Ask a Pagan....(Response)

Transient

So I confess that, perhaps unfairly, I felt some trepidation about inviting a pagan to participate in our interview series. But, after receiving over 100 questions from you last week, Jason Mankey rose to the occasion with some really informative, thoughtful, funny, and gracious responses. I had no idea how little I actually knew about modern paganism until I entered this conversation. This turned out to be one of my favorite interviews of the series. (Guess it pays to get out of your comfort zone.)

Jason is a Pagan writer, blogger, and lecturer, and an initiated Wiccan. In addition to writing for theIpinion Syndicate and at Patheos, he is active on the Pagan lecture circuit.  Jason grew up just outside of Nashville Tennessee, and was president of his Methodist Church Youth Group there.  He converted to Paganism at age 21 and has been involved with that ever since. Currently living in Northern California, he is involved with many Pagan groups in the San Francisco Bay Area. He also blogs at Panmankey.com, and you can follow him on Twitter here

Hope you learn as much from this as I did. 

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To start, several readers were interested in your conversation story. What led you from your Methodist upbringing to paganism? 

My childhood was spent mostly in the Midwest, while my junior high and high school years were spent in Gallatin Tennessee, just north of Nashville.  During my teenage years I was a conservative Republican and heavily involved in the Methodist Church.  I was even President of my church youth group and gave a sermon at an Easter Sunrise Service.

During my first two years of college I spent a lot of time at the Baptist Student Union on campus.  It was a pretty conservative group and when my brother came out of the closet during my sophomore year the BSU was not very supportive.  I heard a lot of “he’s going to hell,” while I argued that “he’s a better person now that he’s being honest with himself and everyone around him.”  I was told that didn’t matter, and all that mattered was his sexual preference.  I know a lot of Christians who are loving, tolerant, people, these folks weren’t, and their attitude caused me to re-examine a lot of spiritual things, and to deal with a lot of my questions about Christianity, which I’ve always had.

I remember asking a youth counselor once “What if we are wrong as Christians?”  His response has stuck with me over the years, “well if we are wrong, it’s a good way to live your life.”  I agreed with him then, and I agree with him now.  Christianity is generally a very good way to live your life, but I’ve always had doubts.  By the time I was in the second grade, I was extremely interested in other religions and various mythologies.  I consumed Greek myth like it was going out of style, and started reading books on comparative religion by the fifth grade.  I never understood why there was only one pathway to God when there were so many different people on Earth.  If Yahweh wanted the Ancient Greeks to worship him, why didn’t he just say so?  And why would someone growing up on the Fiji Islands be condemned to hell for not hearing about Jesus?  That’s completely illogical to me.  Wouldn’t it make more sense for deity to reveal itself in ways that make sense to the local populace?  

I also found the idea that God was exclusively male to be a troubling one.  Women are over half of the world’s population, why should deity strictly be masculine?  Wouldn’t it make more sense for deity to be both male and female?  The world is full of duality.  We have night and day, girls and boys, summer and winter, etc.  I worship both a Goddess and a God, while not condemning everyone who disagrees with me to the fires of hell.  That’s why modern Pagan cosmology makes sense to me.

As a spiritual person, I’m looking to connect with deity.  I very rarely felt connected to deity sitting in a pew listening to someone talk about God. I wanted to experience God.  I practice Wicca (one of several Modern Paganisms), and Wicca’s ritual framework allows me to have that experience with deity that I often felt was missing as a Christian.  There’s not a series of complicated rules separating me from the divine; it’s right there waiting for me anytime I want to experience it.  I felt complete and whole the first time I prayed to The Goddess.   

From Gina: How would you define the word pagan?  I feel like the answer to this question is essential for us to understand what's actually being discussed.    

It’s my belief that there are several different definitions of the word “pagan.”  For a long time,  the most common definition of the word pagan read something like this "anyone who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew."  This definition is still used by a lot of people, and when those people stumble upon a faith outside of the Abrahamic Tradition they label it "pagan" by default.  This definition nearly matches the use of the word pagan in some anthropological circles.  Many anthropologists will label native religions as pagan, even if that religious tradition in Africa has nothing in common with one in the Philippines. 

In my own writing, I often use the word pagan to refer to ancient pagan religions of Europe and the Middle East.  Since most of those religions are unique unto themselves, I sometimes call them ancient paganisms.  While it's true that both the Ancient Greeks and the Vikings worshipped a multitude of gods, the similarities mostly stop there.  They get lumped together in 2012, but they wouldn’t have been lumped together in the year 300; they would have been separate faith traditions.  

