Paganism in the twenty-first century is growing by leaps and bounds. For many it is not only a spiritual choice, it is a lifestyle. Modern Paganism, which is also known as Neopaganism honors the earth and respects all life. It worships and celebrates the Divine, which manifests itself in all aspects of nature.
Neopagans, like the ancient pagans believe everything has a spirit and energy. Today’s Modern Pagans have found guidance and inspiration from the past and continue to practice many of the ancient rituals and ceremonies of their forefathers and mothers.
One of the most easily recognized Pagan sectors is that of Wicca. Charles Cardell coined the terms “Wicca” and “Wiccen” when he used them in his 1958 article titled “Craft of the Wiccens”, written for Light magazine. Wicca was the name given to describe the Witchcraft religion and Wiccen was used to describe its followers.
The religion of Witchcraft is based on fertility ceremonies practiced by ancient peasants and the seasonal cycles of the earth. Both modern and ancient covens believe in one God and one Goddess, each who have the ability to manifest themselves in varying aspects as different Gods and Goddesses.
The Goddess is represented by the moon. She is the mother to all, the symbol of fertility and life. Her fertile powers are strongest between May and October. She commands her devotees to respect all life and worship her.
The Wiccan God is represented by the sun and is often called the Horn God. His horned head is symbolic of the animals hunted to sustain life in ancient times. The horned God represents strength, skill and divine right. He rules the months of October through May.
Both the ancient and modern Witch-crafts use spells, candles, chants and amulets to aid them in spellwork or magic. Often times these rituals are held in magic or sacred circles and correspond with certain phases of the moon. Wiccan magic focuses one’s will or energy in a way that causes change. The Wiccan Rede states, “thou harm none, do what thou wilt.” They also believe that whatever they do will come back to them three fold. Thus, this belief prevents them from harming anyone.
Witches like Buddhist believe in re-incarnation. They believe that they will continue to come back to the earthly plane until they attain perfection. Once perfection has been achieved they will be reabsorbed, never to return again.
Druidism, another ancient pagan practice began within primal Celtic tribes. During this time Celtic clans lived close to nature, thus they worshipped the earth and all of her gifts. Within these tribes were elite groups of highly educated members who possessed knowledge and skills that the common man did not and as such they held rank and class over the clan.
The ancient Druids were priests who honored many Gods and possessed magical powers of prophecy and divination. Their vast knowledge enabled them to predict the weather and to hold positions of healers, chancellors and wise men.
The Druids held powerful beliefs in the ritual of sacrifice and would often sacrifice animals to appease the Gods. Ancient texts also suggest that human sacrifices were made from volunteers and as a way to punish convicts.
Modern Druidism no longer holds the rank and class it did in ancient times. Neo-Druids practice today for self-fulfillment with rituals and sacrifices made to the many Gods they worship. Druidism remains an earth based religion which honors and respects Mother Earth and all her creatures. Modern Druids do not believe in harming any living being, therefore only plants and herbs are offered for sacrifice.
Modern day Druidism seeks to re-establish the connection of the people to the earth. They strive to be a healing force that brings back the much need knowledge that we are connected and interdependent on the earth.
Listen carefully to a Neo-Druid as he casts a seed back to the earth in ritual sacrifice, for you shall hear him say “Earth Mother, giver of life we return to you a measure of the bounty you have provided, may you be enriched and your wild things be preserved.”
Modern Paganism reminds one to stay connected to our Earthly Mother, honor her and respect her. Remember that all of life is worthy; none is more valuable than the other, for we are all interconnected.