What is Paganism?

Are you interested in Paganism? Then this guide is for you!

Humanity has been close to nature since the beginning of time. Our spiritual connection with nature is what makes Paganism.

As such, it is correct to say that Paganism is the ancestral religion of all people around the globe.

Pagans revere nature and the powers it exudes.

Modern Paganism borrows heavily from the religion of our ancestors.

what-is-paganism

What is Paganism?

Paganism is a religion that leans heavily on ancient religions, which venerates old deities and nature.

Pagans believe there is a powerful, undeniable connection between our natural world and the divine realm.

You can become a pagan in one of three ways. One, you can inherit this practice from your parents or grandparents.

If you come from a lineage of pagans, this way of life will come to you naturally. You’ll find it easy to express your faith and beliefs in this religion.

Two, you can learn from a teacher. This entails getting a mentor to show you the ropes.

Be careful not to fall into the hands of the many fake pagan teachers that have come up in recent years.

The resurgence of interest in Paganism has seen the emergence of all kinds of people purporting to be experts in this ancient religion.

Take care not to land in the wrong hands.

Three, you can become a pagan through your own inspiration. Again, this is very possible because this religion is not steeped in dogma.

All that Paganism requires of you is that you pursue your understanding of gods or goddesses. Then, you decide who your Higher Power is and the relationship you’d like to have with them.

According to the Pagan Federation, no single definition can work for all pagan traditions. Instead, each branch should be looked at with fresh eyes because of the diversity of this religion.

Though Neo-Pagans practice the old pagan religion, they may not follow all the traditions as they were actually done in ancient times.

Who Are Pagans?

A pagan is a person who follows the ways of ancient religions – those that existed before the emergence of the major world religions.

Most pagans align themselves with non-Christian and pre-Christian religions.

‘Pagan’ is derived from the Latin word Paganus, a person from a rural area. This means that a pagan is a person who believes in nature.

The word paganus was also used to refer to farmers, civilians, and those not part of the Roman army.

After the advent of Christianity, this word came to mean a person who had not professed to be Christ’s soldier.

The word Pagan also means someone who’s not a member of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism.

Despite the worldwide spread of the major religions, Paganism has resiliently endured.

The recent rise in interest in Paganism shows this religion withstood the purges carried out through the ages to eliminate heretics and other non-believers by the Christian crusaders and Inquisitors.

Today, Paganism is a significant movement with followers in every corner of the globe. In addition, this religion has received new energy and momentum with the emergence of vibrant pagan branches such as Wicca.

What’s the Origin and History of Paganism?

Paganism is hinged on many concepts, two of which stand out. These are a revival of our ancestors’ animistic and polytheistic beliefs, and great respect and love for nature.

Some modern pagan traditions started about 200 years ago. For example, the British Order of Druids has existed since the 19th century.

It started as a show of British nationalism, which promoted the rise in British traditional pagan worship.

Most modern groups, however, started in the 1940s and 1950s. Like the pagans of the olden days, contemporary pagans show a keen interest in nature and the ways of the old religions.

Contemporary Paganism captures a postmodern religion’s solid values, principles, and prehistoric beliefs.

Paganism has many branches that lean on a region’s pre-Christian religion. This means that all pagan branches do not follow the same script.

Each is fashioned along the spiritual teachings and beliefs of a specific branch of ancient pagan practice.

All the same, all pagan branches are devoted to nature and the earth. Also, they worship nature spirits (power animals, elves, fairies, etc.) and deities of the old religions.

Common Pagan Beliefs

Belief in Many Gods (Polytheism)

Pagans believe that nature is diverse; and that there’s something we can gain from the things around us. For this reason, Pagans have great respect for the natural world.

Pagans believe that gods act as individuals, often guided by the same objectives. Some pagans believe that gods and goddesses are guided by the strongest of the deities amongst them.

This is the case with the pagans that subscribe to the concept of Norse Gods. The Norse pantheon is under Odin, the All-Father God, who oversees the work of all the other gods.

Pagans believe that the many gods and goddesses interact with nature in unique ways. Their main objective is to help all living things enjoy their time and space.

For this reason, the deities are kind to humans and treat the natural world with kindness and compassion.

Polytheistic pagans emphasize the power of harmonious existence amongst humans.

Although the world is diverse, with people from all colors and walks of life, we are basically one and should live as such.

Pagans look up to many gods who solve all our pains and problems. For every challenge you go through, there’s a deity ready to show you how to escape your predicament.

