Paganism FAQ

What is this Pagan stuff anyway?

Paganism can be anything you want it to be. There are no real rules, although most Pagans follow the guideline “Harm None”. So you can do whatever you want, as long as you don’t infringe upon the rights of others.

Makes sense to me, and I follow that guideline.

There are a whole variety of different paths for Pagans. You’ve probably heard of Wiccans – they’re one of the largest groups.

Modern day Druids are also significant in number.

Modern day Druids.
Modern day Druids.

Then there is Asatru, which you may or may not have heard of. There are also eclectic Pagans, who get to choose whatever they wish from various pantheons and worship how they choose.

A group of eclectic Pagans at an open circle gathering I ran in 2004.
A small part of the group of eclectic Pagans at an open circle gathering I ran in 2004.

Some Pagans don’t worship at all, but view Paganism more as a way of life. There are those who use Gaia Philosophy as their ethical core, and see the earth as a living organism, with ourselves just a tiny part of the larger whole. There is significant scientific evidence for this viewpoint, interestingly.

Gaia philosophy was one of the aspects of Paganism that made sense to me.
Gaia philosophy was one of the aspects of Paganism that made sense to me.

Is it scientific? Does it make sense?

Paganism and science get along pretty well, and don’t have the problems science and many religions have (see the Gaia hypothesis).

Because of the nature of Paganism, and the widespread view that nature and humanity are subject to change rather than created, fixed, and all over and done with (“everything She touches changes”), there is no one static, singular truth, and science and faith can and often do sit neatly together.

Are there male as well as female Pagans? And male Witches?

Yes and yes.

For a while back in the late 90s and early this century there was a big disproportion of females to males. I think a lot of this had to do with the influx of “TV Paganism” in shows such as Buffy and Charmed.

"Charmed" portrayed Paganism as a very female-based religion, and probably helped increase the disproportion of females to males in Paganism.
“Charmed” portrayed Paganism as a very female-based religion, and probably helped increase the disproportion of females to males in Paganism.

While these shows had their merits, they did portray Paganism (and particularly Wicca) as being a female domain. This had the result of lots and lots of women getting involved in Paganism. Hence, an overflow of females, and a larger number of women in comparison to men.

Now things are evening out again. We’re seeing a rebalancing of the genders, and things are returning to normal. But it does show you what a huge influence the media can have upon the uptake of religion in our society.

What about the Gods? How can Gods possibly exist?

I think it is fair to say that every Pagan sees the Gods differently.

Many Pagans see the Gods as archetypes rather than actual beings. Many view the Gods as ways of viewing and understanding human nature.

So, for example, some Pagans might view Aphrodite as an archetype of certain aspects of what humanity is (beauty, strength, sexuality, femininity), rather than an actual being up there on Olympus, like the myths say.

Others believe they’re as real as you and me.

Still other Pagans have the view that “we are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams” (Ode, by Arthur O’Shaughnessy).

What this might mean is that we, as the consciousness of the Universe, in being conscious create it. Or possibly we reflect its truth, or one of its many truths.

So by dreaming and imagining the Gods we create them and empower them, and the Gods live or die by our own understanding and recognition of them.

One good thing (as I see it) about Paganism is that there is no singular text. You choose what you wish to believe, and you follow your own path. There is no right or wrong, apart from the nearly universal understanding that the rights of others must not be infringed upon (“Harm None”).

However, this also means that Paganism is never likely to be a politically powerful force like Christianity or Islam or Judaism, because we’re not likely to ever agree amongst ourselves enough to get organised!

Apart from this generally agreed upon stance of not harming or bothering others, worship and practice as you wish.

Can I be Pagan but still attend Church?

Yes. From the Pagan point of view you certainly can. There are very definitely many, many Christian Pagans in the world, who practice in a Pagan manner but who worship Jesus as their deity, or as one of several deities.

However, depending on the Church you attend, your Church or place of religion may not accept your Pagan viewpoints and practices, so think carefully before sharing your ideas with your Christian friends and family. Some may be accepting; others less so.

Likewise there are Jewish Pagans and Muslim Pagans and Pagans of every religion you can imagine. Paganism has no limits, because you are the creator of your own belief.

Why Aphrodite?

In my case, Aphrodite chose me. I had no say in the matter, except to accept Her will. As you meet other Pagans, you will hear similar accounts of various deities choosing them. It happens.

However, I’m really happy that She did. She’s a kick-ass Goddess, very very powerful. My life has changed dramatically, in ways I did not expect, since I was claimed by Her.

I have found inner strength I didn’t know I had, have emerged as a powerful Leader of a whole community, have found a new partner who gives me great happiness, and have transformed my entire life. I find myself unrecognisable from who I was before I was claimed.

If you find Paganism is your path, you may find that Aphrodite claims you. Or another God or Goddess claims you. Or that you feel comfortable working with a variety of deities, or none at all.

How did I get involved in Paganism?

I’d always been interested in a fantasy version of magic and paganism, even as a kid. And I’d always been a feminist, before I even knew what feminism really was.

But when I got to University (age 17, in 1988), I was amazed at all the books that were available. I remember finding a copy of “Drawing Down the Moon” by Margot Adler in the Adelaide University library. I read it cover to cover, over and over. It spoke to me.

These were the days before the internet, and the next thing I did was hunt up a copy of Starhawk’s “The Spiral Dance”.

Starhawk’s book wasn’t available in any library in Adelaide that I could see, and there was no Amazon in those days, but I managed to track down the Theosophical Society bookshop in Adelaide, rang through to find out they had one copy for sale, and made the long trek across town to buy it.

The rest, I guess, is ancient history. It’s been 26 years now, so I guess I’m a real Old Pagan 😉

Where can I find other Pagans?

There are some large “personals” listings online. The Witches’ Voice is one such place to search for Pagans in your local area with whom to connect. Your local University may also have a Pagan group (or several) with which to connect. Or you may choose to practice alone. Many do.

Any questions or comments?

If you have any questions or comments, post them below and I’ll do my best! 🙂

[This page updated June 28 2016]

One thought on “Paganism FAQ

  1. Hey hi

    my name is Jenny, I live in the Netherlands. My compliments to your website!
    I was about 9 when my (christian) teacher spoke of Freya during history class… And it was clear to me that I was not made to be a good christian girl 🙂
    Freya, a Norse Goddess kinda like Venus and Aphrodite… And later on Gaia called as well. I still am thankfull for that history class!
    blessings,
    Jenny

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