What Beliefs or Practices Link All Pagans Together?

  • what is the pagans/wicca community belief system?
    and i am a beginner so i do not know much
    thank you
  • Pagan seams to be a very vague term for non main stream religion, but what is it that links these particular religions that are labeled pagan together?

In fact there really isn’t much of anything that links ALL Pagan religions and paths together. At it’s most basic, the term Pagan is an umbrella term that encompasses all “non-Abrahamic” religions, and that’s it. Some paths may share some similarities, but there is nothing else that ALL share as a defining practice or belief. Even when used as a short-hand for the NeoPagan paths that are loosely based on the non-oathbound parts of Wicca, the joke is – ask a hundred people, get a hundred answers. In terms of a label, it works well enough for those who don’t know and don’t care to know the actual differences, but within the community itself, it can be a poor description of what one does. When possible, it is better to look to words which are more specific to one’s own path, as these terms are better at conveying the actual idea of one’s practices and beliefs.

For example: If we are all standing around at a local meet up and everyone introduces themselves, and tacks on at the end “I’m Pagan” – no one has really learned anything about anyone else’s path. But if that same group tacks on “I’m Heathen,” “I’m Celtic Recon,” “I’m Kemetic,” etc… (or other appropriate term), then we have a better idea of what it is that each of them do.

This of course assumes that one has a general idea of what some of the specific Pagan religions entail, but even if one doesn’t, it’s a great way to start discussion and dialogues, which can be used to learn more about those other paths.

As we have gotten a couple different questions on the subject recently, thought it would be a good time to remind everyone that the Paganism FAQ link at the top of the page is there to answer some of this directly and to give a bit of background on some of the more common Pagan traditions.

Of course, if there are specific questions, that are not covered in the FAQ, please feel free to ask! 🙂

3 responses

  1. Something I was discussing with a friend a while back, concerning this very question.

    The simplest answer one could come up with to this question: Paganism being very Earth-based or Earth-centric.

    I was rather surprised when my friend had told me that my belief system was not really Pagan. Confused, I asked him why he thought that. He told me that it was because my belief system went far beyond being Earth-centric; It was more Cosmological and based on the idea of exploring the clear to outer reaches of the known (and unknown) Universe. This made more sense to me, the more I explored the answer and to find out how this answer fit in with my own perception of things.

    So, I guess the idea of having an Earth-based belief system where the Earth is the center of those practices, would be a suitable definition, or at least part of it, as to what constitutes a Pagan.

    – Just mt thoughts.

    – Rev. Dragon’s Eye

    • But that’s the thing though, not all Pagan religions are “earth-centric” – in fact, I’d venture to say that most aren’t. Many reconstruction religions and even Wicca in particular, are more deity-centered or cycle of life-centered, rather than focused on the Earth. Even within NeoPagan paths, which generally tend to be one of the most earth-centric areas, there are still a large enough number of people for which the Earth plays no central part in their beliefs/practices.

      So, as there are multiple Pagan paths that aren’t “earth-centric,” it doesn’t really work as an overarching defining term, since it is not something that applies to ALL Pagan paths.


      • I completely agree – not all of us are “Earth-centric.” Perhaps it could be said that we’re all “nature-inspired” in some way (e.g., the female life cycle, Gods who are anthropomorphic forces of nature, etc.), but “Nature” doesn’t necessarily mean “Earth” and “inspired” doesn’t necessarily mean “-centric.”

        It’s difficult to explain very quickly in our “sound-byte” culture, but I prefer to distinguish Pagans (with a capital “P”) from “pagans” (with a capital “p”). The former is a category of new religious movements that started developing primarily in the West since the 18th century, which are usually based on pre-Christian European and/or Mediterranean traditions somehow, and which include polytheistic, monotheistic, duotheistic, pantheistic and even atheistic perspectives. They are not identical to and should not be confused with indigenous polytheistic religions that have survived into modern times intact (e.g., Hinduism, Shinto) or indigenous polytheistic faiths that have been syncretized with the Abrahamic religions (e.g., Vodun, Santeria), though they can sometimes overlap with these other categories in some ways (e.g., a Wiccan who interacts with the Vodun Lwa). Another thing to further complicate the issue is that Pagan religions are often defined in term of practices rather than beliefs. For example, not everyone in the same Wiccan coven might believe in a literal God or Goddess, but they will usually follow the same group ritual format (whether it’s Gardnerian, Alexandrian, etc.). The other kind of “pagan” (with a lowercase “p”) is simply a pejorative term for anyone who isn’t Christian, Muslim or Jewish, which can include Buddhists and atheists as well as self-labeled Pagans.

        But of course, when I say all that to someone, I usually lose them after the first sentence. 🙂

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