What is Paganism?

Paganism is the term given to some of the oldest religions known to humankind. Its origins are obscure, but it is thought to have arisen with humanity's desire to explore the unknown, and to seek unity with the divine force. Therefore, Paganism has no founders, no earthly leaders, no prophets, no messiahs and no saints.

The word 'Pagan' is derived from the Latin Paganus, meaning 'a civilian', and Pagus, meaning 'a village', and it was the term the Romans used for the village or country dwellers who they found when they invaded Britain. Likewise, Heathen was the term used for those living in the heath lands.

Modern Pagans follow a religion that is as old as humanity, but whose practices have been adapted to suit life in the modern world. The concepts which are vital to sustain life in the by-gone days are revered and their principles have been retained. The term Pagan describes the Pagan heritage, and the affinity that modern Pagans feel with nature.

Pagans see divinity expressed in every part of the universe. The Earth, the planets, the stars, and the void are all part of one great, divine source to the Pagan. Most Pagans do not 'worship' trees or rocks, though some do in a way worship larger natural forces such as mountains, streams, rivers or deserts; however, most revere the divine life force which is contained within every part of the universe. Many religions teach that divinity is present everywhere - in ourselves, in animals, plants, rocks, the oceans, and can easily be seen in the phases of the Moon and the changing seasons. It is not something which is abstract and aloof - divinity is part of the very fabric of our being.

Because divinity to Pagans is a reality, not an abstract concept, it is perceived in many forms, but primarily as a Goddess and God, who have many names and aspects.

There are many different paths of Paganism, just as there any many different traditions within Christianity, Islam, etc. Pagan religions, for example, include Wicca, Druidry, Asatru and Witchcraft, and share similarities to Shinto, Hinduism and shamanism. Paganism is a valid and spiritually fulfilling path for many thousands of people, from all over the world.

Paganism does not claim to be the 'one true way', nor does it suggest that other religions are somehow wrong, or misguided, or inappropriate in today's world. All spiritual paths lead to the divine source - Paganism is but one way.