Letter: Deep-rooted modern Pagans

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The Independent Online
Sir: It is not so much modern Pagans who are confused as Frances H Killingley herself (letter, 7 September).

Modern Paganism may sometimes be referred to as "the country's oldest religion", but the phrase is used as a shorthand recognition of roots in pre-Christian beliefs of many varieties, rather than representing any claim to direct descent from some mythical "particular creed". One of the strengths of organisations like the Pagan Federation is tolerance of a wide spectrum of belief. Celebration of Celtic festivals alongside Anglo-Saxon arises not from ignorant confusion, but from respect for alternative but linked pantheistic beliefs.

To assert that "neither the ancient Britons nor the Anglo-Saxons left any record of their religious beliefs and practices" is wrong. Many early Christians may have sought to eradicate all such references, but thankfully did not entirely succeed. Your own newspaper has reported on the religious significance of archaeological finds from these eras, whilst more enlightened early Christians (such as the Icelander Snorri Sturluson in his Edda) recorded pagan myths and practices for posterity.

To pretend that modern Paganism cannot legitimately call upon cultural roots more ancient than those of British Christianity is to fly in the face of reality.


E-mail: jamie@globalnet.co.uk