits I celebrate the pagan holidays. I do not celebrate the Christian holidays and try to make a point of working on major holidays when others are not available. For example, I volunteered with a leading first aid organization on the 4th of July providing first aid services to thousands of parade-goers. On Christmas (which is not sacred to me), I take a shift to free up someone to be at home with their family for their sacred day.>> How can you expect others to respect what you believe when you wont even say what it is?A good point, and the reason why I answered you.>> These posts seem to be more muddled and incoherent than ever.This is your own struggle to understand coming out. You probably don’t have the background to see the parallels and similarities in what many of us are talking about.As Christianity calls upon its believers to not put a stumbling block in front of a blind man, in the same spirit I tell you, that to understand your faith you must open your eyes and look at it, and see.All honest faiths have studies to allow seekers to pursue further growth in their belief. Any faith that does not must be suspected of being a power-hungry wolf in the guise of a shepherd.Fare thee well.

  • jay

    All belief systems are the products of human minds and are by necessity personal and subject to the same variation, from individual to individual, as any other human characteristic. Some religions put a greater emphasis on conformity (“you can believe this, but not that”), others allow greater personal choice. As someone who rejects supernaturalism as a reliable basis for any belief, I find these discussions fascinating and frustrating at the same time. But we should all be free to practive whatever beliefs we choose, provided we do not seek to impose them on anyone else or harm anyone in our practices. Paganism seems to be a benign belief system, and I can appreciate their recognition of astronomical cycles and the Earth as a provider of life … that, at least, is a recognition of reality.

  • angie

    This is really quite easy …. Wiccans are worshippers of The God and The Goddess , We attune ourselves with nature and see divinity in all of it as well 🙂 We abide by not harming anyone no matter what it is they do or feel . It is truly a religion … although the magick aspect of it is , just as the catholics use their own ritualistic sessions , a physical practice . WE DO NOT WORSHIP THE DEVIL ! Nor truly believe in “him”. People are the ones who make the decisions to be who or what they are . We believe in lesser Gods and Goddesses ( which would be the equivalant to having vice presidents etc )yet still ahve the main God and Goddess . Its really this easy …. take a little from every religion ( minus of course “satan worship” ) and you have Wicca . Every religion was based off of Paganism anyway ( again back to the catholics ritualistic sessions ) and you have Wicca . Fact of the matter is that people all over the world have been terrified of the unknown and unwilling to learn more about the religion .Therein we continue to be persecuted to this day . Sure there will be articles about this …. but in a loosely based fashion and not given any respect . It is up to us , the practoners , to show by example who we are . Only then can we begin to get the ball of understanding rolling . Many Bright Blessings !

  • jay

    Frank Collins, all the criticisms you just made of Paganism as a religion — strange and mystical rituals, conspiracy theories, practitioners making money off their followers, the lack of any evidence that supernaturalism even exists or can be used by humans — could just as easily apply to Christianity and other mainstream religions. It’s always amazing to me that a person can criticize someone else’s religion and fail to see the same flaws in their own. Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Paganism, etc. are all just variations on the same theme — the belief, without evidence, that there is something other than the natural universe. When you don’t have evidence, any doctrine of belief is as plausible or implausible as any other.

  • Gary Mauer

    Elizabeth Montgomery! Now there’s a witch worth watching. All the others are hairball ugly!

  • jay

    Peter Huff claims that his religious (Christian)worldview is objective whereas other belief systems are not. He also takes a couple of potshots at atheists, which miss the mark completely. I don’t know where he got his info on atheistic beliefs, but it shows he doesn’t know much about the subject.If you want a completely objective worldview, which is what most philosophical naturalists strive for, you start with the physical evidence provided by science. Science is not all-knowing, and it is subject to error and revision (like any human activity), but it is the best tool we have to sort out real truths from everything else. Religions generally start out with a set of accepted “truths” based on supernatural notions that cannot be tested, so they are already in an untenable position to seek real truth.Any search for real truth, not the comfortable, evidence-free pseudotruth of religion, must be based on what we can examine and test and on knowledge we can revise as necessary to correct our past mistakes. Most religions see that as a weakness, but it is in fact the great strength of skeptical inquiry and the scientific method. That does not preclude the importance of religion to some people, but to call any religion that ignores reality “the one truth” is an exercise in delusional wishful thinking.So what does the scientific approach to finding truth teach us? That there is a whole lot of gray out there where most people would prefer simplistic (but unrealistic) black and white. Now you have something you can work with … it doesn’t make it easy to find human solutions to many human problems, but at least you have a much more objective idea of what you are dealing with.

  • Anonymous

    “i dont think christians say they can work majic and talk with the spirits that control the world.”So miracles really don’t happen and praying to god really doesn’t work?”their promises are for the after life.”And is this a promise backed up by solid evidence? You should not be making promises if you are really just playing on their fears.”and the fact that there are billions of them appear to make them viable. a feew thousand in a world of 5 billion dont a religion make.”Really. So the early Christians were not a religion. At what critical number of practioners did Christianity evolve from non-religion to religion? Or consider this: How many people who accepted that the solar system was heliocentric did it take before the Earth actually started revolving around the sun instead of vice versa, as it must have in ancient times (using your logic)?

  • jay

    “The Bible said they did what was right in their own eyes (See Judges 21:25). Hitler was one of those very people. As an evolutionist (as Wicca’s describe themselves in their 13 principles), Hitler saw certain races of human beings as lower in the evolutionary tree than others, and since we supposedly were descendant from the primates, decided to eliminate over six million of the supposedly lower human forms. Without an absolute standard or measure all morality boils down to being is one persons assertion over another’s, and may the stronger win.”I missed this howler in my earlier reading of this post.If Wiccans accept the evidence of evolution, they just went up several notches in my estimation. They are willing to look at scientific evidence objectively, unlike many Christians. Whatever Hitler did based on the scientific theory of evolution says absolutely nothing about the evidence for evolution, but says a lot about the way many people have misused scientific evidence to come up with dangerous social policies. The theory of evolution is NOT and was never intended to be a model for society or morality (although some have assumed as much), anymore than the theory of gravity says we should never leave the ground. Both theories are ways to explain the available evidence of how the universe works and both are very well-supported. As humans, we can make other decisions that are sometimes counter to what phenomena in nature would seem to dictate.By the way, humans did not descend from primates, we ARE primates. Try to get your basic biology correct.

  • barb

    It is a matter of what you grew up with. You seem to thing your religion is “normal” because you grew up with it – your paradigm so to speak. I grew up Catholic and it all seemed very normal to me. I have since become non religious and my three, very successful and outgoing children grew up without any kind of religion. I remember my son coming home one day after attending a catholic mass with his girlfriend. “Mom!” he exclaimed. “It is a cult!”. I thought about it from his perspective and realized how it would look to someone who never went to a church before. Anyway, people always see their own experiences as “normal” and other peoples customs as “abnormal”.

  • Paganplace

    “Now, how many wars have the Pagans/Wiccans created?”Hard to say: apparently we’re both something Jerry Gardner cooked up in his basement out of nowhere, *and* Emperor Nero. Whatever’s convenient, it seems, to the next Christian wanting to justify injustice. 🙂

  • Anonymous

    Actually there are many mystical traditions that are based on Christianity, where what could be considered magical workings are done in the name of Christ. Those who claim to talk to saints or angels are practicing a form of shamanism, whether they call it that or not. Judaism has the Kabbalah (not the Madonna kind), but ancient magical methods that are taught to male rabbis, over 40 who have studied the Talmud in depth for years. What Frank denigrates in Paganism as somehow ‘claims to control weather’, (which by the way is not how it works and also not claimed by any Pagan on these threads as far as I can see), is also done by Christian mystics.As a Pagan, I love science and evolution. Learning about the way things are and what the evidence has to say about how the world came to be as it is just makes me really marvel about how amazing this place is that we live on. How divinity is in everything and everyone and we are all part of it. How is Nature NOT worthy of respect and celebration?

  • Paganplace

    Oh, umm, BTW, Nero wasn’t exactly a devout Pagan… he was a twitch who thought he talked to the Gods, (unless they disagreed with him,) and bent and broke the rules by claiming a lot more executive power than he was supposed to have:To wit, he was a twitch, everyone knew it, he was always wrong, and everyone knew that… but they were afraid to do anything about it…This in our modern world has less to do with tree-huggers than certain conspicuous public figures, if you’ve missed any of the parallels. For the record, I’d kind of prefer Republic over Empire if Star Wars wasn’t enough of a lesson for ya. 🙂

  • Paganplace

    By the way, you know, when your Emperor screws up his ‘Empire’ and Jesus *doesn’t* come back to punish me horribly for not accepting corporate greed and discrimination as ‘The Will Of God,’ well, when you Christians not trained to kill infidels by ‘Left Behind’ games, well, take comfort in that modern Pagans actually aren’t going to come kill you like some of you insist, as justification for trying to do the same to us. :)Really. This is not real. I figure you could either stop ‘spending the meek’s inheritance’ to prove your righteous might, or, maybe we could look back from the brink here and not screw it up in the first place. Not, unfortunately, perhaps, my choice. Just don’t call me evil. That’s really annoying after all this. And would you stop saying I martyred ‘you’ already? Gods.