The original meaning of the word pagan means "country dweller," and comes from the Latin word "paganus."  Whether subconsciously, or as a result of the word pagan's origins, a lot of people refer to old or rustic practices as “pagan.”  I’ve seen various old folk dances (such as Morris dancing) referred to as “pagan” on a number of occasions even though it lacks any real connection to the paganisms of antiquity.  There are a lot of holiday customs which are also referred to as pagan even though they lack a religious element, or developed entirely from Christian elements.  (Halloween is not as pagan as you think it is.)   

When I use the word Pagan (capital-P), I'm using it to signify one specific thing: an ambiguous but somewhat unified theory of Western Religious thought.  I generally preface the word Pagan with “Contemporary” or “Modern” in order to differentiate it from the various other uses of the word outlined above.  (While I used the words Modern or Contemporary, many Pagans prefer the term Neo-Pagan, and it was common in academic circles for awhile.)   In my mind, Modern Pagans generally share three or four characteristics.  Some Contemporary Pagans practice all of these things I'm going to list, some just one or two, but all are pretty recognizable as facets of today's Paganism.   

Nature Religion:   Pagans revere nature.  Pagan holidays aren't birthdays or death-days. They occur on celestially auspicious occasions, generally equinoxes and solstices and the “cross quarter” days between those events.  Basically we celebrate the changing of the seasons and this annual cycle is often referred to as “The Wheel of the Year.”  While the level of "revering nature" varies from Pagan to Pagan—some worship nature while others simply honor yearly cycles— it’s still pretty universal.

I like to use the phrase “we are a part of nature, not apart from it.”  I wasn’t put here to have dominion over the Earth; I was put here to be a part of it.  This is a tenant that separates Paganism from a practice like Modern Satanism.  I don’t want to manipulate this world, I want to exist in harmony with it.   

Polytheism:  Calling all Pagans polytheists is rather limited, some are duotheists, and many believe that "all gods are one god,” which could be looked at as a form of monotheism. I even know a few atheist Pagans.  What makes Paganism unique, and why I use the term polytheist, is that Pagandom will generally support your experience with the gods.  If you worship Thor and I worship Pan, we aren't necessarily adversaries.  Your religious experience is just as valid as mine.  We may not worship the same gods, and we may have different concepts of what deity is, but as a community we don't invalidate someone else's religious experience.  These last few sentences also apply to how I view the religious traditions of others.  Your spiritual experience is valid to me, and most Pagans don’t think of other religious traditions as being “wrong”; we just disagree with anyone who thinks they have a stranglehold on the truth.  Even when we disagree on the nature of deity, Pagans generally use the same type of language during ritual.  We talk about The Goddess as being real even if there are those around us who have a more pantheistic view of deity.  As a Pagan, if you attend a public ritual you go in knowing full well that a whole plethora of different deities might be called upon.   

The Feminine Principle:  Most Pagans revere a Goddess, or are open to the idea that deity is not exclusively male.  Pagan Goddesses are equal to male deities. In addition to honoring the Divine Feminine, Pagan Circles generally see equality among the sexes.  Women can lead rituals (and in many traditions are actually above men) and participate as equals (or superiors) in 99.9% of all "Pagan" traditions.

The Western Religious Tradition: The majority of things that make up Modern Pagan Religious practice come from Western Sources.  Most of us tend to worship European and Middle Eastern deities, and the nuts and bolts of ceremony are also generally European.  Many Modern Pagans attempt to recreate (or at least re-imagine) Ancient Western paganisms, whether they are Greek, Roman, Celtic, Egyptian, or Norse.   In addition, there are several groups out there that would prefer not to be under our umbrella.  Labeling Native American Traditions "Pagan" is a recipe for trouble. The same goes with Hindu traditions.  That doesn't mean Modern Pagans ignore ideas, beliefs, and deity from outside of Western Culture; it just means that those impulses are generally filtered through a Western prism.  Lots of Pagans I know worship Eastern Gods, and use Native American Ritual Techniques, but if they wanted to focus exclusively on those things they would join a Shinto Temple or petition the Lakota tribe for membership.  Paganism is highly flexible and it's easy to add things to it, but those things are generally adapted for Contemporary Pagan use.

So when you ask me to define the word “pagan” you get a very complicated (and long) answer.  It’s safe to say that it has a variety of different meanings (and a few I didn’t get to in this answer) depending on the context.  I also prefer to see the word Pagan capitalized when referring to the modern religious practice.   