Veneration of Nature

Pagans greatly respect all natural things – mountains, springs, rivers, and valleys. They also revere the animals and creatures around them.

In the olden days, many cultures taught that human beings could not exist if they are perpetually at loggerheads with nature.

These religions emphasized the importance of preserving trees, the oceans, and the environment.

This has been taken up by modern pagans who are at the forefront of conserving our natural world. Pagans are determined to create and sustain the right balance in all creation.

Holistic Concept of the Universe

Pagans believe that everything in the Universe is interconnected. This means that if you send out positive energies, the Universe celebrates.

Similarly, many things go wrong when you allow negative energies to make a home in your life.

Pagans move through life careful not to destabilize the balance between the spiritual Universe and the material one.

Feminine Face of Divinity

The Mother Goddess and other forms of feminine deities are held in high esteem in Paganism.

A close look at different pagan traditions shows that Paganism is what it is because of the inclusion of goddesses in its ranks.

Without its female deities, Paganism would cease to exist as we know it.

Although some pagan paths offer absolute allegiance to one male god, they respect the role of feminine gods in their way of life.

For example, the Order of Mithras or the Cult of Odin has absolute power over everything in nature. However, they acknowledge other gods and goddesses’ roles in life.

The idea of female divinity is not as respected in the major world religions as in Paganism.

Common Pagan Practices

Maintaining a Household Shrine

Pagans maintain a household shrine where they can offer sacrifices to honor their gods and goddesses.

This shrine is an important platform for prayers and meditation. By maintaining such a shrine, pagans ensure that they keep close to their ancestral spirits.

Household shrines are common with domestic pagan traditions.

Not all pagan religion is done in public; a good number of people choose to practice the faith in the privacy and quietness of their homes.

Divination and Magic

Pagans believe that magic is hidden in the natural world. Experts can harness our environment’s energies to make supernatural things happen.

In this religion, divination and magic are part and parcel of life. Diviners interpret natural happenings to tell you about your future.

They may also observe a natural phenomenon, such as the flight of birds, and tell you what it means concerning your goals and objectives in life.

Reading Signs from the Universe

Pagans have expert spiritual leaders that interpret signs from the Universe. This religion is hinged on the tenet that the Universe is constantly communicating with the material world.

To understand the spiritual realm, experts such as shamans, seers, and diviners come in to show others the way.

These leaders also help the faithful to get answers from the divine world concerning the challenges in their lives.

Communication with the Otherworld

Pagans can reach across the veil and contact their dead loved ones. Granted, not every Pagan can do this.

This practice of contacting the Otherworld is encouraged as it allows people to be at peace with their departed loved ones.

The dead are contacted through séances. An expert seer can teach this art and science to any willing pagan adherent.

Wearing of Charms and Amulets

Pagans wear charms and amulets to attract good luck or ward off evil spirits. Pagans believed the world was swirling with all sorts of spirits – good and harmful.

The bad spirits were under the control of evil sorcerers who would send them to wreak havoc in someone’s home.

The pagans felt sufficiently protected from any forces sent to ruin their lives by wearing charms and amulets.

Horse Whispering Magic and Healing

Horse whispering and healing are common practices in pagan traditions. These are done by specialists who have mastered the art of magic.

Most pagan traditions forbid the use of horse whispering magic to extort or harm someone. You can also not use this skill to gain an unfair advantage over others.

Observance of the Eight Esbats

The Esbats, or Sabbats, were festivals to honor the seasons and life cycle. These celebrations reminded the faithful that life has neither a beginning nor an end.

It is an endless cycle of birth, life, death, and rebirth.

The eight Sabbats observed by the pagans are:

  • Imbolc/Brigit – winter turns to spring (January 31st)
  • Ostara – Spring Equinox (March 21st)
  • Beltane – Spring turns to summer (April 30th)
  • Litha – Summer Solstice (June 22nd)
  • Lunasa/Lammas – summer turns to autumn (July 31st)
  • Mabon – Autumn Equinox (September 21st)
  • Samhain/Sowyn – autumn turns to winter (October 31st)
  • Yule – Winter Solstice (December 21st)

Conclusion…

Pagans are a religious people that do not subscribe to the major world religions. Instead, they believe in their ancestors’ faith and way of life.

Neo-Paganism can be described as a modern religious movement with traditional pagan roots. Like their ancestors, modern pagans revere nature and the gods of nature.

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