PaganismPaganism ceremonies with others. There are many ancient

PaganismPaganism ceremonies with others. There are many ancient

PaganismPaganism is an ancient type of religion which has quite an inauspiciousreputation today.

There are many types of paganism, most date back thousands ofyears, which include Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and a few other lesser knownand practiced variations. Yet all of these religions are similar and sharecommon beliefs. Wicca is the most common of these, as it also demonstrates theshared belief of doing good that is common to most forms of paganism. Anothercommon belief, is to gather in small groups, called covens, to practice paganrites and ceremonies with others. There are many ancient beliefs, archaicrituals, and forgotten traditions that are practiced by pagans. Many of theseare also the origins of widely practiced traditions in the Christian-dominatedworld of today.A defining characteristic of many pagan religions, especially Wicca, isthe worship and closeness to nature.

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Pagans treat animals kindly and respectall things, living or nonliving, as though they were a person (Roy N. p.). Theyalso share the worship of their nature gods, which increases their respect forall that is around them (Roy N. p.

). Pagans are very sensitive people that alsohave a high regard for personal privacy (Roy N. p.

). With this belief ofprivacy, many pagans have more time to keep in touch with their inner selves andwith the nature around them. Wicca, a more popular pagan religion, focuses onthe Earth and uses pure white magic to help others (Roy N. p.). In fact, theWiccan 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 onthe life and beauty of the nature that thrives around them and are radicallydifferent than the mythical rumors of witches that have been given to them overtime.Another defining characteristic of many pagans is the dedication toknowledge and self exploration (Roy N. p.). In fact it has been said that, “Witchcraft is the oldest, most irrepressible religion in the world because itstimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way of life, and mostimportantly, 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 andother pagan religions. Many of these laws are practical, yet they also relateto the more religious aspect of paganism. One of the most important laws, theLaw of Knowledge, states that witches believe that all knowledge is power, nomatter how big or small (Bonewits N. p.).

A related law, the Law of Self-Knowledge, states that witches should truly know themselves, for this preventsdoing 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 notexist, but that everything is part of a larger plan (Bonewits N. p.

). The Lawof Similarity states that similar representations of things can be made torepresent them, such as voodoo dolls (Bonewits N. p.). The Law ofPersonification states the important belief that anything, concrete or abstract,can be considered alive for whatever purpose (Bonewits N. p.).

One commonlyknown law, The Law of Perversity, also called “Murphy’s Law,” states that ifanything can go wrong, it will (Bonewits N. p.).

As if a summary of all otherbeliefs, The Law of Unity says that everything is linked together to every otherthing, 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 ispower. To support this belief are many other more specific beliefs that helpthe individual learn and grow.Rituals and traditions also play a large role in Wiccan lives andactivities. The most common of these includes the rituals associated with thenew and full moons, as well as the 8 sabbats. The 8 sabbats are equally dividedthroughout the year, along with the seasons, and help attune the practicingWiccans to the cycle of the year (Sabbats N. p.).

The first of these sabbats isYule, practiced around December 21; it represents the rebirth of the light andthe 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 covenof witches (Sabbats N. p.).

It is also tradition at this time to light all thelamps in the house (Sabbats N. p.).

Ostara, a familiar holiday, is usuallyaround March 21 and symbolizes balance and equilibrium. At this time of peace,many pagans gather wildflowers in baskets and free themselves of their pasts(Sabbats N. p.

). Beltane, similar to Mayday but held on April 30, honors thefertility of the earth and is the sacred time of marriage as well as the timefor self-discovery, love, and union (Sabbats N. p.). Midsummer, held aroundJune 21, is a time for triumph and light, when healing and love magic becomessuitable (Sabbats N. p.).

Lammas, practiced on August 2, celebrates the harvestand the traditional time to teach others what has been learned (Sabbats N. p.).The Autumn Equinox, approximately September 21, is the time of balance and thetime to gather dry plants and herbs (Sabbats N. p.

). Samhain, commonly calledHalloween, is held on October 31; it is when reincarnation is believed to takeplace (Sabbats N. p.).

