Talk:Modern paganism

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  (Redirected from Talk:Neopaganism)
Jump to: navigation, search
News This article has been mentioned by a media organisation:
          This article is of interest to the following WikiProjects:
WikiProject Neopaganism (Rated B-class, Top-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Neopaganism, a collaborative effort to improve the coverage of Neopaganism on Wikipedia. If you would like to participate, please visit the project page, where you can join the discussion and see a list of open tasks.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 Top  This article has been rated as Top-importance on the project's importance scale.
WikiProject Religion / New religious movements (Rated B-class, High-importance)
WikiProject icon This article is within the scope of WikiProject Religion, a project to improve Wikipedia's articles on Religion-related subjects. Please participate by editing the article, and help us assess and improve articles to good and 1.0 standards, or visit the wikiproject page for more details.
B-Class article B  This article has been rated as B-Class on the project's quality scale.
 High  This article has been rated as High-importance on the project's importance scale.
Taskforce icon
This article is supported by New religious movements work group (marked as Top-importance).

Neopaganism, I'm too late[edit]

Oh dear I missed the boat, I wish I got here sooner, and I'll make no difference probably. What is modern paganism? never heard the term, neopaganism is a much more used term. Searching for Google books? Who ever was doing that wasn't doing it very well, If you search Google books for "modern paganism" in speech marks like you should [[1]] it returns 19K hits, neopaganism returns 47K hits [[2]]. If you search without speech marks it returns matches like "The Practical Pagan: Common Sense Guidelines for Modern Practitioners" that contain both words but not always together. That's why you got 300K+ matches. Something like house paganism has 145K matches[[3]] whilst "House Paganism" on the other hand has just 7 not 7K just 7. [[4]]. Or to look at the chart someone else posted again which shows how popular the terms are [[5]], I know I probably won't make a difference and I'm late but I've said my pice now I'll get my coat. Carlwev (talk) 16:43, 4 July 2013 (UTC)

It's worth pointing out that the mere frequency of use of a term is not the only criterion for decision-making here. Another, for example, is WP:POVTITLE. The title should avoid subtle expressions of opinion about the topic. See prior discussions above – "neopaganism" does not seem neutral (at least to me).
I looked at that "Ngram" chart. It is interesting, but it's a case-sensitive search! The capitalization has a significant effect on the results. Is there a way to do a non-case-sensitive chart like that? (Or to export the numbers in CSV format for alternative analysis?) In addition to "modern Paganism" (becoming popular in the last decade), there are "modern paganism" (steadily popular, peaking around 1942), "Modern Paganism" (rising in the '60s as "modern paganism" declines, and peaking around 1972), and "Modern paganism" (rising since 1995). The body of the current article uses "modern paganism", which has quite prevalent long-term use. Then there's "neopaganism", "contemporary paganism", "contemporary Paganism", etc. The two-word terms suffer in the comparison because they have four capitalization variants instead of just two.
BarrelProof (talk) 18:18, 4 July 2013 (UTC)
As this article's title seems to have no long term stability (changing every few months), I'm sure it will change again. This issue seems to be a recurring one because people not familiar with the subject come across the article and become confused. Remember, article titles are based in no small part on nomenclature used by reliable academic sources and (in the case of social groups) the community being covered. While the term Neopaganism did enjoy greater usage a few decades ago by those within the community, many today object to the term and simply identify as Pagan. They see themselves as a modern continuation of paganism, not a new paganism. (I've even heard Pagans differentiate between modern Pagans and Neopagans on occasion.) Sensitive to this issue, contemporary academics avoid Neopaganism in favour of Contemporary Paganism.
This is also why the article was previously called "Paganism (contemporary)". If there are two groups conventionally called pagans (irrespective of capitalization), then parenthetical differentiation is the conventional way to differentiate their titles in Wikipedia. This is also why I disagree with the recent title change. There is no identification or statistical group of modern Pagan; they simply are known as Pagans. But, I will not belabour this point if the majority prefer to call them modern Pagans. The majority is a majority.
It is also a worth noting, that the variable terminology over the years may skew the results of Google tests.
 —Sowlos  11:15, 17 July 2013 (UTC)
you are not too late, the article simply fell victim to an orchestrated WP:COI campaign. It is, of course, broken now, and the sooner we get back to encyclopedic coverage the better. If the article has no long-term stability, it is because nobody bothers to protect it. Sure, there are more important topics for housekeepers to look after, just imagine what the Middle East conflict articles would look like otherwise, but this is still Wikipedia, and somebody will need to bite the bullet here.
Sowlos, I am afraid I completely disagree with your approach. It is beside the point what "those in the community" identify as: if you are going to listen to that, you are inevitably only going to catch those people who (a) communicate in English to begin with, and (b) spend their lives in front of the screen ("internet paganism").

