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Old 03-31-2008, 03:51 PM   #131
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Originally Posted by Rhea View Post
My path is a blend of pantheism and what I have retained from my years as a wiccan. ...That is what I worship.
Is your worship different from biblical worship in the New Testament?
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Old 03-31-2008, 04:47 PM   #132
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Wow that is a lot of questions Some of the answers depend on the various paths people take so there is no one 'right' answer for some of your questions but i'll share my answers to some of them.

why is a shawl called a high priestess shawl? I think she just meant that she was making a shawl for the high priestess.
What does a high priestess do?The priest and priestess are the members of clergy, they do some of the same things priests and preachers do, lead the service, welcome new members, preform handfastings, etc.
what is the difference between a pagan and a wiccan?To me Wicca is more structured than paganism. But that's my opinion others will vary.
what's the difference between a wiccan and a Christian?Having never been a Christian I'm not sure how best to explain this one so I'll leave it for someone else.
I've heard wiccan-ism is a religion. Is that true? Yes, it's recognized by several government agencies as a valid religion in the US, not sure about other countries.

Why is Samhain called a holiday by wiccans?Hey, any excuse for a feast day! :P
What is the reason for Samhain?Samhain is the time when the crops all all finished for the year, the Earth is going to sleep for the year and things quiet down, it's darker earlier etc. In Wicca it's the time of the God's death, he's reborn at Yule, and is considered a good time for divinations and honoring those that have passed over. There is more to it than that but that's the jist.

Do pagans, et al believe in rewards or punishments for right and wrong choices? Yes, I think most believe in the principles of Karma, you do something bad something bad befalls you and vice versa with the good you do. I find that most pagans believe you're punished or rewarded in the here and now rather than after you've died in a heaven/hell kinda thing.

These are just my opinions of course, others may believe differently.
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Old 03-31-2008, 06:25 PM   #133
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Originally Posted by Eccie View Post
Wow that is a lot of questions Some of the answers depend on the various paths people take so there is no one 'right' answer for some of your questions but i'll share my answers to some of them.

why is a shawl called a high priestess shawl? I think she just meant that she was making a shawl for the high priestess.
What does a high priestess do?The priest and priestess are the members of clergy, they do some of the same things priests and preachers do, lead the service, welcome new members, preform handfastings, etc.
what is the difference between a pagan and a wiccan?To me Wicca is more structured than paganism. But that's my opinion others will vary.
what's the difference between a wiccan and a Christian?Having never been a Christian I'm not sure how best to explain this one so I'll leave it for someone else.
I've heard wiccan-ism is a religion. Is that true? Yes, it's recognized by several government agencies as a valid religion in the US, not sure about other countries.

Why is Samhain called a holiday by wiccans?Hey, any excuse for a feast day! :P
What is the reason for Samhain?Samhain is the time when the crops all all finished for the year, the Earth is going to sleep for the year and things quiet down, it's darker earlier etc. In Wicca it's the time of the God's death, he's reborn at Yule, and is considered a good time for divinations and honoring those that have passed over. There is more to it than that but that's the jist.

Do pagans, et al believe in rewards or punishments for right and wrong choices? Yes, I think most believe in the principles of Karma, you do something bad something bad befalls you and vice versa with the good you do. I find that most pagans believe you're punished or rewarded in the here and now rather than after you've died in a heaven/hell kinda thing.

These are just my opinions of course, others may believe differently.
Interesting answers, but, some are too vague for this old dummy to figure out the subtle nuances. Remember, I don't know.
RE: The priest and priestess are the members of clergy, they do some of the same things priests and preachers do, lead the service, welcome new members, preform handfastings, etc.

