Many believe in a history of the United States of America, as a country founded upon Christian ideas. This is an opinion which is traditional, but not altogether accurate. Many patriotic pagans are important figures in American history and culture, even today. In fact, most traditional American symbolism, ideologies and values are actually rooted in paganism. No other culture has assimilated a greater collaboration of pagan beliefs under one banner. Together, America represents forms of paganism from all around the globe. Some beliefs spanning thousands of years of history.
Paganism has been a part of United States history and people, since the earliest days. Modern pagan movements have found their way into the United States and influence everything. Media, technology and advertising draw influences from ancient paganism, but more important America does. Patriotism and paganism are two great things that create something greater together.
America maybe the first place where paganism and patriotism are collaborative in unity together. So with this in mind and the American independence day on the horizon, let everyone honor both now.
So here are 10 reasons that it is patriotic to be pagan in America today.
The first four reasons are fundamental beliefs that shape our core American values. Making each of these an important element as a nation influenced by many different belief systems.
10. Revolutionary Values
America has core values that are revolutionary. This was true from the beginning days of American history. Values of liberty, cooperation and equality grew out of a multicultural world view. Some histories see the United States as a new Jerusalem, but we are more like the Greeks and Romans.
Democracy comes from pre-Christian Athens, from a Greek word demokratia, “power by the people” or “rule by the people”. Republicanism comes from paganism in Rome, or the Latin words res publica, being a form of government that is a “public matter”.
Both are historical pagan ideas being in opposition to the ideological view of past church authorities. Through these oppositional views, the ideals of separating church and state are born. The unity of these two cultural value systems is integral to America’s revolutionary values.
9. Spiritual Radicalism
America’s founders rebelled against political tyranny, but that wasn’t all. Most were religious non-conformists and outspoken radicals, when it came to their spiritual beliefs. This was true of people like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and Thomas Paine, but also comes from others both peaceful and extremist. From the revolutionary war to the civil war, there is a tradition of radical beliefs being adopted in America. The conviction for spiritual radicalism led to adopting a motto for the United States.
A pagan symbol was chose to represent the middle ground on such spiritual radicalism in the growing America landscape. It is not “In God We Trust”, as printed on money and made official by Congress during the Cold War. The original motto was E Pluribus Unum, or “out of many, one”. This expression comes from the Roman pagan poet Virgil and refers to unity-through-diversity. It is a shining example of how prominent pagan philosophy is within American culture.
8. Political Dualism
Paganism is polytheistic by definition. The most ancient pagan cults honored and accepted many gods and goddesses. Traditional pagans viewed nature in a dualistic display of balance, between darkness and light. American politics evolved under this influence of ideas, creating a two party system. To this day, the Democratic and Republican party electorates rule over voting in America.
This political dualism sets a standard for the entire public representation for the electorate. This idea would not have been foreign to the founders of the United States. As it was an ideological precept used in Greco-Roman cultures from ancient history.
7. Religious Persecution
The first colonial settlers to American shores came here for one primary reason. Religious persecution was rampant throughout Europe and other parts of the world. Historical witch hunting during the Spanish Inquisition and the Thirty Years War targeted pagans. Similar actions and sanctions under rulers like Henry VIII of England were threatening pagans.
America still carries on in remembering this in its pagan roots. When the witch trials in Salem, Massachusetts ended, it marked a new era of rational thought. This was a landmark moment in history, even though most of the Salem women and men were not actual witches. In spirit, the religious persecution of human beings brings all such brethren together. Paganism recognizes all the fallen of false religious bigotry and violence, as pagans.
The next three reasons that brought us together in America, are our shared pride of who we are as individuals. While also taking pride in our differences respectively, this is a true reflection of pagan principles.
6. Secret Societies
Throughout United States history, paganism has had to hide from religious bigotry and persecution. This led many believers from different pagan world views to form secret societies within our experimental new society. In the covert shelter of secret cults, many pagans were able to keep their cultural autonomy. Secret sects allowed generations to teach their traditions in private and not lose them.
