A Brief Introduction To Paganism!

Paganism are all the ancient folk religions from Europe or Eurasia, with the same characteristic beliefs like; Nature worship, animism, shamanism, witchcraft, totemism, polytheism or pantheism.

Pagans see the divine as immanent in the whole of life and the universe; in every tree, plant, animal and object, man and woman and in the dark side of life as much as in the light. Pagans live their lives attuned to the cycles of Nature, the elements, moon cycles, the seasons, life and death. In other words Pagans revere Nature!

Paganism is not dogmatic, so pagans may be trained in ancient traditions or they may follow their own inspiration; and pursue their own vision of the Divine as a direct and personal experience.

Pagans worship many different deities and spirits, who represent natural and invisible forces. Pagans are also deeply spiritual; witchcraft and shamanism are common practice among pagans.

Pagans emphasize living in harmony with the living natural world; they observe, worship and learn from Nature. Pagans value intuition, emotions and the aesthetic experience; which are often expressed in the (magical) arts and crafts, pagans always prefer quality over quantity.

Definition of Paganism
In the Judeo-Christian perspective the term pagan has been used historically to encompass all non–Abrahamic religions, similar to terms like heathen, gentile and kafir. However, Paganism is not defined by a lack of beliefs, as many dictionaries would lead us to believe, but for embracing a belief that is outside that of the established Orthodoxy. The most accurate definition would be:

Pagan: A follower of a polytheistic or pantheistic Nature-worshiping religion.
Paganism: A polytheistic or pantheistic Nature-worshiping religion.

Paganism comes from Latin paganus, meaning “country dweller” or “rustic”. The post-classical Latin paganismus gave rise to both paganism and to its synonym paynimry. Paynimry may be used of paganism, its practises, and pagans, as well as for the domain or realm of pagans. In their origins, these usages derived from pagus, “province, countryside”, cognate to Greek p???? “rocky hill”, and, even earlier, “something stuck in the ground”, as a landmark: the Proto-Indo-European root *pag- means “fixed” and is also the source of the words page, pale (stake), and pole, as well as pact and peace.

Popular Pagan Paths
As etymology suggests Paganism is almost exclusive to ancient pre-Christian Europe and Eurasia. The following are reconstructed religions from ancient times, all these religions have many similarities: they suffered from persecution, they worship Nature and live according to the natural cycles and they harm none. Almost all pagan paths include forms of shamanism, animism, totemism, witchcraft, tree worship and more which we will discuss later.

Heathen is from Old English hæðen “not Judeo-Christian” (Old Norse heiðinn). Historically, the term was probably influenced by Gothic haiþi “dwelling on the heath” Heathens worship ancient Nordic/Germanic gods like Odin, Thor, Baldur, Nerthus and Freya. Heathen witchcraft is called Seidr, Galdr or Wicca (old craft of the wise).

Heathens often use runes and ritual offerings are called blót.

Heathen paths
Seidr or Siðr, Ásatrú, Theodism, Urglaawe

Celtic Druidry
Druids used to be the intellectuals of the celts; respectable scholars with great wisdom; astronomers, shamans, healers, diviners, judges, bards and poets. Ancient scholars call the druids magicians like the Brahmin and the Magi. Druidic knowledge of Nature was legendary.

Celtic paths
Druidry, Ar Ndraiocht Fein, Y Tylwyth Teg

Baltic & Slavic Paganism
Ancient religion of the Balts, Slavs and Finns, they’ve got their own unique folklore and mythology.

Baltic reconstructionism

Slavic reconstructionism

Uralic paganism are any of the various religions of the Finnic/Ugric peoples , such as the Volga Finns, Baltic Finns, Permians, Mordvin and Sami.

Graeco-Roman Paganism
Ancient Greek religion(s), Greek mythology and pantheon is world famous.

Religio Romana / Nova Roma
Ancient Roman religion(s) was influenced by many other pagan religions in the Empire

Many witches are solitary practitioners, but they may also be involved in small groups, which various traditions call circles, covens, garths, groves, hearths or kindreds. Witches use a personal altar and various magical tools like the athame, chalice and tarot cards.

