This is huge, people. Especially with that the discussion on 'Pagan vs. Polytheist' raging in the blogosphere, this news has cemented a belief I've held forever. This belief is also the reason I'm staying out of the debate, thank you very much, and it is:
"(Neo-)Paganism is an umbrella term, applied by those inside it, but defined by those outside of it, covering only those paths and religions to whom the following two attributes can be applied: relatively new, and considered 'fringe' by the general population."
Paganism has been around for such an amount of time, the term is no longer new. We've come together and put the label out there. People might still consider us fringe, and they might still think we're a little bit weird, but there is a distinction being made by the BISG, who maintain these codes, and thus by the general population, that we are not New Age. As a whole, we are religious. The term 'Paganism' has been--and I think it always was--defined not by those in it, but by those passing judgement upon it from the outside.
The people over at BISG must also have looked at the current Pagan landscape and thought 'Wicca has become household'. It's no longer new. It might still be fringe, but people know about it and think they know what it's about. It's proved itself to the general population, and as a reward, it gets to move out of the wonderfully murky waters of Paganism and move in with the big boys of Religion as a religion of its own.
I seriously feel this news should be celebrated with a coming of age ceremony.
Read the whole article, please, because Elysia lists a couple of very good points and fears about this move. Next, however, she lists something I wanted to talk a bit about. It concerns the polytheists (in the Pagan vs. Polytheist debate) but it got me thinking:
"In light of the ongoing and recently refreshed division of polytheists who shun the word Pagan*, well… um… hate to tell you all, but there is still no code under Religion or under Body, Mind & Spirit for Polytheism. There is Atheism, Theism, and Deism under the Religion category, but they have no room for polys. Where do polytheists see themselves five years from now?"
Well, there is always 'Religion / General' (REL000000) or 'Religion / Ancient' (REL114000) but, again, this is one of the major reasons I still call myself Pagan: others see me as such. Not what I wanted to discuss, however; I have another request: can we get a 'Religion / Reconstructionism', please? As much as I adore finding the hand full of Hellenistic books out there under 'Religion / General'--where they have always been, I might add, with books on ancient Hellas located at 'History / Ancient / Greece' (HIS002010)--I would love it even more if there was a 'Religion / Reconstructionism', or even a 'Religion / Paganism & Neo-Paganism / Reconstructionism' category for us to develop into. This seems like a realistic five year goal.
As a ten year goal, I'm setting my sights on 'Religion (/ Paganism & Neo-Paganism) (/ Reconstructionism) / Hellenismos). In order to get that to happen, though, we're going to have to churn out a lot more books, and we have to buy them as well. We need to publish at the major (Pagan) publishing houses. Above all, we need to get our religion out there so the non-Hellenist and the non-Pagan knows who we are and what we do. We need to become validated, connected, and synched--in the eyes of the general public, just as much as in our own eyes.
I, for one, and happy for the moves. Those who consider themselves 'spiritual but not religious' might not be. As Elysia writes:
"[P]erhaps we need to take a step back and define whether we [as Pagans] are, in fact, practicing religions vs. practicing spirituality?"
That, my dear readers, might be the crux of that other debate out there, the debate on defining Paganism. The general population sees us as religious, but a good bunch of us do not. If paganism does get torn in the middle, shouldn't that middle be defined by this debate, instead of the 'Pagan vs. Polytheist' one? And if so, who should move out? To stick to the BISAC codes: do we want to move (Neo-)Paganism fully back to the 'Body, Mind, & Spirit'-section and give religious Pagans spaces of their own under 'Wicca', 'Polytheism', 'Reconstructionism' and/or 'Religious Paganism', or keep the 'Paganism & Neo-Paganism'-code for the religious Pagans and create a separate code for the non-religious folk?
Also, isn't that what has already happened with this move? Under 'Body, Mind, & Spirit' are still: Afterlife & Reincarnation, Ancient Mysteries & Controversial Knowledge, Spirit Guides, Astrology, Channeling & Mediumship, Crystals, Divination, Dreams, Entheogens & Visionary Substances, Feng Shui, Gaia & Earth Energies, Healing, Hermetism & Rosicrucianism, I Ching, Inspiration & Personal Growth, Magick Studies, Meditation, Mysticism, New Thought, Numerology, Occultism, Parapsychology, Prophecy, Sacred Sexuality, Spiritualism, Shamanism, Supernatural, Extraterrestrials, Unexplained Phenomena, and Witchcraft. 'Neo-Paganism & Paganism' has--for all intents and purposes--been removed from this category, although the category is still there; the code has been removed and can thus not be used.
We'll see how this plays out. I'm sure it will provide plenty of fodder for the Pagan debate cannon for a while to come, though. As stated, I am happy for the move, and grateful to Elysia for bringing it to my attention. I doubt much will change in the Pagan community, but it's a nice philosophical change, none the less. How do you feel about it? Will it have ramifications for Paganism in any way, shape or form? I would love to hear your thoughts.