--dab (𒁳) 13:45, 22 July 2013 (UTC)

I agree that we can't always listen to what people prefer calling themselves, however I don't think that issue applies here. We already agree to call them Pagan, so we have no issue with what they call themselves. My contention was with attempting to devise a natural disambiguation to replace the parenthetical disambiguation.  —Sowlos  16:48, 22 July 2013 (UTC)
It's never too late to review a move and I'd like to suggest we review this move as the current name doesn't meet Wikipedia's Article titles guidelines and is not the terminology usually used in the academic literature. Not the least of the problems with the current name is usage of the term 'Modern'. We are no longer in the Modern era and contemporary paganism is in fact an explicit reflection of postmodernism. I'd like to undo this move and go back to Paganism (contemporary). Any interest in this review? Morgan Leigh | Talk 07:11, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Move reviews are for hashing out failures of process, not just to extend the same discussion to a new venue. At any rate nearly a month is pushing it time-wise, especially when no one appears to have brought their concerns to the closer. From a policy standpoint, all of the titles discussed in the last RM are superior to "Paganism (contemporary)", as they offer well-established natural titles rather than a parenthetical. I would have closed it exactly the same way given the discussion at the time. If editors want a different name, the proper way is starting a new RM and presenting evidence that the proposed title is superior according to Wikipedia policy and practice.--Cúchullain t/c 13:23, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
  • FWIW I'm not fond of the new title and was perfectly happy with the old one. But I'm not suo unhappy that I want to spend another few weeks rehashing the same issues, regardless of outcome. All that time and energy would be better spent on improving the article. Given that all plausible titles are covered by redirects anyway, the matter is hardly urgent. I'd prefer an improved article under the current name to an unimproved article reverted back or changed to yet another new title, however appropriate. Kim Dent-Brown (Talk) 13:53, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

Magic and witchcraft section[edit]

Leaving aside the self-definitions vs WP categories discussion for a moment... One of the ways some of the ethnic traditions are uncomfortable with the Wicca-centric Neopagan community is attitudes towards "witchcraft." Most Wicca-centric & other eclectic Neopagans accept the modern re-definition (that "witchcraft" includes positive magic), while ethnic traditions who practice folk traditions are more likely to stick to the older definition of witchcraft as harmful magic. I made an edit to this effect in that section. I can source the traditional definition to many sources (which are in the bibliography of the linked article), but for a contemporary statement about how witchcraft is seen among Gaelic Polytheists (who see them/ourselves as only technically Neopagan, as we fit the literal definition, but don't share most of the assumptions of the broader Neopagan community), my suggested cite is to a heavily-footnoted article of which I am a co-author. So rather than just add it, I'll suggest it here on the talk page: Rowan and Red Thread: Magic and Witchcraft in Gaelic Cultures. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 22:08, 24 July 2013 (UTC)

