Sunday, April 26, 2020

PAGANISM - What is it and How do I become one?

Daychin Tengry - Turkic pagan god
Daychin Tengry - Turkic pagan god
(Photo credit: 
There are as many explanations of Paganism as there are Pagans but one good description I’ve found is from the Ohio Chapter Pagan Unity Campaign.  They say that “Paganism may be loosely defined as any of a group of positive, life-affirming, earth-honoring faiths usually based in ancient beliefs."

To go slightly further into the dangerous territory of describing beliefs, we can include animism -the belief that all life, animate or inanimate, has a spirit or soul.  Pagans have a deep reverence for the earth and every creature that inhabits the earth, believing that the divine resides in all things.  Many believe in multiple gods and goddesses (polytheists) but since Paganism is such an individualistic religion, you’ll find polytheists (many), monotheists (one), and even atheists (none)!

Even if the variety of beliefs within Paganism is manifold, one thing that you can be sure of is that they are NOT devil worshippers.  Abby Willowroot says it beautifully when answering the question of are Pagans devil worshippers?  “Most Devil worshipping groups are not Pagan, because they are centered on a Judeo-Christian supernatural being, namely Satan. These devil worshippers are a sect of Christianity, even though Christianity does not want to claim them.”

The Occult is also different from Paganism, although Pagans and members of any other religion can deal with the Occult.  Wikipedia defines “The word occult comes from the Latin word occultus (clandestine, hidden, secret), referring to "knowledge of the hidden".   But for many people involved with the occult, they are simply studying a deeper spiritual reality than that which we can see with our human powers of reason and the physical sciences with which we measure and quantify things.

How Do I Become A Pagan?

When a person comes to the conclusion that the things they have always believed in now need a name different from that which their family or their community has given, they may want to somehow “become” a Pagan.  Here the dilemma begins.

Paganism is a very individual and personal journey of spiritual discovery and Pagans generally do not seek converts, nor do they feel a duty to share or guide the novice “into the faith” as many conventional religions do.  Finding a path to like-minded people can be difficult and will be different for each locality in which you may live.  The agreed starting point is to first gain knowledge.

Find out if you are truly in sympathy with Pagan beliefs, are you committed to living in harmony with the Earth and caring for and honoring all of her creatures?  Will you strengthen your understanding of your role in the whole scheme of things, no longer taking for granted all that the Earth offers you?  By reading the books and periodicals available and looking at websites that explain Pagan beliefs, you can explore your own beliefs so you really understand what they are and discover why you want to follow the Pagan path.

It is important you clarify things for yourself before trying to join a group.  Once you have answered these questions, you need to explore the various groups within Paganism to determine which group - Wicca, Druidry, Shamanism, Witchcraft, Asatru, Heathenry, Hedgewitchcraft, even Hinduism, among so many others - you wish to attach yourself to.

Once you have looked into your own heart, gained a greater knowledge of yourself, and found your connection with the natural world around you, you can look to join others.  In America, to find a group of like-minded people talk to people in new age or pagan bookstores, check their bulletin boards. Many books and periodicals give information on how you can find contacts in your area. Check out online groups, but be wary - there are many unsavory characters out there.  Alternatively, an updated guide to pagan groups is now available by mail-order from the Circle Network, based in Wisconsin.

If you are in Great Britain, some of these and other ways can be led to you finding like-minded people.  Look for “moots” - these are advertised, regular gatherings usually held in pubs or perhaps the organizers’ homes.  There is usually a contact number, so phone the organizer before the event and get enough information beforehand so you know what to expect.

You can also check out groups on Yahoo, other web-based forums, Pagan conferences or camps, and rituals that is open to the public and of course, contacts obtainable through the Pagan Federation and other reputable Pagan organizations.

However I do suggest a certain modicum of caution - although pubs and the web are public places, you must trust your intuition; don’t share more than you are comfortable revealing.  Please keep in mind not everyone is honest.

Although it may be frustrating, don’t be in too big a hurry to find a group or even a spiritual teacher.  Many Pagans will follow a solitary path to greater enlightenment, perhaps for a lifetime.  It can even be said that a time of studying on your own is far better because you will find what works for you without the potential confusion or pressure others’ beliefs may provide.  Knowing your own beliefs and the basics of rituals will show any group you may wish to join, that you are willing to learn and serious.  It is also a good idea to have explored what you want from the group you join.  Will you be able or willing to meet their expectations, etc.?

You may find that because Pagans are still so much in the minority, your spiritual path will continue to be a solitary one because there aren’t any folk living near you to physically guide or share Pagan rituals with.  In such a case, or as an adjunct to your own growth, joining organizations such as the British Pagan Federation or the Reformed Druids of North America, the Order of Bards or the Rowan Tree Church, among others, could be the best way to enlarge your training or contact opportunities.

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