Common Pagan Rituals And Beliefs

Paganism is an ancient type of religion which has quite an inauspicious
reputation today. There are many types of paganism, most date back
thousands of years, which include Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and a few
other lesser known and practiced variations. Yet all of these religions
are similar and share common beliefs. Wicca is the most common of these,
as it also demonstrates the shared belief of doing good that is common to
most forms of paganism. Another common belief, is to gather in small
groups, called covens, to practice pagan rites and ceremonies with others.
There are many ancient beliefs, archaic rituals, and forgotten traditions
that are practiced by pagans. Many of these are also the origins of
widely practiced traditions in the Christian-dominated world of today.
A defining characteristic of many pagan religions, especially Wicca, is
the worship and closeness to nature. Pagans treat animals kindly and
respect all things, living or nonliving, as though they were a person (Roy
N. p.). They also share the worship of their nature gods, which increases
their respect for all that is around them (Roy N. p.). Pagans are very
sensitive people that also have a high regard for personal privacy (Roy N.
p.). With this belief of privacy, many pagans have more time to keep in
touch with their inner selves and with the nature around them. Wicca, a
more popular pagan religion, focuses on the Earth and uses pure white
magic to help others (Roy N. p.). In fact, the Wiccan creed is, “An it
harm none, do as thou will,” which agrees with the “good” philosophy
(Beliefs N. p.). Altogether, pagans have a great deal of emphasis on the
life and beauty of the nature that thrives around them and are radically
different than the mythical rumors of witches that have been given to them
over time.
Another defining characteristic of many pagans is the dedication to
knowledge and self exploration (Roy N. p.). In fact it has been said
that, “Witchcraft is the oldest, most irrepressible religion in the world
because it stimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way of
life, and most importantly, is emotionally satisfying” (Art N. p.). There
is a set of beliefs, called the Laws of Magic that help illustrate the
beliefs supported by Wicca and other pagan religions. Many of these laws
are practical, yet they also relate to the more religious aspect of
paganism. One of the most important laws, the Law of Knowledge, states
that witches believe that all knowledge is power, no matter how big or
small (Bonewits N. p.). A related law, the Law of Self-Knowledge, states
that witches should truly know themselves, for this prevents doing harm to
others, once the understanding of the harm is seen (Bonewits N. p.).
There are many other laws, one such law explains that coincidence does not
exist, but that everything is part of a larger plan (Bonewits N. p.). The
Law of Similarity states that similar representations of things can be
made to represent them, such as voodoo dolls (Bonewits N. p.). The Law of
Personification states the important belief that anything, concrete or
abstract, can be considered alive for whatever purpose (Bonewits N. p.).
One commonly known law, The Law of Perversity, also called “Murphy’s Law,”
states that if anything can go wrong, it will (Bonewits N. p.). As if a
summary of all other beliefs, The Law of Unity says that everything is
linked together to every other thing, in any space or time (Bonewits N.
p.). So, as shown here, all pagans, whether Wiccan or not, follow the
basic guidelines and beliefs that knowledge is power. To support this
belief are many other more specific beliefs that help the individual learn
and grow.
Rituals and traditions also play a large role in Wiccan lives and
activities. The most common of these includes the rituals associated with
the new and full moons, as well as the 8 sabbats. The 8 sabbats are
equally divided throughout the year, along with the seasons, and help
attune the practicing Wiccans to the cycle of the year (Sabbats N. p.).
The first of these sabbats is Yule, practiced around December 21; it
represents the rebirth of the light and the awakening of new goals
(Sabbats N. p.). Candlemas, celebrated on February 2, banishes winter and
is the favored time for initiating new members into a coven of witches
(Sabbats N. p.). It is also tradition at this time to light all the lamps
in the house (Sabbats N. p.). Ostara, a familiar holiday, is usually
around March 21 and