Category:Working Within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan Tradition

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A Swedish village gathers for the traditional Små Grodorna Frog Dance held around the Midsummer pole

Paganism is a term that refers to the indigenous local religions of Europe and North Africa, especially as described during the late Roman era, when the Roman Pantheon and local Germanic and Nordic Deities were being superseded by the Catholic panoply of church saints. During the era of European colonialism, the term "Pagan" was sometimes applied to any minor or major indigenous religion anywhere in the world, but that usage is so broad as to be ungainly, because it merely pits every human religion against the Christian tradition, which is colonialist and dismissive of the individuality of the diversity of religions.

Neo-Paganism or Neopaganism, sometimes known as Contemporary Paganism or simply Paganism, is an umbrella term used to identify a wide variety of modern religious movements, particularly those influenced by or claiming to be derived from the various "Paleo-Pagan" beliefs of pre-modern Europe. Although they do share commonalities, contemporary Pagan religious movements are extremely diverse, and there is no single set of beliefs, practices, or sacred religious texts shared by all of them.

An English Pagan maypole dance held on May Day to celebrate the fertility of the earth and the peak of springtime
Austrian celebrants at Krampusnacht, a festival honoring the Pagan woods-god Krampus, who, with the advent of Christianity, was made the assistant of Saint Nicholas
Closing bonfire at the Sirius Rising Festival, Brushwood Folklore Center, Sherman, NY, a week-long festival celebrating Spirit and the elements. Photo by Fred Hatt, 2012
A Jack-in-the-Green dance being celebrated on Beltane (May Day) in Bristol, England
The fox dance at a British Pagan Imbolc festival marks the depths of winter


Ancient Pagan Religions

Pagan is a broad term which is derived from the Latin word "paganus," meaning "a villager" or "a rustic person." By the fourth century C.E. it was a descriptor for any rural person who lacked urbane sophistication and maintained the “pre-civilized” ways of the pre-Roman indigenous Etruscans. The term had a pejorative implication of prejudice against all things old and simple, as compared against then-modern improvements and the sophistication associated with all things new.

When Christianity became the socially dominant religion in Europe, the term pagan was, ironically, applied to the ancient Roman deities, and ultimately broadened to include all indigenous religions outside of Christianity and its Semitic forerunners and derivatives, which Judaism, Islam, Bahá’i, Rastafarianism, Druze, Messianic Judaism, and more. There are innumerable ancient pagan religions which include all the deities of the ancient world, whether or not they were known to the Romans.

Greek Pantheon of Deities

The veneration of ancient Greek deities, once believed to have ended with the coming of Christianity to southern Europe, has been partially retained and also deliberately revived as a specifically Hellenic and Mediterranean Neo-Pagan Tradition. (Read More ...)

Roman Pantheon of Deities

The veneration of ancient Roman deities, which spread from the Mediterranean into Central and Western Europe during the expansion of the Roman Empire, believed to have been suppressed with the coming of Christianity to Southern and Central Europe, has been partially retained and also deliberately revived as a Neo-Pagan tradition (Read More ...)

Germanic and Nordic Pantheon of Deities

The veneration of ancient Germanic and Nordic Deities, once believed to have ended with the coming of Christianity to northern Europe, has been partially retained and also deliberately revived as a Neo-Pagan tradition (Read More ...)

Celtic and Gaulish Pantheon of Deities

The Celtic and Gaulish Deities of Western Europe were overtaken and suppressed by Christianity but survived in folklore and played a part in regional domestic magical beliefs. Their veneration has been revived as Neo-Pagan traditions that derive a large part of their cosmology and concepts of deity from ancient Anglo-Saxon, Celtic, Gaelic, and other European religions (Read More ...)

Gnostic Pantheon of Deities

Gnosticism was a religious tradition that arose during the late Roman and early Christian era; it is founded upon the belief that matter is intrinsically evil and that freedom from worldly suffering comes through gnosis or knowledge. This ancient religion has been revived as a Neo-Pagan tradition. (Read More...)

Kemetic Pantheon of Deities

The netjeru, or pantheon of Kemetic deities, are those honored in the North African religion of ancient Egypt and in 20th century forms of Kemetic Neo-Paganism, including reconstructionist and orthodox denominations. Consisting of sixty or more entities -- many of whom began as local gods -- the religion grew from being primarily animistic and nature-centered in pre-dynastic times to becoming a theocracy at the center of which stood pharaohs, or kings - rulers who embodied an earthly manifestation of divine power.(Read More ...)


Contemporary Paganism has been characterized as "a synthesis of historical inspiration and present-day creativity," drawing influences from pre-Christian, folkloric, and ethnographic sources in order to fashion new religious movements. The extent to which contemporary Neo-Pagans use these sources differs; many follow a spirituality which they accept is entirely modern, whilst others attempt to reconstruct or revive indigenous or ethnic religions found in historical and folkloric sources.

Early Neo-Paganism and the Volkische Movement

Neo-Pagan movements emerged in Europe from the late 19th to the mid 20th centuries, influenced by the wider occult movement of the era. Among them were Thelema, Adonism, Wotanism, Druidry, and the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. One way that these groups differed from other new religions of this time period, such as the New Thought, Theosophy, and New Age traditions, was their rejection of universality and their closed membership model of participation, which often required a step-wise series of initiations. Especially in their cultural celebrations of regional seasonal holidays, these earlier Neo-Pagan groups were often allied with the aims of the Volkische ("Folk-ish") Movement, a German ethno-nationalist philosophy that sought to re-establish pre-Christian and rural lore, customs, and festivities among a rapidly urbanizing population. The downside of this idealization of eancientach region's agrarian cultural past was a susceptibility to voices of authority whose interpretations of ancestral "blood and soil" gave rise to local forms of identity politics, and the resultant "othering" of minority and immigrant communities within their national boundaries. The ease with which some Volklishe Movement leaders embraced notions of ancient cultural "purity," racial "superiority," nationalism, antisemitism, and fascist ideology cast a dark shadow over Neo-paganism through the end of the Second World War and beyond.