  • jay

    Peter Huff, you need a very basic course in the history of science and scientific methods. Maybe you had one but weren’t paying attention. In any event, the questions you raise do have answers but this forum is too restrictive to answer them all.The quickest response I can give you right now is: what makes science superior to other ways of finding truths? Its track record. Look at where it has taken us in the last few hundred years.The fact that you like some “good science” but can’t get your head around evolutionary science (which is very good, much better now than when Darwin founded it) tells me you have religious blinders on. In other words, there is nothing I could say to convince you.Morality does not come from science, and it also does not always come from religion. More on that later….

  • Bob Wilson

    We Jews are a little like that. There’s this marvelous exchange reported by Maccoby, from the Barcelona disputation (1263) between Nachmanides and some Franciscan friars of the Inquisition. Here’s a sound bite from it:Pablo (Franciscan): Then what is a heretic,according to Jewish law?Nachmanides (Jewish leader): A heretic is someone who denies a basic premise of the Jewish faith.Pablo: And what are the basic premises of the Jewish faith?Nachmanides: That is a matter of dispute.Well, you had to be there.Good weekend to all,Bob W.

  • Peter Huff

    Hi again Jay,You said,”They are willing to look at scientific evidence objectively, unlike many Christians.”Well Jay, to look at anything objectively you need a standard that is objective, a standard outside yourself. You say that standard is science. When you observe something you still need to interpret what you are observing. Do facts come with detailed explanations as we observe them? People supply the explanations. Evolutionary Science is a standard invented/interpreted by people that is not objective because no one was around to observe its origins. You take it on faith, just like I take belief in God on faith, but the difference is that your theory cannot make sense of this world, whereas mine can. You see, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Just as you said, evolutionary science cannot explain how we got here or give any meaning to life; it cannot explain why nature is uniform, how we get logic from matter, life from non-life or give meaning and purpose to life.You said, “Whatever Hitler did based on the scientific theory of evolution says absolutely nothing about the evidence for evolution,” Sure it does. If you are taught from childhood that you are nothing more than an evolved animal, although higher up on the chain and that as an animal survival of the fittest is what we observe in nature, anything can be justified.You said,”The theory of evolution is NOT and was never intended to be a model for society or morality (although some have assumed as much)Tell me then how do you arrive at “good” from a chance, random, blind process? It must have come from somewhere. Supposedly we all evolved, right? Then everything that is can be traced back to where, an evolutionary beginning that cannot make sense of anything?You said, Ok, bad choice of words. I should have inserted the word “other primates.” Does not evolution make the claim that we descended from the apes. Are they not primates? That is my bone of contention. You said,”Peter Huff, you need a very basic course in the history of science and scientific methods. Maybe you had one but weren’t paying attention. In any event, the questions you raise do have answers but this forum is too restrictive to answer them all.”Please feel free, just the basic facts sir.You said,”The quickest response I can give you right now is: what makes science superior to other ways of finding truths? Its track record. Look at where it has taken us in the last few hundred years.”Evolutionary science has a dismal track record. I think it is hard to argue against all the lies in the textbooks over the last 150 years. If you are open maybe you could justify some of them?You said,”The fact that you like some “good science” but can’t get your head around evolutionary science (which is very good, much better now than when Darwin founded it) tells me you have religious blinders on. In other words, there is nothing I could say to convince you.”The fact that you have no standard that you can use to explain what “good” is and how we measure it tells me you have your irreligious blinders on. As God says,“The man without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him, and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.” So what could I ever do to convince you – nothing? But I can show you that your worldview is inadequate to answer the important questions of life and make sense of it.You said,”Morality does not come from science, and it also does not always come from religion. More on that later….”Bring it on!

  • Rev. Michael Carbone

    Growing up Catholic I found it very confusing to be taught to worship one god. Yet was taught to pray to Jesus (the son of god), Mary (his mother), apostles, angels and saints. There’s even a prayer for Joseph, Jesus’ step-father. I also found it confusing to be taught that Jesus died for our sins and yet was being taught to confess my sins to a priest.Whether christians want to admit it or not, they do not worship one god. They worship many. When saying the “Our Father” we were taught to say the prayer in front of Jesus. There are many of the christian faith who say that Jesus IS god. And to top it all off, they Idol worship. They have statues everywhere.Christianity says one thing and practices another. The christian mass is based on Wiccan/Pagan practices, candles, incense, hymns, chants. Even the religious days of the year are based on Pagan holidays.There really is no difference between Christianity and Paganism. Both worship either one god or many, it all depends on the individual belief. Oh wait, there is one difference. Christianity is controlled by 1 man, the Pope.

  • Peter Huff

    Rev. Carbone,You said,”Whether christians want to admit it or not, they do not worship one god. They worship many. When saying the “Our Father” we were taught to say the prayer in front of Jesus. There are many of the christian faith who say that Jesus IS god. And to top it all off, they Idol worship. They have statues everywhere.”What do you base your authority for your belief on and why do you call yourself Reverend?You said,”There really is no difference between Christianity and Paganism. Both worship either one god or many, it all depends on the individual belief. Oh wait, there is one difference. Christianity is controlled by 1 man, the Pope.”There is a huge difference that you cannot logically and rationally justify. Jesus Christ said He was/is God and also the only way to the Father in heaven. The Bible makes the claim that there is only one true and living God. Where do you pull your opinions from that say otherwise? Obviously you do not read the Bible, or at least understand what it says.

  • Subway Serenade

    There is not much unanimity of belief among Christians either. Christians in America have a lot of sects. In fact, some sects say that it’s a sin to engage in other kinds of sects. This leads to much confusion.As for me I believe in the strict separation between Church and Hate. So I think the best thing to do is practice Safe Sects.

  • Anonymous

    So … many Christians get all worked up about evolutionary theory, and with people who prefer Paganism, among lots of other things.Their argument goes something like this: evolution teaches we are animals, so why be a moral person? Paganism does not embrace the bible, so it can’t possibly provide a moral framework for we poor dumb humans. The bible provides the only guidelines you need, and if you don’t have it you’re lost.And yet the bible teaches we should stone adulterers and sabbath-breakers, that it’s okay to have slaves, that there are chosen people who have god’s blessing to slaughter other people who are not. The bible is one atrocity after another, one hate-filled act after another … that is when it is not contradicting itself. Quite a guidebook to good living.I’m an atheist and I’ll put my morality and ethics up against those of any Christian. Most of us are smart enough to figure out what is wrong and right, in most instances, and we don’t need a 2000 year old book of fables to tell us. The fact is our modern societies have moved beyond the bible. We don’t keep slaves, we don’t stone people for adultery, or working on Sunday, or wearing the wrong fabric, or being gay. We define moral and ethical behavior not on readings from the bible but by what protects the individual and his rights, and what contributes to the common good. Obviously there is no clearcut answer to every moral/ethical question, but we’ve come a lot further than what the bible is able to tell us. The Pagans have the morals part pretty well worked out it seems: do no harm. I like that.

  • Anonymous

    So … many Christians get all worked up about evolutionary theory, and with people who prefer Paganism, among lots of other things.Their argument goes something like this: evolution teaches we are animals, so why be a moral person? Paganism does not embrace the bible, so it can’t possibly provide a moral framework for we poor dumb humans. The bible provides the only guidelines you need, and if you don’t have it you’re lost.And yet the bible teaches we should stone adulterers and sabbath-breakers, that it’s okay to have slaves, that there are chosen people who have god’s blessing to slaughter other people who are not. The bible is one atrocity after another, one hate-filled act after another … that is when it is not contradicting itself. Quite a guidebook to good living.I’m an atheist and I’ll put my morality and ethics up against those of any Christian. Most of us are smart enough to figure out what is wrong and right, in most instances, and we don’t need a 2000 year old book of fables to tell us. The fact is our modern societies have moved beyond the bible. We don’t keep slaves, we don’t stone people for adultery, or working on Sunday, or wearing the wrong fabric, or being gay. We define moral and ethical behavior not on readings from the bible but by what protects the individual and his rights, and what contributes to the common good. Obviously there is no clearcut answer to every moral/ethical question, but we’ve come a lot further than what the bible is able to tell us. The Pagans have the morals part pretty well worked out it seems: do no harm. I like that.

  • Stephanie

    I’m not Wiccan myself, but I believe you are being deliberately obtuse.Can you explain Christianity? There are differing views of Christianity among the various sects. Ask a Roman Catholic about transubstantiation, then ask a Methodist, just for example. There is a reasonably good definition of Wicca on Wikipedia: Are you denigrating this religion because you don’t understand it?

