This is a general FAQ for those new to the world of paganism. Obviously there’s a lot of room to grow here, but there is an effort to cover the basics.
What/who is a pagan?
Pagan loosely translates to “People of the Earth” from it’s Latin roots. Essentially pagans are people who believe in the power of the Earth itself. Most pagans also believe in a higher power but not necessarily the Christian God.
The majority of pagans today believe in multiple gods (usually based on deities from ancient civilizations) or one single great spirit that manifests itself as different beings at different times. It should be noted that the majority of pagans believe in a female aspect of “god” as well as a male aspect.
What’s the difference between paganism and neo-paganism?
Throughout the pagan community the two terms paganism and neo-paganism are usually used interchangeably. Traditionally though, paganism refers to any Earth-based religion, especially older ones. Neo-paganism refers to the resurgence of the pagan-based faiths that have occurred in the last century. Wicca, a pagan faith that was founded in the last 50 years is technically a neo-pagan faith because it was not formally in existence until very recently even though it was founded on traditions that are very old. All of the current schools of druidry are also technically neo-pagan faiths because the original schools and traditions of druidry were almost totally wiped out centuries ago. Most of the schools of druidry around today were founded within the last century.
Conversely, the Native American traditions, Australian aborigines, Eskimo and other pagan-based traditions are fundamentally ongoing from their original roots and are therefore considered more pagan than neo-pagan.
Do pagans worship the devil?
Simply put, no. Pagans don’t really believe in the concept of the devil. They embrace the light and dark side of life as opposite sides of the same coin.
From the Christian perspective it might be argued that pagans do, in fact, worship the devil because of the Christian belief that “what is not of God is of the Devil.” Using this argument however also invalidates every other religion on the planet other than Christianity.
In short, according to the Christian doctrine, paganism really is no more satanic than Buddhism, the Muslim faith or ANY religion that is not Christianity.
While this description can be construed as derogatory toward the christian faith I wish to dispel that notion immediately. I consider myself quite at home in most christian churches. I believe that pagans and christians and those of just about any faith, creed or nationality can live together in relative peace and harmony. We are human and we will always have our conflict just as nature always has it’s conflict but we must strive to maintain balance, mercy, wisdom, tolerance and forgiveness.
Do pagans believe in God?
Man, that’s really a loaded question. It depends on how you define a lot of things. First of all, pagans are notoriously independent in their beliefs so one pagan’s answer to this will be most assuredly different from another pagan’s answer. Even if both pagans are from the same pagan tradition (particular belief system) they may give radically different answers.
It also depends on how you define “God”. If you’re asking if pagans believe in the same God of the Christians the answer will be almost universally a resounding “no”. Pagans do, however, recognize a higher power or higher powers. These higher powers often have the same ethics as the Christian God but without the associated dogma. Some pagans believe in many separate individual gods, many follow a female version of the supreme power (Goddess) and others believe each separate god is simply a reflection of the one ultimate power that is both male and female.
In short, pagans do believe in a God and/or a Goddess or maybe an entire pantheon of them but not necessarily the same higher power you believe in. Something to note about pagans around the world is that they all generally respect your choice to follow whatever higher power you choose to follow so long as you respect their choice in their beliefs as well.
Why do people think pagans are evil?
Because it’s part of the Christian doctrine. Christianity teaches that you must either follow God or Satan and, “That which is not of God is of the devil”. So they naturally assume we are not of God since we are not like them. Then we must be of the devil.
Who is to say they are wrong? I for one would be the last to tell another what they can believe or not believe. As long as their belief and the actions it calls for harms none then they we are all entitled to our own freedoms.
We all have a light and dark side. Most pagans accept that as a universal truth. We have both the divine and demon within us. The path we choose in life promotes one over the other. It is our choice. It has been my experience that MOST pagans go with the light side of things.
Why do pagans and Christians fight so much?
If you’re not heavily involved in either culture you may not have experienced this but there are sometimes seriously negative emotions between pagans and most denominations of Christians. The problem starts on the most basic level possible. According to Christian dogma, Christians are required to convert non-Christians to their religion. This is one of the primary tenants of their faith. Couple this with the fact that a good portion of pagans today were originally Christian and converted to a pagan faith because they felt more comfortable with it or identified closer with it’s basic beliefs. These pagans do not appreciate having a Christian attempt to “convert” them to their religion.