(A lot of this answer was lifted directly from a blog post I wrote called “Defining the Word (or words)' pagan.'

From Shane: Do you represent any kind of pagan orthodoxy? Is there such a thing? I've always thought of paganism as a catch all for a tribalistic spirituality that is outside the framework of the world's major religions. Are your beliefs ones that you share with a community or are they just your beliefs? Assuming there is solidarity among modern first world pagans, is it in what you have in common or in who you are reacting against? 

Paganism is an umbrella term, encompassing dozens of varying belief systems.  As a result, there is no “Pagan Orthodoxy,” but certain traditions could be said to possess an orthodoxy.  Gardnerian Wicca is an initiatory, oathbound practice with certain rules and a consistent ritual structure.  If you were to practice it in a way that violated its structure and teachings that could be considered a violation of orthodoxy.  What makes Paganism unique is that we acknowledge that there are hundreds of ways to practice it, and as long as you doing at least a few of the things I outlined above, the rest of us are fine with you standing under the umbrella.  

Modern Paganism might have very well started as a reaction to the industrial revolution.  A lot of the language found in Modern Paganism can be traced back to the English Poetry of the Romantic Era, an era where poets like Keats, Shelley, and Byron were lamenting the loss of the eternal English countryside.  (If you are really interested in learning more about the origins of Modern Paganism, I suggest picking up Professor Ronald Hutton’s Triumph of the Moon.)  Today though, it’s not the loss of the countryside that unites most Pagans, but a deep love of the Earth and a desire to see that creation as sacred, which means maybe we haven’t changed much at all. 

From RHE: As I was selecting guests for our interview series, I had second-thoughts about inviting a pagan. Which seems strange considering the fact that we've interviewed an atheist, a Muslim, an Orthodox Jew, and several other people representing decidedly non-Christian faiths. Based on some of your articles, it seems like this sort of hesitancy to engage is common. Why do you think Christians are especially wary of paganism? Do you think this is based on misconceptions regarding pagan beliefs and practices?

The word pagan is pretty loaded, and it conjures up a lot of negative images for a lot of people.  These people associate Modern Paganism with the pagan religions of antiquity, which were in direct competition with early Christianity.  I think some of my ancestors threw some of your ancestors to the lions, and then you turned around and did the same thing to my ancestors.  In ancient days, it was a pretty adversarial relationship, and some of this is expressed in the Bible.  The Jews weren’t real happy with a lot of their pagan neighbors, and the priests in the Temple tended to get upset with the Hebrew people when they would worship a goddess.  In the New Testament, the Apostle Paul certainly doesn’t come across as a cheerleader for our side.  The Bible paints a pretty negative picture of ancient pagans. That has to have contributed to some degree.

The largest tradition within Modern Paganism is Wicca, or Witchcraft (there’s some debate in our community whether or not the words are actually synonyms, but I’m going to use them as such).  Like the word pagan, Witch and Witchcraft are loaded words.  When people hear the word witch, they might think of something out of a fairy-tale or myth.  If you associate the word “witch” strictly with vampires and zombies, it’s going to be hard for you to look at a religious community using that term as a serious one.  The word “witch” is also a lot like the word “pagan”; it has various definitions depending on who is using it.  In anthropology, it often signifies a person using magic to harm or manipulate people.  Movies are still being made with “evil witches,” so our P.R. person is not the best.  At its best, “witch” can be used to represent an empowered woman, which for some in the Christian Community is also frightening.   

Part of the problem also lies within certain segments of the radical Evangelical Christian movement.  I have a bookshelf dedicated to volumes like Wicca:  Satan’s Little White Lie, and Halloween and Satanism.  Many of these books are full of sensationalist garbage, freely mixing Satanism and Modern Paganism with no respect for truth, only an ideological viewpoint.  What’s so frustrating about some of these books is that they sometimes have an element of truth to them, and then go straight from nature religion to “Black Masses” and “Human Sacrifice.”  If I was a Christian and had been exposed to this type of stuff, I probably wouldn’t want to talk to Pagans either.

I once worked with a girl who believed that witches were sacrificing babies to Satan annually on Halloween.  She had been told this in church, and no amount of reasonable conversation would convince her otherwise.  This is what we are up against in some segments of the Christian Community.  A Christian friend of mine was unfriended on Facebook by a former pastor just for sharing one of my blog posts on interfaith dialogue.  Even associating with Pagans is still seen as taboo in a way that associating with Muslims or Buddhists is not.  

