About Paganism - Modern Paganism
The Basics |
What Paganism Is |
Nature Veneration |
The Goddess |
Other Characteristics |
With its respect for plurality, the refusal to judge other ways of life as wrong simply because they are different from one's own, with its veneration of a natural (and supernatural) world from which Westerners in the age of technology have become increasingly isolated, and with its respect for women and the feminine principle as embodied in the many goddesses of the various pantheons, Paganism has much to offer people of European background today. Hence it is being taken up by them in droves. When they realise that it is in fact their ancestral heritage, its attraction grows. Democracy, for example, was pioneered by the ancient Athenians and much later reinvented by the Pagan colonisers of Iceland, home of Europe's oldest parliament. Our modern love of the arts was fostered in Pagan antiquity, with its pageants and its temples, but had no place in iconoclastic Christianity and Islam. The development of science as we know it began in the desire of the Greeks and Babylonians to understand the hidden patterns of Nature, and the cultivation of humane urbanity, the ideal of the well-rounded, cultured personality, was imported by Renaissance thinkers from the writings of Cicero. In the Pagan cities of the Mediterranean lands the countryside was never far from people's awareness, with parks, gardens and even zoos, all re-introduced into modern Europe, not by the religions of the Book, and not by utilitarian atheists, but by the Classically-inspired planners of the Enlightenment.
In the present day, the Pagan tradition manifests both as communities reclaiming their ancient sites and ceremonies (especially in Eastern Europe), to put humankind back in harmony with the Earth, and as individuals pursuing a personal spiritual path alone or in a small group (especially in Western Europe and the European-settled countries abroad), under the tutelage of one of the Pagan divinities. To most modern Pagans in the West, the whole of life is to be affirmed joyfully and without shame, as long as other people are not harmed by one's own tastes. Modern Pagans tend to be relaxed and at ease with themselves and others, and women in particular have a dignity which is not always found outside Pagan circles.
Modern Pagans, not tied down either by the customs of an established religion or by the dogmas of a revealed one, are often creative, playful and individualistic, affirming the importance of the individual psyche as it interfaces with a greater power. There is a respect for all of life and usually a desire to participate with rather than to dominate other beings. What playwright Eugene O'Neil called "the creative Pagan acceptance of life" is at the forefront of the modern movement. This is bringing something new to religious life and to social behaviour, a way of pluralism without fragmentation, of creativity without anarchy. Here is an age-old current surfacing in a new form suited to the needs of the present day.
Kind thanks to Prudence Jones for the wording of this page