While I know many of my readers identify with the term "pagan", many of you may be surprised to know that I do not. I have used it as "cultural shorthand" at different times (online and in person), but I am finding the term less and less useful.
1. "Pagan" is meaningless.
Historically, it just means "country dweller" and as most pagans are actually urban or suburban folk, the term isn't being used accurately.
Currently, the term is used to define... who? The more you try and pinpoint what "pagan" means and who is and is not included, the term becomes less and less useful. When it comes right down to it, it does not mean anything other than what we are NOT. We are not in an Abrahamic religion. So what?
And that makes the term as reactionary and useless as atheist. (Atheists have a word to describe them which does not define them and what they stand for- it only defines them in relation to others and what they are NOT.)
2. Not all pagans do this, but since there is no code of conduct or agreed upon rules "pagans" often are very appropriative of other people's religions- cherry picking bits that "resonate" with them, and leaving other important context, history, and hard-work bits aside. It lends itself to a flavor du jour ethos that can border on racism (depending on the trad currently being cherry-picked).
4. I have also people defend their eclectism and general paganry as "finding their path". But to be honest, when you cherry pick, you tend to only be attracted to things within your comfort zone and eschew other things that are more challenging and difficult. This is NOT spiritual growth. It's actually the opposite. Comfort and attraction are not the goal of spirituality and religion.
So how do you identify? I am a Witch. And there are more specific definitions than that, of course. But that requires and in-person conversation over tea! If you identify as pagan, how do you define that term (for yourself and others)?