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Comment on this pagan FAQ?

To: alt.magick
From: David Dalton 
Subject: Comment on this pagan FAQ?
Date: Fri, 19 Sep 2003 19:28:54 -0230

Here is a draft FAQ I just got prepared not by me but by
other members of the Newfoundland Pagan Society (also known as 
Memorial University Pagan Society but there are over 1/3 non-university
members and more are welcome but any under 16 need a consent form signed 
by a parent).  But anyway basically I would like editorial comments
on this FAQ including corrections and other suggestions for
improvement and then in a few days time I will collect responses
and pass them on to the society executive.   (Right now there
are a few initiated trad Wiccans, some self-initiated eclectic Wiccans, 
some eclectic pagans including two tantric/celtic fusion witches, 
one Asatru, one hereditary druid, one native path, one atheist
environmentalist, one non-Asatru norse shaman/discordia person, 
and one hereditary non-Asatru Swedish pagan in the group, 
and I suppose I can be classed as an individual/eclectic neopagan 
doing more inventing than research so far though.)

Pagan Society Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What is Paganism?

Literally, the word pagan comes from the Latin paganus, and 
means `country dweller.' From Pagan was the name 
given to idolaters in the early Christian church, because the 
villagers, being most remote from the centers of instruction, 
remained for a long time unconverted. Therefore, the word pagan was 
originally meant as an insult to the people who still practiced the 
religions of the old ways. The term neo-paganism is a recent word 
that more accurately sums up modern pagan movements. From Any of various religious movements arising 
chiefly in the late 20th century that combine worship of pagan nature 
deities, particularly of the earth, with benign witchcraft. In a 
broader sense of the term, a pagan is one who does not practice any 
of the world's major religions, like Christianity, Judaism, Islam, 
Buddhism, Taoism, or Hinduism. However, not all non-mainstream 
religions could be classified as paganism. Some examples of modern 
neo-pagan religions are Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, Celtic 
Reconstructionism, and Dianic Witchcraft. There are some religions 
that share elements with neo-paganism, or influence some pagan 
religions. Some examples are Ceremonial Magic, tribal and indigenous 
religions, Cabbalism, Native American spirituality, Voodoo, New Age 
religions, and Santeria.

What do Pagans believe in? 

Pagan beliefs are very, VERY varied. Some pagan beliefs, which are 
widespread, but certainly not universal, are:

* Reincarnation and karma
* A belief in magic 
* A desire to revere, honor, and respect the Earth as a sacred 
being. Many pagans are environmental activists.
* Polytheism; the belief in many deities. Also, many pagans 
belief that Divinity is manifest and inherent in everything in the 
universe (pantheism)
* A belief that the animal world and Nature is filled with gods 
and spirits (animism)
* Many pagans believe that although Divinity is genderless, it 
is convenient to worship Divinity in both a masculine and feminine 
form. Hence, many pagans worship both the God and the Goddess.
* A belief in different spirit realms, including the astral 
plane, the faerie realm, the Afterlife, etc.

What special holidays do Pagans celebrate?

It greatly depends on which pagan religion the person is practicing. 
The holidays vary greatly between different pagan traditions. The 
Pagan Society itself celebrates the eight holidays of the Celtic 
Wheel of the Year; the Sabbats, the Equinoxes and the Solstices. 
These holidays are as follows; Samhain (Oct 31), Yule (Dec 21), 
Imbolc (Feb 2), Eostara (Mar 21), Beltane (Apr 30), Litha (Jun 21), 
Lammas (Jul 31), Mabon (Sep 21). The dates of some of these holidays 
shift from year to year.

What are some of the symbols used in Paganism?

The pentacle (a 5-pointed star with a circle around it), the crescent 
moon, the Celtic Cross, the ankh, God and Goddess symbols, the 
spiral, circles, and the hexagram (Star of Solomon) are some of the 
more universal symbols.

Do all pagans believe the same thing?

No. Pagans tend to be highly individualistic in what they practise. 
Pagans greatly respect religious diversity, and believe all spiritual 
paths are valid. Beliefs and practise differ between the various 
pagan traditions, and beliefs within each tradition vary as well. 
Also, a lot of pagans are solitary practitioners who follow a 
spiritual path that is personalized and adapted on an individual 

Is the pentacle symbolic of Satanism?

Most pagans who wear a pentacle wear it with the point of the star 
facing upwards, to symbolize the four elements (earth, air, fire, and 
water) plus Spirit. Some pagan traditions use a pentacle with a 
downright-pointing star to symbolize the Horned God. Other pagan 
traditions with degree systems use the downright-facing pentacle to 
signify attaining certain ranks. Satanists wear the downright-facing 
pentacle to symbolize the superiority of the material world over the 
spiritual world. Many pagans do not wear a downright-facing pentacle 
because of its association with Satanism. 

Are pagans anti-Christian?

No. Pagans respect religions diversity, and therefore respect 
Christianity. In fact, there is ongoing scholarly debate over whether 
or not ancient paganism influenced early Christianity. Pagans are not 
opposed to Judeo-Christian religions, or the practitioners. In fact, 
there is a pagan religion called Christian Wicca. The practitioners 
of this faith worship Christian divinities, but in a pagan context.

Is paganism a legal religion?

Paganism itself is not an official religion, but some pagan religions 
do have legal recognition status as religions. The Canadian charter 
says that everyone has freedom to practise his or her own religion. 
Therefore, even if a pagan practices a non-recognized religion, they 
still have the legal right to do so.

Are Wiccans, Witches and Pagans the same thing?

No. All Wiccans are Pagan, but not all pagans are Wiccan. Just as all 
Catholics are Christian, but not all Christians are Catholic. Wicca 
is a religion, witchcraft is a practice. Many Wiccans do practise 
witchcraft, but many Wiccans don't. And many witches do not consider 
themselves Wiccan. 

Do pagans worship the Devil?

No. Most pagans do not even BELIEVE in the Devil. The Devil is a 
concept of various monotheistic religions, and pagans do not adhere 
to this belief. 

Do pagans do magic and spells?

Many pagans practise magic, but not all pagans do so. Please keep in 
mind that pagan magic does not resemble the sort of magic in the 
movies and on T.V. Real magic is subtle, and uses natural energy to 
produce the end result. Regrettably, we can't shoot fire out of our 
hands, or levitate. However, many pagans do use magic to enhance 
their lives. Pagans also utilize ritual, but more for religious 
purposes than practical ones.

Can you do me a love/money/healing spell?

First of all, not all of us do spells! Secondly, it is in bad taste 
to ask a pagan this question upon first meeting! Third, doing spells 
takes up a lot of time and energy, so we usually just do them for 
ourselves and loved ones. Fourth, if you believe in witchcraft and 
spells, why not learn how to do your own spell? The Internet has a 
lot of good info on spell crafting and magic, although many sites 
have questionable information that must be taken lightly. When doing 
spells and ritual, many pagans follow the Wiccan Rede; `If it harms 
none, do as you will.'

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