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Neo-Paganism and the Church of All Worlds, Some Questions and Answers -- Part 1 of 2

Newsgroups: alt.religion.all-worlds
From: (Polyfi)
Subject: Church of All Worlds FAQ's/Repost
Date: 18 Mar 1999 04:06:40 GMT

Now that you are here, why not read about the Church of All Worlds

Neo-Paganism and the Church of All Worlds
Some Questions and Answers
(Part 1 of 2)

What is Neo-Paganism? 
Doesn't "Pagan" mean irreligious or heathen? 
Don't Pagans worship the Devil? 
What is the relationship between Paganism and Witchcraft? 
What do you feel most Pagans have in common regardless their tradition? 
What is the distinction between Pagan "magickal" and "religious" practices? 
What advice would you give to newcomers? 
What do you see as Paganism's role in modern society? 
What do you see as the most important issues facing Paganism in the coming
What does the Church of All Worlds believe? 
What the CAW teach about God? 
Does CAW accept the divinity of Jesus? 
Is CAW really a religion? 
Why must you create another religion? 
What's different about CAW? 
(End of Part 1 of questions.)  
What is Neo-Paganism? 

   Neo-Paganism is a revival and reconstruction of ancient Nature religions
adapted for the modern world. It is a religion of the living Earth -- a
religious motif especially appropriate to the Aquarian Age, as Christianity was
the dominant religious motif of the Piscean Age. Neo-Paganism is a natural
religion, viewing humanity as a functional organ within the greater organism of
all Life, rather than as something special created separate and "above" the
rest of the natural world. Neo-Pagans seek not to conquer Nature, but to
harmonize and integrate with Her. Neo-Paganism should be regarded as "Green
Religion," just as we have "Green Politics" and "Green Economics." 

Doesn't "Pagan" mean irreligious or heathen? 
    The word "Pagan" comes from the Latin Paganus, meaning peasant or country
dweller. As a religious term, it is correctly used by anthropologists to
designate the indigenous folk religions of particular regions and peoples, and
by classical scholars to refer to the great pre-Christian civilizations of the
Mediterranean area (as in the phrase "Pagan splendour," often used in reference
to classical Greece). Thus all traditional native tribal religions are Pagan,
such as those of the American Indians, Polynesians, Africans, Hindus, etc.
"Heathen" is not a specifically religious term at all, but simply refers to the
people who lived on the heaths (where the heather grew) as in the British
Isles. Since such people were usually Pagans, the two terms became regarded as
synonymous as far as Christians were concerned.

Don't Pagans worship the Devil? 
    Of course not. "The Devil" is a specifically Christian concept, and no one
outside of Judaism, Christianity, or Islam recognizes him at all. Indeed the
very notion of a supreme God of Evil is entirely peculiar to Jahvistic
monotheism, and utterly alien to most Pagan theology (though it is largely
derived from the dualism of Persian Zoroastrianism, wherein Ahura-Mazda, the
Lord of Light, is opposed to Ahriman, the Lord of Darkness). The popular
confusion arose as a result of the 1486 publication of the Malleus Malificarum,
or "Hammer of Witches" by Dominicans Kramer and Sprenger, wherein they gave the
first physical description of the Devil as he is commonly depicted today, based
on a demonization of the Greek horned God, Pan. As Pan and other horned Gods,
such as the stag-horned Cernunos and Herne, were popular deities of the hung
and the animal kingdom, and widely worshipped by European Pagans, Kramer and
Sprenger's equation of that imagery with the Christian's Satan was able to be
used to justify the centuries of terrible persecution inflicted by the Church
upon those who clung faithfully to their worship of the old gods. 

   "Satan" of the Old Testament was never deceived by such imagery, but was
rather referred to as a fallen angel, a serpent, or a dragon. The word Satan is
merely Hebrew for "adversary," and is related to the Egyptian Set and the Roman
Saturn. The word "devil," interestingly enough, is Sanskrit in origin and means
"little god." The root word devil, is also the root of our words "divine" and
"divinity." During the Witchcraft persecution of the late Middle Ages, and on
through the 17th century, whenever the defendant spoke of the Horned God being
present at the Sabbats (which he was in the person of the High Priest, who
contumed himself appropriately and assumed the role) the court recorder would
substitute the word "Satan" or "Devil," to have written the word "God" as
spoken by the accused would have been considered blasphemous. 