  • Anonymous

    Andrew, Well that’s certainly an understandable reasoning process. Thanks for your explanation and clarification.

  • Mary Cunningham

    For the pagans and also ‘Rev.’ (?) Carbone,A brief on Christianity:By AD100 the outlines of the Christian faith were established, as was the Eucharist, the Mass, the belief that Jesus Christ was God, many of the Gospels had also attained their finished forms.Christianity was persecuted intermittently until the conversion of Constantine in 322 (or about) AD. Constantine also splits the empire into East and West and builds himself a new city called (wait for it!) Constantinople. He involves himself in Church affairs and also calls the Council of Nicea, an ecumenical council, in 325 from which Christians get the Nicene Creed which Catholics recite in Mass in 2007 (some continuity eh?) The Roman Empire in the West fell in 465AD, however the authority of the Church in Rome continued and grew and became increasingly separate from the authority of the Church in Constantinope. Thus Christianity would be divide along the political the lines evidenced in the two empires:Byzantine (like the Byzantine Empire based in Constantinople): or *Orthodox*Roman (like the defunct Roman Empire in the West): or *Catholic*–also termed by many, (mostly) Protestants as *Roman Catholic*Protestant: the Reformed Roman Catholic faith dating from about 1505. It is this reformed movement that has split into a bewildering variety churches, among them : Anglican, Baptist, Congregational, Unitarian, Lutheran, Quaker, Shaker, Anabaptist along with the current Pentacostalist and Evangelicals. And that is all. All three believe in the message of Jesus Christ, they all share the Holy Bible although Orthodox and Catholic stress the To repeat: the main branches of Christianity:Orthodox

  • Gerry

    Peter Huff, you should do a little more reading and studying, before sitting on such a high horse. Why does energy have a negative connotation with you? Everything is energy. Matter is a form of energy. And energy even resists exact definition: Nobody really knows what it is, except from what its effects are. And for the believers, which I am certainly not, god is energy. Is that so bad? Why should something/somebody who has evolved, developed, be in any aspect inferior to something (fictitious, btw), that has never evolved?Of course, you have a beautiful benchmark with which to measure everything, including the universe, your fellow humans and yourself. The little flaw: Your benchmark has been installed by your own fantasy, based on what others have told you. The bible is worthless, since it only tells stories along a stretch of a thousand years, written by people who thought the earth is flat and still claim to be “the word of god”, whoever that may be. Once you regard your fantasy as eternal truth, of course, you are on the safe side with every judgment. Only: It is fictitious as the base is fictitious!

  • Anonymous

    Wiccan Priestess Loses Supreme Court Appeal Case (Virginia) • On October 11, 2005 the Associated Press reported, “The Supreme Court rejected an appeal on Tuesday from a Wiccan priestess angry that local leaders would not let her open their sessions with a prayer. Instead, clergy from more traditional religions were invited to pray at governmental meetings in Chesterfield County, Va., a suburb of Richmond. Lawyers for Cynthia Simpson had told justices in a filing that most of the invocations are led by Christians. Simpson said she wanted to offer a generalized prayer to the ‘creator of the universe’… Simpson sued and initially won before a federal judge who said the county’s policy was unconstitutional because it stated a preference for a set of religious beliefs. Simpson lost at the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which found that the county had changed its policy and directed clerics to avoid invoking the name of Jesus… The county’s attorney, Steven Micas, said that the county’s practice was in line with the Supreme Court’s endorsement of legislative prayer as long as it did not proselytize, advance or disparage a particular religion.”

  • Anonymous

    The federal court decision, issued Thursday by U.S. District Judge S. Hugh Dillin, said the school system had violated the students’ First Amendment rights to wear the symbols of Wicca, a nature-based religion

  • Mary Cunningham

    Re: “you have a beautiful benchmark with which to measure everything, including the universe, your fellow humans and yourself…Only: It is fictitious as the base is fictitious!”Well, Jesus Christ lived. Jesus Christ said he was God. Jesus proved his divinity by rising from the dead.The Church that Jesus Christ founded is still very much alive today…as are its Orthodox and Reformed movements. The record of His teachings and miracles is similarly extant.Thus, I would say that Christianity is based in reality, not fiction.

  • Robert Hamlin

    One of the most difficult aspects of Wicca is its definition because of its extreme ecclectiveness. It chooses not to define itself as to which godheads are endemic to itself, and also by embracing no overall dogmatic structure. However, Wicca is not the full scope of paganism, there are many much more fully defined paths of paganism that not only fit both the criteria put forth by G. Washington and cited by Mr. Colson.

  • Vasu Murti

    This country (the United States) wasn’t founded by Christians. In 1990, a Catholic priest, David K. O’Rourke, said: “It is neither a good idea, nor a constitutional practice, for the government to tell people how to pray, the form of prayer to use, who to pray to, when to pray or even that they should pray…”Every religious group in the United States is a minority group. Some may be unhappy with this status and wish they had official standing. I am not unhappy with it. The Catholic Church, the largest of these minorities, has prospered greatly in this country where we separate church and state.” Lankford did so at a meeting on October 4. He addressed his prayer to “Mother Goddess, Father God”. One council member, Donna Blumer, refused to acknowledge the prayer and would not bow her head. A secular society, neutral towards all forms of religious expression, protects us all.

  • Gerry

    Mary,Jesus may or may not have lived. He may or may not have said he was god. And in case he has lived, he certainly did not found Christianity. That happened, in parts, hundreds of years later. The story of the “resurrection” is a fairy tale. Nobody rises from the dead: “Gods” eternal laws of chemistry don’t allow it. And nobody rides on a sort of “Pegasus” into the sky, which Muslims believe (otherwise they have to go to hell, they believe!).Children love and believe fairy tales. I think you, as an adult, believe just anything in order to conserve the cozy stories of your childhood. And the fact that the church – any church – still exists is no proof of the validity of its preachings. Even today there still are groups who maintain the earth is flat. It’s round.

  • Peter Huff

    Hello Gerry (I feel like I’m on Seinfeld)A few comments from your post based on Proverbs 26:5, in which you said,”Peter Huff, you should do a little more reading and studying, before sitting on such a high horse. Why does energy have a negative connotation with you? Everything is energy. Matter is a form of energy.”I am not expert on energy, but I know that God is more than just energy and I find it curious that you, such an expert on energy berating my assessment, then in your very next statement go on to say that nobody really knows what it is. Based on such a deep knowledge I can only watch you ride off on your Shetland pony – Hi ho Silver and away. :-)So how can you be sure your definition is exacting enough?Here is what you say, Then you say,”And for the believers, which I am certainly not, god is energy. Is that so bad?”Oh, which type of energy is God? Or is God the sum total of all energy? For somebody who is not a believer you certainly know a lot about God, at least in your own eyes. Now, as such an expert are you an Atheist or a Pagan? If all God is is energy and all we are is energy, then how do we get morality and personality? Please explain. God is person and although all energy comes from God (since He is the Creator of all things), personality is different than energy. It goes beyond biological processes to include essence, consciousness and distinctiveness. Energy is what you use, essence is what you are and God is Person, as you are also. Energy is just one aspect of His personality or attributes.You said,”Why should something/somebody who has evolved, developed, be in any aspect inferior to something (fictitious, btw), that has never evolved?”It is certainly not what I believe, so you tell me. Why, when man looks at the animal world, nature and evolutionary processes does he see survival of the fittest and then attribute that character to himself? Why do evolutionary texts teach that survival is of the fittest? Maybe because in their thinking they trace life to the strongest surviving, the weak getting blotted out?From God’s Word I see man as created distinctly from animals and given dominion over them; a type of trust to look after God’s creation, but also man is different in his abilities of understanding and reasoning and know and in his ability to make moral distinctions. That is because he is created in the image and likeness of God. You said,”Of course, you have a beautiful benchmark with which to measure everything, including the universe, your fellow humans and yourself.”Yes, you are correct. Isn’t God’s revelation to us wonderful!To continue you said,”The little flaw: Your benchmark has been installed by your own fantasy, based on what others have told you.” No worldview is neutral. You have developed yours by building on your core beliefs, so that when you look at the world you filter everything through those core beliefs. So you are not without bias either. The difference between your bias and mine is I have the Word of God to back mine up. He is the source of all wisdom, knowledge and logic. When I look at the world through His eyes everything makes sense. When I look at it through your eyes all I get is your subjective contradictory opinion, based on what? To continue what you said,“The bible is worthless, since it only tells stories along a stretch of a thousand years, written by people who thought the earth is flat and still claim to be “the word of god”, whoever that may be.”Well, some more baseless assertions and wishful thinking on your part because your mind is closed to God. I just laugh when I see such groundless thinking. Please give some credence to your assertions.So you say,”Once you regard your fantasy as eternal truth, of course, you are on the safe side with every judgment. Only: It is fictitious as the base is fictitious!”First of all (and I have yet to have anyone give a reasonable answer to the question who does not believe in the Judeo-Christian God), you are making a moral judgment about truth. How do you arrive at truth without a universal, absolute objective standard? How do you determine “good” without an objective, absolute ultimate standard?What is your standard, how do you measure it and why should I believe it to be nothing more than dust blowing in the wind, meaningless and without purpose in the big picture?Thanks for the chat!

