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Discussion in 'Religious Education' started by -, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. Guest

    Is there anyone out there who teaches Paganism at KS3? We introduced it two years ago and it is very popular. However, there is very little in the way of resources. At the moment I am producing a Pagan booklet to compliment a Year course, which I hope to be available by the new academic year.
    What I am doing is trying to get some idea of how many RE departments have embraced this topic.
    I'd appreciate any responses.


  2. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Year course should rad; Year 8 ccourse.

  3. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    I don't teach a particular unit of work on Paganism but I do every so often have 'Open Forum' lessons where I give them a General Phrase/Topic/Issue and we discuss. I recently did this with Paganism and I realised how crutial it is to address pagan issues. Some pupils have an interest in paganism, and also there are so many misconceptions. Others can be very anti-paganism although when asked have no real idea as to what it actually is.
  4. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Thanky you for your reply.
    I fully agree with your post. Although I am not a Pagan personally, I do have Pagan friends of whom one is a colleague. I do appreciate Pagan spirituality and its links with the natural world. The kids seem to like this too. I agree that there are lots of misconceptions about the subject, especially the connection of Paganism to the occult and black arts. I do have some students whose parents are practicingg Pagans, this helps.
    What some people are not aware of is that our traditions and culture are rooted in Pagan beliefs. Chistianity's festivals are awash with Pagan symbolism. Even Christianity's most important festival, Easter, gets its name from the Germanic, Pagan goddess Eostre. The villages in the area where I work have annual well-dressings, which are decorated mainly in Christian imagery but, as we know, well-dressing is a Pagan custom.
  5. I've put some resources on here, which may be of use?
  6. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    I agree that it is really useful for our students to appreciate the way our religious and spiritual roots go back to pre-Christian times and how Christianity embraced much of the pagan traditions.

    Did you know that 'Pagan' actually means 'civilian.' The early Christians viewed themselves as 'soldiers of Christ' and anyone else was just a civilian!

    I have a few resources which relate to Pagan religion which may be of interest - and as a freelance supporter-of-RE I would be happy to come in and give a presentation on this or any other subject. So far I have been offering free workshops and assemblies etc, just asking for expenses. I think that next term I will start to charge a bit - but serious discounts, so don't let the money side put you off. I need the experience more than money at this stage of the business. Any aspect of RE or Community Cohesion is on offer. For two hours up to full days.

    So give me a pm if you are interested.
  7. Anonymous

    Anonymous New commenter

    Thank you, Durgamata for your kind response.
    I would certainly be interested a presentation on Paganism for Y8. Unfortunately, I cannot make the decision, I would have to put it to the powers that be. No harm in putting it to them.
    I'm not sure what you mean by pm.
    However, I may be contacted on: sotukab@gmail.com

  8. durgamata

    durgamata Occasional commenter

    a pm is a personal message. If you click on the icon next to a post it takes you to that person's home-page and there is an option to send a personal message on it. Then when they log in they see a number in their inbox. It is very nice to get one so I will send you one as well as using the email. Thanks for getting back to me so quickly on this.
  9. The "misconceptions" are, I suspect, correct if simplified beliefs about paganism, which pagans like to obfuscate.
    Gerald Gardner popularised Wicca, which was a revivial of what he thought was ancient British religious traditions. However he was also linked with Aliester Crowley, the Satanist, who adapted Jewish magic to appeal to an English-speaking gentile audience. Gardner attempted to purchase control of Crowley's satanist organisation, but was cheated by Crowley.
    So basically witchcraft, paganism and satanism are all the same sort of thing, modern magical practises engaged in by silly middle class people, and with no real connection to the ancient religions they claim continuity with. That's all a child really needs to know.
    There is a case for teaching ancient paganism. Children should know the Greek and Latin names for at least the more important deities, and their sphere of influence. There's also Celtic paganism and Nordic heathanism. The druids, the Celtic religious leaders, were wiped out by the Romans, who opposed human sacrifice, though political factors were also doubtless important.

  10. That Gerald Gardner met Crowley (who was not a Satanist) is well known, the relationship between Crowley's OTO rituals and Gardner's Book of Shadows has been a subject of debate in academic esoteric studies. I can only assume what you refer to as "Crowley's satanist organisation" is the OTO, which was never up for sale. The usual accusation is that Crowley was paid by GArdner to write rituals which he then claimed were ancient, nothing has ever been substantiated and there is evidence (Crowley's financial records) to suggest no payment was ever made. I would suggest you acquaint yourself with some basic information, Ron Hutton's "Triumph of the Moon" is a good place to start. It will explain the difference clearly between the revival of Paganism (or reinvention of it) and Satanism. If you are interested in Satanism, modern atheistic Satanism basic on the LeVey tradition is well represented on the Internet, as is theistic Satanism by The Temple of Set.

