Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Ramblings of a Norse "Pagan"

Modern spiritual devotees today sometimes classify themselves with pride as "Pagans." But the word pagan in this sense doesn't specify one particular faith but encompasses all non-Christian or non-monotheistic traditions, including Wicca.

Pagan signifies any non-monotheistic (one god) faith, devotee of that faith "or" someone who resists Christianity. This would be with the exception of Jews and Muslims whom the Church classified as "infidels." Pagan literally means "rural, "from the country" or "rustic," from the Latin root word, pagus.

Some explain the term by suggesting that only "hicks" stubbornly held on to superstitious beliefs, as opposed to "sophisticated" urbanites who embraced Christianity, but this is incorrect. Roman soldiers used the word "paganus" as a contemptuous slang for civilians, non-combatants or "stay-at-homes." 

Early Christians, who envisioned themselves as "Soldiers of the Holy Cross" engaged in sacred battle, picked up the slang but used it to refer to those "not" enlisted in the army dedicated to Christ. By the fourth century Pagan referred to anyone who offered devotion to local spirits or deities.

Ancient people never classified themselves as Pagan. They called themselves by whatever name was used for their specific tradition, clan or community. Christians identified other people as Pagans because of those people's resistance to Christianity. As a result Pagan identified what you were "Not," not necessarily what you are.   

Brightest of Blessings,

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