Left image of pagan Wheel of the Year from Biblical Connection.
Right image of a Taoist Fu sigil.
I don’t have educational degrees that would qualify me to write about any of this, so please understand that I am writing my observations within that non-expert context. Lately I’ve been fascinated with pagan and neopagan belief systems, mostly for how strikingly similar paganism is to Chinese Taoist-based folk religion.
Here’s how I understand paganism in context: Back in the day across Europe, Abrahamic religions rose to dominance, became institutionalized, and began setting up centralized bodies of authority that often started in the cities and spread its influence from there. At the fringes of the countryside, however, pagan faiths endured among the minority. These pagan faiths were polytheistic, though pantheist, strongly nature-based, and because they believed that everything was connected, it was thought that certain herbs, incantations of words, ritualistic conduct, and representations of elements could be harnessed to manifest intentions–in other words, magic exists.
Replace a few specifics from the previous paragraph and you could apply it to the relationship between Confucianism (and to a great extent Buddhism) and Chinese folk religions. These folk religions were looked upon in the same way pagan faiths were looked upon by the Christians. Those who practice pagan/neo-pagan religions (like Wicca, Druidism, Heathenry, or some form of pagan reconstructionism) tend to keep their faiths concealed or strictly private. That’s less of an issue among those who practice Chinese folk religions, and so you’ll see altars set up in Chinese businesses that still pay homage to the faiths of their [often agricultural] ancestors. However, like what pagans experience, those who still practice Chinese folk religions are considered fringe.
Continue reading “Pagan Practices and Chinese Folk Religions”