A Pagan Primer

Five key words in a widely misunderstood religion.

1. The unseen motivating power of the universe or creation, and the thread that determines all the laws of nature.
2. The physical practices required to bring about what the practitioners are trying to bring about, and the praying and calling upon the Divine to make happen whatever part they can’t complete.

Any earth-based, naturecentric, polytheistic, tribal, or indigenous faith. Traditionally, a label given by Christians to those who didn’t believe in the Christian God. Pagans believe the Divine is its own quantity, but can present itself in many forms.

A diverse subcategory of Paganism, just as Protestantism relates to numerous Christian sects. Wiccans see the Divine as present within everything, including all of nature, and believe in many different pathways to God. The Wiccan Rede, a core ethical statement, states: “An’ it harm none, do what you will.” Some examples of Wiccan faiths include Reclaiming, Druidry, and NROOGD (aka New Reformed Order of the Golden Dawn).

This historically negative word is being reclaimed by some Pagans. It refers to a woman or man who practices a life-affirming, Earth- and nature-oriented religion, honoring female as well as (or instead of) male aspects of the Divine, and practicing Magic. A Witch needn’t practice Wicca, but usually has some Wicca influence in his/her rituals. Not all Witches are Wiccans and not all Wiccans are Witches, although some are both.

Another Pagan subcategory. Members of this nature-based faith, typically polytheistic, believe they can bend reality to their will. Similar to Wiccans, but they tend to practice more independently. Modern Witchcraft may be seen as the sum total of all a Witch’s practices, which may include spellcasting, divination (fortune-telling), meditation, herbalism, ritual and ritual drama, singing and dancing to raise energy, healing, clairvoyance and other psychism, creative mythology, and more.
(Sources: Patrick McCollum, US Army Chaplain’s Handbook, Covenant of the Goddess, JoHanna Coash)


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