Popular paths
Wicca, Witta, Seidr, Strega, Stregheria

Other Pagan Paths
Ancient Egyptian religion, they worship gods like Ra, Horus, Osiris and Isis.

Vainakh practiced their own pagan religion, which was a mixture of different cults, including animism and polytheism, familial-ancestral and agrarian and funereal cults. Nakh peoples worshiped trees and believed that those are the abode of invisible spirits. Vainakhs developed many rituals to serve particular trees. The pear tree held a special place in the faith of Vainakhs. Vainakh religion is very similar to ancient Celtic religion and is still alive today.

Tengriism (or Tengerism, Tengrianism ) is a Central Asian religion that incorporates elements of shamanism, animism, totemism and ancestor worship. In old times, it was the major belief of Turkic peoples (such as the Huns, Bulgars, Xiongnu), Hungarians and Mongols .

Eclectic Paganism
Eclectic pagans get inspiration from all ancient world religions and spiritual paths. Only a few pagan religions survived, so many eclectic pagans study other indigenous folk religions for inspiration. Many modern pagans also consider themselves eclectic, because neo-pagans do not follow authentic ancient religions, but often choose their own path.

Inspiration for eclectic pagans
Hinduism, Taoism, Shinto, Tantra, Buddhism, Shamanism, Tengrianism and Native-American spirituality.

Elements of Paganism
Fulfill – An’ it harm none, do what ye will!
Like the Wiccan Rede suggests Pagans love to live free; just like nature intended it as long as it harms none.

Pagan theology is based primarily on experience, with the aim of Pagan ritual being to make contact with the divine in the world that surrounds them. Paganism is not based on doctrine or liturgy and there’s an absence of dogmas and religious conversion, instead Pagans rely on experience and mythology.

Pagans are notorious for their abundant feasting and rebellious nature. They dislike authority and follow their own path in life, they don’t need dogma and institutions. Pagans have a strong will to live, they actually love life, and most pagans know nature, bushcraft and herbalism. Women had equal rights in ancient pagan tribes and most could wield a weapon. Paganism strongly emphasizes equality of the sexes and women play a prominent role in the modern Pagan movements.

Druids and witches were wise, respected and acted often as judges, seers and healers. Ancient Pagans also had true democracy; the most cunning and wise men from tribes came together to discuss important matters like war, around sacred trees or in stone circles; just like the legendary round table of King Arthur.

Worship of Nature
The recognition of the divine in Nature is at the heart of Pagan belief. Pagans are deeply aware of the natural world and see the power of the divine in the ongoing cycle of life and death. Most Pagans are eco-friendly, love animals, and try to live in a way without harming the natural environment too much.

Pagans worship the divine in many different forms, through feminine as well as masculine energies often represented by Gods and Goddesses, whose annual cycle of procreation, giving birth and dying defines the Pagan year.

Sacred Landscape
Pagans also worship sacred places in Nature like rocks, caves. wells, lakes, mountains and groves. Ancient trees were particularly sacred as well as leylines, which were called dream roads, dragons or serpents. It’s clear that ancient pagans were more sensitive to natural energies and they erected stones and shrines on hot spots. Almost all old churches were built on top of ancient shrines to replace paganism. Pagans also meditated on isolated places in the wilderness and bonfires were lit on mountain tops; those places are now marked with crosses. Sacred trees still bear the image of the Virgin Goddess in the form of Maria.

Sacred Animals
Pagans worship certain animals with divine characteristics. They admire the strength of the boar, bear or bull; the intelligence of the wolf, fox or owl. Another example are dogs, which were a symbol for healing, this was purely practical, because dogs used to lick the wounds clean. We all know impressions like: as loyal as a dog, most of them have pagan origins.

Shamanism encompasses the belief that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds. Shamans are said to treat ailments/illness by mending the soul. Spiritual concepts like shamanism and animism appear in almost every pagan path.

