History of Paganism

The term Pagan has numerous common definitions. Many dictionaries define a Pagan as anyone not of the Judeo-Islamic-Christian religions. Some people consider anyone who does not share their religion to be a Pagan. Still others believe that a Pagan is a person who is anti-religion. None of these “definitions” manage to capture the true meaning of the term.
To discover the core meaning of Pagan, we look back to ancient times when the word Pagan referred to a person of the country, or a peasant.

{deletia… in summary, several paragraphs relating the history of the Catholic Church and the poor peasants’ inability to relate. Brief description of the “glory of the Goddess and God in each starry night” and note of the inconsistancies of the original Pagan beliefs with the Catholic church. Also, several paragraphs detailing the development of of the Church’s campaign to expunge Paganism, some of the methods employed and the subsequent Witch Hunts. Finally, an overall summary of the persecution.}

Paganism in Modern Times

“Today, little is known about the Pagans who survived what is now often called “The Burning Times.” Paganism, as it exists today, is best described as the practice of any of a number of nature-based religions, traditions that find their roots all over the world. {Liana- sound familiar?} Many modern Pagans call themselves “Neo-Pagans” to declare their religion as a revival of the old beliefs.

{more deletia… in summary, two paragraphs comparing contemporary Pagans to the peasants of old, extolling our intelligence and involvement in technology. Also a paragraph defusing the Satanism comparison.}

What do Modern Pagans Believe?

Paganism is actually a large umbrella containing a number of nature-based religions beneath it, from the European-originated Wicca and Druidism, to African Yoruba traditions and Hawaiian Huna. As a result of this diversity, it is impossible to make statements about the beliefs of Pagans that will apply to *all* {italics} Pagans. However, some statements can be made that will, in general, apply to a vast number of Pagans.

Many Pagans tend to:

* Be polytheists, believing in more than one deity or more than one aspect of a single deity.

* Be pantheists, seeing the God/Goddess force represented in everything around them.

* Recognize the divinity of the feminine as well as the masculine, not seeing masculinity as a superior force.

* Believe that the life force is sacred, and that nature, as a vital representation of that force, is divine.

* Believe that all life forms are equal, sharing an equal claim to the earth as a home.

* Believe that each individual is solely responsible for his or her actions.

* Believe that the forces of nature can be shaped in ways commonly called “magical.”

* Believe that magical acts designed to bend one to another’s will are manipulative, and not encouraged.

* Believe that whatever actions a person takes, magical or mundane, good or bad, come back to him/her, sometimes threefold.

* Believe that there is no single path to spiritual fulfillment, and that the individual must determine the spiritual expression most appropriate to him or her.

* Believe in reincarnation, or some form of life after death.

How do Pagans Practice Their Religion?

Many Pagans find spiritual expression through the practice of ritual, or religious ceremony. These rituals, often held at significant points in lunar or solar cycles, offer an opportunity for Pagans to commune with the godeesses and Gods, to celebrate the passages of life, and to work magic.

{deletia… in summary, paragraphs relating techniques to “raise power” explaining that we don’t espouse “power over”. Also outlines goals that many pagans have in mine when raising of power. Outlines the sabbats, and relates the pattern of the seasons. Briefly describes
Beltane and Samhain.}

Each Pagan religion has its own special way of recognizing the passing of the seasons and personal life passages. Ritual offers a way to imbue these moments with magic and reverence.

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