Modern Paganism is a rich and diverse religious movement drawing the attention of the media, lawmakers, and spiritual seekers. This oral is an attempt to answer some of the questions frequently asked about modern Pagan beliefs and practices.
Firstly, I will start by defining the term "paganism". The term "Pagan" comes from a Latin word for "country dweller", and was first used in early Christian times to refer to those not yet converted to Christianity.
"Pagan" was a name give to those who were not seen as "true believers." Today, it refers more generally to the faith of those whose spiritual centre is drawn to native and natural religions, usually pantheistic or polytheistic, and almost always earth-centred.
But what then is "Modern Paganism"? Modern Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, is a modern, Earth-centred religious perspective, which borrows and adapts from pre-Christian paganism, as well as from contemporary religious thought.
While reconnecting with ancient wisdom, it speaks eloquently to the needs and concerns of the present.
"The Old Religion" is a term that describes the pre-Christian religion of much of western and northern Europe, which was based on the agricultural cycles and other natural rhythms of the Earth. It coexisted with Christianity for centuries, from the so-called "Dark Ages" up until the Inquisition and the "Burning Times" of the late
Middle Ages. It also can refer more generally to other native and tribal religions of the world.
Some contemporary Pagans call themselves Witches. The term has many meanings, some carrying rather heavy negative baggage. "Witchcraft" or "The Craft" is most properly applied to three broad categories: Descendants of the European witches of the Middle Ages, practitioners of the "reconstructed" Witchcraft of the 20th century, and "feminist Witches" whose religion and politics centre in the contemporary women's spirituality movement.