Other types of Pagans, in addition to Wiccans, include Druids, Asatruar, Kemetic reconstructionists, Celtic Pagans, and more. Each system has its own unique set of beliefs and practice. Keep in mind that one Celtic Pagan may practice in a way that is completely different than another Celtic Pagan, because there is no universal set of guidelines or rules.
Some people in the Pagan community practice as part of an established tradition or belief system. Those people are often part of a group, a coven, a kindred, a grove, or whatever else they may choose to call their organization. The majority of modern Pagans, however, practice as solitaries – this means their beliefs and practices are highly individualized, and they typically practice alone. Reasons for this are varied – often, people just find they learn better by themselves, some may decide they don’t like the organized structure of a coven or group, and still others practice as solitaries because it’s the only option available.
In addition to covens and solitaries, there are also significant amounts of people who, while they usually practice as a solitary, may attend public events with local Pagan groups. It’s not uncommon to see solitary Pagans crawling out of the woodwork at events like Pagan Pride Day, Pagan Unity Festivals, and so on.
Many Pagans – and certainly, there will be some exceptions – accept the use of magic as part of spiritual growth. Whether that magic is enabled via prayer, spellwork, or ritual, in general there’s an acceptance that magic is a useful skill set to have. Guidelines as far as what is acceptable in magical practice will vary from one tradition to another.
Most Pagans – of all different paths – share a belief in the spirit world, of polarity between the male and female, of the existence of the Divine in some form or other, and in the concept of personal responsibilities.
Finally, you’ll find that most people in the Pagan community are accepting of other religious beliefs, and not just of other Pagan belief systems. Many people who are now Pagan were formerly something else, and nearly all of us have family members who are not Pagan. Pagans, in general, don’t hate Christians or Christianity, and most of us try to show other religions the same level of respect that we want for ourselves and our beliefs.
Pagan comes from the Latin word paganus, which means “country dweller”; paganism can refer to polytheism or the worship of more than one god, such as in ancient Rome. A pagan is also considered to be one who, for the most part, has no religion and indulges in worldly delights and material possessions; someone who revels in sensual pleasures; a hedonistic or self-indulgent individual. Another, more modern term is neo-paganism, which refers to some of the contemporary forms of paganism such as Wicca, Druidry, and Gwyddon.
These modern “pagan” practices are actually similar to their ancient counterparts in that they rely heavily on hedonism—sensual gratification and self-indulgence and the pursuit of happiness and pleasure to the exclusion of everything else. In ancient times, sexual ceremonies were a major part of pagan religions. The Old Testament references these perverted religions in such passages as Deuteronomy 23:17, Amos 2:7–8, and Isaiah 57:7–8.
Though they are numerous and varied in their practices and beliefs, pagans do hold to some similar beliefs. For example:
• The physical world is a good place, one to be taken pleasure in by everyone.
• Everyone is considered to be part of this Mother Earth.
• Divinity reveals itself in every facet of the world.
• Every being, man and animal, is a derivative of the Divine. As such, all are gods and goddess.
• Most pagan religions do not have gurus or messiahs.
• Doctrine is superseded and revealing by one’s own responsibility.
• Solar and lunar cycles are significant in pagan worship.