  • Peter Huff

    Hi again Gerry,I found your statements to Mary curious, in which you said,”Jesus may or may not have lived. He may or may not have said he was god. And in case he has lived, he certainly did not found Christianity. That happened, in parts, hundreds of years later.”In stating such opinion you go against a wealth of historical evidence to the contrary. The question is how well does your brief assertion stack up with what we know historically? Would you care to test it? To continue your thought,”The story of the “resurrection” is a fairy tale. Nobody rises from the dead: “Gods” eternal laws of chemistry don’t allow it. And nobody rides on a sort of “Pegasus” into the sky, which Muslims believe (otherwise they have to go to hell, they believe!).” Of course, from your standpoint you have already ruled out the supernatural because to you seeing is believing. Everything in such a worldview would have to originate from material processes (is that correct?) that can be tasted, touched, smelt, seen and heard. Tell me then, how do you “see” logic? What color is it? What does it taste or feel or smell like? What sound does logic make?You said,”Children love and believe fairy tales. I think you, as an adult, believe just anything in order to conserve the cozy stories of your childhood.”Again groundless assertions. I can make the same assertions about your worldview. Here is your fairy tale:”Listen closely Johnny. In the beginning there was a “Big Bang” in which all the matter in the universe (no smaller than the size of a dot on this page – What?) exploded into what eventually we see today; life from non-life, something from nothing. Now we do not know how any of this happened and it is not the business of science to inquire to the meaning and purpose of this, although this is what they have been doing for thousands of years, but we can tell you most certainly, although we were not there during the “Big Bang”, that from this beginning non-life slooowwwlllyy changed into living matter. Yes, all those chemicals mixing together, selecting and bonding. And as time slowly went by, this life evolved into higher and higher forms until eventually primates were formed that had thumbs!!! Because of the use of their thumbs they were able to make use of their environments in ways that the lesser forms could not. In this way they developed superiority over the lower forms by making weapons to kill those forms with. The End.Does that not sound like the Frog and the Princess? Poof, the change, but the only difference is millions and billions of years.One day the foundation of evolution is going to be recognized for what it is – a lie.

  • Mike Kelly

    If everyone would read the Bible (KJV,OR THE NIV) THEY WOULD FIND OUT THAT THERE IS ONLY 1 GOD… ALL OTHER gods THAT PEOPLE WORSHIP ARE JUST IDOLS, GOD TELLS US WE SHOULD NOT WORSHIP FALSE IDOLS. THE BIGGEST IDOL PEOPLE WORSHIP TODAY IS THE ALMIGHTY DOLLAR AND THAT IS REALLY SAD.. I GUESS ALL I CAN DO IS CONTINUE TO PRAY THAT EVERYONE OPENS THERE EYES TO THE TRUTH THAT THERE IS ONLY ONE GOD TO WORSHIP, HE IS THE CREATOR OF ALL LIVING THINGS.MAY GOD BLESS EVERY PERSON THAT READS THIS ..

  • Sherry Ridgeway

    Alan: As Wiccan (and thereby a pagan) I find it difficult to understand your argument that paganism is any more diversified and slippery than christianity. Both have many different practices, interpretations, and members who resonate with those practices and interpretations; i.e. Southern Baptists dunk once during their baptism ritual, Methodists and Catholics sprinkle, while the Church of the Brethern dunk at least three times. Following this same thread of thought with the pagan religious communities, you will find some that are very traditional (Gardnarians, I call them the Episcopalians of the pagan community), others that are not as strictly commited to form and ceremony. Traditional groups are very hierarchial (much like Catholics) and the looser (or eclectic) groups are more democratic (as Southern Baptists explain themselves).I have often explained my belief system to those who do not understand it as “alternative.” I don’t do that anymore, because I should not have to. My religious faith is not an alternative to more mainstream religions, it is my faith.All religious beliefs started at one point with a small group. Christianity was considered a “cult” at one time in its development, and is by some (my self included) considered such today.It seems the “group think” is that size makes might and entitlement. In this country, our enlightened founders thought otherwise and wrote it down.I have the same right to my faith as those members of any other religion, whether those people understand my faith or not. I am an American and proud of it. I am also very proud to say I am Wiccan and I am pagan and have been for 30 years.Sherry

  • jay

    Peter Huff’s caricature (more like a loony-tune cartoon version) of our scientific understanding of the origin of the universe and the subsequent evolution of life tells me that many Christians today are so blinded by their belief system that they can’t see beyond it. They are anachronisms in a scientific age. Troubling indeed that Mr Huff teaches at a college, although I would guess there is not much room for modern science there. One question: where in the bible is there a detailed description of the origin of the universe and the creation of life that would rival what science has? No, I don’t mean the sketchy and contradictory narrative in Genesis I-II. In other words, where is your competing scientific theory? I know … there is none.The Pagans I’ve talked to and who have posted here seem like much more reasonable people, even if I don’t agree with many aspects of their belief. I’ve gained a greater respect for them, and my skepticism of “modern” Christians only deepens. Rather amazing that those who follow a religion with much older roots than Christianity are more in touch with the 21st century than many of the mainstream theists.I hope the modern Christians will hold true to their faith and disavow any use of modern medicine, biotechnologies, etc. which have spun off from our current understanding of biology, including evolution. If you are going to embrace the scientific knowledge of the 1st Century, you should have no use for the benefits of the 21st.

  • Peter Huff

    Hello Jay,I would just like to clear up a misconception you are spreading about me. You said,”Troubling indeed that Mr Huff teaches at a college, although I would guess there is not much room for modern science there.”The only thing I find troubling is I have no idea where you got that misinformation from, but it is not true. I am not a teacher at a college, in fact, I work in a factory.Again, with so many of your assertions, they are without backbone. You fail to answer the important questions because I do not feel you have an answer that can stand up under cross examination.When you say,Hey, I was just showing how loony-tune evolutionary science is. After all, someone called Christianity a fairy tale. Well, once upon a time there was evolutionary science.Again, I believe in science, not evolutionary science. Many of the great scientific minds of the past and today are Christian. In today’s world they just do not get the same recognition that a Sir Isaac Newton would, because they go against the secular establishment. As for their arguments, what do you know about them?You said,”One question: where in the bible is there a detailed description of the origin of the universe and the creation of life that would rival what science has? No, I don’t mean the sketchy and contradictory narrative in Genesis I-II. In other words, where is your competing scientific theory? I know … there is none.To that question I would say that we do not need a detailed account of how we got here, just an accurate one that gives us an understanding of when and why and for what purpose. You cannot even answer the basic questions such what is your standard or measure for good (and I know I harp on a lot about it because, as of yet, no one has given an answer that makes sense, and I’m quite sure that I will not hear one)?We can sort the rest out by knowing we are starting with the right set of presuppositions. Basically you build your foundation on thin air. It is awfully hard to support such a foundation.You said,”The Pagans I’ve talked to and who have posted here seem like much more reasonable people, even if I don’t agree with many aspects of their belief. I’ve gained a greater respect for them, and my skepticism of “modern” Christians only deepens. Rather amazing that those who follow a religion with much older roots than Christianity are more in touch with the 21st century than many of the mainstream theists.”When you say more reasonable, what is your standard for reason? It is yourself, your peers, your culture or do you perhaps have an ultimate standard? If so what is it?Again, conjecture. Where is your proof that the roots of Christianity are not as old as your beliefs? I can trace the roots of Christianity back to the first man. How far back does yours go?When you say,”I hope the modern Christians will hold true to their faith and disavow any use of modern medicine, biotechnologies, etc. which have spun off from our current understanding of biology, including evolution. If you are going to embrace the scientific knowledge of the 1st Century, you should have no use for the benefits of the 21st.”To that I say rubbish. God has given us brains to use and evolutionary science is pseudo science. I have no problem with science in general. God has placed laws in effect, such as gravity, thermodynamics, and logic, and to discover those laws is to think God’s thoughts after Him.

  • Peter Huff

    Katmandu,Just a quick response to your comments about God’s Word in which you said,”Which Word is that? The version of KING JAMES? The NIV? The Greek Orthadox? The extended special edition director’s cut DVD box-set?”That would be going back to the original Greek, Hebrew, and Aramaic manuscripts of which we have over 5,000 copies in the Greek language alone. When translations take place they start with these and translate into the different languages. So it would go from Greek to German, from Greek to English, from Greek to French, etc.