In some segments of the Christian community, there’s a lot of “guilt by association.”  Just saying the word pagan can get you into some trouble.  There’s also a big misconception out there that we are trying to “convert” people to Paganism.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  I don’t want to convert anybody, I’ll respect your beliefs if you respect mine, or at the very least just leave me alone to practice in peace.   

From Grae Dream: Jason - thanks for being open enough to tread into these waters! I am a Christian...but an astounding number of agnostics and pagans and atheists keep coming into my life, and I love them to bits. Not the least reason being that I've had better spiritual (grand sense) conversations with some of them than many of my Christian friends! So thanks again for dialoging. One thing I've heard from my pagan friends is a sense of frustration that for them, they seem to feel a lot of pressure from society that you have to be "religious" to be moral. Obviously, as you've said, you don't sacrifice kittens or anything melodramatic like that. My question really is this: What would you say influences your own moral/ethical framework? Is it the Rede? The practices of whatever god/goddess you follow, seeing as you're a Wiccan? A general belief in the goodness of human kind? Philosophy? What influences your moral code? 

My church youth group did an exercise once where one of our adult counselors took on the role of an atheist.  Our job was to convince him of the truth about Jesus Christ.  I remember many of the arguments we made were moral in nature, but our “atheist” kept relating a moral code that was just as triumphant as the Christian one, so we were forced to abandon that tactic.

Eventually, we made our way to “you’re going to hell if you don’t believe in Jesus,” and I remember his response being something like “I live a moral life, why would I be going to hell?”  This exercise probably had the wrong effect on me considering where I ended up, but from that moment on I began to see morality as something that could be separated from religion.  

'Harm None' photo (c) 2012, Christina Welsh - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Pagans are not a “people of the book.”  We don’t have a Bible, or a long moral code, but there are several things which generally contribute to the ethics of Paganism.  For many Wiccans (and even some who don’t use that term), it’s the Wiccan Rede, which states “an it harm none, do what you will.”  It’s a very simple phrase, but it’s applicable in plenty of situations.  Drunk driving for instance, would fall under the Rede; you shouldn’t drive drunk because you could obviously harm someone while doing so.  Many of the rules which come up in the Ten Commandments are covered by the Rede (do not kill, do not steal, do not lie).  The Wiccan Rede has a lot in common with “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  

In addition to the Rede a lot of Pagans believe in karma and the “threefold law.”  Many of us believe that what we do comes back to us, often in triplicate.  If I’m nice to others, then I will be rewarded with nice things happening to me.  If I project positive energy, positive energy will come back to me.  If I engage in negative things and hurt people, I will wind up experiencing negative things.  This is sometimes also called “The Law of Return.” 

Where Pagan morality differs from Christian morality is that we don’t see things as a cosmic test.  If two people choose to engage in premarital sex and they are being upfront and honest about it with each other, then it’s not a problem.  If someone were to manipulate another into a sexual situation, then that’s a huge problem.  

From Karl: As a pagan, do you believe the God of the Christian Bible exists, and simply reject him in favor of paganism?  Or do you believe the God of the Christian Bible doesn't exist and that paganism is a more accurate reflection of reality? And what do you believe about Jesus Christ? Does paganism take a stance on this or is your view here yours alone but not reflective of other pagans?

First of all, Pagans do not “reject” anything.  When someone chooses to embrace Paganism, there are no oaths which call for the rejection of Jesus or his Dad.  Becoming a Pagan means acknowledging a different path, but it doesn’t mean paving over the old one.  So I’m extremely uncomfortable with using the word “reject,” because it doesn’t apply to us.  There are many Pagans who continue to embrace Yahweh and Jesus in their rituals; they just supplement them with other gods.  It’s not common, but it happens, and it’s something I used to do with regularity.

If I’m going to argue that all of the pagan gods of antiquity are valid representations of deity, I have no choice but to look at Yahweh as a valid representation of deity.  So yes, I would say your God exists; I just don’t see him as “the only way,” just as one of many ways.  I find that Paganism better reflects my own worldview (gender balanced, earth is sacred, direct pathway for communion with deity), but I don’t think it’s necessarily superior to anything else.  As long as you are tolerant and accepting of others, I think your path is just as valid as mine.

