Its origins are unclear; Therefore, Paganism has no founder or founders, no earthly
leaders, no prophets, no messiahs, and no saints.
The word Pagan is derived from the Latin Paganus, "a civilian" and from Pagus, "a
village" Pagans as those who are from a village or more commonly, simply country-dwellers
Pagans feel with the natural environment.
Modern Pagans follow a religion which is as old as humanity itself, but whose practices
have been adapted to suit life in the modern world.
Modern Pagans are people who have made a positive choice to follow a path of individual
spiritual growth that is in harmony with the Earth on which we live. Many people
have become aware of a spiritual void in their lives, and have discovered, in Paganism,
a religion of joy and love, which allows self-expression, but also encourages social
and environmental responsibility
Modern Pagans are men and women of all ages, drawn from all walks of life, and from
various racial or cultural backgrounds. Like our friends and family also
thing they all have in common is a desire to follow a spiritual path which is in
harmony with the Earth, and which encourages self-discovery, and individual responsibility.
The spiritual or religious beliefs of Pagans are that deity is both
imminent and transcendent. Deity is therefore a part of the fabric of our being,
of our environment, and of that which is beyond anything we can imagine.
perceived as both male and female. God is seen in many ways, and expressed in our
worship as the male principle; all the male Pagan deities are accepted as aspects
of God. Goddess is seen in many ways, and expresses the female principle. All the
female Pagan deities are accepted as aspects of Goddess.
Pagans do not believe in
a dualistic viewpoint of absolute opposites; of "good versus evil" Pagans believe
that all things exist in their own place, and that we should strive for dynamic balance
and harmony. Extremism of any form does not have a place within the Pagan philosophy.
Pagans believe in reincarnation. There is a strong affinity with the idea of cyclical
life patterns, which do not cease with the death of the physical body. Most Pagans
have no concept which could be described as heaven or hell in the commonly-used Christian
The Wiccan religion has what is called "The Summerland’s" a place where souls find
rest before being re-born into the physical world.
The Druid belief in reincarnation is confirmed many times in classical sources; e.g.,
Posidonius (quoted by Diodorus): "... [Druids believe that] the souls of men are
immortal, and that after a definite number of years they live a second life when
the soul passes to another body"
Julius Caesar: "The cardinal doctrine which they
seek to teach is that souls do not die, but after death pass from one to another;
and this belief, as the fear of death is thereby cast aside, they hold to be the
greatest invective to valour"
Each Pagan religion has its own philosophy about the
afterlife, and about reincarnation. Individual Pagans may also have their own philosophy
about these subjects, for the Pagan religions do not have a dogma, or strict set
of teachings, which all Pagans must follow.
Paganism is one of the so-called "Mystery
Paths" where each individual has direct experience of divinity.
This differs significantly from most State religions, where a figure of authority
performs rites, and mediates the divine force, for a congregation. In most Pagan
religions, each individual is a Priest or Priestess in his or her own right.
do not "worship" trees or rocks; however, they do revere the divine force which is
contained within trees and rocks; indeed, is contained within every part of the universe.
do not worship a saviour, or other spiritual leader. The emphasis is on each individual's
spiritual enlightenment, and responsibility for this is not abdicated to another
person. The practice of Paganism is a voyage of self-discovery, and the discovery
of one's own place within the divine realm.
Paganism is not, therefore, a cult, for a cult has a leader, and Paganism has none.
Individual groups will often be led by one or two people who are experienced in the
practice of the religion, but such people have no influence outside their own group
or tradition. RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: WORSHIP Pagans believe that each individual has
the right to worship in their own way; there is no legislation that requires Pagans
to follow any prescribed manner of worship. Some Pagans worship in a formal manner;
Some Pagans prefer to make there worship a private affair; others gather in groups
and make there worship a communion with each other, as well as with Goddess and God.
most religions, Paganism has Rites of Passage, with some traditions having a formal
set of rituals for birth, marriage and death. Those Pagan religions which adhere
most closely to the "Mystery Path" will also have rites of initiation. These are
designed to effect a spiritual awakening within the initiate, and do not include
such practices as animal or human sacrifice, nor any activity which is against the
wishes or ethics of the initiate.