  • Viv

    In response to the person who posted the question regarding Wiccan or Pagan service groups, they do exist. They are small, often grass roots, but we do put effort into making our world a better place. One of the more successful projects that comes to mind was Samhain Sandwiches, put together by a group called the Cresent Moon Service Corp, we made 2700 bag lunches and distributed them to the homeless in the Washington DC area. You can read about it at It should also be mentioned that at the Pagan Pride celebrations held around the country a key component is having a canned food drive to donate to a local food bank. There are also groups that make a social service project one of the requirements for Initiation. This is by no means a complete list of groups or projects, this is an list off the top of my head. There are others.I can appreciate why someone would have the impression that there are no Pagan or Wiccan social service groups. That’s a perception, not a reality. There are many of us who do service for the larger community, for some of us it’s as much a part of our faith as it is for any other faith.I look forward to the day when an article on our faith focuses on the good works we do and not on our “self-professed initiations”.

  • Jay

    My apologies to you Mr Huff … I assumed you were the theologian of the same name. Your arguments are certainly of the same quality as many theologians I’ve met, even if I find those arguments fundamentally flawed. But I was wrong to make that assumption.You keep asking how we define “good.” I don’t think I’ve seen a definition from you. And I’m not looking for something squishy like “We do good when we do god’s will.” There is way too much latitude in that.Good is a relative term, even for religious people. We all agree that killing our fellow man/woman is NOT good, but there are obviously exceptions. You could argue that it is a good (or at least acceptable) thing to kill when you or your loved one is being threatened (self defense), or to defend one’s country (in war), and some argue that it is good to kill (execute) a murderer who has been brought to justice. Some argue that it is good to help someone die who is suffering and near death. Even the bible is not too clear on what constitutes appropriate killing … and there is a whole lot of killing in that book. Was it good for Jesus to die, given the aftermath? It was Good Friday after all.So how do you define good? My argument is that it is often a hard thing to define, certainly for each and every circumstance. That’s why we have secular laws and courts, to grapple with those questions. It ain’t perfect, but nothing is in human affairs. Like I said earlier, there’s lots of gray in a world most people would prefer to be black and white.As a biologist, I’m often asked by those Christians who have little patience for those of us who study organisms: “So what good is that particular animal or plant?” The question is always weird to me, because it comes from a different worldview. The easy response is, “Well, what good are you?” My response however is usually, What do you mean by “good”? Does it have to have a use to humans to be good? Isn’t being a unique species and unique part of an ecosystem good enough? So, no, there is no easy definition for good. But I’m sure you’ll disagree.

  • JAY

    By the way, Peter Huff, I forgot to ask:What do you say to those Christians who have no problem with evolution, who view it as part of god’s plan? There are lots of those folks. Christians are all over the map on evolution, from biblical literalists to theistic evolutionists (which are you exactly?). Intelligent Design proponents and Young Earth Creationists are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I guess Christians could agree that the Earth is somewhere between 6000 yrs old and 4.5 billion, and that life evolved or it didn’t.On the topic of evolution, Christians make the Pagans look fairly unified!

  • Christopher W. Chase

    Perhaps Mr. Cooperman can explain to his readers that1) All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all Pagans are Wiccan.2) Wicca is an orthopraxic religion, rather than an orthodoxic religion–divisions and denominations are determined by ritual style.3) Just as Mr. Cooperman would not ask a Jew what s/he believes, but whether s/he “is observant” or “how observant,” this might be the proper question to ask for Wiccans and other Pagans.4) Despite the notion that Wicca is so impossible to understand, reputable and perfectly understandable scholarly books on Wicca and Paganism are published all the time.5) Despite the idea that Wicca is so dizzingly difficult to understand, religion teachers have no problem teaching Goddess religion and other parts of contemporary Paganism. I do it myself in undergraduate courses all the time, without a doctorate.6) Many outsiders and journalists find it hard to adequately explain Hinduism, indigenous African, Afro-Carribean, Amerindian or ancient Greek/Roman traditions, precisely because it does not fit their model of what they think “religion” should be.7) Laypeople in Wicca sometimes find it difficult to articulate complex Pagan religious concepts such as Panentheism, Polytheism, Henotheism, the Triple Goddess, and the Cone Of Power, just as Roman Catholic laypeople may not always be able to articulately explain the doctrine of transubstantiation, the mystical body of Christ, or the magisterial teaching role of the Papacy.Perhaps Mr. Cooperman’s failures to explain Wicca or Paganism to his readers speak more to his own issues, rather than those of modern Pagans. The information Mr. Cooperman seeks is readily available in scholarly publications. A little continuing education goes a long way, Mr. Cooperman.

  • Gerry

    It is really impressive how Peter Huff tells everybody not only what they should think, but what they do think. There is a real preacher!His nice try at irony cannot conceal his ignorance, even his complete lack of curiosity about nature, which I think is one of the elements of human dignity, his inability to accept facts and findings that do not fit into his creationist fable book. Along every turn of his rants, he dispenses judgments about good or bad, mostly implicitly to throw sand into the eyes of his “audience”, serving prejudices he supposes are available in most people (the frog and the Princess etc.).He thinks he is in the possession of truth. That is where the major catastrophes of human history came from. But where is his truth coming from? From his faith, his beliefs, not from any provable fact, not even from an intelligent conjecture: Only from what he was brainwashed with in his childhood. (I was brainwashed also, but could liberate myself from those residues). The bible certainly does not qualify as telling “facts”, it is a conglomerate of world-views 2-3000 years old plus different tries at social rules applicable in those times. I am convinced it is more noble to want to know than to simply believe. But this element of human dignity has already been destroyed through the fable of the “tree of knowledge”, which has changed the search for knowledge for power grabbing: The dumb are more easily controlled, as can be seen in todays different brands of ignorance and fanaticism east and west. I prefer an honest, modest, curious science follower, who accepts the possibility of falsification of a hypothesis in favor of the EVOLUTION OF KNOWLEDGE, which people of Mr. Huffs ilk despise. Mr. Huff, I wish you good entertainment, even creationist enlightenment in the new museum of New Earth in Kentucky (the rest of the world screams with laughter). I think they must add the flat earth theory, the historical basis of your world-view.

  • Mary Cunningham

    The problems with atheists and anti-Christians is that they are so angry! (and grumpy).Christ lived. There is plenty of evidence, starting with the Bible, following with the works of ancient Christians. Ancient Christians lived, as evidenced by their own writings plus pagan historians. Just saying there is no evidence for Christ and Christianity doesn’t remove it…it’s easier, of course,if you don’t want to allow it. So first the atheist denies Christ ever existed, and then asserts even if he had existed, he couldn’t rise from the dead! Now whose is the reality-based faith? Not atheism, that’s for sure. Anyway…Christ did live. He did die. And He did rise. Now if you want to start your *own* religion atheist Gary (or is it atheist Jay or atheist Anon?, there are so many) like Christ all you need to do is preach, perform many miracles, get yourself crucified and rise from the dead.Simple, really.

  • Gerry

    Mary,not a single one of your statements stems from anything else than what others taught you to believe. So, assuming Jesus lived (accepted), how do you know he rose from the dead? Folks told you so, and since you are inclined to believe in miracles (that means logically: exceptions from possibilities), you replace your lack of real knowledge with faith in impossibilities, only because you were told so. Something is either possible or impossible. If it happens, it is possible, otherwise it would not happen. But then it is no longer a “miracle” in the religious, commonsense defying meaning.Well, I grant that for one’s life it is more important to feel well than to think clearly. And that holds for a majority of people: Another majority of US citizens believes also in astrology. Superstition always has started where knowledge ends. (Of course there is also the option to look for expanded knowledge. That is what your evil atheists like me are doing.)I am not a pagan, but to me pagans are much more plausible (and sympathetic), as they worship what they experience, and not what the fantasize.

  • Mary Cunningham

    You sound like a nut, Gerry, I’m sorry to say. This stuff about only learning from what others teach and examining texts. How else do we learn history? Tell me, because I would like to know. I cited two texts: the Bible and the later writings of early Christians. Now you would disallow all of them without presenting any evidence? Whose reality-based in this case? Me, not you, Gerry, Me, not you.History is defined by interpreting written texts–texts obviously written by others! We don;’t write history ourselves, some later historian will have to qualify it as a primary text, not us. The Bible thus qualifies as history. So do the writings of the ancients: both pagan and Christian. So do the deliberations of the Council of Nicea.So others might have taught me about Christianity, both historians and theologians, but I can also read the primary evidence for myself…

  • MC

    And after disallowing all these written texts–with no evidence–you jump onto astrology! How did we get there? It doesn’t follow. Show me where in these historical documents is there any mention of astrology? There are miracles aplenty in the Bible–after all, the texts are demonstrating the presence of God–but no astrology.Gerry,like most atheists, your stuff is incoherent. Also it just doesn’t make sense.

