Paganism


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 symbolizes balance