As I’ve said, Pagan paths don’t always have a lot in common. Here are a few things that we do commonly share (though not every path or Pagan will agree with this.)
No single Book:
Unlike Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Pagan religions are not religions of the Book, in the sense of having a universal collected religious text that is the basis for understanding of deity, ethics, morals, teachings, the rituals of the year, etc. Many Pagan paths have some texts they particularly honor and respect (and reconstructionist Pagans work closely with surviving texts from the relevant cultures), but it’s not treated the same as the Bible, Torah, or Koran.
Most Pagans are not monotheists. Many of us believe that there are many different deities or faces of deity present in the world. Many Pagan paths have practices designed to allow people to interact directly with deity in some form. And many of us believe that magic can change us, and the world we live in, even if we do not do it regularly.
An interest in learning:
This is certainly true in other religions too – but Pagans as a whole tend to be interested in learning and discussing all sorts of things related to religion. This covers everything from theory and philosophy to designing ritual and practical questions. This is why Pagan forums flourish, even with people from many different paths. Since many Pagans follow their religion on their own or in a small group, it’s also helpful to know at least a little bit about many things.
As smaller, less known religions, Pagan religions are outside the mainstream assumptions in our culture. We have different religious holidays, for one. And we definitely share some practical concerns about legal equality, education, custody hearings, and other social and political issues related to minority religions. In these cases, it can make sense for different Pagan religions to work together rather than separately.
Many Pagan groups that meet in person are small. We don’t generally have established physical spaces like a church, and most groups meet in private homes or rented spaces. These raise some common questions and practical needs, regardless of the religion’s specifics. Likewise, with small groups, people tend to need to have a greater ratio of active participants in planning and running groups than a large congregation might. Paganism as a whole is still trying to figure out how to handle the clergy vs. lay community thing.
[last edited October 28, 2011]