Pagan Piety

Descriptions of Paganism seem froth with subjectivity, addendums, and conditional language which may lead a listener down a confused path. These twists and turns are clumsy just when clarity is needed. Many words and phrases are used to describe the core nature of Pagan religion. Some of these include earth-based, nature worship, ancient, and pre-Christian. All of these have their merits and limits. There is another problem with the word “pagan.” It has long been used in a derogatory form. Even in the light of religious tolerance; Pagan still lacks many of the positive connotations afforded other religions. In order to address these twin plights of bringing precision and positive meaning to Pagan, I suggest that the ancient Greek word Єύσέβεia may be used as a central theme of Pagan religion, the idea of piety as Pagan religion. I argue that at the heart of Paganism is piety; be it reverence for the gods, earth, or other humans. Piety is the right action towards a relationship, the idea of orthopraxy (όρθοπραξις).

The association of positive words with Paganism can be beneficial in the attempt to educate people on the roots and beliefs of Paganism. The word piety may suffer from its being used to suggest over exuberance in religious matters. Yet, it still adds an overall positive connotation to Paganism as well as providing a simple and understandable description of a core Pagan value. What may be of more value is that the Pagan community may see themselves as pious in the context closer to what some ancient Pagan people would have understood.


About William Blumberg

I engage in religious philosophy within a Pagan context. I serve on the Board of Directors of Cherry Hill Seminary and the Conference on Current Pagan Studies.
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5 Responses to Pagan Piety

  1. fta says:

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  2. Christina says:

    Have you read, “Lavinia” by Ursula Le Guin? She presents a profound treatment of the relationship of paganism and piety.

  3. Pingback: Tsunami, Taking Actions, and Piety | A Pagan Humanist

  4. Angela says:

    Your suggestion of using words to change the views of paganism from negative to positive is a much needed idea. Many pagans are pious people and people outside of the community do not know or see this because of previously held views and/or the influences from the media of the past and present, for instance the image of the green faced wicked witch. While there are people in the pagan community who like the shock value of this view, educating those outside of the community will go farther toward acceptance, understanding and more positive interactions with a common goal of social justice and environmental protection and remove the hate and fear that still exists today.

    • I like using piety because it is well known but not in the context of Pagan religion…well that is in modern Pagan religion, I suspect that ancient Pagan religious people would have felt that this was a natural connection.

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