Pagan Pride

jefflovestone

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Jerry_B said:
The problem seems to be that modern paganism is seeking to justify itself to some extent by claiming authority from the actual past, but is in reality acquiring the bits it wants and inventing or imagining other bits. It's all well and good acknowledging that your beliefs are largely a modern inventions, but few pagans seem to do that. In reality they do in fact feel the need to justify - legitimise even - their religion in terms of the past. The only problem is, that past is largely invented. So they may as well just as much say it was all handed down to them by Mickey Mouse ;)
This probably won't go down too well in some quarters, and this is more an observation than a criticism, but I think much of the momentum of this has it's origin in America and reflects America's psyche in general. It perhaps also says something about how American culture is sold to and accepted by Britain - even if it was second hand to America in the first place.
 

jefflovestone

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Jerry_B said:
gyrtrash said:
And all the people I know following a 'celtic' or 'norse' path understand they are 'reconstructionists'. They don't profess to follow an unbroken religious tradition since ancient times.
How can they be 'reconstructionists' when not all that much is known about the religious history of such 'paths'? I wouldn't say it's reconstruction at all - it's invention, based on modern ideals.
I agree. Last year I had an ongoing row with some Celtic reconstructionists over this issue and how selective they were in choosing their starting points for 'reconstruction': i.e. all of Europe apart from Anglo-Saxon 'England'. All those Celtic artifacts found in what's now known as England must have been dropped as they passed through mainland Europe to Ireland, you know, where the real Celts lived.

Actually, to bring this closer to the topic, another issue that grates in a small way is how Celtic Christianity is often praised (no pun intended) by pagans on a Celtic path as being an important facet of Celtic culture - which on some levels is undoubtedly true - yet the fact it's predominantly a Christian group, is often skirted around.

Ooh, look at the scrollwork!
 

Kondoru

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Its possible to be both, surley?

We are fairly sure Columbia was a druid.

He wasnt the only one.

All this compartmentalosing of religion is, even in the west, silly.

The Japanese dont worry about it.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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Jerry_B said:
...

Anyone who claims legitimacy from an invented past that's been formed to suit their own agendas is on dodgy ground IMHO.
But, then, that includes almost every religion. So, why is a pagan's belief in the historical (or, prehistorical) belief in the validity of their roots, any more dodgy than those of any other religion with a longer, but no less dubious pedigree. Just because St Paul might have made stuff up 2000 years ago, it doesn't make it any truer today.

And, frankly, you can't actually disprove their beliefs in the pagan sanctity of Glastonbury, its just your opinion and the opinion of archaeologists and historians, based upon scant evidence, in any direction.

The pre-Christian, pre-Roman inhabitants didn't write stuff down. They did leave customs and reputations. But, we do know that the local monks at Glastonbury Abbey did write stuff down. They even appear to have been dab hands at faking the past to justify their existence and drum up a healthy tourist trade, in the form of pilgrimages to visit Holy Wells, St Joseph of Arimathea's Thorn tree and most flagrantly, the site where the remains of King Arthur were found.

Now, they may also have been capable of destroying evidence of a Pre-Christian significance for Glastonbury. The Tor might have been a site of great significance, after all. Like other sacred islands (even if the Tor was only a temporary island in a marshy flood plain), we do not know for sure.

You're the one being absolutely categorical about the non-existence of any pagan significance for Glastonbury. Whereas you really have very little proof. Whereas, the pagans who worship there, can claim spiritual insight, at the very least. They have as much right to that as believers from any other belief system.

Personally, I find the crossover between beliefs in a warrior king who died to return again and a demi-god, like Jesus, who died to rise again, quite interesting. It hardly matters when the fusion happened in history. The significant thing is that it has made Glastonbury one of England's most important spiritual centers, for both Christians and Pagans alike.

Or, are you telling me that the Christian myths of Glastonbury are more real, or true, because they're older and the Monks wrote things down?
 

miss_scarlet

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Sauls reason for changing the content of hebrew mythologhy may have been to make them more roman friendly.
Most of the stuff written about witchcraft is a load of tripe trying to give purpose and meaning to the very propoganda that was aimed at the unpopular of society, in a negative way, in the first place.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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miss_scarlet said:
Sauls reason for changing the content of hebrew mythologhy may have been to make them more roman friendly.
...
And?

So, what about all the stories in the New Testament about the fulfillment of prophecy, intended to prove the fulfillment of prophecies about the coming Messiah? Real, fake, or wishful thinking?

