What is a Pagan?
The following definition is for the purposes of the Pagan Pride Project. Others may define themselves or their group in different ways, and that’s OK. Some groups that fit the categories we list may not call themselves Pagan, and that’s ok too – that’s why we say that first and foremost the definition of a Pagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan. But the following was created in order to have a functional definition to help educate the public about the spiritual paths we cover:
A Pagan or NeoPagan is someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
- Honoring, revering, or worshiping a Deity or Deities found in pre-Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
- Practicing religion or spirituality based upon shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
- Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology; and/or
- Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
- Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.
What pagans do
Pagan ethics allow personal freedom within a framework of personal responsibility. The primary basis for Pagan ethics is the understanding that everything is interconnected, that nothing exists without affecting others, and that every action has a consequence.
There is no concept of forgiveness for sin in the Pagan ethical system; the consequences of one’s actions must be faced and reparations made as necessary against anyone whom you have harmed. There are no arbitrary rules about moral issues; instead, every action must be weighed against the awareness of what harm it could cause. Thus, for example, consensual homosexuality would be a null issue morally because it harms no one, but cheating would be wrong because it harms one’s self, one’s intellect, one’s integrity, and takes unfair advantage of the person from whom you are cheating.
The most common forms in which these ethics are stated are the Wiccan Rede, “An it harm none, do as thou wilt,” and in the Threefold Law, “Whatsoever you do returns to you threefold.”
Because Pagan religious systems hold that theirs is a way among many, not the only road to truth, and because Pagans explore a variety of Deities among their pantheons, both male and female, a Pagan may have been brought up in an atmosphere that discourages discrimination based on differences such as race or gender, and encourages individuality, self-discovery and independent thought.
A Pagan is also likely to be taught comparative religions; most Pagans are adamant about not forcing their beliefs on the child but rather teaching them many spiritual systems and letting the child decide when he is of age. However, a Pagan is unlikely to have an emotional concept of Heaven, Hell, or salvation as taught by Christian religions, though he may know about them intellectually.
A Pagan will be taught to respect the sacred texts of other religions, but is unlikely to believe them literally where they conflict with scientific theory or purport to be the only truth.
Pagans are nurses and doctors, writers and readers, construction workers, and carpenters, customer service representatives and engineers, performers and artists, teachers and students. Pagans come from all areas, all cultural backgrounds, all social and economic classes, and all walks of life.