There are a few things that may come to mind when you hear the word Paganism. “Goth, the Devil’s work and witch” are just some of the words that came up, when a random group of people were asked about the word.
Rebecca Wilson of London, has been of the Pagan faith for nearing 30 years, but comes from a Christian background. She says she often feels like she’s put in a closet when it comes to religion, “I just don’t talk about religion [with family] because it would be too much of a discussion. Even in work situations, you can’t wear anything overly religious – not because it’s work policy, but because you would have a lot of explaining to other folks.”
So what exactly is the basis of Paganism? Wilson says, “There’s not really a golden rule, other than don’t be a jerk. It’s that whole ‘leave the place better than you found it.’ ”
One big misconception that Wilson says she often faces, is the meaning behind the word spell, ” ‘Oh you can do spells. Do a spell for me’ and they expect an immediate reaction, like something levitating, but that’s not how it works. A spell is a wish or a prayer that you put extra energy into and hope you get the result you’re looking for; but those results can show up in ways that are unexpected.”
Christine, who wished only to go by her first name, has been of the Christian faith most of her life, but recently started exploring Paganism. She explains that while she doesn’t typically perform “spells,” magic is also comparable to prayer.
She says, “magic is putting out what you want into the world and hoping for a positive reaction. In a Pagan sense its working with nature. You might do something with herbs or with incense. I think people use magic all the time, they just don’t realize they do.”
Nature is the main platform of worship of many Pagan religions. This is often why many Pagans wear a Pentagram. A Pentagram is a 5 pointed start that represents earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Spirit being a God like representation, or to some, Mother Nature as a whole.
As far as the word evil goes, Rebecca Wilson says it’s actually ironic that people think of evil or the Devil when they think of Paganism. Firstly, Pagans don’t actually believe in the Devil. Secondly, Paganism is a very peaceful faith.
She says “In my experience, if you have a Pagan as a neighbor, you’re more likely to live in a quiet, peaceful neighborhood.”
Another misconception is the belief in black and white magic. Rebecca’s wife Fallon is of the Pagan religion Wicca, and says most Wiccans don’t believe in black in white magic.
She says, “Magic is neither good nor bad, universal energy is universal energy, and its the intent of the user that colors the magic that you do. There’s this Christian saying ‘the road to hell is paved with good intentions.’ Even if your magic has good intentions, there are so many variable in the universe that you can’t see all of the consequences.”
She says this is why magic must be done with a great amount of forethought and deep meditation.
Rebecca and Fallon Wilson, and Christine all add that Pagans love talking to other people about faith, but not just their own. Wilson says that Pagans are typically very open minded and Christine adds that if you ever have questions, to be open and ask, because you will never get a negative response.