What about all the editing that went on in the Dark Ages? Based on sound historical research, or the desire to create a coherent narrative?
 

miss_scarlet

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the wailing wall still stands, so thats one ubfulfilled, but its easy to fulfil a prophecy when you know what they are.
Like reading your horoscope..
 

jefflovestone

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Kondoru said:
Its possible to be both, surley?
Yes, I don't disagree but I'm placing it in the context of the disagreements I've had with some people where such an overlap is very selective and 'pick and mix', and, to be bring this closer to my initial point, is their general line on history etc., etc..
 

jefflovestone

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
Jerry_B said:
...

Anyone who claims legitimacy from an invented past that's been formed to suit their own agendas is on dodgy ground IMHO.
But, then, that includes almost every religion. So, why is a pagan's belief in the historical (or, prehistorical) belief in the validity of their roots, any more dodgy than those of any other religion with a longer, but no less dubious pedigree. Just because St Paul might have made stuff up 2000 years ago, it doesn't make it any truer today.
With respect, and apologies for speaking on Jerry's behalf, but I don't think Jerry or anyone else on this thread is saying that paganism is any different than Christianity or other religions generally - that's the whole point. My own points have been about how some pagans are fairly quick to point out historical fallacies and inaccuracies in Christianity but, ironically (or arguably strategically), skirt any similar issues in their own beliefs. All these beliefs are in the same boat.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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jefflovestone said:
...

With respect, and apologies for speaking on Jerry's behalf, but I don't think Jerry or anyone else on this thread is saying that paganism is any different than Christianity or other religions generally - that's the whole point. My own points have been about how some pagans are fairly quick to point out historical fallacies and inaccuracies in Christianity but, ironically (or arguably strategically), skirt any similar issues in their own beliefs. All these beliefs are in the same boat.
Well, I'm glad we cleared that up. :)
 

ghostdog19

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
So, what about all the stories in the New Testament about the fulfillment of prophecy, intended to prove the fulfillment of prophecies about the coming Messiah? Real, fake, or wishful thinking?

What about all the editing that went on in the Dark Ages? Based on sound historical research, or the desire to create a coherent narrative?
covered this in an earlier post.
 

Jerry_B

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
But, then, that includes almost every religion. So, why is a pagan's belief in the historical (or, prehistorical) belief in the validity of their roots, any more dodgy than those of any other religion with a longer, but no less dubious pedigree. Just because St Paul might have made stuff up 2000 years ago, it doesn't make it any truer today.
Yep, but modern pagans tend to paint themselves as having a historic legitimacy, which in fact in entirely invented. If it's bad for christians and others to make up stuff to suit themselves, I don't see why we should be any more forgiving of modern pagans.

And, frankly, you can't actually disprove their beliefs in the pagan sanctity of Glastonbury, its just your opinion and the opinion of archaeologists and historians, based upon scant evidence, in any direction.

[...]

Now, they may also have been capable of destroying evidence of a Pre-Christian significance for Glastonbury. The Tor might have been a site of great significance, after all. Like other sacred islands (even if the Tor was only a temporary island in a marshy flood plain), we do not know for sure.

You're the one being absolutely categorical about the non-existence of any pagan significance for Glastonbury. Whereas you really have very little proof. Whereas, the pagans who worship there, can claim spiritual insight, at the very least. They have as much right to that as believers from any other belief system.
Places like the Tor, which is often a pagan focal point, are pretty well-understood archaeologically. Pagans can look it all up. Likewise, they can look up the archaeology of the surrounding countryside - as I've noted, there are several pre-Christain religious sites within a short distance of Glastonbury. You can even see one of these sites from the Tor itself, if you know where to look. Modern pagans seem to ignore this, and instead hang on the shirt-tails of New Age Arthurian stuff - which, ironically, was originally kicked off by Christain monks trying to drum up some cash. As I said, ignorance is no excuse.

Or, are you telling me that the Christian myths of Glastonbury are more real, or true, because they're older and the Monks wrote things down?
Arthurian stuff is very thick on the ground in south Somerset - Glastonbury just gets all of the attention because of the New Age and ealier monastic tourist trade. This doesn't make the stuff from Glastonbury and more true - it's just that as folklore it's got longer legs. If we take folklore at face value, Arthur and Guinevere apparently managed to be buried or entombed in at least 2 other places within 15 miles of Glastonbury (Burrow Hill, South Cadbury) ;)

All in all, people are pick and choosing what they want to believe because it's suits their own agendas, whilst at the same time seeking to justify such things in bogus historicisity - that's my main beef. I'm fine with people admitting it's all invented, but not with any aims to try and justify these beliefs by trying to rewrite history. If it's bad for other religions to do it I don't see why we should turn a blind eye to modern pagans doing exactly the same thing.
 