The assertion that witchcraft as non-negative is a re-definition is contradicted by the majority of the more reputable sources on the subject (Pagan and secular alike). I've removed the word traditional from "the traditional view that "witchcraft" describes only harmful magic", in your edit, pending further discussion on the topic.
On a side note, be careful with what you mean by "traditional". Most ethnic traditions traditionally spoke languages other than English and may use the word witch as a translation for the actual traditional terminology in their native languages.  —Sowlos  06:56, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
As a witch (traditional Gardnerian) myself I have to go along more with Kathryn on this. I'm keenly aware that the way I and fellow pagan witches use the term is quite different from how it's ever been used before (and indeed different from how the majority of the non-pagan population uses it.) I think it's part of the countercultural aspects of Wicca (including other elements such as the ritual nudity) - a kind of thumbing one's nose at norms and conventions, a deliberately transgressive act if you like. The majority of reputable sources on witchcraft will I am sure describe traditional views (whether from Western countries or the Third World) of witches as essentially malevolent. The majority of reputable sources on modern neopagan witchcraft will of course do the opposite. But I think that's what Kathryn is saying here.
Kethryn, thanks for your caution in not citing your own work! It's not clear where this has been published, can you enlighten us? I'd be happy to take responsibility for the edit that inserts it, if I know what the source is. Kim Dent-Brown (Talk) 09:31, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
I think traditional is appropriate considering the context of the sources given in the citation and the article posted upthread. The article even discusses the terminology used in Gaelic languages (some of which have been borrowed from the English word, apparently) in relation to witchcraft. Ririgidi (talk) 15:37, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
Kim, we haven't submitted it for publication anywhere. We started it as just something for the website, not realizing it would wind up being so long and detailed. We probably should publish it elsewhere, though. We'll give it some thought. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 17:59, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
I think "traditional" is the correct word here. Sowlos, your edit made sentence fragments. Semantics among Neopagans gets messy... "Traditional" to most of the world winds up meaning something different to many Neopagan ears. But this article is not for the Neopagans only, it's for the general population. Therefore the terminology should fit general, non-subcultural, definitions. The only other word that would fit is "older," but that's not as fitting. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 18:45, 25 July 2013 (UTC)
It is right to point out that witch is used by contemporary Pagans quite different from how it's ever been used before. I don't believe that's in dispute. However, Oxford appears to disagree with the meaning of witch being "traditionally" negative.
Before continuing, I must point out there are multiple ideas of what traditional means (depending on the time-scales an individual is inclined towards). Given Wicca's focus on re-appropriating "traditional" religious elements from at least as far back as pre-Christian Britain, I assume "traditional" to be on a scale that stretch back well before Old English's death.This highlights three issues for me:
  1. Modern English witch has always (until recently) been negative, but this wasn't true for Old English wicca/wicce.
  2. Discussing other "ethnic traditions" imply traditions that traditionally don't speak English. I find equating the "traditional" meaning of English witch with German Hexe or Gaelic buidseach (to name a few) problematic. When words are translated between languages, words with similar connotations are selected. These selections need not have the same etymology nor be tied to the same historical concepts.
  3. Unqualified descriptors in this type of scenario (witch in this case) tend to be used and understood in the most generic ways, as a stand-in for all terminology that would have been used to describe the focal concept. For example, this was an issue I encountered with the Paganism article, where pagan was functionally used as a synonym for paganus, hellene, ethnos, etc. I find this is common in English conversation. In other words, using witch in a conversationally is to use it in a sweeping manner referring to centuries of terminology (not even necessarily from one language). This is a problem when making etymological points.
 —Sowlos  19:58, 25 July 2013 (UTC) ...sorry for the TL;DR  —Sowlos 
  1. You are correcting sentence fragments that do not exist. For example, "The rituals of whom are at least partially based upon ..." is a grammatically complete sentence. What is the subject? "Whom." It does not matter that it must be read within the context of the paragraph to be understood. It grammatically contains everything it needs to be separated from the preceding sentence with more than a comma.
  2. Why are you quoting magic? What statement are you quoting? Are you just using scarequotes?
  3. You restored "Some ethnic traditions ... reject the term witchcraft as they adhere to the traditional view in their cultures that witchcraft describes only harmful magic ..." Which ethnic traditions (WP:WEASEL) reject using the English word witchcraft as a label for their magical practices?
  4. I notice that you are actively replacing "Pagan" with "Neopagan". Is there any particular reason for this? The term Neopagan has been the subject of several controversies for this article.
 —Sowlos  23:07, 25 July 2013 (UTC)