America has many secret societies that have influenced our social and political structure. Ancient mysticism and education came down through the Freemasons, Rosicrucian and Hermetic lodges. Even modern groups such as the Ordo Templaris Orientalis or O.T.O. have sought safe haven here. Secret societies flourish to this day in America’s culture of religious freedom of speech. Many leaders and political officials have been part of secret societies or fraternal orders.
5. Religious Tolerance
American strives for religious tolerance for all people and citizens. This is always has been an ongoing and controversial issue, even in modern times. Constitutional law mandates that all Americans have freedom of speech and religion. American history has been a breeding ground for new religious groups and movements.
In the past century, America has given birth to such religious groups as the Amish and Mormons. Modern times have seen Scientology and the New Age movement. All such cults and sects have much to thank for American paganism as it influences our nation.
Paganism has learned to be accepting of monotheism under Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Just as such religions have had to accept Wicca, Odinism and Satanism in modern times, American religious tolerance is a key concept to our national unity. Even as each religion is different in conceptual practices, the many pagans seeking religious tolerance in America continues to grow.
4. Immigrant Culture
America is a nation of immigrants. Before the first colonial settlers came to the new world, the Vikings of Europe had explored it. These and other explorers would leave their earliest marks on the coming land of the free.
When later Europeans migrated here, they would be face to face with the native tribes. This clash of cultures led to much blood shed and genocide. The slave trade brought people from Africa here, leading to the American Civil War. The industrial age brought the peoples of Asia and the Far East here, later to become citizens of a sort. World wars in the 20th century would create the diaspora of Israel here as immigrants, as well.
In the 21st century, illegal immigration is a current issue with peoples from Mexico. All these are now part of American culture and the nation continues to grow. Over time, the United States is becoming a melting pot of immigrants that continues to grow in number.
And the last three reasons that come in the form of shared symbols that are pagan in origin, but undeniably human in meaning and power.
3. Blind Justice
Much symbolism in America relates to ancient paganism.
In particular the architecture of legal buildings, political meeting halls and superior court houses. Symbolic Greek goddesses and other sacred female archetypes are common to find in construction. One well known symbol found in court rooms and buildings is the archetype for blind justice. The actual symbol is a modified version of the astrological sign Libra, and also the Roman Justitia.
Being a key symbol for law and justice, because it has a blind goddess holding the scales of judgement. This symbol has an older manifestation in pagan cults from ancient Egypt. A similar symbolism weighs the heart of the dead pharaoh, as his spiritual form crosses over in death. Paganism is where this combination of symbols comes from in American law today.
2. Lady Liberty
The Statue of Liberty was a gift from France to America in 1886.
The history of this unique statue is lengthy, but it is also a combination of ancient pagan symbolism. Lady Liberty first draws her influence from the Roman goddess Libertas. She is the Roman goddess of freedom. This robed Roman goddess is also found on many coins throughout history. Libertas is on some American silver dollars and modern Swiss francs. The main difference is the crown of light rays now coming from Lady Liberty’s halo.
This is something pagans created in the Colossus of Rhodes, one of the wonders of the ancient world. The Colossus stood with a similar pose, but Lady Liberty holds a torch which is different. The Statue of Liberty is one of the most pagan influenced artifacts found in modern America. It is as beautiful a symbol as any known, and one that demonstrates patriotism to new immigrants coming to America with clarity and vision.
1. The Pentagram
More than any symbol or ideal, the star represents being American.
The pentagram or pentacle symbolizes balance, equality and justice throughout many cultures. The fifty stars of American flag represent the individual states. But more important each star represents the individual state’s unity within the nation boundaries.
The pentagram is also used by the United States military and law enforcement. The star signifies rank and sometimes is an awarded medal for duty serving the country. Both upright and inverted versions of the five pointed star are symbols used by the United States of America. These are the most literal usage of pagan symbolism, but as the pentagram evident in the USA. The most recent use of the pentagram has been for pagan war veterans on their funeral tombs.
Until 2010 the pentagram was not made available by the United States Armed Forces. Pagans in America fought a ten year legal battle to change this, making a history. This is a great example of modern patriotic paganism in action.
Written By: Blake Ford Hall