ghostdog19

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Jerry_B said:
If it's bad for other religions to do it I don't see why we should turn a blind eye to modern pagans doing exactly the same thing.
You're right. I think what it boils down to is naivety, and naivety comes in greater numbers. Unfortunately it falls to the same pissing contest as it always does of "yeah, well they're just as bad..." as if by some measure that makes it remotely excusable.
 

gyrtrash

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Jerry_B said:
gyrtrash said:
And all the people I know following a 'celtic' or 'norse' path understand they are 'reconstructionists'. They don't profess to follow an unbroken religious tradition since ancient times.
How can they be 'reconstructionists' when not all that much is known about the religious history of such 'paths'? I wouldn't say it's reconstruction at all - it's invention, based on modern ideals.
I'll ask them why they chose 'reconstructionist' instead of 'reinvent'.
 

Jerry_B

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Or even 'invent'.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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ghostdog19 said:
Jerry_B said:
If it's bad for other religions to do it I don't see why we should turn a blind eye to modern pagans doing exactly the same thing.
You're right. I think what it boils down to is naivety, and naivety comes in greater numbers. Unfortunately it falls to the same pissing contest as it always does of "yeah, well they're just as bad..." as if by some measure that makes it remotely excusable.
Tsk. Tsk. Where's your sense of theatre? :lol:
 

ghostdog19

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
ghostdog19 said:
Jerry_B said:
If it's bad for other religions to do it I don't see why we should turn a blind eye to modern pagans doing exactly the same thing.
You're right. I think what it boils down to is naivety, and naivety comes in greater numbers. Unfortunately it falls to the same pissing contest as it always does of "yeah, well they're just as bad..." as if by some measure that makes it remotely excusable.
Tsk. Tsk. Where's your sense of theatre? :lol:
I hit the nail on the head then. :lol:
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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Jerry_B said:
...

Places like the Tor, which is often a pagan focal point, are pretty well-understood archaeologically. Pagans can look it all up. ...
As someone who has done a bit of digging in the past and met a few archaeologists in my time, I've a fair idea of just how large the gap is between the theory and the reality, when it comes to archaeological interpretation.

There's still a bit of room for alternative interpretations of the evidence. ;)
 

ghostdog19

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
Jerry_B said:
...

Places like the Tor, which is often a pagan focal point, are pretty well-understood archaeologically. Pagans can look it all up. ...
As someone who has done a bit of digging in the past and met a few archaeologists in my time, I've a fair idea of just how large the gap is between the theory and the reality, when it comes to archaeological interpretation.

There's still a bit of room for alternative interpretations of the evidence. ;)
which, by default, would apply to everything.

Theater? Amateur dramatics more like. :lol:
 

Jerry_B

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
There's still a bit of room for alternative interpretations of the evidence. ;)
Not with what's been found at the Tor. It's all pretty non-descript. The point may be being laboured too much if anyone wants to get any sort of pre-Christian religious take on any of it.

As I've said, there are pre-Christian religious sites in the area (which may also be pre-Roman) - but why let them get in the way of some good fluffy theorising about Glastonbury? ;) If one digs (metaphorically speaking) into the folklore and archeaology of that area, the Tor ends up looking pretty dull I must say.
 

ghostdog19

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please don't, you're spoiling the magic ;)
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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ghostdog19 said:
...

which, by default, would apply to everything.

...
That's quite correct, "One measures a circle, beginning anywhere" But, when it comes to archæology, it is also quite true.
...

Theater? Amateur dramatics more like. :lol:
But, that's it of course. The very nub of the deep seated resentment and prejudice being displayed against Pagans here. They aren't 'Official', they're amateurs. Apparently, they haven't got the time in that other religions and belief systems have, with all the pomp, panoply and Authoritarian bullshit, built up and accreted over many centuries, in writing, or print.
 

rynner2

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Jerry_B said:
If one digs (metaphorically speaking) into the folklore and archeaology of that area, the Tor ends up looking pretty dull I must say.
Can't let you get away with that sweeping generalisation!

Anyone who's been there will realise it has a strong 'spirit of place', or genius locii, and this must have been as strong (if not stronger) in times past. Maybe it's only a psychological reaction to the landscape, but 'dull' it is not!

(And archaeology only delivers partial answers, for the most part. It may tell of one or two things for sure, but the overall picture is still a matter of interpretation.)
 

ghostdog19

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
ghostdog19 said:
...

which, by default, would apply to everything.

