What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn about Paganism?
Topic: To draw a conclusion from given information is to
June 16, 2019 / By Tommie Question:
Religion, spirituality, and the concept of a higher power is often a source of stress for me. I've struggled with it since I was in my early teens. I come from a family and background that is Southern Baptist on one side and Catholic on the other... without getting into too much detail here, I have found that is simply is not the right path for me.
One thing I have always held was a strong respect/bond/etc with nature. Perhaps then, it is something that revolves around nature that I need.
That particular aspect of Paganism catches my interest.
However there are several things that I am wary of and unfamiliar with. As mentioned, I have always been sketchy about the concept of a higher power. I often question if there may be more than one, just one, or any at all, and what purpose might He/She/They/It have. So, I do not throw the possibility of it out all together.
And then there is the concept of magick that many Pagan religions have that I am also unfamiliar with (I assume it's similar to praying). I cannot help but to approach that with a skeptical mind. Still, I will not come to any conclusions without fulling knowing about it.
There are also so many different things about Paganism and different religions under it (such as Wicca)... I don't even know where to start looking. I do a Google search and am overwhelmed by the sheer number of sites.
Any advice as far as paganism is concerned is greatly appreciated. I'm a bit confused on where to start looking for reliable info... if there are any books or sites for beginners, I'd love to hear of it.
Best Answers: What advice would you give to someone wanting to learn about Paganism?
Raymond | 10 days ago
1) Ignore the fundies saying you’ll go to hell and are opening yourself up to demons. They don’t believe in either.
2) Get the book: Wicca, a Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham (Amazon.com used books is a great resource)
3) Avoid Silver Ravenwolf, DJ Conway and most Llewellyn books
4) Do NOT pay for lessons over the internet. You can’t ask for references. Do NOT give out personal information to anyone over the internet. Get a PO Box.
5) www.witchvox.com http://wicca.timerift.net
6) Learn and keep learning about various paths in paganism.
7) get the book: "Drawing Down the Moon" by Margo Adler (an older book that's a little dated, especially concerning Asatru but a good resource) - it gives an overview on a lot of pagan traditions.
8) I’m not a good resource beyond these suggestions. I haven’t been a Wiccan since 1992 and I left Heathenism a year ago.
Some common pagan beliefs (not all pagan religions believe these): reincarnation * karma * harming none * multiple deities (male and female) * a reverence for life and nature * celebrating the cycle of life and the year with holidays and full moons *
Things pagans don’t believe in: the devil * hell * a savior * a deity that condemns someone for eternity for not believing in him
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Originally Answered: Advice for kid wanting to learn mathematics?
1. If this is for real, make an appointment with the local high school's math department chairperson, and ask for that person's help.
2. You can take online math courses at any university that offers something that interests you.
3. Have you ever considered the actuarial exams?
You don't need to be pagan to have a natural approach to your spirituality... there are many mystic branches of the abrahamic monotheisms that honor nature as creation and have differing concepts of God then the one you may have grown up with... gnostics, sufis, qabalists etc may give you a new perspective on a tradition you may already be familiar with that may suit your needs... but then, you didn't come here asking about those...
Not all pagans recognize deity. You don't have to nail down how you feel about deity right away either... it's not like Christianity where if you don't believe a set dogma you can't call yourself pagan.
Also, magick is not necessarily part of every pagan religion. Wicca does tend to focus on it and many pagans practice it, but it is not essentially tied to pagan religions... you can be a pagan and not practice witchcraft just like you can be a Christian and practice witchcraft. It's a craft, not a religion. Some of the ritual aspects of witchcraft can be useful for pagan celebrants, but doing magick spells is not a requirement by any means.
My best advice is to find some pagans you can trust, hang out in online forums like MySpace and FaceBook and ask people questions about their traditions. Be prepared to have people who claim to be part of the same tradition give you vastly differing answers, but you will get to know people and eventually start to see how the pieces fit and if anything they say works for you. Look up "pantheism" first to get an idea as to what that is because it sounds like it might interest you, but otherwise, just keep your eyes and ears open and follow your heart.
Here's a page with links to some FAQs about paganism and Wicca I wrote as well as some other resources you may find handy when trying to sort all this info out...http://lilacphilex.tripod.com/index.html
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I fully sympathise with your problem. When I was young we had the opposite problem, little or no information available and we needed to know where to go to find information. We had to sometimes travel great distances to find the appropriate library or use inter library loans to get hold of a book etc. Now-a-days we live in an information overload where there's too much information and looking for relevant and useful information is the challenge. The skills to quickly sift through this information are taught in universities and schools are only now starting to catch up.
Whenever you have an overwhelming amount of information the important thing is to sort it into most to least useful. If you know nothing about the subject you need a good balanced overview to begin with.
My favourite starting place for a balanced overview is an encyclopedia (such as the encyclopedia Britannica or wikipedia, if I can I try to use both since Britannica is more thoroughly edited and Wikipedia is more up to date and in touch with what most people believe as the internet community does the editing). I also use a dictionary for complex words. Dictionaries and Encyclopedias are called tertiary material and I use them for a general overview.