OK, so, let me understand this: there IS an official body of worship leaders. Do they have to go through training, like preachers and priests in churches, do?
What day or night of the week do these meetings take place?
Is it a structured meeting, like those in churches?
What is handfasting, and where did it originate from?
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Old 03-31-2008, 08:34 PM   #134
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Quote:
OK, so, let me understand this: there IS an official body of worship leaders. Do they have to go through training, like preachers and priests in churches, do?
What day or night of the week do these meetings take place?
Is it a structured meeting, like those in churches?
What is handfasting, and where did it originate from?
There is a High Priestess who is the official leader, when you are in a group called a coven. There are some, like myself you simply choose to be what is called a Solitare. Yes they go through training, since I have always studied on my own I don't know a lot about this part of it.

Meetings are scheduled, but the day or night really would depend on the coven group. And yes they are structured. Teachings and reading, etc.

Handfasting is a marriage ceremony, that seems to have been the way most marriages were performed before the Roman Catholoics, I only found one date which was 1556. Go about halfway down the page: http://medievalscotland.org/history/handfasting.shtml

The differences of Pagann vs Wicca are varied, pagan has been around for a very long time and is nature based, while Wicca has only been around for about 50 years or so.

You can be Pagan and not Wiccan. In other words:
Pagan to Wiccan is as Christian would be to Baptist. All Pagans are not Wiccans, there are many varieties of Pagans. All Wiccans would be classified as Pagans.

Quote:
"Wicca" and "Witchcraft" are not the same thing, Wicca refers to the religion. This can be a reference to both the initiatory tradition, where initiates are assigned a degree and generally work in covens, and to Solitary Wicca, where practitioners self-dedicate themselves to the tradition and generally practice on their own. Both Initiates and Solitary Wiccans worship the Goddess, with most also choosing to worship the God, and both celebrate the Sabbats and Esbats.
The basis behind Wicca is the Rede which basically state "harm ye none, do what ye will" and that anything you put out good or bad comes back threefold.

I am somewhere between Wicca ad Pagan. Leaning more towards Pagan. Never dawned on me there would be so many on knitting boards LOL!

I am in NC which is called "The bible belt" yet is very pagan and Wiccan as well, there are huge get togethers in Asheville and tons of stores and covens around here, I have met more here than I did in FL.
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:46 AM   #135
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Originally Posted by photolady
what is the difference between a pagan and a wiccan?
What is the difference between a Christian and a Lutheran? Same thing.
Wicca is a religion in (Neo-)Paganism. A Wiccan is a Pagan but a Pagan isn't necessarily a Wiccan.
Although Pagan has come to mean has multiple gods, pagan was used for anyone who wasn't a Christian or a Jew (and later Muslim).

I agree with Eccie. In my experience Wiccans seek more structure than those who simply call themselves Pagans.

And BTW, if you care to show some respect, "Pagan" is capitalized in this instance. "Wiccan" is always capitalized.

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what's the difference between a wiccan and a Christian?
A very basic theological explanation is,

Wiccan are often Polytheists, but sometimes Duotheists and Pantheists.
Christians say they are Monotheists (but in reality share the triune godhead that they roll into one and a pantheon of deities in angels and devils).

Wiccans believe in punishment/reward in this life for their actions in this life.
Christians believe in reward/forgiveness in an afterlife for their actions in this life.

Quote:
I've heard wiccan-ism is a religion.
Is that true?
Yes, Wicca is a religion.

For your other questions in that post, I'm a solitary by choice so I don't know firsthand what a Priestess does and I've never heard of a shawl. I used to talk to a High Priestess, Priest and a handful of their members but I never went to one of their rituals.
Anything can be a valid divination means as long as it works for you. The powers that be are what is doing it not the toys, the toys are just the eye candy to distract your mind so you can hear the All.

Quote:
Why is Samhain called a holiday by wiccans?
What is the reason for Samhain?
Because it is a holiday. Pagan holidays tend to run around the solstices (quarters) and cross-quarters.
It's a new year's holiday, a time to say goodbye to the loved ones you've lost and give thanks for your harvest. The original meaning is still hidden in the Christian holiday, All Saints Day/All Hallows Eve.

A more practical explanation is that life was hard way back when and you didn't have time to slow down during the year. Late October was the first you had to slow down and say you miss your departed.