...
That's quite correct, "One measures a circle, beginning anywhere" But, when it comes to archæology, it is also quite true.
YAY!!!! Finally, I AM a Fortean!
 

ghostdog19

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
The very nub of the deep seated resentment and prejudice being displayed against Pagans here.
Yeah. Odd how it's here and not in the Religion forum.... or is the religion thread for atheist/secularists-threads-having-a-pop-at-Christianity-at-any-given-opportunity only?
 

Jerry_B

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rynner said:
Can't let you get away with that sweeping generalisation!

Anyone who's been there will realise it has a strong 'spirit of place', or genius locii, and this must have been as strong (if not stronger) in times past. Maybe it's only a psychological reaction to the landscape, but 'dull' it is not!
Chicken and egg argument that tho', isn't it? How do you know that that feeling isn't simply invoked by our modern take on the place? And it's 'dull' only because there are other places in the area that are far more interesting - IMHO ;)

And if we want to talk about genii loci, up the road from the Tor at Lamyatt Beacon were found Roman figurines depicting such concepts, along with depictions of Mars and Mercury, all within a small Romano-British temple. Which itself sits on top of an older circle of small pits containing burnt deer antler.

So yeah, in comparison the Tor is actually pretty dull... ;)

(And archaeology only delivers partial answers, for the most part. It may tell of one or two things for sure, but the overall picture is still a matter of interpretation.)
Yes - and in the case of the Tor the archaeology points to alot of rather mundane stuff.
 

Jerry_B

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
The very nub of the deep seated resentment and prejudice being displayed against Pagans here. They aren't 'Official', they're amateurs. Apparently, they haven't got the time in that other religions and belief systems have, with all the pomp, panoply and Authoritarian bullshit, built up and accreted over many centuries, in writing, or print.
That's not my take on it all, I must say. The problem for me is with those who try to claim historic legitimacy from an invented past. There's a desire in some to be taken seriously because they think that they're are following an ancient (and therefore justified and valid) path - they clearly are not.

As I've said, if it's bad for more established religions to nick stuff from elsewhere and dress it all up as their own history and use that to legitimise themselves, I dunno why pagans should somehow be forgiven for doing the same thing.
 

Pietro_Mercurios

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Jerry_B said:
... There's a desire in some to be taken seriously because they think that they're are following an ancient (and therefore justified and valid) path - they clearly are not.

..
Says you. I'm afraid we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one. :)
 

jefflovestone

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Pietro_Mercurios said:
But, that's it of course. The very nub of the deep seated resentment and prejudice being displayed against Pagans here. They aren't 'Official', they're amateurs. Apparently, they haven't got the time in that other religions and belief systems have, with all the pomp, panoply and Authoritarian bullshit, built up and accreted over many centuries, in writing, or print.
Is that what you honestly think the comments on this thread have been about, despite being told on the contrary? If so, then you're really missing the point about what is being said.

It's about one group attempting to using history/academia to undermine another group and yet at the same time are reticent in holding the same lens of scrutiny up against their own beliefs and history.

I personally have no axe to grind with pagans per se. I've had some really frustrating and maddening run-ins with some over the years but I'm not going to tar them all with the same brush because of it. I'm not a Christian, I have serious reservations regarding biblical Christianity and Iknow very few Christians: I have no reason to champion Christians over pagans of any description.

If the Narnia film had a Christian culture spin-off similar to the way that the Craft, Buffy and Charmed had a knock-on effect, then I'd probably take the piss out of that too. One reason why this thread doesn't seem that balanced is because Christians have the piss taken out of them practically everywhere else, what's the point in adding to it here?

I agree with Jerry on this. I think there is a desire to legitimise a lot of paganism with a backstory of some kind. The points you're trying to scathing about (lack of history etc., etc.) are points that many pagans are obviously sensitive enough about, on some level or other, that they feel the need to create a false history. Why? Are they doing this to prove something to Christians or other 'official' belief systems? Why should Christians and their ilk give a monkeys as to whether wicca et al was created last week, 50 years ago or 5,000 years ago? Would they this have that much of an impact on the Christian belief system that this really matters?

A common pagan argument regarding Christianity's view of paganism is that it gets wicca/magic/paganism wrong anyway (cf protests about Harry Potter et al) so what's the point in trying to legitimise things with some spurious connection to history? To the kind of Christian that would care/worry about this kind of thing, new "devil worshipping" is no different than "old devil worshipping".

All those daft swines who have claimed to have received untainted secret wisdom stretching back generations and generations through a maternal line, who were they trying to impress? Christians?

I said it earlier in the thread, but I think a lot of the momentum for this has it's origins in America and reflects America's take on history and a grasping for roots that seems quite common in a lot of Americans.*



*an observation, not a judgement
 
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