European Origins: Paganism, Nordic, Wicca
‘Paganism’ is used here as an umbrella term for a variety of traditions including Druidry, Wicca, Goddess spirituality, Asatru, shamanism and animism. Reconstructionist groups such as Heathens, who seek to revive Norse religion, are sometimes included under the heading. This ‘new religiosity’, including Paganism, is more personal than traditional religions, and individual experience is the main source of authority. Several traditions are drawn upon (many Pagans talk, for example, about karma, and may include deities from different pantheons in their practice). There is not so much stress on creeds, doctrines, beliefs or metaphysical truth claims, and more emphasis on rituals, stories and mythology. There is a tendency to be the opposite of dogmatic, including in the ethical realm – the Wiccan Rede (counsel):
‘An it harm none, do what thou wilt’
(though sounding archaic, it was probably coined in the 1960s) being a typical example. Groups tend to be connected networks rather than institutions, and many focus on the divine immanent in nature, linking with concerns about the planet. New rituals, stories and even deities can be created to suit contemporary needs.
A useful discussion of historic paganism can be found here at the American Humanist Association: A Brief Overview of the History of Paganism
“Humanist Common Ground: Paganism.” American Humanist Association, 1 Sept. 2021, americanhumanist.org/paths/paganism/.
Cush, Denise. “Contemporary Paganism in the UK.” British Library, Discovering Sacred Texts: Contemporary Paganism, 2019, www.bl.uk/sacred-texts/articles/contemporary-paganism-in-the-uk.
- Various neopagan religious symbols (from left to right): 1st Row Slavic Neopaganism ("Hands of God") Celtic Neopaganism (or general spiral triskele / triple spiral) Germanic Neopaganism ("Thor's hammer") 2nd Row Hellenic Reconstructionism neopagan pentagram (or pentacle) Roman Reconstructionism 3rd Row Wicca (or general Triple Goddess) Kemetism (or general ankh) Natib Qadish ↵