Where we would disagree, of course, is in how we view the Bible.  To me the Bible is a divinely inspired work, but it’s not inerrant or infallible.  It has a lot of problems, and reflects the biases of the people who wrote it and the time(s) in which it was written.  Modern Bible scholars for instance will tell you that the Apostle Paul only wrote seven of the thirteen epistles generally attributed to him.  That’s a problem, and while I don’t think that revelation diminishes anything in the New Testament, it speaks to the very human nature of The Bible.

Jesus is a more complicated topic.  There are a lot of Pagans who greatly respect the teachings of Jesus.  If Christians paid more attention to the Beatitudes and less attention to Leviticus, the world would be in much better shape.  My personal belief is that Jesus was a man who preached a message of love and peace, and probably believed that the end of the world was near.  When Christians worship Christ, I believe they are worshipping a genuine deity that reflects the values of the man Jesus.  Yes, this is a complicated way to argue that Jesus was both a man and is now a deity, and in no way represents Pagandom as a whole.  I’m sure that there are Pagans who view Jesus as just a human teacher, or perhaps they see him as a metaphor for something else. Some Pagans claim him as one of ours whose message got distorted.  

I think that faith in Jesus often makes people better. There’s a lot of positive in his message, and whether or not someone sees him as divine or not doesn’t change that.  Yes, we disagree on what his mission was, or what it all means from a cosmological perspective, but that doesn’t mean we have to argue about those points.  A lot of Pagans have had bad experiences with Christianity. They feel as if they’ve been judged and cast aside for their religious choices.  Curiously, I never really hear any Pagans bad-mouthing Jesus, just his followers sometimes.  (Paul is another story, but I digress.)

From Katherine: I read on your website that you practice spells. I'll admit that most of my perceptions regarding spells come from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which I am guessing are not truly representative. Are there any "rules" or code for practicing spells? In BTVS (I know, I know...), Willow gets slammed for using magic for her own enhancement and messing with the order of the universe.  Is there really such a thing as black magic? What does that entail? Are there certain rituals that are strictly off limits?

I hate the word “spell” because I don’t think it accurately reflects what we do.  For most Pagans, magic is simply the manipulation of energy, an energy that’s already around us.  Have you ever gone to church and been in the middle of a really moving service and felt a heaviness in the air?  My favorite example is probably the “electricity” in the air at a major sporting event, there’s something there that you can feel while not being able to touch it.  Those things are representations of energy.  Pagans generally just direct that energy towards specific goals or purposes.  Let’s say I need a job, I could gather up that energy and direct it towards me finding employment

In a lot of ways, magic is a lot like prayer, just minus the middleman.  Instead of having to seek someone’s approval to change a certain circumstance, we just try to change the circumstance.  If my Dad were to have surgery on his heart, I wouldn’t ask deity to make sure he’s OK; I’d try to direct energy towards him to make sure everything turned out alright.  That doesn’t mean I think that magic (energy) can cure cancer, but it might help alleviate suffering or provide enough oomph to get someone through another day.  A famous Wiccan High Priestess once said that “magic is like an intense prayer” and I agree wholeheartedly.

When it comes to magic, most Pagans respect “free will.”  You shouldn’t do a spell to get Justin Beiber to fall in love with you; you should do a spell to bring love into your life.  Getting Biebs to fall in love with you would be manipulating his free will and a violation of “an it harm none.”  I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using magic to better your life, but there is something wrong with using it to better your own life at the expense of others.

For the record, I should also point out that belief in magic is not something unique to Paganism.  Every religion, including Christianity, has had magic users.  Putting a dream catcher up in your bedroom is a type of magic; you are using it to catch “good energies” and bring them into your life.  Magic is something that can be totally separated from a religious context.  I don’t need to pray to Aphrodite to use magic, I can just use it.  The whole “power of positive thinking” thing is magic, same with creative visualization.  It’s not something that requires dusty old books and iron cauldrons.

I once told a friend that “I don’t really use magic” and he began laughing hysterically.  When he was done laughing he told me that i use it every day.  At the time I managed a coffee shop and on a daily basis I tried to fill that store with “good vibes.”  What I was doing was projecting positive energy and that energy generally made people like me.  “Like attracts like,” so to speak. In order to be successful I had to create an atmosphere that people wanted to visit.

From Sarah: Where do you see some common ground for paganism and Christianity?

I think there’s a lot of common ground between Pagans and Christians who care about issues of social justice, acceptance, and the environment.  I believe both groups care about looking out for others and being good environmental stewards.  You may not share my religious beliefs, but as long as you respect them, I’m fine with it.  

