Things Pagans (Often) Have In Common

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 everything here.)

Beginning: leaf on a red background

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 honour 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.

Like many witches, I collect material that I find useful. I have a library of books (both print and electronic), and I build my own collection of notes, both electronically, and in a Book of Shadows.

Overall worldview

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.

I am a polytheist, who works regularly with about half a dozen deities and less regularly with maybe a dozen. (I believe there are many many more out there.) Magic is a part of my daily life, but spell casting is a lot less frequent.

An interest in learning

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 and discussions 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.

Certainly, many people in other religions are also interested in learning. But the lack of larger infrastructure in most Pagan communities mean that many Pagans find they need to learn for themselves to build the practice and religious life they want.

Legal issues

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.

Practical issues

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.

I am priestess of a small coven, aiming at a group of 5-8 people interested in working together for magic and ritual in the long-term. As I write this in the middle of 2020, we’re still in the building stage, and probably will be for another year or two.

Minor text and formatting edits: July 19, 2020

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