The beauty of encyclopedias is they have citations, so if there is any part of the overview I find interesting and want to learn more about I use the citations to guide me to the book(s) that I think are most useful to read (secondary sources). I then go back to the balanced overview (encyclopedia) to look for dissenting views and look up the book(s) that have dissenting views. While you're in the library it's not a bad idea to not just pick up the book the citation refers to but one or two books either side of that book which is likely to be on the same subject. Now when you come to read that book don't sit down and read it from cover to cover like we did in the old days, read the introduction then skip to the conclusion and "dip" into the book. Look up the page the citation refers to and read that chapter and make extensive use of the index to quickly read the pages that are relevant to the part of the topic I'm interested in. When I feel I have an idea of the subject and the points most people agree on and the points that people argue about, I then want to form my own opinion on the subject so I go to the source material (primary sources). Often in the case of religion and spirituality the internet sacred text archive is a good source. In the case of paganism, you may also want to look up and make contact with some individuals or groups that practise the various arts within the umbrella term "paganism" in order to obtain some practical experience.
This practise of moving from tertiary to secondary to primary material and making extensive use of the index in books to dip into the relevant pages to extract the important information is probably the single most important skill a person needs in the 21s century. Good luck.
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Ok, For starters. I'd recommend that you avoid new-age things like Wicca (In addition, Wicca is a modern religion invented in the 1950's by a fellow named Gerald Gardner). In my mind, it's always best to look at strictly reconstructionist or Folkloric approaches, as opposed to syncretic, occult or mystical approaches which are often filled with new age hummbuggery or things that were created under christian influences of what pagans are supposed to look and act like.
As such, I'd strongly recommend that you look at various Historical Pagan Religions which used to be common around the world.
You can find some of them listed on Wikipedia at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polytheism#Historical_polytheism
From there, once you've found one that you find interesting, try looking at the groups that are trying to preserve the old religion or at are aimed at reconstructing them.
Some examples of these are:
Greek Polytheism: Supreme Council of Ethnikoi Hellenes, Dodekatheon and Hellenion
Roman Polytheism: Nova Roma
Celtic: Pàganachd, Senistrognata
Germanic (This would include both Scandinavian, Germanic, Dutch and Anglo-Saxon Religions): Ásatrú, Forn Siðr, Fyrnsidu and "Heathenry"
Baltic (The Balts were the last pagans in Europe and were slow to accept Christianity): Romuva (To which I belong) and Dievturība.
Slavic: Rodnovery, etc
There's plenty more bt you can take a look at them yourself.
Best of Luck
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I would start with the history of magic, superstition, and religion. The Golden Bough by Fraser is public domain and can be downloaded or bought cheaply at a used book store.
Jungian study of human archetypes, especially Campbell's book on Heroes is good background material.
Many claim that Catholicism absorbed many pagan rituals and practices. Study it to confirm or deny this. Personally, I believe that both address basic human needs, but one holds more truth than the other
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there are three books i recommend:
'the mists of avalon' by marion zimmer bradley, a deeply spiritual take on the arthurian legends that includes a remarkable philosophy on naturist spirituality
'drawing down the moon' by margot adler, a rather scholarly look at the origins and variety of modern paganism
'the complete idiots guide to paganism' [i forget the author's name], a concise overview of the pagan movement that will give you a good idea of where to go next.
i also highly recommend that you look into hinduism, which is the only intact indo-european religion. most pagan traditions are indo-european, and all are strongly influenced by the same philosophy that spawned modern hinduism.
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1) "White" Witchcraft and "Black" Witchcraft are mere ignorant labels created to make people feel good or bad about working magic with THEIR specific intent. So-called "Black" Witchcraft is merely witchcraft with negative intent and has NOTHING to do with Satanism. Negatively intended Witchcraft can produce positive results just as much as so-called "White" Witchcraft can produce negative results. Think about it. Witchcraft with a sort of negative intention (say a curse) can banish a harmful person (say a rapist or murderer). Cursing, Hexing or Banishing this person can save people from their harmful ways, whereas a well intended or "white" Witchcraft act, say stopping someone from addiction, forces that person to stop doing something against their will. If they're not ready to stop, say, drinking, you're imposing YOUR will upon them, and that's wrong. To jump to the automatic conclusion that any acts done with negative intent is "Black" magic is a naive assumption. The first thing ANY Witch should learn and understand that Witchcraft and magic are neither black NOR white, and that it's not wrong nor bad to embrace both so called "dark" sides as well as lighted sides. Remember, nature and the universe exist with a healthy balance of both dark and light, and so do we. (note: I'm not saying go out and work your craft with the intent to harm other people, animals or things, but know that working with negativity isn't always so bad). 2) Satanism has nothing to do with Witchcraft. Satanism is a belief system of it's own, and has positive ethics, including looking down on anyone harming or hurting animals and children, and stressing responsibility. Just because the belief system has the taboo name of "Satanism" also doesn't make it something bad.
