Paganism and Neo-Paganism
Paganism is the broad term used to describe any religion or belief that is not Christian, Jewish or Muslim we are excluding some other religions also and focusing more so on the Indo-europeon.
Wicker Man festival
Paganism can be traced back to
Neolithic times and survived up until the middle ages when Christianity became
powerful enough to erase it from existence. Paganism is an earth based religion
which lays emphasis on the worship of all aspects of nature. Paganism appeared
very early on in the history of the world. Examples of early paganism, can
be seen in ancient Greek and Roman religions, as well as in ancient Goddess
worship and Druidic religions.
Modern Pagans on there way to the ceremony (Slovakia)
The term "Pagan" is sometimes used to refer to ancient polytheistic religions. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary defines "pagan" as: "belonging to a religion which worships many gods, especially one which existed before the main world religions."
Ritual sacrifice for the Lughnasadh feast
Historicaly pagan practices have also included ritual animal sacrifice and utilized animal parts within ritual and magic. Neo-paganism no longer accepts this. Modern Pagans are very animal-rights orientated and a higher than average number of Pagans are vegetarians and vegans.
Imbolc Festival bonfire ceremony (Northern, Scotland)
The is a list of only the Indio-European major Pagan holidays
Note: Calender for example only; for Norse, Slovakian, ect, holidays and feast day names are different.
(Dec 21) The celebration of the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.
It is the celebration rebirth of the Sun, which is the promise of spring and
life even on this the darkest day. Therefore some consider this the new year.
The burning of the log is to give the Sun strength. Mumming (plays) such as
"St. George" is a Pagan survival , it represents the rebirth of
the God. Wassailing or is also a Pagan custom. The Roman festival of the Solstice
was Saturnalia, which lasted from December 17th to the 24th.
Imbolc (Feb 2) This is a purifactory month, bonfires are held now. In the Christian calendar this festival was converted to the Feast of the Purification of the Virgin (Mary). Candles for the following year were purified in the western church - therefore we get the name Candlemas.
Ostara (Mar 21) The celebration of the Vernal (Spring) Equinox. Day & Night are equal length. It is a time for planting and celebrating the first signs of fertility and rebirth. Symbols of Ostara like eggs, chicks, and rabbits have been adopted by Christians in their Easter holiday. The word, Easter is from the goddess Eostra, Ishtar or Astarte.
(May1) Beltane celebrates the Marriage of the Goddess and the God, the goddess
is thought to conceive the Divine Child at this time,to which she will give
birth to at Yule. The maypole dance is symbolic of the union of the goddess
and the god . Pagan Handfastings occur at this time.
Lughnasadh (Aug 1) Also known as Lamma, this is the first of the three Harvest festivals. The first fruits of the annual harvest are reaped, and the days grow shorter.
Mabon (Sept 21) The Autumnal Equinox, is the second of the Harvest holidays. Mabon is a time to recognize what we have and to begin preparing for the coming winter.
(Oct 31) The third of the Harvest holidays, the ending of the cycle, death,
but with the hope of rebirth and the New Year.The traditional time for the
annual slaughter to ensure food throughout the winter months. Take this time
to remember departed ones. In some traditions the end of the year . The separation
between this physical world and the spiritworld is thin. Halloween customs
are a part of this element of death, the thin line at this cycle and remembering
the dead and the hopes of rebirth. On this night Magick is more powerful.
click here for more on Samhain.
Paganism in a multitude of forms has in recent years become more promenant in the United States and in 1992 the Bureau of Census estimated the number of practicing pagans to be more than 200,000 and in the world the number is over 30,000,000.
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