Some of the tactics Christians use can be very annoying or downright rude or scary so this doesn’t help the situation either. I have personally had the early Saturday morning knock on the door only to answer it and find someone at my front door trying to talk to me about a religion I have no interest in. This can be particularly annoying if you’re in the middle of Saturday morning cartoons or there’s an especially good episode of Scooby Doo on. Pagans, like everybody else, don’t like to be bothered, especially early in the morning. I’ve also heard many horror stories about more “fundamentalist” Christians making minor threats or even threats of injury or death just because someone isn’t the same religion as they are.
Much of this type of activity is based on the King James version of the Christian bible, Ex. 22:18 ; “Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live.” (Most pagans consider themselves to be witches or at least practice some form of “magick” or occult activity.) Unfortunately it’s a very little known fact that King James I that funded and oversaw the translation of this version of the bible had a personal vendetta against witches. Evidently he forced the translation from what appeared to be originally “poisoner” to “witch”. There is quite a lot of information available on this topic elsewhere on the web so I won’t go into more detail here.
The last major reason for the negative feeling between pagans and Christians is from the pagan side of the fence. Many pagans still harbor bad feelings over events like the Salem Witch Trials and the Spanish Inquisition where Christian or “Church” authorities that were in power executed practioners of witchcraft openly. This, in my mind, is incredibly silly.
What’s the deal with Easter, Christmas, pagans and the Roman Catholic church?
Catholicism has more in common than they think with paganism as well. The Catholics changed the doctrine of their church to more closely resemble the pagan calendar when they were trying to convert the Celtic people to the Christian faith. They actually moved Christ’s birthday to Yule in an attempt to phase out the pagan holidays. The same was done with Easter as well. They adopted symbols like the Celtic wheel of elements that’s what’s known now as the Irish cross. (The cross with the circle) That’s actually a druidic symbol. The Easter bunny and Santa clause are both Celtic/pagan folk tales that have been woven into the fabric of Christianity in an attempt to stomp out the heritage of the pagan faiths.
The Catholic Church is a huge political machine built on gathering followers and resources to serve it’s own needs. They needed the Celtic people at the time so they adopted their symbols and what symbols they couldn’t adopt they declared as satanic. It’s funny that the image of the devil as a goat didn’t come about until the Christians invaded Celtic land and started the conversion.. Don’t you think?
You know the saying, “St. Patrick drove all the snakes out of Ireland”. The actual meaning behind that is that he drove all the pagans out of Ireland. He didn’t actually manage do to that but he was instrumental in converting the local pagan religion into Catholicism.
What is Wicca?
Wicca is a specific denomination of paganism. Wicca itself is a fairly new religion but it based off of traditions practiced in Ireland, Scotland and other celtic nations. The foundation of the Wiccan doctrine is based on a principle stated as “let it harm none.”
For more info on Wicca see the General Info. section of my Celtic / Druid page. Or, for books on Wicca you might consider checking out a few books by the author Silver Ravenwolf. I recommendTo Ride a Silver Broomstick and To Stir a Magick Cauldron as the first books to read.
Scott Cunningham’s Wicca: A Guide to the Solitary Practioner and The Truth About Witchcraft Todayare also great books.
Wicca is where I started my search into paganism. I eventually found Druidry but Wicca is a fine faith itself. No matter what faith you are, follow your heart.
Whats the relation between Wicca and Witchcraft?
Wicca is a faith that practices spell craft and magick which is otherwise known as witchcraft. Most Wiccans (followers of Wicca) consider themselves witches because they practice a form of witchcraft. However, not all witches are Wiccan. Other forms of paganism also practice spell craft and magick or other occult activity that could be considered witchcraft. Druidry, for example, believes in and practices occult ritual magick that could be considered by many to be witchcraft, but most followers of Druidry do not consider themselves to be witches.
What is Druidism / Druidry?