Samhain is also called “the Witches’ New Year” (SabbatsN. p.). The 8 sabbats practiced by wiccans and other pagans are important forthe transitions of the season, but are only a small sample of the many ritualsand traditions of the pagan religions (Sabbats N. p.).

Another interesting aspect of pagan rituals and traditions is the factthat many of the common holidays and traditions in today’s culture possessancient pagan roots. The Christian holiday of Christmas, for example, has itsroots in the pagan festivals and customs of Yule (Sabbats N. p.

). Bringing in atree from the winter weather to house the winter spirits was a common practice(Sabbats N. p.).

Pagans also would decorate the tree with a bell to indicatethe spirits’ presence, food to nourish the spirits, and a pentagram star on thetop to symbolize the five elements of nature (Sabbats N. p.). In fact, the redand green colors of Christmas also come from a pagan tradition, that of the yulelog being burned once annually (Sabbats N. p.

). The Christian Easter is anothercommon holiday that is derived from ancient pagan customs. Witches believedthat the God and Goddess would spend the time of Ostara (Spring Equinox) playingwith brightly colored eggs in the fields to represent childhood (Sabbats N. p.).The tradition of collecting flowers in baskets in springtime is also of paganorigin (Sabbats N. p.

). For those who recognize Mayday, it was a pagan practiceto weave a web of life around a Maypole with ribbons as well (Sabbats N. p.).Another, more commonly known, holiday with pagan beginnings is Halloween, or theSamhain sabbat. It was believed that spirits would leave the physical planeduring this time (Sabbats N. p.

). Another more recognizable trait of theholiday could be seen when one realizes that thousands of years ago, pagans usedjack-o-lanterns and gourds to decorate for the season (Sabbats N. p.). So, bylooking at the many practiced customs of the pagans that have been around forthousands of years, one can discern how some traditions have come into play intoday’s world.

It is severely apparent that there are many erroneous rumors related topagans and their rituals. Pagans have many rituals, but not one of these relatesto Christianity or the belief of the devil deity (Art N. p.).

Some of the morecommon rituals are initiation into a coven and handfasting, or marriage. Theritual of initiation is a sacred ceremony to bring in a new member of the coven(Hicks N. p.). The individual must be highly acquainted with all of the membersof the coven for over one year before initiation is possible (Hicks N.

p.).Another commonplace ritual is handfasting. Handfasting is a highly sacred ritethat binds two very close people together, similar husband and wife; the ritualis symbolic of the union of the god and goddess (Hunter N. p.

). All other paganrituals are impartially as sacred and highly valued, as well as enjoyed.Despite all of the misleading rumors, there are no rituals depicting evil oranything to go against goodness belief that is practiced by wiccans or relatedpagan groups.Wicca and other similar pagan religions all reflect the mutual belief ofdoing good and harming none.

This, however, has been overlooked by others formany centuries which has lead to inaccurate rumors. Aside from that however,pagans still enjoy a rich and culturally satisfying life that keeps in touchwith their ancient beliefs. Along with this is their passionate practice of themany rituals, including the 8 seasonal sabbats, that help characterize the pagandoctrine. All of this and even more truth can be found about these lesser knownand often misconceived religions classified as paganism.Works CitedBonewits, P. E.

I. The Laws of Magic. Online. Necronami Net. Available HTTP:http://www.necronami.

com/d/paganism-celtic/magic.laws.txt, 30 Nov. 1996.General Beliefs. Online.

Necronami Net. Available HTTP:http://www.necronami.

com/d/paganism-celtic/wicca.gen_beliefs.txt, 15 Dec.1996.Hicks, J. Brad. Ceremony of Initiation.

Online. Necronami Net. AvailableHTTP:, 15 Dec.

1996.Hunter, Ryan. Handfasting Ceremony. Online.

Necronami Net. Available HTTP:

ritual.txt, 15Dec. 1996.Roy, R. Thirteen Questions. Online. Necromnami Net.

Available HTTP:, 30 Nov. 1996.The Ancient Art.

Online. Necronami Net. Available HTTP:

txt, 30 Nov. 1996.The Sabbats.

Online, Teleplex Communications, Inc. Available HTTP:, 8 Dec. 1996.

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