Images of Paganism


Like religion, paganism is a worthwhile theme worthy of recognition and of being recorded in photographs. There has been a lot of misconceptions and misunderstanding relating to paganism.

To some is a religion, a way of life which holds mother nature as the most important part of this life choice, to others it refers to non-believers, or even to those not of the Christian faith. Therefore, the first order of business is to offer a typical description of the term that will form the basis of the photo project:

"The term pagan is from the Latin paganus, an adjective originally meaning "rural", "rustic" or "of the country." As a noun, paganus was used to mean "country dweller, villager." Wikipedia

"Both "pagan" and "heathen" have historically been used as a pejorative by adherents of monotheistic religions (such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam) to indicate a disbeliever in their religion; although in modern times it is not always used as a pejorative. "Paganism" frequently refers to the religions of classical antiquity, most notably Greek mythology or Roman religion; and can be used neutrally or admiringly by those who refer to those complexes of belief. However, until the rise of Romanticism and the general acceptance of freedom of religion in Western civilization, "paganism" was almost always used disparagingly of heterodox beliefs falling outside the established political framework of the Christian Church." Wikipedia

So now that we more or less understand what the term paganism signifies, then a good start to a photographic project can commence. Your images should be approached almost the same ways that one would approach photographing a religious topic. Focus on images that relate to a certain belief in a higher power, attitudes, customs and lifestyles and represent these to an audience. Keep in mind that paganism is mostly a way of life than anything else, so images of lifestyles and customs, particular clothing styles become even more important if you want to represent this theme as realistically as possible.

If you choose to represent this theme as the first definition; that of a country rural dweller in scope, then living style; how they live, where they live, what their daily routine revolves around, household scenes, typical work and clothing should be the points of emphasis. Try to capture the essence of what distinguishes these individuals from city dwellers.

If however you decide to focus on the religious connotations associated with the term, then local customs and rituals should be your points of emphasis as well as some of the particular festivals commonly practiced by those associated with the life style. Record images that depicts any rituals, beliefs. gatherings, costumes, any customary body decorations or amulets as well as particular tools.

Be very aware and understand that in the mind of some people paganism is a synonym to witchcraft, however, this is not what is intended with this project. Our focus is on the two basic aforementioned definitions. This theme most closely reflects what is commonly known a Wicca and Wiccans, as those who follow this way of living are typically referred as.

CC BY-ND 2.0)
CC BY-ND 2.0) | Source
public domain.
public domain. | Source

Be particular and objective with your subject selection. There are many similarities to various other styles of living and religious practices.

Aim to record the best representations of paganism that you can find. If an audience does not clearly identify the image as being of a pagan theme, then you run the risk of your images being associated with other subject matter and the intend of your work is lost in confusion and misinterpretation.

Do some research into the typical tools, lifestyle, customs and practices so that it enables you to better recognize good subjects to photograph.

Since most of these practitioners have been shunned by a large portion of the community, being sensitive to their needs can be the key that allows you to either be permitted to record images or not.

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

© 2011 Luis E Gonzalez

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Comments 14 comments

Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 5 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

This was very interesting! I had no idea of the original meaning of the word "pagan." It's wild how languages and words evolve over time.

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Wesman Todd Shaw: not only has the meaning been altered but some have added their own meaning such as using it to represent someone who believes in witchcraft and so on.

It's unfortunate that such a simple word in its original meaning has been manipulated so much.

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Evan T. Horizone 5 years ago from Van Buren, AR

This is very informative. I enjoyed reading it. Thanks for sharing!

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Evan T Horizone: Thank you

FloraBreenRobison profile image

FloraBreenRobison 5 years ago

I remember seeing a movie advertised as being about pagans starring Deborah Kerr and David Niven which I thought was going to be about rural people worshipping Mother Nature. No, the film was about people who make a human sacrifice to help their crops grow. I don't care which definition of paganism you use. Pagans do not make human sacrifices. I was very upset. although it should have occured to me that David Hemmings has only ever starred in bizarre films that make no sense and there was no reason for this to be any different. When I use the term personally, I am referring to people who worship Mother Nature or Mythology.

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Flora Breen Robinson: I agree, I also use the term the same way

Cardisa profile image

Cardisa 5 years ago from Jamaica

Interesting Luis. I have always had an interest in these thongs but you know when you tell anyone that you like 'pagan' norms they look at you funny. For me paganism is about the earth and it's elements. Earth, wind, water and fire and how we pay tribute to them.

tlpoague profile image

tlpoague 5 years ago from USA

I have seen where paganism has taken on many different meanings from being a witch, to worshiping Satan. Even though I am a Christian, I have often questioned paganism and the role it plays. (It's like a mythology to me...How did some people come to worship Greek gods? Or, if fairies use to exist, where are they now? I usually have a weird question for most things of that nature, whether it is biblical or from other cultures.) Thanks for sharing what a pagan is.

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

Hi Cardisa, thanks and nice to know that you are interested in thongs...or did you mean

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

tipoague: Thank you

JeniferRW profile image

JeniferRW 5 years ago from Couch

Very intriguing Hub thanks for posting this! LOL @things/thongs by the way. Whenever I make typos it's always something crazy like that too Cardisa I wouldn't worry to much about it :)

But thanks again for posting this I thoroughly enjoyed reading through it. I am always interested in learning about new cultures or beliefs etc. Voted up useful, interesting

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

JenniferRW; Thank you, glad you liked it...Cardisa has been a loyal follower for a while now and I always tease her on little things like

JeniferRW profile image

JeniferRW 5 years ago from Couch

LOL I follow her as well. I'm still very new, going on almost 5 days now I think but Cardisa was one of the first people I found who was very kind to me and I thoroughly enjoyed her hubs :) I've had a great time on here. The typos that end up sounding more inappropriate when it's supposed to be something simple are the ones that are the funniest always LOL

LuisEGonzalez profile image

LuisEGonzalez 5 years ago from Miami, Florida Author

JeniferRW: lol.....thanks

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