A pagan is a person who believes in a deity or deities outside mainstream organized religions, and modern day paganism is a term to describe the worship a deity or deities, usually of historic origin, unrelated to modern structured religions. Often the beliefs are drawn on, but not limited to, the Norse, Celtic, Roman, Greek, Egyptian and Sumerian, but modern paganism isn’t limited to doctrines put forth by those religious beliefs. They are adapted by the practitioners to fit a modern day lifestyle. The beliefs are both monotheistic and polytheistic, and the deity or deities vary from cult to cult.
There is no rigid structure to the various beliefs, and in practice the tenants of the various beliefs can and often do change from person to person. In many cases the pre-Christian European religions having been passed down orally as myths, change from storyteller to storyteller until almost no two versions are alike. Many of them are polytheistic in nature, but they don’t preclude the beliefs in gods or goddesses of pantheons of other practices. For example, one of the widest known of modern day pagan religions is Wicca. The practitioners of Wicca, while worshiping the Goddess and other Gods, accepts the belief that other pantheons other than its own exist. This religious tolerance crosses the wide spectrum of modern day pagan religions. Other spiritual aspects are non-traditional, and it is encouraged to worship what is comfortable to the individual and not limit themselves and adhere to any one dogma. Often earthy in nature, the many practitioners of modern day paganism champion causes to protect the environment.
Those performing rituals seek religious ecstasy through dancing, meditation, drumming and chanting. They incorporate humor and joy and even play in their quest for spiritual wellness rather than only practicing a serious and solemn ritual like that found in most mainstream religious rituals. Festivals take place on natural calendar events such as an equinox to celebrate the beginning of seasons. Celebrations are not set in stone and change from belief to belief, and they also vary according to climate. The practice of magic is common among the neo-pagan cults, and spells, rituals, charms often with ethnic origins are parts of everyday life. It is important to understand that most of these beliefs are not dark, and they shouldn’t be confused with forms of Satanism. Magic, as practiced by Druids and Wiccans is primarily based on ceremonial magic and the rites of free masonry.
Modern day pagans are a diverse group, and they range wildly across ethnic and financial backgrounds. Conversion usually happens through word of mouth and reading, and those interested in these groups often seek out the religion instead of the religion seeking out new members. Members seek freedom in religious practices, and respect for life and the environment. They seek to live in harmony with nature, and develop a personal spiritual experience through the observation of natural forces. Their roots are found in ancient religions, and ethnic folklore, and they often believe immortality, or rebirth is as natural as the turning of the seasons.