*Help for New Pagans*
I have noticed in my wanderings through Pagan literature there is one universal theme that pops up more than any other. On almost every Pagan forum there are countless posts from people new to paganism and they are always asking the same questions. I will try to cover most of these here in hopes that I may be able to help someone lost in the sea of information just as I was not so very long ago! I will just be covering the basics in this Blog to give seekers a starting point and reference. Much of it is the same advice that countless newbies ask every day and have answered by wise and knowledgeable Pagans from around the world. The most common advice given to each newcomer is simple, READ! Soak in everything you can and research, research, research, and research some more. Books and the Internet are HUGE tools for all Pagans on their paths. There is so much information out there and the only way to make sense of it is to learn everything you can about everything you can! So it looks like your starting out right!
Most new Pagans are just looking for a guide or a place to start. Well, I regret to inform you that there is no guide. There is no real how to book to show you everything you need to know. I wish there was! However there are a lot of great resources to help you on your quest. So here is a list of helpful things to assist you on your journey into Paganism.
What is Paganism?
What exactly is Paganism? This is a loaded question because Pagan is such an umbrella term for what is in fact thousands of different religions and beliefs. In its most simplified definition:
“Paganism: any of various religions other than Christianity or Judaism or Islamism”
So as you can see this is quite broad so lets lake a closer look.
“Paganism is a broad group of indigenous and historical polytheistic religious traditions—primarily those of cultures known to the classical world. In a wider sense, paganism has also been understood to include any non-Abrahamic, folk, or ethnic religion. Modern ethnologists often avoid referring to non-classical and non-European, traditional and historical faiths as “pagan” in favor of less ambiguous labels such as polytheistic, shamanistic, pantheistic, and animistic.
Contemporary or modern paganism, also known as neopaganism, is a group of new religious movements influenced by, or claiming to be derived from, the various historical paganbeliefs of pre-modern Europe. Contemporary pagan religious movements are diverse, sharing no single set of beliefs, deities, creed, ritual practices, or texts; nor do any claim to be absolutely authoritative. However, there is a great deal of overlap amongst pagan movements and there are a number of beliefs commonly shared by many pagans, including pluralism, pantheism, polytheism, and a general belief that divinity is found in mind and nature.[” (From Wikipedia)
One important thing to remember is that Paganism isn’t a religion any more than Monotheism is a religion. Both Paganism and Monotheism are collective terms used to group very different religions that happen to share a few important classifying traits in common. For example, Monotheism includes the all the various forms of Judaism, Christianity and Islam (and many minor faiths). The beliefs of the individual religions grouped under the term “Pagan” probably vary even more than (say) Reform Judaism differs from Shiite Islam. As Wicca is currently the most well-known modern Pagan religion, many people tend to assume that all modern Pagans share the specific beliefs of Wicca (e.g. belief in a God and Goddess, the eight festival “wheel of the year,” the Wiccan Rede, etc.). That assumption is simply incorrect. People who make that assumption generally end up very confused when they encounter some of the many modern Pagan religions that are not based on Wicca.
Some examples of religions that fall inside the term Pagan:
- Church of ALl Worlds
- Religious Witchcraft
What Religion should I choose?
What path is right for me? How do I know what religion I am? How do I know what gods to follow?
The answer to this is simple. You can follow any path, gods, religion, or tradition you want. You can even take things from different ones and mix them together until they fit you! Say you love the tradition and ritual of Wicca but feel drawn to Norse gods. You can have both! Part of the beauty of Paganism is that everyone is free to choose their own path! What works for someone else may not work for you so explore your options until you discover what feels right for you!
You do not have to believe in gods or worship them to be pagan, however many do choose a specific Deity or Pantheon (Group of Gods ie. Greek, Celtic, Norse) to work with. Many Pagans start with a universal God and Goddess and go from there. It is important to research the different Pantheon’s and Gods and pick one or many that speak to you. Sometimes a god or goddess will choose you. People have been called into service by certain gods or goddesses through dreams, visions, meditation, and signs. Some people are never called by a God/goddess so don’t feel bad if you are not! Just pick deities that speak to you and your path!
What about Magic?
What is magic? Do I have to do magic? Which religion uses magic?
“Magic is the science and art of causing change to occur in conformity with the will.” — Aleister Crowley”
To put it simply, Magic is the use of a person’s will/force to create change. So in its simplest form, magic is when you tell yourself something will happen, absolutely believe it, and then it happens. The force of your will caused something to happen because you put energy into it with thought and intent. For example: There is a big test coming up so you study as hard as you can and tell yourself you are going to make a good grade and you get an A. This is magic because YOU brought about change. There is also ritual magic, prayer, elemental magic, voodoo, etc. It will be up to you to research and decide what type of magic is right for you if you decide that it is a part of your path.
No, you do not have to do magic unless you want to. Some Pagan religions have nothing to do with magic and some seem to center around it. Many also believe that Religion and magic are two different things entirely. You can have magic without religion, religion without magic, or both at the same time. Once again it is all about your choices and what feels right to you!
Many religions use magic as a part of their paths. Both Witch Craft and Wicca have magic as a central theme running through them. Magic can be a very exciting and intimidating subject for new Pagans looking for their path. Just remember to start small and keep it simple. Don’t run out and spend a ton of money or ritual items, you will acquire them as you go and most you can make yourself of re-purpose regular items around your home. So many people get caught up in the excitement and miss the entire point of magic. You create the Magic, everything else is just extras.
Helpful online resources for the Beginner Pagan