    Paganism is nothing like Satanism, it is probably one of the fastest growing spiritual paths in the Uk at the moment, I used to teach it as part of a unit on New Religious Movements and it was well received by pupils, because I think they found its emphasis on nature and the environment very relevant. I find the idea that all a child needs to know is an incorrect and misleading confusion of ideas, coupled with a frankly bizarre assumption that all magical practioners are "silly middle class people"( - on what research was that based?) frankly bigoted and not really appropriate to an RE thread.
  11. When you're dealing with small religious movements you often find very fine distinctions between the groups which are important to them internally, but are very complex, and it's not really worth investing the time to unravel them all. Presumably you've some reason for saying Crowley wasn't a Satanist, but the commonsense informed layman's view is that Crowley was the paradigm of a Satanist. Remember people and organisations often misrepresent themselves.
    Children need to know the very basics about fringe movements, that's all. Ron Hutton isn't really a reliable source, though he's a real historian, he's too close to the various organisations to be considered objective.


  12. When you're dealing with small religious movements you often find very fine distinctions between the groups which are important to them internally, but are very complex, and it's not really worth investing the time to unravel them all.
    Satanism and Paganism are not the same thing.
    Ron Hutton isn't really a reliable source, though he's a real historian, he's too close to the various organisations to be considered objective.

    By that logic, neither is anything produced by historians of the big six.

  13. Very inaccurate and misleading to say that.
    The truth is that Satanism and (modern) paganism are intimately connected, with a web of inter-relationships and movements between persons describing themselves as pagans and those generally considered to be Satanists. However many people involved in paganism, Satanism, and related practices like practical majick, Wicca, and witchcraft do claim to draw distinctions between them. However this cannot be taken at face value. Someone might distinguish "magick" from "magic", for instance. That's largely idiosyncratic, it doesn't prevent us from using the conventional spelling and pointing out the areas in common.
    A further complication is that the early Christian theory was that pagan gods and goddesses were demons and devils. The belief that these deities were wholly imaginary was later.


  14. Satanism and Paganism are not the same thing.

    Very inaccurate and misleading to say that.

    I can assure you it is not in the least, it is you who appears to wish to confuse the two.
    The Judaeo- Christian satan has no relevance to Pagans whatsoever. You seem fixated on Crowley - you are aware he was from a strict Plymouth Brethren Family out to shock his Victorian mamma, whom he loathed (after his father's death) by perverting this into an alternative religion that subverted the teachings he grew up with? That is not Paganism - it is a man with some issues.

    You allude to some groups Crowley was involved in - the one he was thrown out of was The Golden Dawn - WB Yeats did not want him in this group in the first place, but was over-ruled. Any further groups were of Crowley's creating and they reflected the psyche of the man.
    Of course, you'll be aware that the GD was a group of intellectuals exploring various aspects of metaphysical experience. And they could spell magic, unlike Crowley.

    You focus on witrchcraft and Wicca - you know the differences or has your information come from Summers? Yes, Gardiner introduced Wicca in England - but that is merely one Pagan path - you do not mention Heathenry or Druidism, just as a couple of examples of other paths.

    I sincerely hope you are not an RE teacher because I find your postings ignorant of actual knowledge about Paganism; yet they overflow with a whiff of bigotry, Hammer Horror Films and Dennis Wheatley. Perhaps you could educate yourself a little by reading wider - or use the resources I have posted on this site as a starting point to at least understanding what Paganism actually is.

  15. I've just read through this topic and I must say that I find it
    incredible that the rather bigoted biased opinion of one person has
    diverted the thread complelty away from the original question.

    the views voiced by that person the fact remains that Paganism is not
    the same thing as Satanism simple fact. also what two men did or did
    not do in the past (I refer to Crowley and Gardener) does not have
    relevance in discussing a spiritual pathway followed by an increasing
    number of people in the modern world.

    Paganism is a valid and
    recognised spiritual pathway followed by an increasing number of the
    worlds population and is a recognised religion and therefore has a place
    being taught alongside all other recognised religions in our

    All religions have good and bad, if we want to quibble
    about the foundations of Wicca which as another member here quite
    correctly pointed out is only one Pagan pathway of many, then I would
    suggest we take a look at the foundations of other religions and look at
    the harm that has been done in their names. The crusades for instance?
    how many people where sacrificed (killed, murdered in the name of a Christian god then?)

    also if we want to look at faiths that use
    magic, I would mention that in the catholic faith the practice of
    lighting candles and turning wine into blood and bread into flesh and
    then eating it is widely accepted. and I'm sorry to say that people who
    say "ah well it's not really though is it" the whole premise of that is
    that the receiver BELIEVES they are receiving the "body and blood of Christ".

    The last time I looked the catholic faith was part of Christianity, so which religion is preforming ritualised magic there?

    Not to even mention the number of paedophiles in the Christian/catholic church!
    But not to sound like I'm only attacking the Christian faith as most other faith have good and bad historical connections too. It doesn't change the fact that they are valid belief systems followed by members of the human race and should therefore be taught.

