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Pagans and Print

Problems arising from learning Pagan religion by monotheistic means

By Gus diZerega

It used to be simple. Wiccans and NeoPagans in general were polytheists in contrast to Christians and other mostly monotheistic religions. NeoPagan polytheists usually spent little time on theology and considerably more creating and practicing rituals. Most of us became Pagans by virtue of personal attraction enriched by our involvement with a teacher or a coven or similar group.

Today many NeoPagans first learn about our traditions from books or the internet. The net in particular has expanded easily available information about our religion but at a cost. That cost is to be severed from NeoPagan history and practice except as available through pixels or the printed word. Instead of starting with learning and practice with others and then studying written sources, many NeoPagans now go from the study of texts to practice. They hope to interpret experiences they anticipate having through the texts they have read rather than judging whether the text illuminates or contradicts the experiences they have had.

Monotheistic biases

This modern text oriented approach is comfortable for most of us, and its dangers are hidden by this very comfort. It is a monotheistic way of seeking to learn a polytheistic religion. I think emphasizing the written word as a reliable guide to our practice is at odds with the logic of Pagan religion and carries a very real cost if we are not aware of the problem.

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