The Truth About Paganism
A Brief Q&A
What is a Pagan?
While people can debate the true definition of Pagan and/or Paganism, the following is the most common current day definition within Pagan Religious practices, as stated by Pagan Pride Organization founder Cecylyna Dewer.
Someone who identifies as Pagan and whose spiritual beliefs or religious practices include 1 or more of the following:
Are Paganism and Earth Based Spirituality the same?
Paganism is often referred to as 'earth-based'. Although this is typically correct, Paganism is not a singular or uniform belief-system. It is a complex umbrella term with a broad application to encompass individuals with non Judeo-Christian belief systems or even no religious structure at all. 'Earth based ' infers an aspiration to be in harmony with the cycles of nature (birth, death, rebirth) and the natural world.
What 'gods' do Pagans believe in?
Pagans may be mono-theistic (single deity that is not the Judeo-Christian god), duo-theistic (2 equal deities), Polytheistic (many deities), or even pantheistic (divinity within all). There are even some who are agnostic or atheist. Pagans can pray to their deities, have faith in them and cultivate personal relationships with them, just like any other religion. Pagans are free to draw from any pantheon or specific Deity they feel a connection with.
Some Pagans prefer to devote themselves exclusively to a particular Goddess or God, some involve no Deity in their practices, however most Pagans understand both the masculine and feminine as being equally sacred.
Do Pagans Celebrate Holidays?
Yes - quite a few of them! Often they are not so different from secular holidays. Pagan holidays are most commonly focused around the cycles of nature, times of personal significance and days sacred to the deities. Not all Pagan celebrations or religious observances are the same, nor happen at the same time. Some have a lot of high ceremonial ritual. Others rely on instinctive or organic approach.
The typical "Wheel of the Year" refers to eight holidays from Celtic and Northern European cultures, adapted by modern Pagans to create a cycle of holidays that reflects modern and traditional beliefs
What is a “spell”?
A spell is the carrying out of any simple act done to create change (utilizing magick). A spell can also be understood as a type of prayer or observance for a particular God or Goddess, including the Judeo-Christian God.
Spells may take the guise of tying knots in a cord, grinding herbs into a sachet, chanting, etc. The variety of spells is infinite. Spells can be followed from a book or created by the individual.
Because of the importance the natural world holds for Pagans, spells often reflect the time of year (ie: Spells for growth and abundance during spring and summer, spells for harvesting or transition in autumn and winter).
Why do you spell “Magick” with a k?
Magick, spelt with a k, was devised by Aleister Crowley in order to refer specifically to his definition of Magick and to separate it from performances of illusion. Aleister Crowley was a Ceremonial Magician and his definition, accepted by many Pagans, is not the only definition. Most Pagans have their own personal opinions and beliefs about Magick and its use.
Are all Pagans psychic?Psychic abilities amongst Pagans are considered as merely an extension of our natural human senses. There are many Pagans who are not in tune with these natural abilities, just as there are many individuals who are in tune with them, but are not Pagan.
What is a pentagram?
A pentagram is a five pointed star surrounded by a circle. It is the most commonly seen symbol of Paganism but by no means the exclusive one. It can mean many different things to different people (ie a specific symbol relating to Wicca or personal symbol reflecting eclectic Pagan path).
Among Pagans it is typical to see a wide variety of sacred symbols: from jewelry depicting a favorite God/Goddess, to natural objects such as crystals, seashells, etc.
Upright or inverted, a pentacle or pentagram is just a symbol and has no moral 'value" beyond that which the wearer believes it to have.
What is Witchcraft?
Witchcraft is essentially the use of charms, herbs, incantations, simple rituals, with or without the focus of the mind to create an intent which influences a desired outcome. (healing, prosperity, etc). These practices also include divination and spell work.
While most Pagans practice some sort of witchcraft, not all do. Additionally not all practitioners of Witchcraft follow Pagan religious belief structures, as it is practiced by many other faiths as well. For example: Jewish Mystics (Jewish Witches). Regardless of their spiritual and religious beliefs, Witches are considered part of the Pagan community as a whole, by modernized definition and acceptance.
A practitioner of witchcraft, whether male or female, is a Witch. The term "warlock" is inaccurate, as its actual meaning is an "oath-breaker" or, more simply, a liar.
Which Witch is Which?
While many potentially might refer to themselves as "witches", the need to understand one from another is important for clarity and to help recognize a suitable personal path.
Not all Wiccans are Witches
Not all Witches are Wiccan
Not all Witches are Pagan
Not all Pagans are Wiccan
Not all Pagans are Witches
All Wiccans are Pagan
Modern Pagan Witchcraft
Modern Pagan Witchcraft is a broad term, covering many different types of beliefs and practices. Despite the variances, it is a positive and life-affirming path for the individual.
The arts of "Witchcraft" can refer to many things. Often there is an overlap with many shamanistic practices. These are all traditional and venerable practices and abilities. Any negative taint on the word Witch or Witchcraft is a relic from history or sensationalism from Hollywood, and has nothing to do with modern approaches to Witchcraft or Paganism.
Wicca is a distinct Pagan religion with many different traditions within. It was founded in the 20th Century by Gerald Gardner, who was inspired by the theories of Margaret Murray, notions of reviving pre-Christian traditions, Ceremonial Magick and Freemasonry, among other things.
It is the most visible of the different Pagan paths as it's had the most exposure to the general public through media, movies and tv shows.
Despite the range and difference in Wiccan traditions, Wicca can be summarized to include some of the following: