Religion is a sensitive topic for many people – both believers and non-believers. Paganism is a religion which is often misunderstood, misinterpreted, and given negative associations without good cause. If you are pagan or you want to explain paganism to someone who isn’t pagan, it can be challenging to summarize it and counteract negative and false beliefs they may have taken on. Here is a breakdown of some of the things you may want to cover to help them get to grips with the basics of the religion.
Paganism is a very old religion, and as Christianity started to spread through the Roman Empire, it became a term frequently associated with those who didn’t follow the new religion – essentially, anything non-Christian. It’s interesting to note that some Jews and Muslims also use the term pagan to refer to those who don’t follow their religion. That doesn’t pin it down much, though!
Even broader is the definition that it’s a religion outside of Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Hinduism, or even the definition that it means being without a religion. Evidently, the term paganism is used in varying and confusing ways. This might be partly due to the fact that it doesn’t follow any specific doctrine, so describing what it is may be harder than describing what it isn’t.
However, in order to define it, we can find some definite truths which apply to the religion for all the followers. For example, most pagans hold life in high regard, and believe that nature is divine. This respect for the natural world may stem from the fact that it is such an old religion, and while it probably doesn’t apply to every pagan on the planet, it does apply to most.
It’s also worth noting that paganism is usually associated with polytheistic beliefs. Many pagans believe that there are multiple gods, although they still often choose one major god to worship. This may be why paganism was pushed aside for a while by monotheistic religions, although it has enjoyed several resurgences throughout history.
Today, paganism is often a blend of many different ideas, and different groups identify in different ways. Some claim to trace their ideas from Norse mythology, Greco-Roman traditions, ancient Egypt, the Celts, and many others – so no wonder it can seem a confusing religion to anyone who doesn’t know much about it.
Paganism appeals to many people today, and is probably on the rise again. This is likely due to an increasing interest in the natural world and our relationship with it; lots of groups are seeking to rediscover a connection with nature and animals.
Pagan beliefs also promote equality between the sexes, which is obviously more attractive in our increasingly equalized world. Many pagans think that the consciousness extends beyond the self, and that we are all closely connected. As we pay more attention to human rights and animal rights, move toward vegetarianism or veganism, and start to focus on solving environmental problems, it makes sense for this religion to enjoy increased popularity.
Paganism also encourages followers to take responsibility for their own actions, and not depend on governments or other institutions to make the changes necessary in life. Individualism is a growing trend, particularly in western societies, and there is an increasing sense that governments are failing, so it is up to individuals to take charge and ensure that problems are solved. With a strong focus on morality and behaving in ethically justifiable ways, paganism suits many people who are seeking to understand and empower themselves.
Paganism is not easy to sum up in a few words or phrases, because it is a phenomenally diverse religion – probably more so than almost any other religion – and encompasses a vast range of beliefs and thoughts. What one pagan believes might vary dramatically from what another believes, and all will have different ways of applying their thinking to the realities of life.
However, if you’re looking to explain it simply and succinctly – without delving into the rich and fascinating history behind it – then the focus on nature, morality, and personal responsibility are probably the most important and consistently followed beliefs which you can describe to someone else.
An experienced business development manager at Buy Coursework, George J. Newton has been married for a decade, during which time he has perfected the art of the apology.
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