    Anyway back to the actual question that matters. Paganism is the
    only religion I know that hasn't had a war fought in it's name, and it
    is a wonderful nature based spiritual path that bears no relation to
    the misconceptions spouted by bigoted people.

    The resources posted
    by another member here (Besomcat) are good ones and well worth a look
    at. also resources and info on reputable sites like the Pagan Federation
    sites and Scottish Pagan Federation should be of use.
  16. No, by teaching that you are accepting at face value a religious movement's self-description, and rubbishing teachings of fairly mainstream Christian views concerning it.
    You don't do that. You give accurate information, which is that people describing themselves as Wiccans have complex and interlocking relationships with people describing themselves as Satanists. We could do a massive survey of everyone describing themselves as a Wiccan and find out how has and who has not got links to Satanism, the nature of those links, whether they are openly acknoweldged or secret, and so on. But there wouldn't be much point in doing that, because within a few years the situation would have changed. New religious movements are like that, they are fluid and the boundaries between the various sub-groups are constantly in flux.
    The real natue of these movements needs to be taught.
    "Paganism" by iself mean ancient religions, by the way. It's also inaccurate and accepting a movement's self-description at face value to posit any sort of real continuity between modern and ancient paganism. Modern "paganism" is not a legitimate use of the term "pagan", it's probably best to use the term in scare quotes.

  17. "You give accurate information"
    I agree we should teach accurate information, Saying Paganism
    and Satanism are the same thing is completely inaccurate. They are completely different, I would expand on that but I have
    read enough from you to understand that you are so blinkered and bigoted
    on this point that you are incapable of understanding that

    "The real natue of these movements needs to be taught."
    You are assuming that you understand the nature of these movements and you so obviously do not.

    "It's also inaccurate and accepting a movement's self-description at face value"

    Yes first hand knowledge and experience of something is always better
    than accepting someones word at face value. I would doubt you have
    either first hand knowledge or experience of Paganism as if you did you
    would not be voicing misguided statements you have.
    Also accepting
    something at face value is as bad as attacking something without first
    hand reliable information and experience and knowledge of what you are
    attacking and that is exactly what you appear to be doing.
  19. ramaduds

    ramaduds New commenter

    Why cannot their be a single forum where a group of RE teachers who all appreciate the rich diverse nature of religion and culture in the UK and the world share their views on teaching without such prejudice. The connections that some of one religious traidition have with something that is seemingly bad is apparent in all traditions and all non-religious organisations also. To say that believing all Christians are terrorists because of the IRA would be a completely unreasonable proposal, so what is different about Pagans and the fact that perhaps a few 'so-called' pagans have got involved with traditions that are un-pagan?
    All religions have 'bad bits' - don't emphasise more in one tradition than any other! There is a lot of good in Pagan beliefs that cannot be ignored. It seems you need taught in paganism.
  20. "Paganism" means two things, the ancient and now extinct religions of Greece and Rome, and the Celts, and a modern religious movement which sometimes falsely claims continuity from the Celtic and occasionally the classical pagans.
    There are infinite resources on classical paganism, the best of which is "The Iliad", available in many English translations, also in film and cut down versions for younger or weaker pupils. Chilodren should know the names of at least the major Greek and Roman gods, and their spheres of influence, and something about them (for instance that Venus was the patron goddess of Rome and had Vestal virgins dedicated to her service). Sources on Celtic paganism aren't as good, many of them come to us from biased Roman sources. The Celts' religious leaders were the Druids, who were suppressed by the Romans because they practised human sacrifice, which the Romans did not agree with. Some Celtic traditions survived in British folklore and folk traditions, though they became so entangled with Christian beliefs and practises that it is often hard to say what is authentically pagan or not.
    Early Christians did not believe that pagan deities were imaginary, the standard view was that they were demons and devils who were loosed on the world to deceive mankind. The view that pagan deities were imaginary, which is now the mainstream Christina attitude, came later.
    That's basically what the OP needs for a module on paganism.
    So what about Wicca and similar movements? The question is whether this sort of subject is really suitable for school-level work at all. RE has a sort of built in concept of "the legitimate religious tradition". It can't really be defended rigorously - Christianity was once a fringe cult - but it's necessary in a multicultural society where RE is a contested subject.
    So the best thing is to simply ignore Wicca as not important enough to deserve attention. If you do treat with the subject, you will probably come across a fundamentalist Christian child who has been taught by his church that Wicca is satanism. All you need to know is that Gardner, the founder of Wicca, was an associate of Crowley, generally regarded as the leading figure in British satanism, to see that the child has been given largely correct information and the accusation is not unwarranted. You can delve further into why one poster tried to deny the title of "Satanist" to Crowley - I'm sure he has his reasons - but it becomes a bit like unteasing all the variety of student Communist movements in Paris in the late1960s. Some groups would say they were not Stalinist but Trotskyite, others Marxist rather than Communist, others Marxist but not "vulgar" Marxist. It all becomes very confusing, and the question is at which point do you stop trying to tease out all the details and just broadly characterise to whole phenomenon.


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