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Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Paganism?

Paganism Is Diverse. Contemporary English-speaking Pagan communities include Wiccan and non-Wiccan witches; feminist Goddess worshippers; ecologically-focused Pagans such as Gaia worshippers and animists; Pagans who focus on gay, lesbian, bi, queer, or transgender identity, such as the Radical Faeries; humanist or non-theist Pagans; reconstructionist or semi-reconstructionist Pagans such as Ásatrú (or Heathens), Druids, and others who are attempting to reconstruct ancient polytheistic religions; and many more.

Who Is A Pagan?

 

The simplest answer: anyone who says they are. Demographics of Pagan-identified people are mostly within the US, Canada, UK, and Australia, but always changing. Brazil also hosts a large community of non-English-speaking Wiccans and Goddess worshippers, and there are smaller such communities around the world.  Revivals of “Native Faiths” occurring in Northern Europe, Eastern Europe, the Baltic States, other parts of the former Soviet Union, and Greece may use the term "Pagan” for themselves when writing in English, but some define their religions as inherently nationalistic and tribal. They do not always want to be associated with English-speaking Paganisms.

Be careful with your labels! Afro-Caribbean traditions such as Haitian Vodou, New Orleans Voodoo, Santería, or Candomblé. Some consider themselves to be Pagan while others consider themselves to be Christians and are members of the Catholic church. Others do not call themselves Pagan because they think of Paganism as a white movement. Indigenous religions of Africa, North and South America, Asia, and Australia. These groups usually use the collective term “Indigenous” or use their own identifiers (e.g., “First Nations” in Canada). They have entirely different historical and cultural origins from contemporary Paganism.

What Do Pagans Believe?

Most Pagans will hold most of these:

  • a belief that the divine is immanent (fully present) in the material world and thatnature, the body, and sexuality are sacred;

  • the practice of honoring multiple deities, sometimes as separate beings, and sometimes as archetypes or aspects of a Goddess and/or a God;

  • trust in personal experience as a source of divine knowledge;

  • complex ritual practice, which may include extensive liturgies, dancing, drumming, making offerings, building altars, and more;

  • reference to pre-Christian myths and traditions and/or indigenous traditions as authentic sources of inspiration for belief and practice;

  • acknowledgement of the principles of magic (sometimes spelled “magick” to differentiate it from stage magic or the magic of fantasy fiction), the belief that ritual acts performed with intention can alter consciousness, and therefore, reality;

  • virtue ethics, an approach to decision-making that focuses on values and relationships rather than on inflexible rules; and 

  • religious pluralism, the belief that other religious traditions are potentially as legitimate as one’s own

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