Contemporary Neo-Paganism

After the end of the war against fascism, and continuing onward into the rise of the counterculture movement during the 1960s, Neo-Paganism emerged again and spread rapidly throughout the United States and Europe. These groups and traditions primarily harken back to, and draw inspiration from, early European and Mediterranean cultures, although many of them permit people of non-European lineage to join. In addition to the surviving first wave of Neo-Pagan groups, this second wave includes Gardenerian Wicca, Alexandrian Wicca, Dianic Wicca, Reclaiming, Jewish Wicca, Feri, Circle Sanctuary, Radical Faeries, Neo-Shamanism, Eclectic Witchcraft, British Traditional Witchcraft, Hedge Witchcraft, Kitchen Witchery, the Goddess Movement, the Covenant of the Goddess, Trolldom, Asatru, Odinism, Heathenry, Religious Stregheria, Hellenic Neopaganism, Slavic Neopaganism, Canaanite Neopaganism, Semitic Neopaganism, Feraferia, the Church of All Worlds, the Children of Artemis, Cochrane's Craft, the 1734 Tradition, the Sabbatic Craft, Neo-Druidism, Neo-Gnosticism, the Universal Pantheist Society, and more.

Some Neo-Pagan groups follow a system of goddess monotheism, or belief in a divine feminine such as Diana or the Triple Goddess as the supreme creator-deity. Other Neo-Pagans adhere to a duotheistic system, a belief in the partnership of two supreme deities. They may balance a female deity, such as the Triple Goddess of the Moon, or the Mother Goddess, with a male counterpart, who may be represented as a Sun god or as the Horned God, who is the personification of the life force energy in animals and the wild. Neo-Pagans whose theological beliefs take a polytheistic perspective embraces multiple deities, often arranged into a ruling hierarchy.

Unlike earlier Neo-Paganism, in which a direct lineage to ancient religions was claimed to have been retained in secrecy for millennia, most contemporary Neo-Pagan groups now present the veneration of deities as a revival of an extinct historical culture, adapted in totality from an older indigenous Pagan religion through the medium of academic study, romantic mythologizing, and personal gnosis. Some keep to historically or regionally restricted deity-lists, such as those found in Germanic and Nordic, Celtic, ancient Hellenic Greek, ancient Kemetic Egyptian, or ancient Roman religions, while others take a multicultural view and draw parallels between ancient pantheons and those of contemporary polytheistic regions such as Hinduism and indigenous African religions. Finally, there are Neo-Pagans who espouse pantheism, a belief in the universal divinity of all gods and goddesses, and, at its extreme, in the divinity of all matter contained within the universe.

As with the diverse religious groups within the modern African and African-Diasporic Tradition, some sectors of Paganism and Neo-Paganism are universalist in outreach and accept members born into diverse cultural, genetic, or ethnic backgrounds, while others are racially or culturally segregationist and require that members show evidence of a specific genetic ancestry. Likewise, some Neo-Pagan groups are emerging from or actively discarding the blurred and blended multicultural influences that they had incorporated during centuries of Christian hegemony, while others willingly accept the intermixture of Christian traditions within their practices.

Neo-Pagan Commonalities and Diversities

The Neo-Pagan movement is extremely disparate in its beliefs and practices, but a number of commonalities are shared within many, if not all, of the Neo-pagan traditions. For instance, some modern Pagan groups hold to a theology that embraces such beliefs as polytheism, animism, and pantheism, while other groups have instead advocated Goddess-centered monotheism, the co-deism of a Horned God and a Triple Goddess, Agnosticism, or Atheism. Similarly, beliefs about an afterlife vary widely, as do membership requirements, reverence for specific sacred texts, and conceptions on ethics and morality.

Ritual plays a prominent part in Neo-Pagan religious movements, where it is typically employed to induce an altered state of consciousness in the participants. The choice of which festivals and days of special commemoration to celebrate differs widely among Pagans, although a majority of those who are working within what is known of ancient Pagan Celtic, Gaelic, Anglo-Saxon, or Germanic religious practices adhere to a set of eight seasonally-based festivals, which are collectively referred to as The Wheel of the Year.

Rootworkers who practice within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan Tradition may be initiates or adherents to a single Pagan-derived religion or may practice in two or more of the Pagan religions, with or without multi-cultural influences from Christianity or other religions. Some adherents petition their own tutelary deity or spirit on behalf of all of their clients, while others work with a variety of Pagan deities, powers, ancestors, and spirits on behalf of their clients, directing their petitions and prayers to the deity or spirit who pertains most directly to the individual client's situation, condition, or needs.

Seasonal Festivals: The Wheel of the Year

The Wheel of the Year is a system of marking eight calendar-points, derived from the Solar calendar, for special festivals and commemorative rituals within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan Tradition (Read More ...)


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Pages in category "Working Within the Pagan and Neo-Pagan Tradition"

The following 19 pages are in this category, out of 19 total.














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