From Kat W.: I've known of pagans who run the gamut from secular agnostics who treat their spirituality as completely metaphorical, to those who are pagan re-constructionists attempting to resurrect ancient tribal religions and espouse a literal belief in their chosen pantheon of gods.  Where along this spectrum do you fall?  Would you say it's common for Wiccans to have a "personal" relationship with their god(s) similar to how Christians think of Jesus, or is that not how pagans generally view their association with a deity?

'Pan at Tower Hill' photo (c) 2008, liz west - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

It depends on the Pagan obviously.  If I’m more of an agnostic Pagan. I’m probably not going to have a relationship with deity in the way a Christian might with Jesus.  I’m probably more focused on deity than the majority of Pagans, and in my practice interacting with deity is an important part of my spirituality.  I believe wholeheartedly that my gods have a certain consciousness and that I’m capable of interacting with them.  

Sometimes, when talking to Christians, my interactions with the god Pan parallel their interactions with Jesus.  They talk to Christ like I talk to Pan, and we both feel a certain “presence” when we commune with our gods.  Some Pagans make devotion to a certain goddess or pantheon their focal point;  others are more involved with seeing the Earth as a manifestation of deity.  
My wife is extremely partial to Aphrodite, and sometimes she’ll say things like “I think Aphrodite disapproves,” or “I think Aphrodite was the one who put this dress on sale.”  She’s a lot like me in that she has a very personal relationship with deity.  

From Monika: My question relates to something I have been thinking about for awhile. From what little I have seen of Pagan art, imagery, ritual, ect, it appears there is a sincere honoring of both the male and the female energies. In particular, I get the impression that harmony between male and female is especially celebrated. This strikes me as very beautiful and positive for our world. I couldn't help but contrast this with the very sad track record Christianity has on these things. Institutional Christianity, to its own detriment, has often pitted male and female against each other, and downplayed the female energy, while Paganism sees the Divine in both. Am I correct in my impressions? And can you share thoughts on your religion's stance on these things, and how we all can move forward in understanding, no matter our faith?

One of the things that separates Modern Paganism from most other Western Religions is how much emphasis we place on The Lady (or The Goddess).  Though there aren’t any hard or fast numbers, it’s my belief that more people have come to Modern Paganism through The Goddess than any other factor.  We celebrate her in art, poetry, song, and deed.  Along with nature, she’s the beating heart of our movement.  My own personal beliefs are a reflection of the balance I see between Lady and Lord, but there are a lot of Pagans who worship a Goddess (or goddesses) exclusively.  I still think they are a part of our tribe.

One of the things that Christianity lacks is figure of female divinity.  In Catholicism, the Virgin Mary is revered a lot like a goddess (as are some of the female saints).  In the modern age, due to books like The DaVinci Code and Holy Blood Holy Grail,  it’s become hip to look at Mary Magdalene as kind of a female Christ figure, even though those books don’t quite articulate it that way.  I’ve heard arguments that Yahweh is neither male nor female, but we are so conditioned to thinking of him as male (and you’ll notice that I wrote “him” there without a second thought) that it’s been hard for that idea to take root.  

Early Christianity has a very positive message for women.  While none of Jesus’ twelve apostles were women, Mary Magdalene was considered an important figure in his life, and it was the ladies who first found out about Jesus’ victory over death.  Paul mentions females in positions of authority in his (authentic) letters, and early Christianity was unique in pagan antiquity in that it allowed everyone to sit at the table, regardless of ethnicity, sex, or status as slave or master.  If Christians were able to move back to this more equitable, and inclusive, version of Christianity, I think that “sad track record” could be mended.   

I’ve really enjoyed answering your questions, and I’m grateful to Rachel for the opportunity to do so.  Before signing off, I think it’s important to remind everyone that while I’ve tried my best to write about Modern Paganism from a variety of perspectives, it’s a very subjective thing, and you might hear completely different answers from other Pagans.  I don’t speak for all of Pagandom, but I like to think my views are pretty typical.

If you have questions after reading this, I’ll be around in the comments section for a while and will do my best to answer any additional queries.

Blessed Be,

Jason Mankey

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Check out the rest of the interview series - which includes an atheist, a Catholic, a Mormon, a nun, a Muslim, an evolutionary creationist, a humanitarian, an environmentalist, a gay Christian, a Democrat, a Republican, a Libertarian, a Quaker, a Pacifist, and many more - here.

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