Some say there are as many types of paganism as there are pagans. Because there is no central authority or formal structure, and pagans of all stripes are typically very individualistic, there is rarely consensus when it comes to defining terms. This FAQ is an attempt to clarify some common misconceptions, but keep in mind that there are few answers here with which every pagan can completely agree.

What is Paganism?

Paganism is an umbrella term that refers to a wide variety of religious traditions -- from Wicca to Asatru to Shamanism. Inspired by the ancient religious practices of pre-Abrahamic societies (and thus pre-monotheistic), they combine ancient ideas with insights and practices of present-day tribal peoples.

Pagans draw their rituals, practices, sacred texts from many different sources. Those who practice reconstructionist religions (and who may or may not identify with the terms "pagan" and "heathen") attempt to revive the ancient spiritual traditions of Greece, Egypt, Celtic Ireland, and other cultures. Others are being created every day, and are a hybrid of past and present. Some Wiccans worship the gods and goddesses of the ancient Celts, but

Other traditions are being created every day. They tend to stress experience and practice over dogma.

(Because we are defining paganism here as broadly as possible, in this context we are not capitalizing the term.)

Do Pagans worship the devil?

No. Pagans do not believe in the devil, and believe that each individual is responsible for his or her actions. Wiccan ethics, for example, are based on the "Wiccan Rede": "An ye harm none do what ye will," meaning that your actions should be they reject the worship of evil, animal sacrifices, and anything else associated with harming others.

Do pagans practice

What does the pentagram symbolize to Pagans?

The five-pointed star alludes to the elements of air, water, earth, fire, with the top point symbolizing spirit. The circle around the star represents the union of these elements in the divine. Not all pagans identify with this symbol, but it is popular among Wiccans.

Do Witches/Wiccans cast spells?

Spells are similar to prayers with an important distinction. Wiccans may use spells to encourage change in their lives, but since many believe the divine is present everywhere and in everyone, spells are used to channel one's own creative energy.

Do Pagans/Wiccans believe in God?

Most Pagans are polytheistic, meaning that they recognize many gods and goddesses. Some follow particular pantheons, for example Greek, Irish, Norse, Welsh, etc; while others don't stick to any one culture.

Some traditions emphasize a What is the difference between witchcraft and Wicca?

Some Wiccans call themselves Witches, but not all. Some use the terms interchangeably.

Wicca is the most common

How old is Wicca?

Do Pagans do their rituals in the nude?

Some pagans do their rituals "skyclad," but most do not. Sex is generally regarded as natural and sacred generative force.

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