|© Robin Wood 1997, Used with Permission|
The Basics of Paganism for Beginners
It more or less goes without saying that if you aren't a practicing Pagan, you may or may not know what Paganism is. If you don't know, that's likely why you are here; so allow me to explain... it pre-dates Christianity and is sometimes called "The Old Religion". In the past, the Old Religion included worshipping their gods, performing magic spells, and following ancient traditions and rituals. It was Pagan folk who created our yuletide, as well as the Christmas and harvest festivals still followed today.
Paganism has been brought into today from the distant, as well as the not so distant past. But as Paganism doesn't have a bible or anything similar, it isn't entirely accurate to say that today’s Paganism descended from that of yore. Instead, it’s more accurate to say that today’s practitioners of the Old Religion try their best to adhere to traditions held in the past, and that there were a wide variety of past Pagan traditions.
Various ancient Pagan faiths were carried on around the globe, they included the practices of the ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman peoples. The Ancient Druids, who left virtually no trace of themselves likely played a large part in the history of Paganism as well. But nothing of value can be offered in terms of specifying, as most of what is known of them is hypothetical. Neo-Druidism is believed by its followers to be based upon the faith of the Ancient Druids just the same.
Many believe that Wicca, a Pagan faith, descended through history into today from ancient times. This is false, as in fact Wicca was created in the early 1900s.
Paganism of today is potentially quite different to popular Paganistic beliefs of old. For one reason, many Pagans now typically choose to worship one female "Goddess" and one male "God", or the Mother and Father, rather than the range of ancient gods worshipped in the past. Some Pagans still choose to worship a range of deities or gods; but this shows that Paganism is no longer something set in stone, and that Pagans these days can choose to follow some of the old traditions, or new Paganism, or may even create their own blend. They are free to follow their own way of creating and maintaining connections to the world around them.
There are Pagans who aren't particularly "religious" but follow their heart and are moved by that within nature that surrounds them, living peaceably and in harmony with other living things. One of the key concepts that joins Pagans of the past with those of modern times, is their close link to mother nature, and feeling at one with the earth and things around them. Pagans feel enriched and in harmony with the divine spirit and the earth within actions such as connecting with their favorite place, or flora and fauna. A deep respect for animal life, is a likely factor of why some Pagans believe in animal spirits.
It is entirely common for Pagans to believe in the otherworld, and for them to feel that if they place a genuine request in this world, that world will respond. Magic for good is generally accepted and practiced by Pagans, even just using amulets or seeking the help of a healer. It’s common for Pagans to demonstrate an appreciation for the healing and other metaphysical properties of herbs as well as other flora; such ingredients are often used in rituals or spellwork. Some Pagans, as well as Wiccans practice the art of alchemy. To truly know alchemy is to know what is virtually unfathomable but to those who practice the discipline. It can involve any number of tools, ingredients, and skills and abilities. In the end, it’s a highly evolved form of magic, combined with knowing one’s spirituality and the powers it provides, on an in depth basis.
Wicca is a branch of Paganism which is deeply steeped in magical (or magickal) rites and practices. Sure Wiccans practice magick, but anything intended for less than the greater good, such as magic for personal gain or to hurt someone, is, generally speaking, completely rejected. Paganism is a gentle, friendly and open religion, and followers generally want to incorporate new members, and help others to find their path.
Paganism definition: On a very basic level, Paganism is described as being an earth based religion (or faith); and too may be described as a religion that is not a traditional Christian, Islamic, or Judaical one. Paganism is upbeat, free of dogma, and quite positive. Pagans primarily seek the freedom to express their faith in the way they see fit, celebrate their connection to the world around them, and to demonstrate a respect for all that is living.
Wicca, a Beginner's Introduction
Ostara: A Festival Without a Cause
Advice for an Unsexy Beltane
An Introduction to Litha