Meet the Pagans
Greetings ! We are your friendly, neighbourhood pagans. We meet monthly in the LUF sanctuary to honour Nature, commune with the Divine and support each other. Paganism has only recently taken a back seat to Islam as the most misunderstood and maligned religion on earth. I hope to shed a little light on your local group to dispel some of the myths.
What do pagans believe? Well, that’s like asking what Christians believe. There is quite a lot of variation, especially among the ethnically-specific variants such as Asatru (Norse-based), Slavic and Aboriginal sub-groups. The most familiar face of paganism in North America is Wicca. The label derives from an Old English word meaning Wise One and originally denoted members of the tribe who were skilled at healing, divination and communing with the world of spirits.
Not all pagans are Wiccans but all Wiccans are pagans. Some modern day pagans identify as Witches, reclaiming that historically fear-infused title with pride and devotion. Many simply see themselves as pagans (generic or eclectic), most follow a solitary practice but many have joined communities.
Who are we ? Pagans come from all walks of life. NUUMOON includes educators, health care professionals, artists, entrepreneurs, farmers, craft workers, elders, children and all genders. Unlike the Gardneri – a movement in the early 20th century, modern paganism is egalitarian, with few groups having any hierarchical structure or formal leadership. Most are a collective of like-minded, mutually supporting, Nature- loving individuals. Our group has taken different forms but has been at LUF for at least 20 years now.
The common beliefs across pagan groups hinge on respect for all of Nature imbued with the Divine spark . The cycles of birth – life – death – rebirth are central and the holy days follow the seasons. Most mod- ern pagans aren’t particularly interested in the afterlife, so they live this life to its fullest. As with Unitarian Universalism, there is no dogma. The Wiccan Rede is commonly “Do what thou wilt, but harm none”. There is also the related belief that anything you do in the world comes back at you three-fold, so mind your step. Some pagans believe in gods and goddesses in the literal sense, while most see those figures as manifestations of the human psyche and the forces of Nature.
Myths about pagans include reports that they dance naked around bonfires, worship Satan, practice blood sacrifice and cast nasty spells on people. Well, naked dancing in Northwestern Ontario would be a death-defying and itch-inducing proposition, so rest assured that you’ll see none of that with NUUMOON. Going “skyclad” is practiced by a few groups as a way of honouring the body in all its forms and of removing class distinctions. Satan is not part of the pagan religion in any way shape or form, being an invention of Judaism and Christianity. Pagans do not practice blood sacrifice. At most you might see offerings of ale and cakes at certain festivals. Some practice magic in the same way that Christians pray, light candles and invoke supernatural beings to grant their desires – safety of loved ones, peace, prosperity, true love, healing and the like. Certainly we NUUMOON pagans practice our religion with respect, gratitude, conviction and even humour.
If you are curious to learn more, journalist Margot Adler’s book Drawing Down The Moon is an excellent source of historical and religious information. Starhawk is one of the best-known North American pagans and her book The Spiral Dance outlines beliefs and rituals. Many excellent web sites can be found, but I recommend this one as it is non-partisan : http://www.religioustolerance.org/neo_paga.htm . I would also be happy to answer any questions you might have, in person or by e-mail (email@example.com). If you feel so inclined, come to one of our gatherings, held on the 2nd Thursday of each month at 7 PM.
Merry meet, merry part and merry meet again. Submitted by Hanusia Tkaczyk
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