The druids guided and advised the chieftains of the Celtic people as well as tending to the spiritual needs of the common folk alike. These priests of nature looked toward the beauty and harmony present in the natural world for the answers to the problems presented in life and death. To the druids life was seen as a brief interlude used to teach the soul the lessons it needed to learn to progress to enlightenment.
In comparison with Wicca, druidism is older (not that age designates validity by any means). Druids are perhaps a bit more shamanistic and academic, generally speaking. They also focus more on the natural order of things and less on the magical. In fact it could be said that to the druids the magical was mundane. Magic is accepted as a part of nature just as the wind and the earth.
The pursuit of wisdom was & remains the main goal of the druidic order. Understanding the world around us by observing nature and the forces of the universe and keeping life in balance.
Whats up with all this Celtic stuff?
Many of the popular forms of neo-paganism today are based off of the celtic culture (The people known as the Galatians in the Christian Bible). The celts were a fierce and proud people that were rich in culture, craft and occult knowledge. Many schools or traditions of Wicca are heavily inundated with celtic beliefs, traditions. Druidry is based almost entirely on Celtic traditions and beliefs.
However, other pagan faiths like the Native American traditions and Australian Aboriginies are pagan but have nothing to do with the Celtic traditions.
What are “fluffy” pagans?
Fluffy or Fluff pagans are individuals that associate themselves with the pagan community or a pagan faith simply because they think it’s cool or they like the image they think it portrays. These people come in generally two flavors, the dark and sometimes gothic “I want power” fluffs and the “Fluffy pink bunny” people that are often obsessed with fairies, unicorns, bunnies, or anything small furry and cute. Both groups often have very little spiritual development. The power hungry types are quick to point out their associations with what they believe to be powerful beings or groups, make subtle hints at things they couldn’t possibly know about to boost their own egos or try to make someone fear them. This is usually the result of an under-developed sense of self and often speaks of ego and self-worth problems. They often associate themselves with paganism and witchcraft just to be different and because they believe it will gain them some degree of respect. These people should be in therapy and not in circle. The cute bunny types are often overly girly and are obsessed with the opposite sex and are usually very well versed in all manner of love spell and consider their faith to be more of a “social club” than a spiritual path.
What is “magick”?
Magick (spelled with a K) is the practice of putting your will into motion to cause events and otherwise effect the world around you. Casting a spell or other forms of witchcraft are forms of Magick. Spell is a type of formal declaration of what you want to happen or how you want something or someone effected. It often involves some form of ceremony or ritual and may involve communicating or working with other spiritual entities such as elementals, fairies, devas or even demons. In these cases the concept is to implore, command or bribe these entities to perform whatever task is on your agenda. Other types of spells don’t involve other entities but instead focus your own willpower and intent to accomplish the task at hand.
There are, of course, other types of magick but the basic concepts all own will in motion or asking other beings for assistance.
Is magick dangerous?
Magick can be dangerous on several levels. First and foremost you should be careful what you ask for, you may get it. What you think you want and what you actually want or need may be two different things entirely. There is also the danger that you may get what you ask for but it may not be exactly as you intended it. For example, you may wish for a large sum of money but you may get it because someone close to you died and willed it to you. You may wish for love and you may fall in love but it could be with someone that’s not good for you. Always be very careful and very specific in what you ask for or work magick for.
In dealing with other spiritual entities there is also a good degree of risk, especially if you are not experienced with such things. Some spiritual beings may appear to friendly and my have other intentions entirely. Beings that you treat poorly or coerce into doing something are naturally more likely to turn on you at the first opportunity. Some beings are also very powerful. If you are not prepared for dealing with such and entity if it proves to be unfriendly at some point you should think twice about dealing with it. “Never call forth that which you cannot put down.”
What’s the deal with ritual tools and why do we need them?
