08 February 2007

A Peek into the Future of Neopaganism?

If you're interested in Christianity or ancient history at all you've probably heard of the much ballyhooed Gospel of Judas. I haven't made a detailed study of it yet, but I've paid attention to what some "experts" have been saying. And while it's interesting to note that Judas, in the eyes of the Gnostics at least, helped to liberate Jesus from the prison of his earthly body there's another aspect of the story that, as a pagan, concerns me. It's the notion, so hard to imagine now, that in the early days of Christianity there were a lot of different gospels floating around and a lot of disagreement. It was a new faith and its followers were still figuring out what they wanted officially included in their particular religion. The more I've learned about that period of adjustment, from my research into The Gospel of Mary Magdalene, The Dead Sea Scrolls and others as well as accurate translations of Biblical texts and the related historical contexts, the more I've come to see the similarities between the beginnings of Christianity and the modern beginnings of neopaganism.

We're still figuring things out. The path is a relatively new one and there is much disagreement and dissent. And while the notion of heresy, so common in early Christianity, is blessedly absent from neopaganism there's still plenty of discussion and occasional accusations of "fluffiness" i.e. uneducated practice. There's a plethora of essays over at Witchvox discussing Wicca vs. Reconstructionism vs. eclecticism as well as self-taught vs. formal training. And these are just a few of the common problems facing neopagans. And the more I learn of early Christianity the more I wonder what forms of paganism will survive the centuries. Will some forms die out and others become the officially recognized forms? And, if so, which will be sacrificed and which will survive? Whatever the answers, I hope we don't go the way of dogma. I hope we manage to keep our sense of individuality and our freedom to pursue our own personal paths.

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