   The most universal deity worshipped by Pagans worldwide is not a God, but a
Goddess: Mother Earth. She is called by many names in many cultures, such as
Hertha, Terra, Pachamama, and the familiar Greek name, Gaia. In a greater
expansion of Her identity, She is Mother Nature, the All-Mother, the Great
Mother, and we, the animals and plants, and the Gods themselves, are all Her

What is the relationship between Paganism and Witchcraft? 
   The spiritual leaders on Pagan Tribal culture are the shamans¹, or medicine
men and women, who are both gifted and learned in talents and skills of
augury², herbalism, hypnosis, psychic work and sorcery. They are the village
teachers, magicians, spirit guides, healers and midwives. Among the Celtic
tribes of western Europe, such shamans were known as Wicce -- an Anglo-Saxon
word meaning "shaper" -- from which we derive our present term "Witch." During
the centuries of persecution at the hands of the Christian churches, many of
these shamans were martyred, along with many of the people they served. Lately
there has been a revival of The Craft, based on scholarly reconstructions and
some inherited traditions, in which the arts of the shaman are being taught to
all member of the covens."³ Thus Witchcraft is now emerging as a distinct
religion and way of life for entire religious communities, rather than the
specialized craft of the village shamans, as it once was. Today, The Craft is
many diverse traditions os a flourishing Neo-Pagan religions, but while all
Witches are thereby necessarily Pagans, all Pagans are not necessarily Witches!

What do you feel most Pagans have in common regardless their tradition? 
    We're all children of the same Mother. Most of us work in a Circle, call
upon the four directions as Elemental Spirits Beings, and celebrate a seasonal
round (the Wheel of the Year) of eight main Festivals (Sabbats), aligned with
the Solstices, Equinoxes and cross Quarters. We also tend to celebrate at the
full Moon, and we're not afraid of the dark! Most of us regard Divinity as
immanent ("Thou Art God/dess") and our thealogy tends towards polytheistic
pantheism. We honor and value women as Priestesses (only Pagan religions have
Priestesses!). We draw our values from nature, we regard life as sacred, and we
believe in and practice Magic (probability enhancement). We regard sex as a
sacrament, and rape in all forms as the primal "sin." We are a part of a a
seamless whole with all of Nature, and we believe in a living cosmos, as
opposed to the inanimate clockwork of the Christian world view. We are brought
together by our innate longing for tribal community; reverence for all life;
celebration of diversity; intellectual curiosity and honesty; magic; feminism,
environmentalism; recognition of non-human sentience; good stories; great
parties; much love; noble friends and worthy companions; splendid rituals;
wondrous festivals; magnificent Priests and Priestesses. 

What is the distinction between Pagan "magickal" and "religious" practices? 
   It is impossible to separate out the magickal from the religious, as it all
seems a continuum. Magickal practices run the gamut from simple "Kitchen Witch"
spells and charms -- mostly concerned with individual healings, blessings,
transformations, and other small workings; through "Circle Work" involving
raising energy for healings, community service, weather working, etc.; to
larger group workings to save the planet, -- protecting endangered forests,
peoples and species, etc. 

   The religious aspects include maintaining households altars and shrines (in
a Pagan household, every horizontal space becomes an altar, just as every wall
becomes a bookcase!), meditations, conversations with the Gods, to rituals and
celebrations, especially those of the greater Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year.
These latter often include great theatrical productions, with sets, costumes,
props and music, wherein people take on the personas of the Gods, Elementals,
and other Archetypal Beings. Much of our Festivals include the revival of
various ancient traditional customs and rites, such as the May Games, May Queen
and King, Maypole Dance, Morris Dancing, Mummers Plays, Ostara Egg Hunt, Yule
Tree & Log, and acted-out storytelling. 

   These is a lot of political Paganism, especially in the area of
environmental activism, as with Earth First!. This involves going out into the
wilderness, holding circles in sacred groves, and perhaps chaining ourselves to
trees to thwart the logger; or blockading a nuclear power plants with circles
and chants. 

What advice would you give to newcomers? 
   Cherish diversity! Find fascination in the strange and unusual. Live
passionately. Explore everything, especially things forbidden. Read
voraciously. Grow a garden. Establish and maintain altars in your home. Go
camping and hiking in the wilderness. Work on yourself. 

   The great strength of our evolving community is the love and dedication of
Her people, as She calls forth from each of us our best and highest service.
This service can unite us all, children of the same Mother, that we might
finally find our long-elusive unity through diversity! 

What do you see as Paganism's role in modern society? 
   To heal the alienation between humanity and Nature, between man and woman,
between spirit and matter, between the Darkness and the Light. Thus shall we
save the Earth, and ourselves as well. This is, after all, what religion is
supposed to do, isn't it? 

What do you see as the most important issues facing Paganism in the coming
  How to deal with our exponential growth: we have vastly more neophytes coming
in now than we have teachers to guide and instruct them. How to deal with an
increasing public awareness of our existence: will we be hailed as a viable
alternative to the crumbling madness, or perceived as a threat? How to deal
with the increasing Fundamentalist backlash. How to deal with legal and
political systems that have been put in place to outlaw much of what we stand
for. How to come together in a worldwide religious community with power and
influence. How to handle our inevitable success: we have been so used to being
outsiders and underdogs that we will have to undergo a major attitude change as
our basic paradigms become more mainstream. 