Quote:
What religious practices?
That would require an answer that is too large and varied. There's many different sects of Wicca and many different levels of commitment, just like any other religion.
Personally I'm a "backslider" for the religious practices stuff.

Quote:
Do pagans, et al believe in rewards or punishments for right and wrong choices?
Pagan is a bigger group than Wiccan. That would be impossible to answer. Some do, some don't.

That would be hard enough to cover for just Wiccans.
Generally Wiccans believe in what you do gets returned in some manner in this life. Some believe what you do gets returned but not necessarily to you. Some believe it's returned to you X3 or even X5. There is no deathbed confession to save you from a horrible life.

For those who believe in reincarnation it is often to retake lessons you failed to learn the previous times.

Quote:
Interesting answers, but, some are too vague for this old dummy to figure out the subtle nuances.
Unless you're asking a specific individual about their specific beliefs "vague" is all you can get.
Basically what you are asking is like asking a Baptist to speak for a Catholic and a Lutheran to speak for a Methodist and answer what do all Christians or Monotheists do.

Quote:
OK, so, let me understand this: there IS an official body of worship leaders.
Only some sects have official bodies of leaders. A coven would but they sometimes rotate leadership roles.

There isn't an official body for Christians or Hindus either. Only when you get down into the individual sects and sometimes even smaller to the local churches do you find a governing body for the different sects in Christianity (I don't know about Hinduism).

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Do they have to go through training, like preachers and priests in churches, do?
Depending on the sect, yes.

Quote:
What day or night of the week do these meetings take place?
Is it a structured meeting, like those in churches?
The weekly holy day is Monday. For some covens they are more structured than many Christian churches (which leads many people to assume most are converted Catholics, which isn't the case).

Other days can be used for prayer meetings and teachings.
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Old 04-01-2008, 12:53 AM   #136
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Fascinating thread! Thanks so much to all of you for sharing your stories and your beliefs.
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Old 04-01-2008, 06:20 AM   #137
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Yay for the thread being up and running again :-)

There are many different types of Paganism, and many different types of Wicca, too. They're called 'Traditions', and each has different priorities in their worship. I am not a Wiccan - I have found that, while I miss the community of sometimes, that the structure of organised religion in any sense doesn't work for me. I am far more at home with a group of like-minded people, working out a ritual or a blessing where there's no-one 'in charge'.

As for the recognition - we're really lucky in Scotland now. I'm getting married next year, and our celebrant is going to be the woman who campaigned for Pagan weddings to be recognised as 'religious'. While Paganism had been recognised for a long time as an official religion, handfastings still had to be attended by a separate registrar. Now there's a whole group of people who have been granted the rights according to religious officials. You have to be a member of the Pagan Federation, I believe, but they also work in hospital chaplaincy, prison outreach etc. They do have to have training for these tasks, but we're treated as equals.

I think one of the main differences from Christianity is that most Pagans believe there are many ways to the Divine, and that whatever allows you to be the best person you can be is the one that's right for you. While there are fundamentalist Pagans, as there are fundamentalist anythings, most people believe in respecting other people's choices, and in not telling anyone else their belief is 'wrong', even within Paganism (given that the term incorporates Witches, Druids, Shamans and so on, there's risk of infighting ;-)). We acknowledge that our beliefs are our beliefs, and not a 'Universal Truth'.

In general, we believe strongly that our actions, thoughts and words have consequences - so we must choose them carefully. I believe in not standing by while seeing people hurt, and standing up for those who have no voices. Especially for those of us who don't believe in the Rule of Three and so on, doing the right thing is a choice to be made. We do it because it's the right thing to do, not because we're afraid of some cosmic punishment or in pursuit of an eternal reward. We help people and care for people because that's what life is about, not because we're trying to show ourselves to be 'the good guys'. We hope that living our lives as examples in understanding, compassion, knowledge and wonder that people will be inspired to also live like that, however they choose to do it, and whatever path they choose to follow.

