Hello dear reader, today we have a fun topic. As a Pagan who often talks about being a Pagan I tend to get a lot of confused and frightened looks. Most people are either told misinformation about Paganism or they have no idea what I am talking about. I shall answer the burning question here: what is a pagan?
This isn't the simplest of questions to answer because Pagan doesn't refer to any one religion. Paganism is an umbrella term that refers to all non-Abrahamic religions. The Abrahamic religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam, so all the other religions of the world are Pagan based on the simplest of definitions. I am going to talk about of few of these religion starting with the most practiced Pagan religion in the modern day Hinduism.
Hinduism is a religion that is believed to have started in 2300 B.C. and is one of the few Pagan religions that has been continually practiced through out its history by a large number of people. It is the third largest religious group in the world behind Christianity and Islam. On the other hand it generally isn't what someone is referring to if they say they are Pagan. While technically both Hinduism and Buddhism are Pagan religions they are of the more well known and generally their practitioners won't refer to themselves as Pagans.
Generally if someone tells you they are a Pagan the are referring to Neopaganism. Neopaganism is a relatively new movement that bring back the older religions of Europe (and beyond Europe) modernize them and create a new modern religious practice based on the old religions. There is of course one exception to this and that is Wicca. Wicca is like other pagan religions based on old religions but it more simplified in some ways. Wicca is a religion that encompass the northern European ancient religions. It is structured to follow a very light path as is evident in the Wiccan Rede. It includes a line that reads "Harm none and do what you will" showing that this religion is about peace and not harm.
In terms of my personal path while I will introduce myself as simply Pagan I'm technically an Eclectic Neopagan. This means I draw my religion from multiple sources, specifically I follow a polytheistic religion with gods from different Pantheons, specifically the Hellenic (Greek) and Irish Celtic gods and goddesses. So even with an explanation like this I tend to get asked a few other questions, I am going to answer them all in one quick swoop for everyone.
So you're a witch?
Well, yes I am personally, but not every pagan is. Witchcraft is a practice not a religion and in my case I practice it in a way meant for healing with herbs and essential oils. Being Pagan or even Wiccan doesn't necessarily mean you are a witch but some Pagans and Wiccans are witches but they are completely separate issues.
So you're a Satanist?
Well I'm not but I suppose in a technically sense Satanist are Pagan. I also don't think Satanism is what you think Satanism is though I don't personally know enough on the subject to talk about it as mater of fact.
So you practice dead religions?
Well calling them dead religions implies that I'm not practicing them and I am so no?
I could go into the more offensive questions but I think I will save those for another article. If anyone would like me do go more in depth on any of the parts of this article leave me a comment and I will do my best to explain. Finally a disclaimer, I do not speak for all Pagans, nor do I know everything about every Pagan religion. I did (and will in the future) do my best to answer the questions of paganism to the best of my knowledge as well as to research and talk to others about what I don't know.