Most pagans believe in spirits and that everything around us is alive. There are mountain spirits, forest spirits and even trees and rocks can have a spirit.

Invisible forces like disease, madness or fear were called demons or spirits in ancient pagan religions, some spirits were called the Faerie folk, who could be kind and generous or cause mischief. Almost all indigenous people believe in animism.

Polytheism or Pantheism

Pagans worship many different Gods and Goddesses which is also called a pantheon; which includes ancient gods like Odin, Freya, Nerthus, Thor, Zeus, Cernunnos etc. who sometimes have the same meaning and attributes like Thor and Perun or Diana and Artemis.

Gods represent natural forces like fertility, vegetation, justice, war, life and death.

Witchcraft, Magick and the Occult
Pagans believe in a spirit world and magical energies. They often use different magical techniques like rituals, spells, shamanism, witchcraft, meditation, divination, amulets etc. to achieve a desired effect. There’s no such thing as black or white magic, it all depends on the intentions of the caster. Many (solitary) pagans have altars similar to altars and shrines in Asia. The altar is very personal and is used for magical practice, sacrifice and meditation. Common objects on an altar include statues, candles, water, earth, minerals, old or natural objects like coins, bones, wood, feathers, nuts, shells, fossils etc. Every altar is unique and often private.

Wheel of the Year
The celebration of death and rebirth of the seasons is characteristic of paganism. All pagans celebrate the same 8 sabbats on equinoxes and solstices. These celebrations can vary depending on local traditions and may have different names.

Imbolc > Beltane > Ostara

Ostara > Litha > Lammas

Lammas > Mabon > Samhain

Samhain > Yule > Imbolc

Folklore & Mythology
Pagans honor the traditions of their ancestors like: culture, literature, myths and legends, music, dance and fashion. Every pagan path has got a living mythology from which we can learn. Great sagas have been told for thousands of years about the creation of the world, the ways of the gods and legendary heroes struggling to find their place in the world. Ancient pagan beliefs and traditions were preserved by folklore, myths and sagas.

Popular holidays like Halloween, Christmas and Eastern are Pagan but have been corrupted by christians. Even famous Pagan literature like Beowulf, “King Arthur and Merlin” and “Sir Gawain and the Green Knight” have been claimed by christian writers but it’s time to reclaim them.

So who are the Pagans?
Paganism used to be the natural religion of many ancient tribes like: the Celts, Nordic/Germanic people, Balts, Huns, Romans, Greeks, Persians, Sumerians, Scythians, Mongols, Indians and many more who have been forgotten.

Today almost all Witches, Druids, Heathens and Shamans consider themselves Pagan 🙂

Famous Historical Pagans: The Green Knight or Man, Merlin, Morgana, Herne the Hunter, Robin Hood, Alexander the Great, Vercingetorix, Eric the Red, Atilla the Hun, Prince Vladimir, Gwenc’hlan the last Breton Bard, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Aristotle, Nero, Julian, Pontius Pilatus, Lóegaire mac Néill, Diarmait mac Cerbaill, Penda of Mercia, Athanaric, Arwald, Sweyn Forkbeard, Palnetoke, Eric of Good Harvests, Vytautas, Jogaila, Asterix & Obelix and last but not least Santa Claus

Popular Pagan Authors: Gerald Gardner, Aleister Crowley, Marian Green, Starhawk, Raymond Buckland, Alex Sanders, Raven Grimassi, Isaac Bonewits, Farrar, Penczak

More on Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Pagans

Common Misconceptions
Due to persecution and misrepresentation it is necessary to define what Pagans are not as well as what they are. Pagans are not sexual deviants, do not worship the devil, are not evil, do not practice ‘black magic’ and their practices do not involve harming people or animals!

