Perhaps you're uncomfortable with the mere idea of Paganism. Perhaps you're asking yourself, "How could my child/friend/co-worker have gotten involved with this?" Or maybe you prefer not to think about it at all. Maybe you secretly hope that some day you'll be talking on the phone with the Wiccan in your life, and he or she will say, "Oh by the way, I found a nice little Christian church that I have been attending, and I'm thinking about joining." Or maybe you've accepted that, while Paganism is not your choice for religion and spirituality, you respect the right of each person to make his or her own spiritual choice. In any event, I believe knowledge is a powerful tool to help people get along better in this crazy world we live in.

Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft all mean slightly different things, just like Lutheran and Methodist and Baptist refer to different forms of Christianity. But just as these churches are all a part of Christianity, so are Paganism, Wicca, and Witchcraft all part of a worldwide movement of spirituality and religion that is based in reverence for nature. That's why it's called "Nature Spirituality." This movement believes that Mother Nature, or Mother Earth, is actually as much a part of God as is God the Father. Some Pagans think of Mother Nature as a Goddess, so this religion is often called Goddess Spirituality. It is a new religious movement, but is based on ancient spiritual practices form around the world. Nature spirituality is not a cult, and Pagans do not worship the devil. Pagans don't even believe in the devil.

If you are a religious person, I'm sure your faith means a lot to you. Perhaps you are an active member of your church, and you raised your children in the faith. Even though Paganism and Wicca may seem strange and unusual to you, I hope you'll see that Pagans are just as devoted and committed to the highest principles of nature spirituality as other people are to their faiths, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, or whatever. The Pagan path may not be the same as yours, but Pagans walk it with a similar sense of commitment, integrity, and responsibility. For Wiccans and Pagans, their path is about becoming a better person and working for the healing of our natural environment and our society.

It may be difficult for you to accept that someone you love is a Witch. After all, in our society, Witches are often thought to be bad people, malevolent evildoers who curse and poison their enemies. Look at the Wicked Witch in "The Wizard of Oz," for example. Of course, Pagans believe these stereotypes are inaccurate and unfair, based on centuries of misunderstanding. But it is understandable if the word "Witch" makes you uncomfortable.

If the Pagan you know is your child, it may bother you that he or she does not participate in your religion. This can be especially difficult for conservative Christians.

Some Christians say that if you merely dabble in non-Christian religion, then you have sinned against God and are going to hell. Perhaps you're afraid that a Pagan's eternal soul may be in danger.

I honor and respect your concern. I've been studying modern Paganism since 1983, and have actually practiced the Pagan path since 1990. In other words, I spent seven years thinking about and researching Wicca and other forms of Paganism before I took the step of actually living a Pagan life. Let me share with you some of the things that I learned in the years I spent researching Paganism and Witchcraft.

  • Paganism (or "Neopaganism," which means the new Paganism) is the overall name for the modern nature religions. Just as Christianity has many different forms (Catholic, Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, and so forth), so does Paganism. Some of the forms of Paganism include Wicca, Witchcraft, Druidism, Shamanism, Odinism, Goddess spirituality, and many others. Although there are differences between the many forms of Paganism, they also have much in common.
  • Witchcraft and other forms of Paganism have nothing to do with devil worship or Satanism. On the contrary, Paganism teaches the importance of living an upstanding and ethical life, just like any other religion.
  • Christians subdivide God into a Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Wiccans do the same thing, only they see God as a Mother and a Father. In other words, as a Mother Goddess and a Father God. In fact, one of the biggest differences between Paganism and Christianity is that some Pagans prefer a feminine image of the Goddess over, or in addition to, the traditional masculine image of God.
  • To Pagans, it makes no sense to see spirituality as separate from the material world. The Goddess is present in the material world, just as she is present in prayer and meditation. For this reason, Pagans see nature as holy and many Pagans get involved in recycling and ecological preservation as a way of expressing their religious convictions.