Just as there are some things Pagans often have in common, there are some things we don’t reliably share. Some of these may surprise you!
While the religious witchcraft paths and Druids often celebrate 8 Sabbats (the solstices, equinoxes, and four agricultural festivals around October 31st, February 2nd, May 1st, and August 2nd) these dates have no particular meaning to other Pagan religions. Reconstructionists might celebrate the flooding of the Nile (for Kemetic recons) or a festival for Apollo (for Greek recons.)
Religious witchcraft traditions often magically create their ritual space as part of ritual. In other religions, this is not part of the process. Likewise, what a ritual involves, the parts of a ritual, or the order they come in, may vary hugely between different Pagan religions.
While witchcraft covens are traditionally small (under 13 people), there are larger communities springing up all over the place. Many reconstructionist groups are associated with larger organisations.
Structure and organisation:
Many religious witchcraft groups are autonomous: they’re lead by people trained as designated within that group or tradition, who then make their own decisions. Other members of the tradition may disagree with an action (and respond personally to it), but there is no ‘boss’ (like a Pope or Council of Churches) to turn to. On the other hand, some reconstructionist groups are developing a larger heirarchy and structure for their members.
Some groups focus on self-empowerment or transformation, others on a greater community goal. Some focus on magic, on religious practice, or a combination of both. Some groups might honor or work with different deities at each ritual, others on honoring and working with specific deities all the time.
Some paths, like religious witchcraft, pay particular attention to the turning of the seasons. Some, because of the belief that all things are connected, have a particular focus on ecology. While these are common conceptions of Pagan religions, many have a very different take on it. It’s not that they think the earth is bad – but their ritual year is based on other things, or their ritual has a different focus.
[last edited October 28, 2011]