Pagans and heathens are not infidels!
Both “pagan” and “heathen” have historically been used as a pejorative by adherents of monotheistic religions (such as Judaism, Christianity and Islam) to indicate a disbeliever in their religion. This is a really outdated and even false definition of Paganism found on a lot of sites and in dictionaries. Abrahamic religions have got other words for infidels like the gentile, Goy or Goyim of Judaism, also known as kafir and mushrik in Islam. Atheists, satanists and silly modern movements like New Age, Jedi church and Scientology are not pagan at all.

Pagans are not evil and pagans do not worship the Devil!
Although the Horned God takes many forms, the Judeo-Christian Devil is not one of them. Pagans do not believe in the Devil, the pagan concept of God is not capable of good or evil; so God is both a creator and destroyer manifested in many different deities, we call this Pantheism. The christian devil or Satan looks like the horned pagan gods Pan and Cernunnos. However christians destroyed God(s) with their utter nonsense about demons and the eternal war of ultimate Evil against the forces of Good.

Satanism is not Pagan!
Some satanists call themselves pagan or witch, but many satanists do not consider themselves pagan at all. Some satanic witches look like medieval woodcuts and act like the lies found in the Malleus Maleficarum.

Pagans do not sacrifice “innocent” humans to please the Gods!
Ritual slaughter was common practice in ancient times and so were public executions; criminals were executed in ancient times. There was even a death penalty when someone harmed a sacred tree. It’s true that some ancient pagans sacrificed humans, but we don’t know why and the sources are not very reliable. However, it’s true that ancient pagans left weak or sick babies in the wild to die or threw homosexuals into bogs and some stories like the Wicker Man might be true. Modern pagans would not harm a living being, pagans are not evil zealots or religious fanatics.

Animal sacrifice was ritual slaughter
Animals were sacrificed for consumption and not to please the “evil” gods, some of the meat was offered to the gods, and the skulls and bones were used to honor the spirits. Some sacrifices are prehistoric rituals to call the rain or to honor the spirit of the hunter. In fact most pagans ate mostly meat from wild animals, domestic animals were far too precious to sacrifice, though mass sacrifices occurred when the harvest failed. You could call it a sacred barbecue in honor of the gods if you like.

New Age is not Pagan!
New Age is a non-religious spiritual movement with strong occult roots from Theosophy. The New Age philosophy is a weird brew of science, psychology, environmentalism, ecology, astronomy and physics. Their spiritual beliefs are eclectic and draw inspiration from all world religions, most notably: Theosophy, Universalism, Gnosticism, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism and Islam etc.

Modern Hinduism and Buddhism are not Pagan!
Hinduism is an umbrella term for all the different religions in India and is sometimes mislabeled as Indian Paganism. The pagan roots and history of Hinduism and Buddhism are similar to European Paganism but also very different. For example Vedic Brahmanism, Shinto and Bon are pagan but have changed or evolved considerably, Buddhism and Hinduism have both assimilated pagan traditions like Christianity in the west. They used to be nature worshiping religions with animist and shaman elements but most of these religions are dying out. However these ancient folk religions are still very interesting.

Some Hindus call Paganism a European form of Hinduism, which might have some truth in it. Druids have often been compared to Brahmins.

Pagans don’t believe in avatars as incarnations of God; like lord Krishna or Jesus!

Native-American religions are not pagan!
It’s tempting to call Native Americans pagan because most of them practice shamanism and live attuned to Nature. Most Native American religions did not survive the sands of time and not much is known about them. Only a few modern Native Americans call themselves pagan, most find it insulting and they don’t like neo-paganism.

Pagan Roots is against all forms of politics!
Most pagans respect other cultures and are against racism, discrimination, homophobia and xenophobia! Only a minority of the pagan community is National Socialist, sometimes love turns to hate.

However many Pagans are against the dominating monotheistic religions like Judaism, Christianity and Islam, but that’s a 2000 year old story.

Source: http://www.www.paganroots.net/

About Andrew

Co-founder & lead investigator of Paranormal Encounters. I've experienced the paranormal all my life, having encountered ghosts, angels and demons. I live in a haunted house and when not exploring and researching the unknown, I enjoy single malt Scotch whisky & potato chips (though not necessarily at the same time).