So what does the word Pagan mean to us?
Being Pagan is about being a member of a modern religious movement:
- that’s not rooted in Abrahamic religious tradition,
- that has romanticized the past and other ancient religions,
- and focuses on exploratory worship and ritual.
I like Isaac Bonewits’s breakdown of the definition of Pagan; Paleo-Pagan, Meso-Pagan and Neo-Pagan. This sub-sectioning kinda fits my views. So often when I say or read Pagan it really refers to the Neo-Pagan. But for me there is the Classical Pagan which corresponds well to Bonewits’s Paleo-Pagan. This would include the ancient religions of the Middle East, the Far East, the Classical religions of the Mediterranean, the indigenous tribal religions of Europe, the Americas and Polynesia. I feel a good cut off is somewhere in the 1800’s as I don’t recall any minor religions attracting the attention of history. It is this lull that I think prepares the way for a new view of things. And I’m viewing this very organically, open to change and revision.
The biggest dividing line that I see are religions before Christianity and religions after Christianity. And Neo-Paganism has maintained it’s roots outside of the Christian story but it has been influenced and in some cases stunted by the presence of the dominant religion.
The Neo-Paganism seen in America today is a mixture of Eclectic Wicca, Native American icons, myths and traditions; Reconstruction and adaptations of Classical Pagan religious; New Age methods and ideas and even Eastern religious influences. Even political sub-movements are finding the freedom of expression within Paganism such as deep ecology, feminism, and LGBT Pride. It truly is a melting pot of religious ideas and almost a direct reflection of the faces of America today.