Saturday, January 10, 2009

What Do We Want To Call PAGANISM? Solar System Imagery

In my previous post--What Do We Want To Call PAGANISM? How About A FANDOM?--I used Solar System imagery to account for some of the more ore less distinctive features of Paganism. More to the point, I used the imagery of the aggregate of the Solar system's minor bodies.

What we want to call Paganism both reflects what we imagine Paganism to be and promotes what we want Paganism to become. Right now, Paganism is way varied and made up mostly of small localized groups and individuals. Paganism is, I'd say, the opposite of one big wide-embracing thing. Paganism is an over arching term for a legion of things that do not always resemble each other or agree with each other or even care to be in the same space with each other.

What Paganism often starts with is what it's not. Paganism is not Abrahamic. Paganism is not the main religions of the world. Pagans are not present day monotheists. Paganism is not the religions we follow.

Religious Tolerance provides some useful definitions that I've played with:

Paganism, in my Solar system imagery, is not the major bodies of the Solar System. Not the Sun. Not the planets and their orbiting moons.

But there are different sorts of minor bodies in the Solar System. Dwarf planets, asteroids, comets, Kuiper Belt objects, trans-Neptunian objects, Oort Cloud objects, bits of dust, cloudlets of gas, little bits of stuff. For all we know, tiny fluffy bunnies hopping in the outer darks. But all of this aggregates is relatively small in scale compared to the Solar System's major bodies. But present in numbers.

Take a look at this plot of the Outer Solar System provided by the IAU Minor Planet Center:

It's just how I visualize Paganism. (Click to the animations and see things move!)

Just to show that we Pagans aren't the only ones who can't figure out what to call things, look at Crazy Names: The Solar System's Nomenclature Wars

Maybe we ought to consider a term like Pagan-wano?

Lots of small interest groups or spiritual outlooks or trads or people in action scattered around a common focus. All in motion relative to one another and to others in clusters. Some of a different kind or quality or attribute set than others. None of them able or likely to coalesce into a major Solar System body yet on occasion influential on those major bodies.

So, what's the common focus?

I'd like to say that it's the metapantheon of Paganism combined somehow with what it means to all of us to be human beings on a planet shared with other living things. But I can't be sure of this.

But Paganism does orbit around a common focus of some sort.

As far as what we want to call Paganism, this Solar System minor bodies imagery does not offer much. In some way, it's not human enough. I can't, for instance, even half-seriously call myself and my co-practitioners trans-Neptunian Pagan adherents--even if, during some rituals, we may briefly be just that!

So I'm still rooting for a FANDOM!

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