What is Paganism?

For those who are unfamiliar with Paganism and are here to know more, I hope this page wll be useful to you. You have probably unknowlingly been practicing Pagan traditions since you were a young child, so to start with it will be interesting for you to familiarise yourself with the things you already know!

Chocolate 'Easter' eggs.
Decorating trees in December.
Blowing out birthday candles and making a wish.
Carving pumpkins.
Stonehenge.
Anicent Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, Norse, Celts... Any ancient culture!
May pole dancing.
Tarot reading.
Crystal Healing.

There are two main definitions used for Paganism nowadays:
1) Anyone person or religion that does not belong to the Abrahamic religions of Judaism, Christianity or Islam.
2) Somone who practices an earth-based spirituality or religion.

The latter is the preferred term for me personally. There are so many branches of Paganism out there; Druidry, Shamanism, Astatru, Kemeticism, Wicca, Heathenry, Traditional... From all over the world. The main similarity they hold is that they all focus on nature and the Earth. In this society we welcome anyone from any tradition as well as those who don't practice any spiritual path. Many non-pagans may find that they agree with some Pagan ideas; other religious such as Buddhism or Hinduism may find that many Pagans practice some of their beliefs too. We are very eclectic in what we believe in, because we believe in what makes sense to US as individuals, and we celebrate both similarities and differences.

So then what actually is Paganism?

Paganism within the second definition is commonly practiced in the UK in the forms of Druidry, Wicca and Witchcraft, although many, many others are practiced as well. Practices and beliefs that most groups have in common are the presence of some forms of Deity. Well it would be best to answer in terms of what the committee members of this Society believe to start with, as we can only represent our our beliefs. Some believe that there is duality in the Divine - masculine and feminine, God and Goddess and some may believe in just one God and one Goddess, whilst others believe in polytheism (many); it is up to the individual and we don't mind what others believe!
We believe that God/s and Goddess/es manifest through the natural world, through us, the trees, animals, the rain, the sea... Our power is within nature, so for those who also practice magick (such as Witches and Wiccans) comes from the Earth.

Because we follow the natural world our holy days 'Sabbats' are on dates of natural phenominom, such as the solstices and equinoxes. Most of our holidays celebrate the changing of the seasons, because the natural world affects the rhythms of our lives. Many celebrate the Full and New moons on top of these solar and agricultural holidays (calling the rituals 'Esbats'). The following are the solar and agricultural festivals according to the Neopagan Wheel of the Year (dates given are according to the Northern Hemisphere):

Imbolc - 2nd February
Ostara - 20th March
Beltane - 1st May
Litha - 21st June
Lughnasadh - 1st August
Mabon - 22nd September
Samhain - 31st October
Yule - 21st December

We use many symbols to represent our practice but the one you will come across mostly is on this page in fact (at the top); it is the Pentacle. The Pentacle is a five pointed star surrounded by a circle. Each point represents each of the five elements: Earth, Air, Fire, Water and Spirit, at the top; these elements are the natural elements which have built up life on earth and so we hold them as sacred. The circle around the star is for protection and symbolises eternity. Us Pagans find the circle a very significant symbol, noting that the cycles of nature go in circles.

So who is our God and Goddess?

Well it is up to you what you believe, if there is just one, two or multiple Gods and Goddesses. It is up to you if you call them just that, or Lord and Lady or even use images and deities from Ancient Pantheons, for example, Osiris and Isis, Cernunnos and Cerridwen, Lakshmi and Khrishna, Odin and Freya.... The traditional British Wiccan view the God is the Horned God, and the Triple Goddess. They are all true and valid and we call all link to them within nature. We value Men and Women equally and this is reflected within our God/s and Goddess/es, who work together to create and respect one another. We respect the maculine strength within a man and the nurturing qualities of a woman, and then vice versa - because we all have a feminine and a masculine side no matter what sex we are; this is why homosexuals also feel accepted within Paganism.The Horned God is a God of the hunt, of the wild and animals, sexuality and life; the Catholics feared his popularity when Christianity began to spread over Europe and so created the Devil with horns and hoofs in an attempt to scare people into conversion; let me assure you that the Horned God of Paganism is NOT the Devil that belongs to christianity - we do not believe in the Devil.

Many Pagan, Wiccans and non-Wiccans alike follow a moral code called the Wiccan Rede: "An it harm none, do what ye will." This means that we harm no one - other people, the environment, animals or ourselves (including harmful drug taking, sexual abuses and self harm). Ths also follows that unlike the inaccurate stereotype portayed by ignorant medias, we do not ever sacrifice animals (in the past such as in ancient Greece and Rome, animal sacrifice was done, but it is not done anymore; may it be reminded that the Bible is also full of gruesome animal sacrifice as well, being a sign of the times). Some Pagan practice witchcraft and consider themselves Witches (though certainly not all do!). Witches do do spells and magick - but sadly they can't fly on brooms and turn annoying people into frogs! They can only do REAL things, within the laws of physics, because they are REAL witches and not fantasy ones. They NEVER do spells that conflict with another persons freewill, including making them fall in love with them or others, curses and the like. They believe in the law of three (some call it Karma) - "what you send out returns to thee..." Anything that they do will return to us. If they are bad to others they will get that badness back. If they are good then they will recieve goodness. So any Witch with common sense and human decency would never perform curses or bad spells (which usually don't work anyway).

Finally, as a Society we aim to encourage religious tolerance and understanding towards Paganism, educate people who are interested in learning about Paganism, and help those who wish to persue a Pagan Path for themselves; we have many local groups which can nurture these three instances. It is also of vital importance as a Spiritual Society to promote tolerance towards other faiths too and we wish to work together and respect the other religious societies on campus, including organising interfaith events.

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