What does the Church of All Worlds Believe? 
   The Church of All Worlds is not a belief-based religion, but a religion of
experience. CAW members, or "Waterkin," try to avoid speaking of "belief" or
"faith." We are committed to honoring each other's unique individual
experiences and perspectives. We are not trying to become "true believers," but
people of knowledge. "Belief" is generally an expression of wishful thinking
rather than true understanding, and positions of belief far too often for a
basis for the persecution of non-believers. If anything, CAW is a religion of

What does the CAW teach about God?  
  CAW embraces the theology of pantheism, as we experience what has been called
"God," as an immanent quality inherently manifest in every living Being, from a
single cell to an entire planet--and likely the universe itself. We define
Divinity as the highest level of aware consciousness accessible to each living
being, manifesting itself in the self actualization of that Being. Divinity is
a function of emergent evolution. Thus, every man, woman, tree, cat, snake,
flower or grasshopper IS "God." We express this is the phrase, "Thou Art God,"
which was used by Robert Heinlein in his germinal novel, Stranger in a Strange
Land, but may also be found in the Bible (Psalms 82:6; John 10:34), and in much
basic thinking of Hinduism and Buddhism. At the macrocosmic level, we recognize
that the entire Earth is a vast living Entity: Mother Earth, Mother Nature, The
Goddess. We also recognize that groups of living Beings organized into various
ecosystems may manifest psychically as a single collective Entity; hence the
local Spirits of particular places, and even tribal deities such as Jahveh.
However, Gods, Goddesses and Spirits are personae with their own agenda, and
should not be considered merely aspects of human psychology, as the Jungians
would have it. 

Does CAW accept the Divinity of Jesus? 
   Certainly. Why should he be left out? We accept the Divinity of every living
Being in the universe. Thou art God/dess. 

Is the CAW really a religion? 
    Absolutely. The word religion means "re-linking." A religion is a body of
sacred myths, metaphors, observances and practices in a cultural context, which
are designed to connect individuals with Divinity and heal the rift between
dichotomized aspects of existence. We observe that the great dilemma of
present-day human society seems to be the alienation caused by splitting apart
man and woman, humanity and Nature, matter and spirit, light and dark, good and
evil. The basic commitment of the CAW is to the re-integration or re-linking of
people with ourselves, our fellow humans, and with the whole of living Nature
around us. There are many religions, and they are not all of the same mold. We
have little in common with the religious mold as found in monotheistic or
philosophical religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism etc.), but a
very great deal in common with the Pagan religions of all peoples. Pagans
create no artificial demarcation between the sacred and the secular. To a
Pagan, religion is ultimately a whole way of life, nor some acts performed once
a week in a ritual. In this sense, Paganism is religion; the foundation, ground
and source of all we may term "religious" and "spiritual." And the CAW is
essentially and profoundly Pagan. 

Why must you create another religion? 
    Pagan religions, unlike philosophical religions, are not exactly "created,"
but swell up from the hearts of a people to fulfill a need. Paganism is
re-emerging today because natural religion is a spontaneous evocation of the
spirit of Life, and will inevitably find expression in human cultures. The
practices of the ancient Pagans occurred during a different era in culture,
when we lived closer to the land and were more directly connected with farming.
Much of what was practiced has been lost, due to the persecutions from the
onset of the Bronze Age, through the Inquisition and Witch burnings, to the
present day. Therefore, we cannot accurately say we practice ancient Paganism,
but a form we are "remembering and reinventing" together. The particular
orientation of the CAW requires a new religious vehicle for its expression
simply because the values, knowledge and experience we hold in common are found
in no other integrated system currently in existence. 

What's different about the CAW? 
    CAW may be the first religion to draw as much of its inspiration from the
future as from the past, embracing science fiction as mythology with the same
enthusiasm as we embrace the classical myths of ancient times. We are
future-oriented, meaning we care about how we evolve and change, not only about
how we got here and how we will come to an end. We embrace evolution, and in
embracing the planet as a living organism, we embrace the evolutionary changes
of the planet by bringing human consciousness into direct contact with the
growing web of planetary consciousness through such things as the worldwide
computer Internet. Unlike nearly all other religions, we are not focused on
nostalgia for a Paradise Lost; we are actively involved in helping to save the
present world as well as working to actualize a visionary future. With roots
deep in the Earth, and branches reaching towards the stars, we evoke and create
myths not of a Golden Age long past, but of one yet to come. 

Go to part 2 of Questions  
Replies to CAWeb Spinners
©1999 Church of All Worlds, inc. All rights reserved.
Last modified 01/07/99 16:42:28  
Repost by Polyfi, March 18, 1999 (taken from webpage)

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