  • Anonymous

    Mary, I don’t think I am nuts. I mentioned astrology not as a quotation from the bible but as a proof for the inclination of most people to superstitious stuff, as you easily could have deducted.The texts of the bible certainly do NOT qualify as history (walking on water, resurrection, virgin birth, angels, conversation with god to commit genocide etc.) as even many theologians would agree on. You were made to believe in miracles – it is then your choice to keep believing in them, but not mine.The bible is history only in the sense that it is a historical literary document, but no evidence of anything supernatural. The texts are not demonstrating the presence of god, they describe only the human assumption of the presence of god.So best wishes for your faith in impossibilities.

  • jay

    MC: There’s an expression in science that also applies to other areas of human endeavor: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.Alleged miracles are extraordinary claims, but I have yet to see any extraordinary evidence to support any one of them. Maybe you can educate me on what extraordinary evidence is available. There is no evidence of virgin births in humans, although there is very good evidence that other animals (non-mammals) at least occasionally produce young without fertilization. It was an extraordinary claim by some biologists that certain species or fishes, reptiles, and amphibians exist without any males, but eventually the extraordinary evidence was obtained to show it was true.Of course if a virginal human female ever did produce a child, it would be female also. You can’t produce a Y-chromosome out of thin air.So, what is more likely: an early mistranslation in the bible of the term “virgin” which actually meant “young woman” (there’s pretty good evidence for that), the story is a complete fabrication (also conceivable … no pun intended), or a virginal woman actually gave birth to a male child? If I were a betting man, I know where I would put my money.By the way, I’m not angry in the least … just deeply perplexed by some of my fellow humans.

  • CrystalDolphin

    “You said,”For those who want to understand, the commonalities are basic: belief in Divine Masculine and Feminine (God/Goddess), a reverence for Nature and the Earth, and the Rede, which is a guideline for ethical behavior/actions.”First, I do not believe in a “Divine Masculine and Feminine” god or goddess. There is no commonality there.”Peter, Sorry, I didn’t mean that post to be as anonymous, didn’t realize I hadn’t filled in my name info before clicking ‘post’ yesterday…my earlier comments were posted under ‘Crystal Dolphin’…(Crystal being my Pagan name along with Dolphin being my totem animal), but my mundane first name is Kim, since you asked.To clarify, when I stated the above commonalities, I meant that they are the common core beliefs among Wiccans…and then I stated that beyond those basics, answers to your questions may vary (from Wiccan to Wiccan depending on which tradition they are). Mary,Are we (Pagans) angry, or grumpy? haha, well sometimes, anger *is* a human emotion after all…and I’m sure everyone has a bad day now & then which makes them a bit grumpy. Don’t you ever get angry or grumpy about anything? How about if something very important to your life is being challenged and/or you are being judged by a bunch of people who don’t even know you? It seems that I had to question Christian beliefs in what could have been taken as an “attack” tone to get anybody’s attention. Peter suggested that because I used the term “closed minded”, that I must be closed minded myself. Perhaps I was just grumpy yesterday, because I am not usually a very closed-minded or confrontational person. And so I chose to “jump in the game” here and throw out some questions/comments that I knew I would get noticed – since my questions from earlier comments did not generate responses.And that is what sometimes makes me feel angry or grumpy, but mostly sad – that it seems people would rather argue over who’s right and who’s wrong, that it seems a majority of people can’t look past their differences, find some common ground to build on and learn to accept each other. But for the most part, I’m a pretty happy person – so I will try to stop letting all this arguing get to me, and get back being my jovial self and doing my share to make the world a better place.Blessed Be.

  • lepidopteryx

    What this solitary eclectic pagan believes:1) The Earth is a living being, and we human beings, along with other animals, plants, fungi, bacteria, etc. are all parts of her in much the same way that out organs and limbs are parts of us. The Earth and her other denizens are not ours to do with as we please. 2) Every action has consequences, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, often a combination of both. Therefore, we must always take care in how we interact with the other people and other species.3) what harm you do to others, you do to yourself as well. It may not always be immdiately apparent, but it WILL come back and bite you in the a$$.4) Since the Divine is present in everything, we always have a direct connection – no intermediaries necessary. 5) When I die, my body will become food for scavengers. It will decompose, becoming part of the soil, which will feed plants, which will feed animals, including human beings. In this way, I will continue to always be a part of the web of existence.

  • JAY

    Lepido — Your beliefs pretty much capture my worldview as well, although mine are entirely secular. Maybe I’m a Pagan and don’t know it?

  • Peter Huff

    Hi Jay, Gerry, Crystal, I would love to chat away the night but I am working seven days straight, 12 hour shifts. Hope you will check in later this weekend/possibly next Monday/Tuesday so I can answer some of your posts? We haven’t go to the heart of the issue yet.Hi Lepidopteryx

  • Peter Huff

    Blessings to you Lepidopteryx. May God be gracious to you!

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  • lepidopteryx

    Thanks, Peter.And may all the gods and goddesses fill your life with blessings. Haven’t seen you in a while. Have they been working you too hard?

  • Peter Huff

    Hi Lepidopteryx,Yes, one of those crazy weeks. Working every day. Ho hum.Take care!

  • Peter Huff

    Hi Jay,I started with this post because it required the least amount of time to reply to. I am also answering your other post, but it is taking longer to reply to.You said,”MC: There’s an expression in science that also applies to other areas of human endeavor: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.”The Resurrection is Jesus Christ is an extraordinary claim that has some extraordinary evidence. You are just not will to accept any evidence that is given. For instance, in the spread of Christianity we have accounts of His followers cowering and hiding during His death and crucifixion and then a few days later boldly stating that they have seen Him alive again, and from this bodily Resurrection boldly going into the known world proclaiming this message at the risk of death and torture. I find that remarkable because the whole movement could have been squashed immediately if the Roman or Jewish authorities had produced a body. That would have been the end of Christianity.Furthermore, thousands of people alive during the first centuries go to their torturous deaths proclaiming this very thing, that He is risen! All they would have to do is recant their belief to be spared and bow to the knee of Caesar. Secular and Jewish historians at the time, who have no interest in the Gospel’s, record this persecution of Christians. There are also accounts of what happened to the original disciples. You said,”Alleged miracles are extraordinary claims, but I have yet to see any extraordinary evidence to support any one of them.”The Lord said, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.” (Luke 16:31)You will not accept any evidence; no matter how reasonable it is unless the Lord does a supernatural miracle in your life. The Lord pointed to all of the prophesies concerning Himself throughout the Old Testament, that He had fulfilled and yet they would not believe. You said,”Of course if a virginal human female ever did produce a child, it would be female also. You can’t produce a Y-chromosome out of thin air.”There again you are trying to explain everything from a natural perspective, whereas God did something that is supernatural, beyond the natural You said,”So, what is more likely: an early mistranslation in the bible of the term “virgin” which actually meant “young woman” (there’s pretty good evidence for that), the story is a complete fabrication (also conceivable … no pun intended), or a virginal woman actually gave birth to a male child? If I were a betting man, I know where I would put my money.”There again, your faith does not allow you to believe in anything that you cannot test with your senses, but your faith does not have the ability to make sense out of this world without borrowing from the Christian worldview. You said,”By the way, I’m not angry in the least … just deeply perplexed by some of my fellow humans.”I could say the same if the Lord had not explained it clearly. Now I just accept it knowing that unless the Lord changes a heart it will never believe, not because the evidence is unreasonable, but because the evidence is suppressed and distorted by unbelief (Romans 1:18-33).

  • Anonymous

    Hi Gerry,In your response to Mary you said,”Not a single one of your statements stems from anything else than what others taught you to believe. So, assuming Jesus lived (accepted), how do you know he rose from the dead? Folks told you so, and since you are inclined to believe in miracles (that means logically: exceptions from possibilities), you replace your lack of real knowledge with faith in impossibilities, only because you were told so. Something is either possible or impossible. If it happens, it is possible, otherwise it would not happen. But then it is no longer a “miracle” in the religious, commonsense defying meaning.”You are trying to make the scientific method of empirical observable data the whole gateway of knowledge. The problem of doing this is that you are using logic, that in itself is not empirical, but a concept devoid of matter. Although “Science” claims objectivity its interpretation of the “facts” is constantly changing, so the thing believed ten minutes ago may be disproved at this juncture in time. Science is constantly abandoning its old facts and replacing them with new ones. Your belief that science cannot be wrong is constantly under revision because a lot of its theories develop out of perceptions, such as the Theory of Evolution. No one was around to observe the beginning of the universe (except God, our Creator), therefore the conditions that existed back then are perceptions and not observable today, since they did not happen today and nobody, but nobody saw them happening (excepting God). We can only make assumptions based on our interpretation of the data. You, Jay, interpret it one way and I interpret it another. But my reference point is the sovereign and Almighty Lord who does not change. As He asked Job, “Where were you when I laid the foundation?” (Job 38:4)You said,”Well, I grant that for one’s life it is more important to feel well than to think clearly. And that holds for a majority of people: Another majority of US citizens believes also in astrology.” You must be including yourself in this category since it is something you are granting that it is more important to feel well than to think clearly. Again, what do you base that value judgment on, yourself and how you perceive others?Since you are granting this are you the “one” who grants all knowledge its validity?You said,”I am not a pagan, but to me pagans are much more plausible (and sympathetic), as they worship what they experience, and not what the fantasize.”So from this statement you assume that experience is what makes something true or false. Or is it only because on this particular point they support your belief structure and therefore you throw them in as an anchor to gain their support? Whenever you look to the majority experience to validate an argument you run the risk that the majority may be wrong. This has been demonstrated repeatable in history.Whenever feelings play a part in belief you have to ask yourself what is the objective criteria, the perceptions of another subjective mind as a reference or the objective truth of an infinite mind.The question is what are your feelings aimed at, the total validation of your belief system, no matter the cost to truth?