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Well, just to get you started and to clear some definitions for you, here's an essay I wrote about paganism a while ago:
Paganism is the oldest belief known to humanity. It's origins reach back to the stone-age animism, when people tried to explain natural phenomena, explore the unknown, and honour the nature around them. Therefore, paganism originally has no founder, no earthly leaders, no prophets, no messiahs, and no saints.
Linguistically, the word pagan derives from the Latin word "paganus", which means "a villager", or a "country dweller". Romans in the big cities, who had already accepted Christianity, used this derogatory term to described simple farmer folk who lived in the countryside and still practised the old polytheistic religion. Back then, anybody not Christian was considered a barbarian, a lesser being.
Historically, the different synonyms for a "pagan" were almost always used in the derogatory way, meaning an infidel, heretic or an unbeliever. Look for example at the term "heathen". Heathen is yet another word like pagan. Heathen means "people of the heath (hearth)", and nowadays it is used to signify pagans that follow one of the norse/germanic pagan paths.
The Latin word "Pagus" means a village, and while the majority of Pagans today live in towns, this term nowadays accurately describes the Pagan heritage, and the affinity which modern Pagans feel with the natural environment.
So what does a term "pagan" mean nowadays, for example here on Yahoo!Answers?
The word "pagan" is an umbrella term which nowadays came to mean all pre-Christian non-Abrahamic polytheistic beliefs and also many of the new polytheistic beliefs, reconstructionisms and neo-pagan beliefs.
Reconstructionisms are original polytheistic religions of old that either survived or we are trying to restore them in the form as they were practised before Christianity came. Recons don't just study the gods, but also the culture of the people who practised the old religion, and often try to re-enact both.
Such beliefs include: Heathen reconstructionism (Asatru, Odinism, Theodism, Anglo-Saxon Heathenry, Irminsweg - Germanic Heathenry), Hellenic Reconstructionism (Greek gods), Kemetic polytheism (Egyptian Gods), Celtic, Roman, Indian, African, Native American and many more. Some of those are nearly lost and only fragments are left (like Celtic), others have actually survived almost intact to the present days (like Native American with the tribes, or Asatru in some remote regions of Scandinavia.)
Even some modern religions are pagan - polytheistic, like for example Hinduism.
Neo-pagan beliefs include all practices and forms of theistic (usually poly-theistic) forms of Earth-centred religion, for example Wicca, different forms of witchcraft and eclectic paganism. Eclectic paganism is the most free, no-rules type of pagan belief, it's basically a pick-and-mix do-it-yourself religion. Eclectics often work with gods from different pantheons, sometimes even at the same time, and adopt practices from different traditions. This is often frowned upon by those who follow a specific path.
There are also HUGE differences in the way of worship. Specific-path pagans worship only one pantheon of Gods. Hard polytheists believe that every God and Goddess is a separate entity with a distinct personality, while certain Wiccans worship one mother Goddess and one God as the archetype of all female and all male gods.
There is no holy book or scripture that requires pagans to follow any prescribed manner of worship - every path has its own rules, its own texts, books and sources. Some pagans worship in a formal manner, with strictly prescribed rituals, others have a more instinctive and unconscious mode of acknowledging and communicating with the divine. Some Pagans prefer to make their worship a private affair; others gather in groups and make their worship a communion with each other, as well as with the Gods.
On the subject of magic: not all pagan paths practice magic. It seems to be quite an integral part in modern pagan paths like Wicca, but not in all pagan beliefs. Even some reconstructionists don't always practice magic. Many pagans of course do, but it's not essential for the practice of every path.
Various pagan beliefs are so different that you'll have to research them as individuals. There is hardly anything at all, that all of them would have in common - apart from not being Christian, Jewish or Islamic. By this definition, even Buddhism could be counted among pagan beliefs.
Nowadays there are even a couple of people around who claim to be atheist pagans - not believing in any gods, but feeling close to nature, respecting an honour code similar to those of the pagan beliefs, being spiritual without being theist.
When someone identifies as "pagan" to you, you shouldn't presume anything without asking first: "Which tradition?"
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Well, I know at least in Wicca, magick has nothing to do with it, as magick is a practice and Wicca is a religion.
But to your general question: read. Read everything you can on the subject. You have to have a solid information base to understand what to do next.
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Originally Answered: What's a good starting point for one wanting to learn calculus?
You must have good algebra skills, but this is a given. What really kills people when they attempt to learn the calculus is the trigonometry aspect. You must have a mature understanding of trig before you can even think about the calculus. Make sure you are very comfortable with trig identities, sum and difference formulas, knowing how solve problems using inverse functions, finding reference angles in different quadrants and what not, half angle formulas, law of sines, cosines, and tangents, etc. Also make sure you are comfortable with logs and natural logs. A lot of the time high school teachers will shy away from them because its a lot different than the exponents that we are used to.
If you feel you are ready to learn the calculus, I have a couple books that i used to teach myself. It's really not that hard at all. I would HIGHLY recomend going to a local college and buying the beginning calculus book. Also a must would be a book in the Dover series. It is called "Technical Calculus with Analytic Geometry" by Judith L. Gersting. Of all my calc books this is the one that helped the most, but you must have two different sources of material for sure.
Good luck. Hope I helped