Written by Mark Black, Founder & Chair of The UK Pagan Council
If this is the first literature you have read on the subject, before you go and make any decisions, I advise you to read this book AND other books by other authors. This is because not only do you need to look at it from more than one person’s perspective, but also, I don’t now, nor will I ever know everything about paganism, witchcraft and magic, I will never stop learning and if anyone ever claims to, they’re wrong.
Once you have read a good selection of opinions, decide what resonates with you, decide what you think is twoddle, and walk your own path. What you do above and beyond the basic fundamental principles of all pagan paths, it entirely up to you, and don’t ever let anyone tell you any different
SPIRITUALITY & PAGANISM?
Eliphas Levi (1819-1875) once wrote;
‘All Other Creatures Look Down towards the Earth,
But Man Was given a face so that he might turn
His eyes towards the stars and his gaze upon the sky.’
This, by itself, isn’t strictly true, but it was used to explain the human minds desire for the quest of spirituality. As far as we know, we’re the only beings that question the purpose of our own existence, we can look outside nature’s circular loop of ‘procreate, find food, procreate, find food’ and ply ourselves to the quest for spiritual enlightenment. Reading this isn’t going to answer that question for you, but what it should do is show you a way of finding the answer for yourself, or let you discover if you are in fact asking the right question.
Firstly, let us take a quick look at the topics of science and religion. It appears that the only difference between science and religion is separated by what science has the ability to prove. Once upon a time, it was thought that the world was flat. Then somebody came up with the crazy idea that the world was in fact round. This was dismissed as religious ramblings until science decided to investigate. Is that to say that up until then, the world was flat, and then it changed as our understanding changes? Or that radiation didn’t exist until the Geiger Counter was invented? The answer is no. So therefore just because science can’t prove something, doesn’t mean it will not exist, it just means science hasn’t got the ability to perceive what our mind can. I’m not saying you should take everything at face value, but what I am suggesting is not to dismiss something on the grounds that science hasn’t caught up yet, but dismiss it when proved to not exist, or, when your life allows you to gather the information and experiences for yourself, you can make up your own mind.
PAGANISM & WITCHCRAFT.
Paganism is one of the fastest growing religions worldwide. As a spiritual movement, its non-dogmatic attitude gives it the ability to survive in the modern age. Provided you follow and respect the religions core belief structure, what else you do, or don’t do, is up to you. Paganism has many different traditions, paths and ways of practice including (among others) Druids, Odinists, Shamans, Egyptians, Babylonians, Wiccans, Alexandrians and Gardnerians.
The popularity of Paganism grew at an alarming rate during the cultural revolution of the 1960s and 70s. Other religious belief structures become stagnant in a time that no longer had the desire, or the tolerance to be dominated and suppressed by archaic and outdated concepts. Disillusioned by the mainstream religions in an increasingly faster and materialistic society, people who were still driven by the longing for spirituality turned to Paganism in the hopes of finding a form of spiritual enlightenment which allowed them the freedom to walk the path for themselves. Although the modern form of paganism and witchcraft is not an what is was in day of old, it has adapted and evolved, but it is that adaptation and evolution that makes it relevant in a modern age, by returning the old ways, back to mother earth and the harmony of nature, people within paganism and the new age movement found, and find, structured spirituality that still allows you to walk you own path.
Paganism is a widely diverse religion with many different traditions and beliefs, but, all are based on the few basic but fundamental principles that have been its foundations for centuries.
1) An unadulterated respect for nature
2) Respect and honour the gods and Goddesses.
3) Acknowledgement and celebration of the turning of the wheel.
4) Follow a moral code or ethic
To establish, and constantly deepen the spiritual connection with nature and all living creatures. This connection and harmony is an important part of paganism. It is the pagan belief that we must live in harmony with our animal and nature, they have as much right to be here as we do.
The age old question of whom or what created this world has plagued civilisations and started wars since the dawn of time.
Why does it matter what we call it?
The name we give the divine, in my opinion, is really irrelevant. Provided we show honour and pay respect, the label we then attach has nothing to do with the end goal, it’s just used as an excuse for people to kill people. With ‘humanity’ as bad as it is, I don’t think the divine entity(s) that created this world are concerned with triviality of the human word, when mankind, being too preoccupied with fighting each other over land and what word to label the divine with, has lost all sight of what should be a unified goal. When mankind eventually decides to stop, the thing he is so fiercely fighting over will be beyond repair. The planet on which we live is slowly being killed and destroyed by the very beings that are supposed to protect it.
Differences in language are there because of mankind’s evolution, something as tangible and limited as the human language can then not be used to accurately describe a concept based on emotion and spirituality, try and describe what falling in love feels like, it’s not easy.
Pagans understand divinity to be imminent, it is woven through every aspect of the living earth. Pagan worship is mainly concerned with the connection to, and the honouring of immanent divinity. We believe that the gods not only live above us but, more importantly, they live all around us and inside us. The divine is in all things, from the smallest pebble to the tallest tree. We recognise multiple varieties of Goddesses and Gods whose combined divine force represents a whole unity. The divine, in line with nature, is viewed as a balance of male and female and the combined divine unity is also viewed as androgynous. Many pagans worship and connect to one specific god or goddess aspect of the divine, but still recognise that god or goddess to be part of a greater unity, while other pagans do not relate to the divine in anthropomorphic forms at all, but just see the divine as an interconnecting driving force interwoven throughout the whole of the cosmos.
THE TURNING OF THE WHEEL
The acknowledgement and celebration of the seasonal cycle. The ebb and flow of the passing seasons and the implications they bring are celebrated with eight festivals, these mark the sun’s progress on its annual celestial course.
This is known as The Turning of the Wheel.
It is important for pagans to practice the faith and carry our lives with love, light and truth at the heart of everything we do. To this end within our core beliefs is a strict moral compass.
This is sometimes done with creeds.
One example is The Witches Creed
‘Eight Words The Witches Creed Fulfill,
If It Harms None Do What Ye Will’
This basically means that for everything given out, you will get the same three-fold in return. Not only should you apply this to your dealings in magic, but you should also apply it to your dealings in everyday life. Let’s assume that you’re a nice person, you, therefore, will automatically attract other nice people, if, on the other hand, you go out of your way to cause harmful intent, all you will do is attract the same in return.
It is important to note that not all branches of paganism follow the witch’s creed, however, none would argue that all branches follow some sort of moral code or compass.