Paganism is sometimes defined as any non-Judeo-Christian or Muslim religion. By this definition, Buddhism, Hinduism, and many other faiths are Pagan, but for purposes of this book, Paganism refers to a group of religions that promote reverence for the earth and/or the deities of pre-Christian religions. The term Neo-Paganism applies specifically to Wicca and other religions that were created during the last century or two. Some Druids call themselves Neo-Pagans, but others dislike the term because they associate their beliefs with older traditions. Asatruars and other reconstructionists sometimes balk at the term Neo-Pagan because they attempt to reconstruct the original beliefs and practices of a specific people rather than creating new beliefs. Santerians, Native Americans, and Vodouns are not Neo-Pagan because they practice older religions with a direct heritage of worship and belief. When talking about themselves, many Neo-Pagans shorten the term to Pagan, and Santerians, Native Americans, and Vodouns don't usually call themselves Pagan at all.
Collectively, Paganism is one of the most rapidly growing religions in the world. It is a beautiful, life-affirming faith that honors the land and all its creatures. Because it has revived the old gods, it is sometimes called the Old Religion. Whatever the name, many people have found that the faith fills a void they've long carried.
Have you ever wondered what happened to the ancient gods you learned about in grade school? Have you ever felt the need to sit beside a tree and listen to it speak? Do lights twinkle at the corners of your eyes and you wonder if they might be faeries? Do animals visit you in your dreams, carrying powerful messages? Do you notice the cycles of the moon and feel a special significance on the solstices and equinoxes? Do you believe Viking lore has much to offer today's society? Do you feel a call to the sacred sites of Ireland and England? If the answer to any of these questions is “yes,” you just might be Pagan!
This book has several goals. The first is to educate people who feel drawn to an alternative faith, but aren't quite sure what that means. You might have researched many beliefs, and maybe tried a few practices. This book gives an overview of several of the major Pagan faiths and some of the minor ones. It also offers insights on how many aspects of human life tie into Paganism and how to incorporate Paganism into your life.
Paganism can't be learned in a day, and you could spend decades researching every branch and every facet. The Everything® Paganism Book aims to give you an overview so you can decide how to start your life as a Pagan and research more specifically from there. It will also give you the tools you need to get started. And if you are a Pagan who wants to know more about another branch of Paganism you are not familiar with, this book can serve as a light refresher on the most important aspects of each faith.
If you need help explaining your Pagan beliefs to someone close to you, this book is a handy tool for conveying your message, and it offers a few tips on just how to do it. As you'll see, being Pagan is a daily experience and a constant learning process. Even after ten, twenty, or thirty years as a Pagan, you'll discover new information or wander down a new road to wisdom.
So grab your knapsack, pick up your walking stick, and step out on the path to Paganism. The spirits and the gods will guide you, if you let them. You might stumble over a twig or be carried along by the wind, but don't be afraid, for many good things lie ahead. When you come to a fork in the road, listen to your heart and it will help you follow the right path. And regardless of how long or how far you travel, you'll come out the other side a whole new person.