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What is Paganism? Your Ultimate Guide: All Questions Answered.

With such a simple question comes a very large and diverse answer. But don’t fret, his article contains all the information you could possibly want to know about “What is Paganism?” so if you are asked (which I am often) you will be able to confidently answer.

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What Is Paganism?

If it doesn’t fall under the faiths of: Christianity, Judaism or Islam – IT’S PAGANISIM. Paganism is the word given to cover all other religions and spiritual beliefs. It is considered a polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion. Paganism sometimes has set traditions that are followed and sometime not, with the individual following their own intuition, inspiration & interpretations.  It’s roots are in the pre-Christian religions of Europe. Paganism represents a wide variety of traditions that really emphasize the reverence (meaning deep respect and adoration) for nature and of the ancient polytheistic and animistic practices.

Paganism – An Ancient Religion:

The Pagan “religious” viewpoint can be found in all cultures across the world. Paganism is based on a profound respect for nature as I previously mentioned. As a religion, it recognizes that all places on earth are spiritual in essence. Paganism sees nature as a manifestation of divinity not just something that is neutral or inanimate (not living) and just there. They are many deities of Paganism that represent the diversity of Nature. There are goddesses and gods. They view all the goddesses as one Great Goddess, and the same goes for all the gods, they view as one Great God. Other sectors paganism believe there is a “supreme divine principle” behind all that exists and, like many Hindu mystics nowadays, they believe that this the origin and source of all things.

What are the Beliefs of Paganism?

Most Pagans typically believe in a supreme deity and in hierarchy of other subordinate deities. Pagan religions ALL recognize the feminine aspect of divinity, the Goddess. This really distinguishes Paganism for the other monotheistic religions who pretty much deny the feminine divinity. The many divinities of Paganism often include ancestral deities. These may include and are not limited to:

  • The spirit of the hearth (fire place)
  • Local spirits of a place
  • A house’s guardian
  • Elves (England)
  • The Little People (Ireland)
  • Kobolds (Germany)
  • Barstuccae (Lithuania)
  • Lares and Penates (Rome)

A pagan usually has some type of household shrine (or altar) that focuses on these deities. They also usually partake in a some kind of yearly ritual to honor them. Much of the pagan religion is domestic, meaning it is a religion that they diffuse throughout their everyday life. Sometimes the offer a daily offering of food and drink to the deities they work with and honor. Through their ancestral and domestic rituals (whether that’s daily or yearly) they preserve the spirit of their ritual practice by keeping continuity and therefore, the meanings and purposes of their rituals are kept strong.

Divination and magick are an accepted and active part of a Pagans life. They read the signs given by deities as well as actively asking the universe to send them signs. Pagans believe that the divine world will answer a genuine request or question, for information, and that the two worlds are thought to be in constant communication with each other. They use methods such as:

Pagans believe in magick, and that it can create a deliberate outcome/result in this world by the assistance of the spiritual world and otherworldly means. Pagans look for movements in the natural world such as interactions with animals, plants, wind and water to gain intuitions about patterns and happenings in their lives. A sense of connection is gained through these practices and really helps Pagans live out their belief that divinity is present everywhere in the world around them.

NOTE: The practice of magick for unfair personal gain or for harm to another is not acceptable and is forbidden amongst Pagans.

Paganism is a non-judgmental religion and incorporates the belief or refusal to judge other ways of life as wrong just because they are different from their own. Pagans tend to be relaxed and at ease with themselves and other people (generally speaking). Pagan traditions manifest to put human beings back in harmony with the Earth. It is made up of individuals pursuing a personal spiritual path alone or in a small groups generally. To most modern Pagans (mostly in the West) life is to be lived joyfully and without shame and as long as other people are not harmed by your actions.

Many Pagans see the Earth itself as sacred: in ancient Greece the Earth was always offered the first libation of wine, although She had no priesthood and no temple.

paganfederation.org

What is a Pagan?

Pagan comes from the Latin word “paganus“. This means “country dweller” which is very fitting word since their religion is based around nature/countryside. Some people also define a Pagan as someone who has no religion and who often indulges in the physical pleasures of the world with a focus on material possessions. This is typically the view point of people who are from monotheistic religions. Their definition of a pagan is someone who revels (a.k.a. partying) and indulges in sensual gratifications and has a hedonistic or self-indulgent kind of lifestyle.