Rituals to celebrate a birth, which often include a naming ceremony, do not promise
the child to the religion, in the way of a Christian baptism. The parents of the
child will often ask for divine guidance and protection for their child, but will
not make any promises about bringing the child up in a particular faith.
It is a strong
Pagan belief that each individual must follow his or her own path. Children are taught
to honour their family and friends; to have the integrity, honesty and loyalty; to
treat the Earth as sacred, and to love and respect all forms of life. Other than
these basic teachings, children are encouraged to question, and to find their own
spiritual path. Many Pagan parents will ensure that their children are exposed to
the teachings of several religions, so that the child receives a well-balanced spiritual
education. RELIGIOUS PRACTICES: HOLY DAYS To Pagans, every day is a holy day, but there
are several Festival celebrations which are held throughout the year. The Festivals,
and the time on which they are celebrated, varies. Within each tradition, there are
commonalities, but these are by no means definitive across the whole religion.
the best known is the cycle of Festivals celebrated by many Pagans, including the
Wiccan tradition, and modern Druids. There are eight Festivals, being Samhain, Giuli
(Yule), Imbolg (also known as Candlemas), Spring Equinox (also known as Eostre),
Beltane, Litha (Midsummer), and the Autumn Equinox (also known as Mabon).
are derived from variously, Celtic and Saxon sources, and their essence has remained
in modern society through folk memory, and in many rural traditions.
Other Pagan traditions
celebrate the turning of the seasons with four Festivals to mark spring, summer,
autumn and spring. As always with Paganism, the emphasis is on what is significant
for each individual.
Because Paganism stresses the importance of individuality, there are
few, if any, widespread customs. A sense of the sanctity of the natural world, concern
for the environment, and acceptance that we are socially responsible to our fellow-creatures,
dictates the kind of customs which most Pagans follow.
There are no dietary requirements,
or any prohibitions within the Pagan philosophy. Those who follow a vegan/vegetarian
diet, or who abstain from alcohol, tobacco, etc., do so out of choice, not tenets
There are no laws of blasphemy and conflict between individuals remains
the responsibility and concern of those who are involved. There are no penances,
or any other form of religious punishments.
Paganism does not legislate where matters
of morality and ethics are concerned. It is up to each individual to be responsible
for their own viewpoints and decisions. The religion itself does not promote nor
condemn practices related to sexual activity, procreation, use of alcohol and other
mind altering substances. Individual Pagans may hold viewpoints on one or more of
these issues, however, they are PERSONAL viewpoints, and not the considered opinion
of the religion per se.
Pagans have a high regard for the equality of the sexes and
do not suppress the feminine principle in the way that many other religions seem
to do. Pagan Priestesses have the same status as Priests; in some traditions, they
have the primacy in leading the religious practices.
Many Pagans acknowledge the concept
of "Elders" those from the community who, by virtue of their training or experience,
have a greater understanding of social, moral and practical matters. Pagans who gather
together (either formally or informally) as a group, will often look to those who
lead the group for guidance on moral issues and socially accepted behaviour. However,
it is a fundamental aspect of Paganism that each individual must accept full responsibility
for their own actions. There is no "confession" or other absolution to devolve responsibility
to another person, or to God and/or Goddess. FALLACIES Pagans are not concerned with
perverting the sacred symbols, beliefs or practices of any other religion. Pagans
do not perform sacrifices (other than of their own energy and time), and are not
opposed to any other religious beliefs. Pagans do not sexually abuse children; quite
the contrary. Despite many hysterical claims of sexual abuse by witches and other
occultists, none has ever been proven to be true. For a Pagan to abuse a child is
total anathema. It is contrary to everything that we hold close to our hearts. Our
children are our future, and a part of the ultimate divine source. Pagan children
are born in love and unity; they are sacred, and are treated as such. CONCLUSION. Paganism
is a legitimate, coherent and responsible spiritual path to which many people are
attracted in these days of ecological concern. To be a Pagan in the 21st (and 21st)
century is to hold and believe in the sacredness of all things; to revere and respect
all life; and to love and honour one's family and friends. It is your choice which
path you take in life.