As a scientist, I've found that Paganism and science go perfectly together. The universe in all its glory is incredible. I believe that there's a force behind it, but that force created the laws of Physics and the Big Bang and so on. I believe the Divine is within everyone and everything - it *is* the Universe, and so that is what I honour in my religious practice.

Right, off to knitting group!
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Old 04-01-2008, 01:10 PM   #138
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Thank you all for being so open about your beliefs.

I have found that IRL, as soon as someone of another belief finds out that my dh is a minister (and it seems they always ask early in conversation, sadly) that a wall comes up and I am treated with suspiscion. I love open conversation about beliefs...comparisons, differences, similarities. I won't be changing where I stand spiritually, but I really like to know why others do what they do.

Thank you so much for answering these questions honestly and with so much patience. I really appreciate it!
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Old 04-01-2008, 05:29 PM   #139
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Awesome thread! I too love learning about other beliefs (doesn't hurt that I'm more comfortable with natural than human creation).
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Old 04-01-2008, 07:04 PM   #140
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Originally Posted by photolady View Post
I agree. We are ALL responsible for our choices.

Do pagans, et al believe in rewards or punishments for right and wrong choices?
Hmm, rewards and punishments? Depends on the Pagan. Some believe in karma - that is what goes around comes around. Some believe in the "rule of three" Whatever you put out will return to you three-fold (or a thousand-fold) This goes both for good and bad. Treat people with kindness and respect and you will recieve that back. Treat people with hatredness and rudeness that is what will reflect back to you. Some believe that what happens in this life will reflect the kind of life you live next time. If you are meanspirited in this life your next life you may meet people who are mean to you. Be helpful and considerate and in your next life might be a bit easier. Most Pagans don't believe in an after life like the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Judaism and Islam) There is no hell or heaven, no bosom of Abraham no vestel virgins. There is a waiting or resting place, sometimes referred to as Summerland. It is a stopping off point to reflect on your past lives before embarking on a new one. It is said that during the time in Summerland you have full recollection of all your past lives which help you build your character for your next.

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Is your worship different from biblical worship in the New Testament?
Worship as in the actual religious ceremony or worship as in adoration of a diety? Again depends. I've been to some Pagan worship services that quite reflected the old Baptist meeting houses I would attend with my grandmother growing up, except no mention of Jesus and no songs from a hymnal. But some music, a worship leader speaking, and a time of "prayer/meditation." I've been to a few Pagan handfastings (weddings) that also looked quite traditional in appearance.

How each person "worships" their diety can be quite unique. Some people talk/pray/meditate to their diety. Some immulate the qualities that they admire of that diety. Some just acknowledge them as being present in their lives. I, personally, wear a silver charm of Cerridwen on a chain much like my Christian friends wear a cross or my Jewish friends wear a Star of David. It is a touchstone or physical reminder of my faith. She helps me stay centered and grounded (focused).

I'm an ordained Pagan priestess and my training was probably quite different from the seminary studies of Abrahamic ministers, yet similar in some aspects. I did a lot of reading of other religions, including their texts. My acceptance of priestess was my own doing, not a course of study that ended in ordination. It was something I had to claim and accept. The final end was not ordination, but a better understanding of myself. I can see the parallels and disimilarities between my ordination and studies and those of my mother (an ordained Episcopal priest - who is actually rather cool about her daughter's faith.)

I think that there are more things in common with how people celebrate their religions than not. For instance a Christian family who buys a new home may pray before entering their new home or they may have a house blessing ceremony. A Jewish family may keep the mitzvah by affixing a Mezuzah to their door. A Pagan family may preform a cleansing ritual and usher out any bad spirits that they feel lurking around. It's all fairly the same thing. A blessing of a new home in some ritualistic manner. Same with a new baby. Christians may have a Christening or baptism. Jews will have a bris (for a boy) or a naming ceremony. And a Pagan family may have a naming ceremony or a welcoming ceremony.

We celebrate in much the same way the joys and sadnesses of our lives.
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