The various European and Gaelic cultures are in the sources cited, so it's not weasely. Basically, as Kim has said, it's only modern Pagans and those influenced by them that consider "witchcraft" neutral or positive. If you would familiarize yourself with sources outside the Neopagan milieu, you would see this is not shocking, new information to most people. In most cases the quotes are because we are discussing the word, "magic." I did not intend them to be scare quotes, though I think some previous authors of that section may have. I think whether or not quotes or italics are needed in most places the word is used in this section is more a M.O.S. issue than a P.O.V. one. The sentence fragment you introduced was: "The rituals of whom are at least partially based upon those of ceremonial magic and freemasonry." This is not Simple English WP, it's WP. Most people can understand sentences with multiple clauses. - Slàn, Kathryn NicDhàna 00:07, 26 July 2013 (UTC)

Thank you for the ad hominem, rather than addressing the etymological issue I've repeatedly raised. It's an oversimplification, and I think it's misleading.  —Sowlos  10:03, 26 July 2013 (UTC)


lf there is a symbol of Ossetian neopaganism, in other words, "Etseg Din", it should be added to the infobox too. Lamedumal (talk) 09:46, 27 April 2014 (UTC)

Definitions of Neopaganism[edit]

I missed most of the discussion around "Neopaganism" vs "Modern Paganism" vs "Paganism (contemporary)," and had no significant attachment to the outcome. However, this was brought to my attention, and I think it is relevant to how we are naming various articles in the project:

Definition of neopaganism in English: neopaganism - noun - 'A modern religious movement that seeks to incorporate beliefs or ritual practices from traditions outside the main world religions, especially those of pre-Christian Europe and North America. Neopaganism is a highly varied mixture of ancient and modern elements, in which nature worship (influenced by modern environmentalism) often plays a major role. Other influences include shamanism, magical and occult traditions, and radical feminist critiques of Christianity.'" -

I think this has a bearing on ethnic and reconstructionist traditions that are opposed to "incorporat[ing] beliefs or ritual practices from...North America." While it's common knowledge that many Neopagans do this, there are traditions that are opposed to it, so are now excluded from this definition. (crossposted to Wikiproject Neopaganism) - CorbieV 21:04, 4 June 2014 (UTC)

Very rarely (read as never) have I encountered North American beliefs referred to as "Paganism". They are mostly incorporated into New Age beliefs which bleed over into some of the more liberal Wiccan groups. For my experience within the Pagan Community, (Contemporary) Paganism is a group of modern beliefs built upon pre-Christian cultural beliefs and practices of Europe. Which is why I also have some issue with Kemeticism and Semitic beliefs being included as "Modern Paganism." The only Kemeticists I know of who call themselves Pagans are more accurately described as Wiccan, and I've only ever known Semitics to call themselves either Semitic or Canaanite polytheists. (talk) 22:03, 19 June 2014 (UTC)

Does neopaganism exist?[edit]

The opinions above have raised the relevant problems that the use of the term "neopaganism" as a catch-all category generates. Does "neopaganism", as a unified phenomenon, exist? Actually no: "neopaganism" is a virtual category that has been constructed through a series of publications from the Anglophone world. It originally referred strictly to Wicca and the modern syntheses that have emerged in America (ex. Church of All Worlds, Feri). Then the term was forced on all the so-called "reconstructionist" movements of the Old World, which rarely or in no case name themselves "neopagan".

Well, I think this article should be reduced to a list, or disambiguation page, of the different things to which the name "neopaganism" has been attached.

Pagan music[edit]

I've added a very sketchy section on pagan music, whic seems an important enough topic to mention. There are in fact a number of WP pages relating to pagan music,, but apparently no single page on the whole topic. If there eventually is, maybe it could just be linked to. Littlewindow (talk) 23:45, 18 August 2014 (UTC)