Centerpiece of my altar
1. Name (real or “Craft name”)
My real name is Nan, my craft name is Maedrona.
No I don’t see any reason to keep my craft name secret. I know that some traditions hold that this should only be shared with those in your own coven group. I don’t.
3. Age, gender, geographic location (country, state/province, and/or city).
Age: 47 years
Geographic location: SE London, UK
4. How long have you been Pagan/polytheistic?
Since 1992, Gods! 21 years!
5. What is your tradition (i.e. Wiccan, reconstructionist Heathen, eclectic, etc.)
First generation, famtrad Pagan (I consider myself to be Pagan, but not Wiccan). Witchcraft is, for me, not a religion.
Image of Cernunnos on Gundestrap Cauldron
6. Do you have any patron gods/goddesses or deities you are especially close to? If so, who are They?
I have worked most closely with Herne and Modron over the past 15 years and consider them to be my Patron Deities.
7. How do you define your own relationship(s) to the gods? For instance, do you view one or more of Them as your beloved or spouse, or are They more like parents to you? Do you consider Them friends, allies, mentors? All of the above? None of the above? How does this differ between various gods?
The Gods are more like friendly neighbours. We have the occasional chat over the back fence. Sometimes I’ll invite them round for a natter and a cup of tea (or whisky for Herne). I don’t worship them and they don’t expect it from me.
8. How do you define “piety” as it relates to Paganism/modern polytheism?
I tend to view the word piety, and by conjunction piousness, more in a negative light than as anything positive. But, just to make sure I’m thinking of the same word, I’ve looked it up in the OED.
Piety (noun): the quality of being religious or reverent
- devoutly religious:a deeply pious woman
- making or constituting a hypocritical display of virtue:his pious platitudes
- archaic dutiful or loyal, especially towards one’s parents.
This fits my mindset as to what ‘piety’ means.
9. Do you find this to be a useful or relevant term concerning your own relationship with the gods? Is it relevant to Paganism/modern polytheism in general?
No, I doubt very much that anyone would consider me to be devoutly religious, especially when I refer to Herne as an ‘old bastard’. In order to be pious, I would have to engage in acts of worship towards the Gods, and that is not something I have ever been called to do. If a particular God expected acts of worship from me, I’d have to be given a really good reason.
10. Is it possible to be pious without an established dogma or authority? Why or why not?
I would say no, this is not possible because in order to engage in acts of religious devotion one must have some established ideas on what those acts might be.
But there is nothing at all to say that those established rules of piety cannot be developed on an individual basis between 1 person and his God/s. In other words, you don’t need a rule book agreed by the masses in order to develop a level of piety in your devotion to your God/s.
11. Is there anything you consider impious (i.e. behavior, modes of worship)? Why?
Acting in a manner that goes against the rules established between you and your God/s.
When I am talking to Modron I can either be speaking to her woman-to-woman, mother-to-mother, or rarely, child-to-parent. Always though, there is a level of mutual respect and admiration.
Herne on the other hand, well he is a lot more relaxed about things. I can still see the look of utter horror that appeared on someone’s face when he described a man with antlers coming out of his head who was standing beside me, and my response was to say – Ah, that randy old bastard. He’s always hanging round.
But, this is the God who complained bitterly when I announced we had no wine so I was serving grape juice as part of ritual, and in the midst of a benevolent possession announced in my ear that all of the wine glasses in the cupboard were ‘too girly’ for him to drink out of.
I wouldn’t dream of speaking to Modron or about Her in the same manner in which I speak to and of Herne. Because the rules we have established between ourselves are completely different.
12. Are you for or against the establishment and observance of rules about piety in your particular tradition and/or within Pagan/polytheist religion in general? Please explain your response.
I am very much against, not least because who gets to decide which rules are correct and which are not? If a single group wishes to establish rules for their group, go for it! Their rules cannot and should not apply to any other group or tradition though. Even the same Pagan traditions have differences between individual groups.
I believe that one must respect the established rules of a particular Pagan group, but that doesn’t translate into following those rules outside of that group.
13. Further comments, thoughts, observances?
Paganism tends to be a religion for those who have rejected the status quo. Over the years I have met many, many Pagans who see it not so much as a religion as a fashion statement or a way or rebelling against authority.
Some never more pass this idea and soon get taken up by the newest twinkly object that catches their eyes.
Some never really move past that desire to rebel, and when they find acceptance within the Pagan communities (if such a creature exists) they immediately set out to rebel further (just look at the flaring of debates on Pagan women wearing head coverings, worshipping comic book superheroes, and loads of other discussions that have come up across the internet in recent years).
A few though, are able to see beyond all this crap (for lack of a better word) they realise the only thing they are rebelling against is internal, and they discover who and what they are. These are the people who are ultimately showing piety in their Pagan beliefs. They don’t make elaborate shows in their religious practice, they don’t have a need to convince anyone their way is better/older/more authentic. They just get on with things, not so much oblivious, but impervious to the debates going on around them.
If you are interested in filling out this survey on Pagan Piety, you can find it over here