buttonPagan,  pa-gan

  1. One who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew; a heathen.
  2. One who has no religion.
  3. A non-Christian, professing no religion; heathen.
  4. A follower of paganism.
  5. Something related to paganism.

buttonAny religion other than Christianity, Islam, or Judaism and generally categorized as an earth religion (pagan  literally means "country dweller").

Paganism is more a philosophy and an intimate, person to person way of life.    There are many different paths of Paganism . . . the Wiccan Way is but one path.    There are Pagans the world over who worship the Earth Mother and the Sky Father, the Rain God and the Rainbow Goddess, and the Little People in the mists on the other side.    A Pagan is one who worships the Goddesses and Gods of nature, realizing the powers of the universe exist - not apart - but as part of mankind, and these powers may be contacted and benefit may be gained from them.

Pagans are usually polytheistic (believing in more than one god), and they usually believe in immenance, or the concept of divinity residing in all things.    The practices of Paganism derive from those of Wicca, but are not identical with those of Wicca.    Some say that Witches are the clergy of Paganism.    Paganism is a broad, eclectic contemporary religious movement that encompasses shamanistic, ecstatic, polytheistic, and magickal religions.    Most of the religions termed Pagan are characterized by nature-centered spirituality, honoring of pre-Christian deities, dynamic, personal belief systems, lack of institutionalization, a quest to develop the self, and acceptance and encouragement of diversity.

buttonThere is more than one path to the truth and it is not always in plain sight . . . A Pagan does not believe that man is born innately "sinful" and realizes that the concept of sin is harmful to human nature.    A Pagan knows that man is not better than woman, nor woman superior to man.

Most followers of Pagan beliefs feel that, if someone is meant to find the Pagan path, he/she will eventually.    Being polytheistic, Pagans believe in a great many Goddesses and Gods.    However, not all Pagans believe in the same ones.    Many believe in a Goddess and a God that are manifest in all things.    Some follow particular pantheons - e.g. Greek, Irish, Norse, Yoruban, Welsh.    Still others see the Divine in more symbolic terms.    Many attribute certain qualities to different Goddesses, such as Athena as the Goddess of wisdom; Aphrodite as the Goddess of love; Artemis as the Goddess of the hunt, etc.    Many pagans and Witches see the Goddess in three aspects - those of Maiden, Mother and Crone; and the God in two - the Young God and the Old God.    And many other Pagans honor spirits and/or totems in various forms such as animals or trees, as in many of the Native American religions.

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buttonWhile the largest segment of the Pagan population is Caucasian and middle class, Paganism cuts across all lines, whether racial, occupational, or class- or gender-based.    Most have interests in ecology, creativity, and personal growth, and come from the scientific, computer, and technical fields.

Paganism as a movement grew out of the growing environmental awareness in the 1960s, though it encompasses some traditions from the Middle Ages and earlier.    It is a nature-based religion, and as such, Pagans rethink the way in which we relate to the Earth.    In other words, rather than seek dominance over the environment, Pagans work to live as a part of Nature.    And, one of the most characteristic elements of Pagan religions is their adaptability.    In the case of nature-based religions, some will differ from others simply because their practitioners live in different parts of the country.    There is no one spokesperson for Paganism, no charismatic guru; each Pagan is independent and autonomous, even when working in groups, all value choosing one's own path and beliefs.

buttonPagans believe that religions must change to meet the needs of people on an everyday basis, and myths, rituals, and techniques are adapted to meet particular needs.    Each person's particular technique is honored in the understanding that our aims are often the same.    While some Pagan religions can be quite esoteric, most Pagan beliefs and practices are rooted in everyday, natural experience.

Paganism is  the  oldest religion known to humanity.    It's actual origins are obscure, but believed to have arisen with humanity's desire to explore the unknown, to seek unity with the Divine Force or Energy.    Modern Pagans are men and women of all ages, from all walks of life, from vaious racial or cultural backgrounds.    One thing they all have in common, is they have made a positive choice to follow a path of individual spiritual growth that is in harmony with the Earth upon which we live.

Pagans do not believe in a dualistic viewpoint of absolute opposites; of "good versus evil".    Most Pagans believe in reincarnation.    Deity - both imminent and transcendent - is perceived as both male and female.    In most Pagan religions, each individual is a Priest or Priestess in his or her own right.    Pagans do not "worship" trees or rocks . . . however, they do revere the divine force which is contained within trees and rocks and every part of the universe.    Ultimately, the practice of Paganism is a voyage of self-discovery, and the discovery of one's own place within the divine realm.

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.    Pagans are not concerned with perverting the sacred symbols, beliefs or practices of any other religion.    Pagan children are taught to honour their family and friends; to have integrity, honesty and loyalty; to treat the Earth as sacred, and to love and respect all forms of life.    Pagans do not perform sacrifices (other than of their own energy and time), and are not opposed to any other religious beliefs.    Like most religions, Paganism has Rites of Passage, with some traditions having a formal set of rituals for birth, marriage and death.

Rituals to celebrate a birth - often includes a naming ceremony - do not promise the child to the religion, in the way of a Christian baptism.    It is a strong Pagan belief that each individual must follow his or her own path . . . parents 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.    Many Pagan parents will ensure that their children are exposed to the teachings of a number of religions, so that the child receives a well-balanced spiritual education.

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