We have established that Pagans believe nature is sacred. Pagans believe that the natural cycles of birth, growth and death observed in the world around us carry profound spiritual meanings. Goddess worship (as mentioned before) is central in paganism and that we as human beings are connected to nature (whether we like it or not) and are seen as part of nature, along side the animals, trees, plants, stones and everything else that is of this earth. Most pagans believe in some form of reincarnation, viewing death as a transition and a continuation of existence through another life cycle.

Some principles of a Pagan:

  • Everyone and everything is connected and part of Mother Earth
  • Divinity reveals itself in every aspect of the world
  • Doctrine is superseded by their own responsibility
  • Solar and lunar cycles are significant in life and rituals and associated with deity
  • Reincarnation, death is not the end, life is a continuous cycle

Pagans are not tied down by the customs of an established religion or dogmas. They are often creative, playful and individualistic, proclaiming the importance of the individual psyche and it’s interaction with a greater power. There is a respect for all of life. Pagans usually have a desire to participate with others rather than dominate other beings.  They live in a way that they can have pluralism without fragmentation, creativity without anarchy, and wisdom without dogma.

How do Pagans Worship?

Most pagans worship the old pre-Christian gods and goddesses through seasonal festivals and other ceremonies and personal rituals they create on their own. This is a very individualistic practice and will vary from one pagan to the next but will typically consist of one or more of the following:

  • Informal prayer
  • Meditation
  • Formal, structured rituals
  • Informal rituals

Is there a Pagan diet?

There are a few principles that most pagans follow. They strongly prefer foods that come from organic farming and free-range livestock rearing by ethical and sustainable means. You will find some pagans who are vegetarian or vegan and will choose to fast in preparation for Ostara (spring equinox).

What are the names of Pagan Groups?

Wicca: This is pagan witchcraft and is a fairly new religious movement which worships nature and the triple goddess and horned god, although Wiccan beliefs range from polytheism to pantheism or monism to Goddess monotheism. There is much ritual and spell work done in Wicca typically used when celebrating the Sabbats, worshipping their deities, and working magick on a daily basis.

Neo-Paganism: This includes several spiritual movements, they all attempt to revive the ancient polytheistic religions of both Europe and the Middle East through ritual magic and modern witchcraft.

Reconstructionism: Modern pagans try to re-establish the old, genuine way their ancestors would partake in rituals, practices and worldviews of the old religions. They basically reenact ritual and practice exactly according to historical records in the belief that it will lead to a more harmonious relationship with their deities.

INTERESTING FACT: The development of science as we know it began in the desire of the Greeks and Babylonians to understand the hidden patterns of Nature.

What is the Christian View of Paganism?

If you were to ask any devoted Christian you would probably hear them say something along the lines of “any form of paganism is false doctrine”. They believe that Paganism is a perversion of the truth. In the Bible Pagans are described as worldly and materialistic heathens, worshiping created things rather than the Creator and because they worship trees, animals, and rocks, and abuse their bodies in deviant sexual practices to revel in their passions they are looked down upon.  Their belief is that “Satan” is a Pagans source of influence and control. Because Pagans do not believe in their ‘One God, the Father” they believe that the pagan practices of spirituality and rituals are the works of Satan. Some Christians in their belief think that Satan works in the lives of people without the God Almighty (defined by the Christian term) and as such, paganism and pagans should be avoided. Of course, not all Christians have this point of view and there are some Christians who also partake in pagan traditions.

CONCLUSION:

As we can see, there is much variety and freedom in Paganism. Their worship is based around nature and having a mutual respect for all things that exist on this Earth with us. Most Pagans you speak with will tell you that they are “drawn” to a particular practice and follow their inner-intuition to find the right spiritual path for them. Some are born into pagan families and adopt the family ways. Either way, all Pagans seek that real connection with the divine and will find it in which every practices, rituals or methods they adopt that work for them. May you do the same as you continue on your very own spiritual path. Blessed be.

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