Approaching Paganism- What and Why?
Now and then after I mention my religion on Facebook, Meetup or heck, in person someone asks me to tell them more about Paganism, simply out of general curiosity or because they are interested in exploring it themselves. I’ve referred a couple people to the Four Centers of Paganism article by John Beckett.
I’ll start with Pagan Pride’s definition which I feel is broad enough to be inclusive, but not meaningless as non-Abrahamic religion tends to be.
A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
- Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
- Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
- Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
- Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.
Ironically, after sharing that, I’m going to make the suggestion of backing away from the word Pagan/Paganism, since as you can see it is so broad- don’t worry for now, what label applies to you if any. I’ve been on my rambling path for 16+ years, and have use many different labels!
What do you want to *do*? One thing I can generalize about, is that Pagan religions are generally more about what you do than what you believe. Personal and communal spiritual experience matters more than the words of a holy book.
Who do you want to *be*? Pagan practices also give us many more choices than simply being a clergyperson or a layperson- sometimes there are no clergy, sometimes everyone’s clergy, sometimes there are many different spiritual roles- even ones that change throughout our lives- becoming an elder, for example. It isn’t as simple as decided you want to be a Druid, Witch, warrior, priestess of Bast and so forth however, you need to find what path is right for you, and learn to listen to what calls you, rather than what seems cool and glamorous!
There are many different approaches- even within the same tradition.
Here are some of the different approaches we’ll explore in following posts-
First Steps: Unpacking/Repacking Your Spiritual Baggage
11 Vocational Paths- Warrior, Priest, Bard etc.
Pop Culture Influences
Recommended book (general not Pagan-specific) Finding Your Religion by Scott McLennan