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Neopaganism

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Overview of Neopagan religions

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Introduction:

Just as the term "Eastern religions" refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., the terms "Neo-Pagan"  "Neopagan," and "Pagan" refer to a collection of separate religions that share a few common themes.

The term "Neo-Paganism" was apparently coined by Tim Zell, editor of The Green Egg, a publication of the Church of all Worlds. 1

A Neopagan religion is a modern faith which has been recently reconstructed from beliefs, deities, symbols, practices and other elements of an ancient religion. For example, the Druidic religion is based on the faith and practices of the ancient Celtic professional class; followers of Asatru adhere to the ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion; Wiccans also trace their roots back to the pre-Celtic era in Europe. Other Neo-pagans follow Hellenismos (ancient Greek religion), Religio Romana (ancient Roman religion), Kemetism (ancient Egyptian religion) and other traditions.

Many Wiccans and other Neopagans refer to themselves simply as "Pagans." Unfortunately, the word has many different meanings -- some quite negative. The term "Neopagan" is less ambiguous.

Confusion and misinformation:

Many people are confused between the terms Neopaganism and Satanism:

bulletTo some Fundamentalist Christians, all religions other than Judaism and Christianity are actually varieties of Satanism. To them, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, and the various Neopagan religions are all forms of Satanism, or at least are led by Satan or his demons.
bulletTo almost everyone else, Neopagan religions are simply individual faith groups with little or no connection to Satanism.

As more Neopagans have come out of the [broom] closet and gone public with their faith, more non-pagans have realized the benign nature of Neopagan religious traditions. Opposition by religious conservatives has lessened.

Recognition of Neopagan religions:

Because of the principle of separation of church and state, the U.S. government does not formally maintain a list of recognized religions. Both the U.S. and Canada register religious groups as tax-exempt organizations and grant clergy the right to conduct marriage ceremonies.

However, many European federal governments have ecclesiastical affairs ministries which do formally recognize religions. The governments of: Iceland in 1973, Norway in 1996 and 1999, and  Denmark in 2003 have officially recognized Neopagan religions which worship Viking Gods such as Odin and Thor. 2

A neo-pagan hoax?

Daughters of Frya are alleged to be: "...adherents of the Oera Linda...an order of women who have dedicated themselves to the service of the goddess Frya and her divine father Wr-alda."

UK Pagan Links quotes the "Daughters of Frya" site:

"The Daughters of Frya are a free association of women who feel that by practical action we really can make a difference in the world today. Inspired by our devotion to the goddess Frya, we work hard to help others and to make our beloved earth a better place to live. We seek to show the world that Pagans are decent, caring folk who want to put back a few of the benefits we have received." 3

However, there is a widespread belief that the Daughters of Freya do not exist. The one item that we found convincing was their list of requirements for each Daughter: they must perform 1,200 deep knee-bends daily. One of the ReligiousTolerance.org staff members who is a nurse and a fitness buff believes that this many repeats would wreck their knees rather quickly.

A posting on Wikipedia stated that "No reliable source has been offered for the existence..." of the group. 4 This has since disappeared. A posting at The Cauldron, a Pagan Forum, suggests that the image on the Daughter's web site is a cropped version of the Green Hope Women's Tennis Team. 5

Some postings:

bulletPosting 6 by The Boot Knife of Reason: "Lessee: fake picture, fake book, fake goddess, fake history, clearly dreamed up by some middle-aged guy with fetishes, and an evangelist who appears to likewise be a middle-aged guy with fetishes..."
bulletPosting 11 by Storyteller Cat: "... aside from the obvious, the induction of the tennis team into your organization by default, did you or your web designer think that no one would notice? If those girls aren't the new junior Frya worshippers, who is the write up about. Some other group of girls somewhere? Gotta say way to tackle the 12-19 year old age bracket. No sex and lots of deep knee bends."
bulletPosting 32 by Syrhed: "If you really do think it's a hoax, then you must think there's a motive. It can't be financial, so what on earth could it be?"
bulletPosting 34 by yewberry: "I think you're the solitary member of this "religion". I think you're a MAN trying to con a few gullible gals into behaving in a way that fosters your fetish. Either that, or you're just a slightly-more-exotic-than-garden-variety troll."

The Witches' Voice has two listings for Daughters of Frya: one for college aged women, 8 and one for adult women. 9 They list their location as Malvern, England, and state that they were formed in 1985..

The Daughters of Frya's web site at http://www.angelfire.com/ was deleted sometime during 2006-JUL. The website was reduced to a single sentence: "Daughters of Frya are closed." However, as of 2007-AUG, it has been placed online again.

Our opinion is that the Daughters of Frya group is a hoax.

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Pagan Pride Day:

The Pagan Pride Project (PPP) coordinates celebrations that are sponsored by local groups in various places throughout North America and elsewhere in the world. They are held nnually, within two or three weeks of the Autumn Equinox.

The term "Pagan Pride" was apparently inspired by the Gay Pride movement. The project was founded by Cecylyna Brightsword (now Cecylyna Dewr). She proposed celebrations involving a public ritual open to the public, press releases and public relations activities to encourage a positive portrayal of Paganism in the media, and a materials drive for a local charity -- typically a food bank, shelter or refuge.

The first Pagan Pride Day was held on 1998-SEP-19 with 18 celebrations. By 2003, this had grown to over 117 events. Celebrations in 2004 involved over 44,000 people attending Pagan Pride events in six countries. They collected almost 15 tons of food and almost $10,000 for local charities. 6

Diversity within Neopaganism:

The logo of Pagan Pride Day, shown above in miniature, shows the diversity of traditions within Neopaganism. Included are the:

bulletYin/Yang symbol from Daoism -- a philosophy of balanced used by many Neopagans.
bulletA Celtic Cross
bulletThor's Hammer, a symbol used by followers of Asatru
bulletThe Triple Goddess symbol
bulletThey Eye of Horus, an ancient Egyptian symbol.
bulletVenus of Willendorf, an ancient Goddess symbol
bulletThe Ankh -- another Egyptian symbol.
bulletThe pentacle.
bulletThe Triskelion, a Celtic Pagan symbol
bulletAn image of a Celtic cross
bulletA Druid symbol representing stone megaliths.
bulletThe Green Man, the consort of the Triple Goddess.
bulletThe Enneagram -- a New Age symbol
bulletThe Tree of Life from the Kabala.

A larger symbol can be seen online. 7

References:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Green Egg Magazine," Church of All Worlds, at: http://www.caw.org/
  2. "Norse mythology recognised as a religion," Independent Online, 2003-NOV-6, at: http://www.iol.co.za/
  3. "Pagan web directory," UK Pagan Links, at: http://www.ukpaganlinks.co.uk/
  4. "Talk: Daughters of Frya," Wikipedia, 2006-JUL-25, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/ (Offline as of 2007-AUG-04)
  5. "General Ponderings," The Cauldron, 2006-JUL, at " http://www.ecauldron.net/
  6. International Pagan Pride Project (PPP) at: http://www.paganpride.org/
  7. "Who We Are," Pagan Pride Project, at: http://paganpride.org/
  8. "Daughters of Frya (College)," Witches' Voice, at: http://www.witchvox.com/
  9. "Daughters of Frya (Adult)," Witches' Voice, at: http://www.witchvox.com/

Copyright © 1997 to 2007 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Last update: 2007-AUG-05
Written by B.A. Robinson

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