What is Paganism?
Written by Boston Pagan Central
The answer to that question is both simple and complex. The simple answer is that Paganism is an umbrella term under which you'll find religions based on pre-Christian belief, a focus on Earth based spiritually, and the practice of magic as a way to tune into the natural rhythms of the Earth. These faiths include but are not limited to Wicca, Witchcraft (with or without the spiritual component), Druidry, Shamanism, Goddess Worship and Feminist Spirituality, Heathenism, Reconstructionists, Polytheists, Panentheists, Animists, Nature Mystics, and even Ceremonial Magicians (although not all of the individuals who practice these call themselves “Pagan”). While indigenous European religion has dominated the modern Pagan movement, many have expanded the umbrella to include indigenous religious practice from the America's, Africa, and Asia. Now it is not uncommon to find Pagans who worship the Gods of Hinduism, Buddhism, Voodoo, Yoruba, Santeria, and the plethora of Native tribal faiths. In a multi-cultural world, Paganism honors diversity in all its forms.
The complex answer is that Paganism is a wide spectrum of beliefs rooted in the personal and experiential; therefore highly individualized. Paganism has no central hierarchy or book of law, but is an ever evolving conglomerate of ecstatic rites intended to bring the practitioner into a union with the sacred, the energy, and the cycles of the Earth and the Gods or Goddesses that the individual finds holy. Most Pagans believe in the sacredness of the Earth herself and that all life on Earth is interconnected and divine. It is common to see festivals and feast days centered on attuning with seasonal tides of the planet. For many, the Gods and Goddess of the pre-Christian era are immanent in the world; others find them to be symbolic archetypes for understanding humanity.
Unlike other religions that seek transcendence from this world as a spiritual goal, Paganism at its heart is about joyful co-existence on Earth and with Earth; it is about the fertility of the land as it is linked with our own lives (whether we are procreating or not). Our rituals are not only spiritual and profound, they are celebratory unions with the sacred. For those who honor these sacred unions and deep connection, transcendence and transformation are the rewards.