This is the fourth in a series of guest posts in a series called “I Would Like You To Know”. In an attempt to create a space for people of all backgrounds, races, religions, creeds, ethnicites, genders, sexual orientations, disabilities, and socio-economic statuses I am seeking guest blog posts. If you would like to share your unique background, I would love to hear and share your story. Email me at Rachel[@]deletingtheadjectives.com with your name, a link to your blog, and a brief synopsis of your story with the title “As a _________ I would like you to know” in the subject box. You fill in the blank and the subsequently the gaps in our collective knowledge.
As a Pagan I would like you to know what we believe.
I should preface this with a disclaimer – this is my personal path, and not all Pagans will believe as I do, but I will be trying to generalise here for the sake of ease of understanding. Trust me – I’m not out to offend anyone.
I’m Pagan and, thankfully, unlike many of my Pagan friends and acquaintances, I am yet to experience any negativity geared directly towards me based on my chosen religious path.
We’re kind of misunderstood, but we also kind of like it that way. We are often seen as uneducated hippies who run around with no clothes on. Some of us are a bit like that, but the majority of us are educated and, in fact, well-versed in our own beliefs because many of us, myself included, have come to Paganism on our own and therefore had to do our own research, rather than being fed information from a lecturn.
Paganism (or technically NeoPaganism) is an umbrella term for a group of various religious and spiritual paths including (but certainly not limited to) Wicca, Druidism, Asatru and Reconstructionism. I’m not going to get too in-depth with any one religion because, frankly, a decent-sized book could be written about the varying paths of Wicca alone, but I will give a quick rundown of how I came to Paganism and what I believe.
I was brought up in a rather secular household. I was christened Anglican, but my family didn’t really do anything religious, just celebrated Easter and Christmas mostly. I never felt like anything was lacking in my spirituality, but I definitely didn’t feel connected to Christianity (and to be honest, sitting in a church during Easter and Christmas services at school made me feel terribly claustrophobic).
I was probably around 10 or 11 years old when I first saw the film, “The Craft”, with my sister (this seems like such a cliche story, but trust me it gets deeper). If you’ve seen the film, you can imagine my pre-teen excitement – “Oh my god, I want to change my hair colour like that!” “WOW I want to make someone’s hair fall out!”. At around the same time, I was just starting to succumb to a new fad called ‘The Internet’, so of course I used this to my advantage – I found website upon website full of do-it-yourself magic and spells, which were all just what I wanted.
On my travels, I found a website called ‘Witchvox’, or The Witches’ Voice. It was enormously different to everything else I’d looked at. I read a few articles. And I found that what I was reading really resonated with me. Almost everything they were talking about made complete sense to me. Over the next 2-3 years, I read more and more – websites and books alike – and it felt like coming home. I actually had a name for the beliefs I held within my heart.
I started off identifying as Wiccan but as time has moved on and I’ve grown older, I’ve discovered more about other religions under the Pagan umbrella, and less of the specifically Wiccan beliefs and ideals have rung true, so at the moment I joke and call myself “Eclectic Pagan with Wiccan and Druidic Tendancies”.
So what *do* Pagans believe? It depends who you ask, really, but I’ve found there are four general components that tie Pagans together:
1. We all see sacredness within cycles. So the cycles of life and death, the cycle of the seasons, the moon cycles, etc.
2. The body is sacred. Not that we necessarily all worship the body, but the body is treated as natural – in Christianity, the body can be treated as sinful; in Buddhism, the body is a ‘trap for the mind’ which ought to be transcended. Paganism doesn’t have a low regard for the body – it is more than a vessel.
3. A belief in a Goddess, or more than one deity. Some Pagans don’t believe in deity at all, which is also absolutely fine of course, but most of the Pagans I know believe in duality of deity – a God and a Goddess. A kind of “it takes two to tango” belief.
4. A reverence of nature. Again, not all Pagans worship or see nature as holding huge significance in their lives, but most of the Pagans I associate with do, so that’s something I’ve noted as a general Pagan belief.
I think also that there is a strong sense of community in Paganism – and regardless of what path you’re on, you’ll always feel you have somewhere you belong. There are local groups or groups online that support and strengthen our community as a whole, and this can only be beneficial because being in a community with many different people and their paths can only continue to open our minds to new information and ideas, which in turn further our learning and growth as human beings. Community is pivotal and, I think, crucial. You can read as many books as you like, but there’s nothing quite like standing in Circle with 100+ other people – the energy is palpable. Finding my community helped me grow immensely, as well as find me some great new friends on the way.
This is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Paganism; it really is a whole world – an entity! – of its own. If you’re interested in finding out more, I certainly welcome questions, as I’m sure I’ve probably left more asked than answered in this short piece.
Namaste, Goddess Bless, Merry Part and Blessed Be!
Terri is a 26 year old wife and mother of two living in Tasmania, Australia. She blogs at various locations around the internet, but the two main spots are at TheGeekWitch.com and MamaBytes.com.au. Email her at [email protected]