The term Paganism comes from the Latin word paganus,
which refers to those who lived in the country (and were by
implication considered uneducated or backward). When Christianity
began to grow in the Roman Empire, it did so at first primarily in
the cities, and the people who lived in the country and kept on
believing in old ways came therefore to be known as pagans.
Paganism today is a large religious movement that consists of
many different religions. Pagan practices involve everything from
forms of ancient European practices to religions inspired by
science fiction writings. Most American pagan religions have
practices that blend together different traditions, such as Celtic,
Greco-Roman, Native American, ancient Egyptian and Norse. Pagan
traditions draw from beliefs and practices as much (or more) than
5,000 years old, as well as from modern beliefs formed in the last
There is no universal pagan spiritual leader and there is no
universal pagan scripture or holy book. Most pagan groups are not
very structured or organized. A great deal of pagan religion is
practiced and made known to others through networks and
The following beliefs are common to many (but not all) different
- A belief in multiple deities, including male and female
- A revival of ancient or ancestral beliefs.
- Animism and a belief in spirits.
- A belief in the soul.
- A sense of equality or community with other things, such as
people, animals, plants and inanimate objects.
- A belief that one's actions will return to one in kind.
- An observance of the cycles of nature.
1Quoted and adapted from
http://www.sacredhearth.com/book/export/html/114 (accessed on
Modern Paganism. The Pagan Educational Network http://www.paganeducationalnetwork.org
What is Paganism?
A Brief History of Paganism in America - The Witches
Southside Social Pagans