What is paganism/a pagan?

The words paganism and pagan come from the Latin "paganus," meaning "country dweller." Neopagans hold a reverence for the Earth and all its creatures, generally see all life as interconnected, and tend to strive to attune one's self to the manifestation of this belief as seen in the cycles of nature. Pagans are usually polytheistic (believing in more than one god), and they usually believe in immanance, or the concept of divinity residing in all things. Many pagans, though polytheistic, see all things as being part of one Great Mystery. The apparent contradiction of being both polytheistic and monotheistic can be resolved by seeing the God/desses as masks worn by the Great Mystery. Other pagans are simply monotheistic or polytheistic, and still others are atheistic.

Some people believe paganism to be a religion within itself; others see it as a belief system (such as monotheism) that can be incorporated into religions like Wicca or Druidism; others see it as a broad category including many religions. The fact that we are re-creating religion for ourselves after centuries of suppression makes us very eclectic and very concerned with the "rightness" of a particular thing for the individual. So when you see some people calling it a religion and others not, when you see it capitalized in some instances and not in others, don't be confused -- we're all still basically talking about the same thing.


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