  • jay

    Peter, what you call evidence is pretty thin stuff since you’re willing (in fact, forced) to use eyewitness accounts from 2000 yrs ago that can not be verified and which lack corroborating physical evidence which might be re-examined today. (As a parallel, imagine trying to convict someone of an old crime in a court of law based on such shaky evidence.) Quoting scripture is a poor substitute for real evidence … in fact it is an admission that you have nothing else to offer as real evidence. Any modern theory of science that was built on such shaky evidence would fall flat. In addition, I prefer to not think with my heart (or gut) and use my head. Circulatory and digestive organs are notoriously unreliable for functions other than what they evolved to perform.I agree with you on one point: if the heavenly host descended to earth tomorrow and could be inspected, recorded, and described by multiple reliable observers equipped with modern tools of science, I would alter my view based on this new evidence. Extraordinary claims, extraordinary evidence.How exactly do I “borrow from the Christian view”? Certainly any culture borrows from the cultures that precede it or coexist with it but that does not mean these other views are necessarily correct or equally valid. After all, science borrowed extensively from Greek and Roman cultures of the past, but that doesn’t make the Greek and Roman gods part of modern science.

  • JAY

    BTW, the idea mentioned above that science is constantly shifting and making corrections, thus is unreliable, is a false criticism. Science evolves based on new evidence. New ideas in science are the most shaky since they have not had the benefit of examination by multiple researchers and have not been tested and re-tested from different angles, using different methods. Science is strongest and subject to less revision when there are multiple lines of evidence, from different disciplines, which all point toward the same conclusion. Evolution is a good example of that. In Darwin’s time, the theory was new and had not yet been properly evaluated. Today, 150 yrs later, we have significantly more information which supports the theory and which coroborates and in some cases revises what Darwin proposed. But essentially Darwin was correct, if incomplete.Peter, do you accept the modern theory of plate tectonics? There is a huge amount of data to support it, which can be examined right now, not extrapolated from the past. It does require that the earth be more than 6000 yrs old, which might be a problem for you, but the earth’s age is also very well supported by physical evidence. And plate tectonics fits very nicely with what evolutionary theory describes as well. Multiple lines of evidence, from multiple and very different disciplines, all pointing towards the same conclusion.

  • jay

    “Furthermore, thousands of people alive during the first centuries go to their torturous deaths proclaiming this very thing, that He is risen! All they would have to do is recant their belief to be spared and bow to the knee of Caesar. Secular and Jewish historians at the time, who have no interest in the Gospel’s, record this persecution of Christians. There are also accounts of what happened to the original disciples.”And this proves … what? That people throughout human history have sacrificed themselves believing that their worldview was correct, especially when there was a “promise” of an afterlife. Japanese pilots died by the thousands in WW2 following the same belief. Was their emperor indeed divine? Are Muslim suicide bombers correct after all? I don’t see many Christians today with that level of dedication to their faith.

  • Anonymous

    “Whenever feelings play a part in belief you have to ask yourself what is the objective criteria, the perceptions of another subjective mind as a reference or the objective truth of an infinite mind.”Then I suppose you claim to understand the objective mind of your god and can explain to the rest of us the reason for the horrendous waste caused by the SE Asian tsunami a few years back, or the purpose of the horrifying parasitic worm that causes river blindness in Africa, or why an innocent child should be terrorized, raped and killed by a psychopath. These things must all be in the plan of this objective, infinite mind who knows and sees all, correct? Or maybe things aren’t so clearcut and well defined in the universe after all?

  • Danyell L. Beck

    I am a practicing Pagan of over 16 years, I’m 31 now. I have been on the same path for over half of my life. I feel that my beliefs are a religion and I should be given the same respect that Christians and the other “Big Five” are given. Thank you and may you be blessed