Several ritual tools are commonly used in ceremonial or ritual magick today. These often include but are not limited to sword, staff, knife (athame), wand, chalice/cup, cauldron, brazier, etc. Most tools are associated with specific elements and have specific roles to play in the ritual. Some people think these tools have to be specifically dedicated or consecrated to these tasks and that may help in some way but only in so much as you believe it will. Traditionally, the tools used in magick were every day household tools. The knife used in ritual was the same used for cutting meat and cheese in the kitchen and the cauldron was the family cooking pot used to cook all the meals. Some also believe that in order to be more effect a tool has to be elaborate, specially decorated or of especially high quality. This, again, has more to do with you believing that than the reality of the situation. If you a believe a $5000 sword is more potent in ritual then it will be for you. However, a $50 sword may be just as effective in the hands of someone else. It’s your belief in your tools that makes the difference. Having special tools is a concept that was not around when the common folk developed magickal ritual because these tools were not often available to them.
Furthermore, it is important to realize that these ritual tools are just that, tools. They hold no power unto themselves. They help you to focus your energy on the task at hand. They give you structure and something tangible to put your hands around. They are essentially a crutch to help you focus. In time, you may not have any need of some or any of your ritual tools. As you progress in understanding and skill on your spiritual path you should have less and less need for crutches.
Is there a correlation between ceremony / ritual and prayer?
Yes, absolutely! Ceremony and ritual are nothing more than a stylized form of prayer. They often help you to focus on your intent and give you the structure you need to blend and form your energies into the task at hand. A ceremony can often be more effective for someone who has trouble mustering faith in their abilities or focusing. A simple prayer can be more effective for someone who has trouble with ritual or just doesn’t get into pomp and circumstance.
What does “casting a circle” mean?
A circle in pagan terms often refers to a “magick circle”. This is a circle drawn or imagined on the ground. This is your personal ritual space. The circle is actually a sphere of protective energy (or shield) that forms a bubble around you or your group. The circle on the ground marks the place where the shield intersects the ground. It is important to realize that this circle is 3-dimensional so that the shield extends all the way around you for maximum protection. The phrase “casting a circle” refers to the process or ceremony of calling this circle into existence/reality.
What does “calling the quarters” mean?
This refers to calling the four sacred directions (North, South, East, West) and their associated elements to your circle. Calling all four directions to one location makes your space sacred and makes it a place that is everywhere at once, a “place that is not a place and a time that is not a time”. The quarters are also called to enlist the elements into witnessing your ceremony or to ask them for assistance.
It’s also important to note that most schools of druidry recognize 7 sacred directions, not just 4. They are North, South, East, West, Up, Down and Center. This more closely represents 3 dimensional space.
Whats an aura?
An aura is the energy field that surrounds every living thing. Some people consider it to be purely spiritual energy and some consider it to be the electro-magnetic field that surrounds our bodies and some consider it to be a combination of the two. Some individuals claim to be able to sense, feel or even see the aura and to be able to gather information about a person from their aura. There’s even a school of photography that professes to be able to capture a picture of an aura.
A good way to test for your electro-magnetic aura is to get close to an antenna (like a TV antenna). You should notice the reception on the signal change when you get close to it even if you’re not touching it. This is the antenna picking up your personal energy field. Often, the reception is improved when you get close to an antenna because the antenna keys into your energy field and uses you as an antenna as well.
What is “skyclad” and do I have to do it?
Skyclad is a pagan way of saying “naked”. It means you have no clothes on. Some traditions believe you must be naked for rituals, especially initiations. Some even go so far as to insist that sexual activity is essential for ritual or ceremony. While this may have it’s place in some traditions it is only valid if you are comfortable with it. Anyone telling you that you have to be naked or you have to have sexual contact with someone to get the “true experience” or to be taken seriously is probably just out to see you naked or try to get you into bed. Insisting on being naked to be “authentic” is silly and just a manipulation ploy. Avoid people who insist you or anyone else be skyclad for anything. Especially avoid people that press the topic if you object!
What does “Lines of the Dragon” mean?
The title of this site, “Lines of the Dragon”, is drawn from a druidic concept known as Dragon Lines. Dragon Lines are magnetic lines of latitude in the earth through which the power of the earth flows, much like chi energy channels in the body.
Druids supposedly had methods of detecting these lines and built stone monuments on top of them. Stonehenge is one of these monuments. Evidently there is some validity to this because scientists have discovered electromagnetic anomalies around some of these ruins.
I chose this as the title for this site because of my vision of the power (of knowledge) that this site will one day possess.