The Early Pagans
- This is a good place to start with our creation story. Paganism has existed in varying forms since the times of the cave man. We know from archeological evidence how these early humans lived and honored the natural world around them. From cave drawings to artifacts we have at least a general understanding of how early man lived with nature and honored the forces of nature as divine beings.
- As tribal societies evolved, so did their religious practices. These early societies were often Goddess societies. Figurines such as the ‘Venus of Willendor’ are perfect examples of the early reverence for fertility of a woman and her ability to give new life. This miracle of life was seen just as that, a miracle given to a woman by a deity, or the Goddess. Often celebrated through Great Rite ceremonies. A woman who was extremely fertile was considered to be favored by the Goddess and elevated within her tribal structure.
- When early man realized it took two to create life, the pendulum slowly switched from focusing on the matriarch to the patriarch. As long as a woman could bear children, she still held great power within her tribe. When she grew older and less fertile, she often chose her successor. But her singular power shifted to that of a wise teacher or healer. The concepts of the Goddess still existed, but the God was also a formidable figure through his strength of a hunter/warrior. The Great Horned God is a good example of this.
- Paganism thrives through the ages Before Christ (BC) around the globe. From Egyptian, Roman and Greek philosophies; to Native American, Hindu and Mayan cultures. In Greece, the Pythagorean brotherhood (around 530 BC) helped to formalize and document some of the early metaphysical beliefs that were prominent in pagan beliefs. The brotherhood was actually a group of young men who gathered around Pythagoras, hoping to learn from his wisdom and inspired by his teachings. They were very spiritual in nature and form, dedicated to reforming political, moral and social life within society. The group became so widely known and popular that it grew into a formidable political lobbyist machine. Because of this political impact, the brotherhood was disbanded and Pythagoras was forced to retire and leave home. He went to Metapontum, a Greek city in southern Italy where he died around 500 BC.
- The Great Greek Philosophers continued with the theories of the Pythagorian Brotherhood. At first in secret, but later challenging the political authority and bringing their metaphysical thoughts and theories out in the open. From Plato, Socrates and Aristotle we have some well documented views of physics and Metaphysical History.
- We can’t discount the influence of these early thinkers on our spiritual views today. But we also can’t discount the influences of the great civilizations of the time, as they expanded their dominance. For instance, we know that the Romans battled in Ireland for many decades, and it’s thanks to them we have some writings of the time about these early Celtic Religions, both of the Druids and the early Celtic Shamans.
- But we need to consider the early nomadic cultures who traveled from one region to the next, conquering villages along their way. There are many we can research for this kind of practice. But the Norse might be the best example. As the Norse spread out and migrated across Europe, they either replaced or merged their beliefs with those of the cultures they conquered. Certainly we can see many of their influences in the Celtic cultures of Ireland.