How to Be a Pagan or How to Walk an Alternative Spiritual Path
Becoming a Pagan: What Is a Pagan, Exactly?
In this day and age there are multitudes of people in search for a deeper meaning to life...in search for a more authentic connection to their own spirituality and essentially to the world. This means that people are branching out from the old religious state of mind and moving towards a broader, more open-minded outlook on spirituality. They are looking at alternative paths of religion but more so they are looking for genuine spiritual enlightenment. One of those alternative paths is the path of Paganism. Some are wanting to know how to become a Pagan. This is easily answered...
But first let us define the term Pagan. Webster dictionary defines a Pagan as someone who follows a polytheistic religion (as in ancient Rome). Google's definition of a Pagan is someone who follows a religion that isn't a part of the main world religions. As you can see, these could mean two very different things but I prefer to use Google's definition as Pagan is now used as more of an umbrella term than ever before. And if we looked back to the Dark Ages we would see that the term "Pagan" was used to describe the country-folk who were still following the "old religion"...those who hadn't converted to Christianity yet and were still following the old gods and old rituals set forth from ancient times.
Simply put, one is a Pagan if he or she follows a spiritual path or religion that isn't a part of Christianity, Islam, or Judaism. As you can see, people's perspective of what makes a Pagan will differ but this is the easiest way to look at it.
You Might Be a Natural-Born Pagan If...
People might want to know how to become a Pagan, but in reality if you feel the need to branch out from the normal religions and follow your own path you don't need to become a Pagan...you already are a Pagan!
You might be a natural-born Pagan if...
- you've ever thought that God might be both male and female, or neither, or both
- you've ever wondered if there are multiple gods instead of just one
- you've ever thought that the Universe is connected to us and us to it
- you've ever felt a deep connection to nature, wildlife, etc.
- you've ever felt like society has lied to you about man's origins, God, etc.
- you've ever felt stifled by religion and wished you could create your own
- you've ever questioned the main religions' approach to spirituality or lack thereof
- you've ever felt a connection to the ancient world i.e. ancient Egypt, the Celts, ancient Rome, etc.
- you've ever felt like there was more to this life than what society tells you
- you've ever had the desire to just be alone in nature...to hear the wind blow through the trees, the birds chirping, and the beautiful silence
- you've ever felt the need to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city-life
- you've ever appreciated the beauty in a blue sky, a blooming wildflower, the caw of a crow
I could go on for hours about how one might already be a Pagan, but the items above should provide you with some kind of affirmation. See? You already knew it in your heart. The great thing about being a Pagan is that you don't have to follow a set of rules, you simply just have to be yourself and follow your own path.
Different Types of Paganism
Just as in any other religion or spiritual path, Paganism is extremely diverse and has hundreds (probably thousands) of different paths of spirituality branching off of it. And because Paganism is such an umbrella term and encompasses pretty much everything outside of the mainstream religions, this means that is also encompasses spiritual paths that are made up by the individual on a "solitary" path, so to speak.
To break it down into more simple terms, here are just a few of the categories of Paganism being practiced in the world today:
- Pantheism - the belief that the Universe is God and God is the Universe...that we are all part of the Universe and are therefore a part of God.
- Neopaganism - (also called contemporary or modern Paganism) a group of religious movements based on historical Pagan pre-modern beliefs of Europe
- Wicca - a modern Pagan, witchcraft religion with emphasis on a God and Goddess made popular by the likes of Gerald Gardner in the early through mid 1900s.
- Shamanism - an ancient healing tradition and way of life that involves a practitioner reaching altered states of consciousness in order to travel to the "other" world(s)
- Neodruidism (druidry) - a spiritual path or religion that honors nature and respect for all beings, some parts based off of what is believed to have been the druidry of ancient Celtic Europe
These are just a small few of the different forms of Paganism, and within each of these there are multiple branches and traditions, too. Many Pagans even blend these categories together and are commonly referred to as "eclectic" Pagans. Some consider Hinduism to be Pagan as it is a form of polytheistic worship, and others even consider Buddhism to be a Pagan religion. To make it easy, just think of anything outside of the Abrahamic religions (Christianity, Islam, Judaism) as a form of Paganism.
Don't let the hundreds of types of Paganism scare you off. This just means that you have so many options to choose from...and if you don't like one way of doing things, you can even make up your own way of doing things. That is the beauty in being a Pagan...there are no limitations, no set of rules, no dogma (unless you let there be). Paganism gives you the freedom of making your own way to the Divine.
What If You Still Lean Towards Your past Religion?
So let's say you're interested in being a Pagan, as you know you are deep down in your heart. BUT you still feel like you want to keep some of your Christian outlooks or traditions. That's okay, too! Can you believe that Paganism allows for the individual to even mix belief systems, if the individual so chooses. A term used for this is syncretism. This is why you might sometimes hear someone call themselves a Christian Wiccan or a Celtic Christian.
The point is to make your own way...to connect with your own spiritual path on your own terms and in your own time. You don't have to let ANYONE tell you how to find God or the divine...it is totally up to you. You don't need to feel pressured to make decisions on what Church to go to, or what God to follow. You can try many different paths and change your mind on them every week if you want to! There is no judgment or guilt on a Pagan path. And if another Pagan tries to make you feel guilty or judged, move on!
Let's say you want to follow an earth-based spiritual path but still want to go to Christian Church services on Sunday morning...then do it! Like I said before, becoming or being a Pagan is already within you and you don't have to explain yourself to anyone. You don't have to define or explain your spiritual path to anyone but yourself and God/spirit/the divine, etc.
So You Want to Learn More About Being a Pagan?
Now that you know the very basics of being a Pagan, and that you most likely already are one...perhaps you want to learn more about each individual branch of Paganism out there. Perhaps you want to explore your options.
Here's a list of some wonderful books and resources for you to look into:
- The Mist-Filled Path: Celtic Wisdom for Exiles, Wanderers, and Seekers by Frank MacEowen
- Wicca: A Guide for the Solitary Practitioner by Scott Cunningham
- The Power of Myth by Joseph Campbell
- Conversations with God by Neal Donalde Walsch
- To Ride a Silver Broomstick by Silver RavenWolf
- Awakening to the Spirit World: the Shamanic Path of Direct Revelation by Sandra Ingerman
- Druidry Handbook: Spiritual Practice Rooted in the Living Earth
- Power of the Witch by Laurie Cabot
In addition to reading starter books on Paganism, don't forget to check out old accounts of folklore from around the world. You might want to look into attending a drum circle in your area, or visiting a local new age or metaphysical shop. Sometimes these shops offer classes and holiday events to attend, if you would like to meet other people of a like-mind.
If you can't do any of these things, all you need to do is get outside. Connect with the world around you and with your own higher self/your own soul. It truly is as simple as that.
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© 2015 Nicole Canfield