  • Peter Huff

    Hi Jay,Thanks for the apology. This post is a response to your posts on July 8, 2007. I have not replied to the others yet.You said,”You keep asking how we define “good.” I don’t think I’ve seen a definition from you. And I’m not looking for something squishy like “We do good when we do god’s will.” There is way too much latitude in that.”Fair question; all that God is and all that God does is good. As Jesus said, “No one is good but God alone.” (Luke 18:19) So what good is is what God approves of and what He does. He is the standard and He sets the standard. And for those who know God, we see His mercy and love and patience and grace shown to not only us, but the entire world of men. As Acts 17:28 says, “for in Him we live and move and exist.” “He makes His sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.” (Matthew 5:44, 45) That is His provision for both you and me, even though you do not acknowledge Him He still lets you live. “The LORD is good to all, and His compassion is over all that He has made.” (Psalm 145:9)His goodness is shown by His justice also. That is why God sets the law. One day God will judge the living and the dead. In doing so He will do what is completely right. That is good, for to compromise justice is to let the guilty go unpunished. All those crimes that have never been found out will one day be accounted for before the Almighty. You said,”Good is a relative term, even for religious people. We all agree that killing our fellow man/woman is NOT good, but there are obviously exceptions. You could argue that it is a good (or at least acceptable) thing to kill when you or your loved one is being threatened (self defense), or to defend one’s country (in war), and some argue that it is good to kill (execute) a murderer who has been brought to justice. Some argue that it is good to help someone die who is suffering and near death.”In order to determine good you have to ask what actions are right and what the motives of those actions are. What is the difference between killing and murder? Murder is an illegitimate killing. Many times we are called upon to defend our country against evil. WWII was an example. The Bible gives clear guidance between killing and murder. Jesus revealed that hatred and anger is along the same lines as murder (Matthew 5:21, 22). When someone devises evil and malice in their hearts towards someone else the same motives can lead to murder. And you cannot have a right attitude in your heart towards God when your motives are evil. Since we are all made in God’s image and likeness in our ability to recognize right and wrong, respect, love and dignity is something that each one of us deserves. You said,”Even the bible is not too clear on what constitutes appropriate killing … and there is a whole lot of killing in that book. Was it good for Jesus to die, given the aftermath? It was Good Friday after all.”Sure it is. It is not good for an individual to take a life of another person because we are all created in the image of God. The command “Thou shall not kill” is against personal killing, but it is different from capital punishment for wrongs or defending against evil, such as in WWII. Also an accidental killing (Numbers 35:22-25) is to be treated differently than an intentional or premeditated killing. Also, God provides us with a deterrent for false witnesses in that testimony is established by a minimum of two to three witnesses (Numbers 35:30).And although the people who put the Lord Jesus to death had only ill and murderous intent, again God had another purpose in sending His Son; to save a people for Himself. So it was good for those who believe that Jesus did die for them. That is why Good Friday is so good! Without it, we would have to die for our sins. The only way that we could meet God’s righteous standard is if another were to be our substitute and meet all His requirements as well as pay the price for our law breaking in full and transfer His righteousness to us, so that when we stand before the Almighty Judge we will be acquitted/justified on the merit of another!You said,”So how do you define good? My argument is that it is often a hard thing to define, certainly for each and every circumstance. That’s why we have secular laws and courts, to grapple with those questions. It ain’t perfect, but nothing is in human affairs. Like I said earlier, there’s lots of gray in a world most people would prefer to be black and white.”It is gray because you, and the majority of humanity do not recognize an ultimate, absolute standard and measure of “good” which is God. He has revealed the standard to us. Here is what Gary Demar has to say in Thinking Straight in a Crooked World, p. 92,“An often told story has a modern philosopher lecturing on the solar system. An old lady in the audience avers: Earth rests upon a large turtle. “What does this turtle stand on?” the speaker needles. “A far larger turtle.” As a scholar persists, his challenger retorts: “You are very clever but it is no use, young man. It’s turtles all the way down.”“Turtles all the way down” is the atheist’s dilemma. Instead of turtles, it’s finite humans all the way down.”End of quote. Your reference point is the wisdom of finite human man. Wow! Talk about feet firmly planted in midair!You said,“As a biologist, I’m often asked by those Christians who have little patience for those of us who study organisms: “So what good is that particular animal or plant?” The question is always weird to me, because it comes from a different worldview. The easy response is, “Well, what good are you?” My response however is usually, What do you mean by “good”? Does it have to have a use to humans to be good? Isn’t being a unique species and unique part of an ecosystem good enough?So, no, there is no easy definition for good. But I’m sure you’ll disagree.”Yes, Jay, you bet I will disagree. From your worldview Science is “god.” How does science determine “good” when supposedly it deals with things that are material in nature? Does science determine morality? (I’m using either your or some other atheist’s argument here). If matter is all there is and we evolved from lower organisms, with in turn evolved from non-living matter, which in turn evolved from a chance explosion, how do you get “Good” from that? It is just a random process that you or I act in any defined manner at all according to the evolutionary principle. As Gary Demar again noted in Thinking Straight, p.75, quoting Stephen Jay Gould, The Meaning of Life” Life Magazine (December 1988), p. 84, “…the pathways that have lead to our evolution are quirky, improbable, unrepeatable and utterly unpredictable. Human evolution is not random; it makes sense and can be explained after the fact. But wind back life’s tape to the dawn of time and let it play again – and you will never get humans a second time.We are here because one odd group of fishes had a peculiar fin anatomy that could transform into legs for terrestrial creatures; because the earth never froze entirely during an ice age; because a small tenuous species, arising in Africa a quarter of a million years ago, has managed, so far, to survive by hook and by crook….We cannot read the meaning of life passively in the facts of nature. We must construct these answers ourselves – from our own wisdom and ethical sense. There is no other way.” End of quote.How can you ever be certain of anything, given these brilliant conclusions? After all, according to this evolutionist, the process we got here by is “quirky, improbable, unrepeatable and utterly unpredictable.”So first, that being the case, we live in a random, chance, blind universe. How do we get laws of science? How can we be sure what is observable fact today will remain the same tomorrow or in other words, how do you explain the consistency/uniformity of nature in such a worldview and know it will be true tomorrow?Second, how can this universe that appears to have design come together without a designer?Third, if all we are as humans are evolving animals, why should what one animal does to another have any moral implications? Does a lion sympathize with its prey before it eats it? As Charles Darwin is credited as saying,“With me the horrid doubt always arises whether the convictions of a man’s mind, which has been developed from the mind of lower animals, are of any value or are at all trustworthy. Would anyone trust in the convictions of a monkey’s mind, if there are any convictions in such a mind?”Poor Charlie. So again, you still need to explain how good can be known apart from God. Fourth, Gary Demar notes, Thinking Straight, p. 12,“The National Academy [of Sciences] booklet [on Science] correctly states that ‘all scientific knowledge is, in principle, subject to change as new evidence becomes available.’ It doesn’t matter how long, or how many scientists currently believe it. If contradictory evidence turns up, the theory must be reevaluated or even abandoned.”End of quote.Wow, Jay, doesn’t that make you feel confident? Thanks but I will stick with God’s absolute standard of truth. As I said before the facts do not come already interpreted. Evolutionary science botch them up.According to one of the gurus of Science, Carl Sagan, “The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” There is nothing to be accountable for in such a worldview. Why are humans such moral beings then?You said,“By the way, Peter Huff, I forgot to ask:What do you say to those Christians who have no problem with evolution, who view it as part of god’s plan? There are lots of those folks. Christians are all over the map on evolution, from biblical literalists to theistic evolutionists (which are you exactly?).”God has revealed a young earth by His word of truth. Anyone who reads millions or billions of years from the Bible is reading something into His Word that is not there. It can give you the reasons why we know the earth is young, if you wish. To continue your thoughts, “Intelligent Design proponents and Young Earth Creationists are at opposite ends of the spectrum. I guess Christians could agree that the Earth is somewhere between 6000 yrs old and 4.5 billion, and that life evolved or it didn’t.”Sure, I agree, in some cases on your comments on Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationists. A lot of the Intelligent Design crowd are not Christians, but they believe in a supreme being, as did Albert Einstein, or at least that is a conclusion some get from some of his statements.

  • jay

    Peter Huff wrote: “God has revealed a young earth by His word of truth. Anyone who reads millions or billions of years from the Bible is reading something into His Word that is not there. It can give you the reasons why we know the earth is young, if you wish.”Okay, now we are getting somewhere. You’re a young earth creationist (I figured as much but wanted to make sure). The planet is 6000 yrs old, plus or minus a century or two, right? All life popped out of nothingness a few millenia ago, including the dinosaurs. The Flintstones cartoons were right after all. Noah’s Ark really did exist and carried all the species that are still extant today. What exactly did happen to the dinosaurs and the mastodon? Did they get left off at the dock? The bible certainly doesn’t say, so be careful you don’t read anything into it that might not be there…So what “good science” do you actually accept Pete? You’ve pretty much rejected all biology, geology, cosmology, and even much of chemistry.So many questions. This is kind of fun, Peter, but unfortunately I don’t have the time to play much longer.And no I don’t worship science. Science is not a god, it is merely a very good way to understand the world as it is, not as we might fantasize it should be. For the latter you need religion.Bottom line: I prefer looking at the universe as an adult, Peter … with an eye toward evidence, rational thought, and a dose of skepticism. I can live with uncertainties about some things because that’s the way the universe is. Religion infantilizes us, makes us latch onto fairy tales to explain the way things are and tells us not to question; that everything will be great and all things will be answered if you just follow these instructions. That’s fine when you’re 6 yrs old, but … I’m sure it’s all very comforting, but so’s a baby blanket. Time to stand up and toss off the baby blanket, Pete.Take care.

  • Yussy

    I’m always amused how neo pagans think their beliefs and practices go back for thousands of years. In reality you can’t trace any neo pagan practice back further than 200 years. That’s because that’s when it was invented.True European paganism was lost and forgotten by the spreading of Catholicism. In reality neo paganism is just a silly past time for self-indulgent narcissists who wish to make up their beliefs to suit their feelings and desires.

  • Anonymous

    You’ve got that one right Yussy!

  • Anonymous

    Actually, you might be really surprised at how far back much of it goes. it’s a lot further than 200 years. Are you aware that much of the holidays that you now celebrate as ‘Christian’ have incorporated elements of Pagan holidays? Christmas trees? Easter, both in name and in it’s association with rabbits?Are you aware that there have been dolls recovered archeologically that date back to about 30,000 years ago that indicate some form of worship of a divine feminine form? Called Venus of Willendorf.Are you aware of the Cunningfolk? No?

  • Anonymous

    actually the basis for today’s paganism goes back a lot farther than 200 years.Venus of Willendorf dolls found dating back to 30,000 years showed some form of female divine worship.Each of the myths that wound up in the bible eventually can be found in stories of the goddesses/gods of early Egypt as well as other cultures of the times.the Druids and Celts existed approx 4000 years ago, possibly longer. There are practices that have been handed down in secretive form for ages.Do some homework, please.

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  • Regina

    I think the beauty of Wicca is the freedom. I felt so fenced in by Christian dogma. I’m no different than I was before. I just worship a different way and I’m a solitary Wiccan. I don’t belong to a coven. I strive to be a good person and harm none. I live in love and I’m working hard at trying to protect the planet although I admit I have far to go! I do hope that someday others will understand Wicca and neopaganism and not think we are conjurers that try to channel demons. Witch craft is not what popular culture has portrayed it and I do hope someday others will understand. I respect the religion of others. I do not proseletyze. I expect the same in return.Thanks for your thoughtful writing. It’s nice to read something where we, as Wiccans, are not being beat over the head with our “pagan” religion. I subscribe to the “all gods are one god” tenet. I do have personal gods, but they are sort of a metaphor. I have a sacred feminine and a male god that meet my needs as a personification. It’s really not that big a deal and hope all will learn to respect it someday soon. Blessed be,

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  • Angel M. Grace Rolston

    In all honesty…i find it hard to believe in the devil…i find it ever harder to know that yes there are people out there that believe being Wicca means I am some kind of Satan worshiper…No one should be judged because of their beliefs…I am a wicca…but I believe in the belief of one God, one Goddess…that we are one, and that I am not a sinner…I am just free to be me…call me whatever you will, but I don’t fear a hell that I don’t believe in… I don’t go to Hogwart’s…or dance naked in a field to some deity…I relish in the fact that as Kenner said…we are diverse…we each believe what we will, and well we are own people…the only rule I will ever follow is “Harm None”, and to backwater Christian’s I don’t blame them, I just am more understanding towards there views than they are to mine,and for as long as I live I will never understand why people listen to our President…he lost my faith in him when he sent thousands of our man and women to a fruitless “War”…but that is another topic…I am wiccan, but most of all I am me..

  • Angel M. Grace Rolston

    Peter,

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