I’ve been asked numerous questions along my path as a Pagan, but probably the most common question is “How did you know that this path was for you?”. Now to put it all on one page of this website might be asking a little too much, but I will try my best.
In terms of being under the umbrella term ‘Pagan’, I think there are a couple of main ideas or concepts that one must believe in or follow. Number one is a belief in and/or understanding of cycles; the cycles of seasons, of life and death, of karma, etc. I think that all Pagans, no matter what branch of the tree, would have a belief in cycles of some description. In the Judeo-Christian belief system, there is life, then there is death, and that’s where it ends. You are not reborn or reincarnated. Additionally, the Judeo-Christian belief systems take very little interest in seasonal cycles or anything of that sort, which I think a lot of Pagans take a lot of interest in.
The other thing I would say defines a Pagan is a belief in more than one deity, or a belief in a Goddess as opposed to a God. Monotheism is pretty exclusive to the Judeo-Christian belief systems, and it’s quite often (although very generally) said that any religion that believes in more than the Christian God is a Pagan religion. This would include Hinduism and Buddhism, going by this definition (although I don’t know how many Hindus or Buddhists would agree with being called ‘Pagan’).
The final main defining feature, in my eyes, is an interest in the Occult or magick of some description. I don’t know many Pagans who don’t have an interest in casting circle, or practising witchcraft, or are at least interested in the paranormal or history of magick.
It’s difficult to write a checklist for Paganism alone, since there are so many sub-branches of Paganism that all have their own beliefs. If I were to write a checklist for myself, based around Wicca, Druidry and Shamanism (being the branches of the Pagan ‘tree’ that I have tended to pull from for nearly 20 years), I would be inclusive of the following:
- A reverence for more than one deity, and normally a male and a female deity;
- A reverence for nature, and a belief that all in nature holds spirit;
- A belief in equality between the sexes;
- A reverence for the body – the body is a temple, not a vessel;
- An interest and belief in magickal forces and energy;
- A belief in the ability to utilise such energy for bettering ourselves and those around us.
This list is far from exhaustive, but those are definitely some of the things I would say are definitive to my path in particular. If you answered ‘Yes’ to more than 2 of those points, you might find some interest in looking into Paganism a little more.