Modern Paganism has its roots in the indigenous, pre-Christian religions of Europe, evolved and adapted to the circumstances of modern life. Pagans understand Deity to be manifest within Nature and recognise divinity as taking many forms, often finding expression in Goddesses as well as Gods.
There are many paths, traditions or “denominations” within Paganism. Goddesses are particularly important to modern Pagans, and many venerate a single Goddess of Nature. Some traditions are formally structured, with membership, initiation and ordination, others are informal and spontaneous. Some Pagans identify themselves with specific such as Druidry, Heathenry, Wicca, Shamanism or Witchcraft.
Most simply identify as Pagan.
Pagans see nature as sacred and understand the natural cycles of birth, growth and death as carrying profoundly spiritual meanings. Human beings are seen as part of nature, along with other animals, trees, stones, plants and everything else that is of this Earth. Pagans are strongly committed to sexual equality and women play a very prominent role in the community.
Pagans take it for granted that different people will experience the divine in different ways, and are thus very tolerant of other life-affirming religious beliefs.
Followers (Estimated): According to the 2001 Census, Paganism is now the seventh largest religion in the UK (HMSO, 2003).
Place of worship: Pagans hold their ceremonies in woods, on hilltops, along the seashore, at standing stones, in parks, gardens and private homes.
1) The Pentacle, or pentagram, are frequently used Pagan signs and the most recognisable sign of Wicca.
2) Various artistic renditions of the Awen are worn by many who follow a Druid path.
3) The Ankh is often worn by those following an Egyptian path. It is a symbol of eternal life.
4) A Thor's hammer; or a individual norse rune, is often a symbol of those following Heathenry.
5) Runic alphabets are used in Paganism.
Food: For ethical reasons, most Pagans have a strong preference for foods derived from organic farming and free-range livestock-rearing, while many are vegetarian or vegan.
1) Imbolc: Celebrates the first hints of Spring.
2) Spring Equinox: Celebrates the renewed life of the Earth that comes with the Spring.
3) Beltane: Celebrated with fires and maypole dances marks the coming of the Summer.
4) Summer Solstice - Litha: Celebrates the longest day of the year.
5) Lammas: Celebrates the beginning of the harvest.
6) Autumn Equinox - Mabon: Celebrates the change from the light to the dark half of the year.
7) Samhain (Hallowe’en - pronounced 'sow'inn'): Marks the Feast of the Dead. Celebrated as the old Celtic New Year.
8) Winter Solstice – Yule: marks the longest night when the Sun is reborn.
Pagan Society at the University, contact information