Just as the term "Eastern religions" refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., the terms "Neo-Pagan" "Neopagan," and "Pagan" refer to a collection of separate religions that share a few common themes.
"Neo-Paganism" can be also described as set of modern practices identified by their practitioners as "witchcraft" have arisen in the twentieth century. However, as forms of Neopaganism can be quite different and have very different origins, these representations can vary considerably despite the shared name.
Contemporary witchcraft often involves the use of divination, magic, and working with the classical elements and unseen forces such as spirits and the forces of nature. The practice of natural medicine, folk medicine, and spiritual healing is also common, as are alternative medical and New Age healing practices. Some schools of modern witchcraft, such as traditional forms of Wicca, are secretive and operate as initiatory secret societies. There have been a number of pagan practitioners such as Paul Huson claiming inheritance to non-Gardnerian traditions as well.
More recently a movement to recreate pre-Christian traditions has taken shape in polytheistic reconstructionism, including such practices as Divination, Seid and various forms of Shamanism.
The term "Neo-Paganism" was apparently coined by Tim Zell, editor of The Green Egg, a publication of the Church of all Worlds. 1
A Neopagan religion is a modern faith which has been recently reconstructed from beliefs, deities, symbols, practices and other elements of an ancient religion. For example, the Druidic religion is based on the faith and practices of the ancient Celtic professional class; followers of Asatru adhere to the ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion; wiccans also trace their roots back to the pre-Celtic era in Europe. Other Neo-pagans follow Hellenismos (ancient Greek religion), Religio Romana (ancient Roman religion), Kemetism (ancient Egyptian religion) and other traditions.
Many Wiccans and other Neopagans refer to themselves simply as "Pagans." Unfortunately, the word has many different meanings -- some quite negative. The term "Neopagan" is less ambiguous.
Confusion and misinformation:
Many people are confused between the terms Neopaganism and Satanism:
- To some Fundamentalist Christians, all religions other than Judaism and Christianity are actually varieties of Satanism. To them, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Sikhism, Taoism, and the various Neopagan religions are all forms of Satanism, or at least are led by Satan or his demons.
- To almost everyone else, Neopagan religions are simply individual faith groups with little or no connection to Satanism.
As more Neopagans have come out of the broom closet and gone public with their faith, more non-pagans have realized the benign nature of Neopagan religious traditions. Opposition by religious conservatives has lessened.
Recognition of Neopagan religions:
Because of the principle of separation of church and state, the U.S. government does not formally maintain a list of recognized religions. Both the U.S. and Canada register religious groups as tax-exempt organizations and grant clergy the right to conduct marriage ceremonies.
However, many European federal governments have ecclesiastical affairs ministries which do formally recognize religions. The governments of: Iceland in 1973, Norway in 1996 and 1999, and Denmark in 2003 have officially recognized Neopagan religions which worship Viking Gods such as Odin and Thor. 2
A neo-pagan hoax?
Daughters of Frya are alleged to be: "...adherents of the Oera Linda...an order of women who have dedicated themselves to the service of the goddess Frya and her divine father Wr-alda."
UK Pagan Links quotes the "Daughters of Frya" site:
"The Daughters of Frya are a free association of women who feel that by practical action we really can make a difference in the world today. Inspired by our devotion to the goddess Frya, we work hard to help others and to make our beloved earth a better place to live. We seek to show the world that Pagans are decent, caring folk who want to put back a few of the benefits we have received." 3
However, there is a widespread belief that the Daughters of Freya do not exist. The one item that we found convincing was their list of requirements for each Daughter: they must perform 1,200 deep knee-bends daily. One of the ReligiousTolerance.org staff members who is a nurse and a fitness buff believes that this many repeats would wreck their knees rather quickly.
A posting on Wikipedia stated that "No reliable source has been offered for the existence..." of the group. 4 This has since disappeared. A posting at The Cauldron, a Pagan Forum, suggests that the image on the Daughter's web site is a cropped version of the Green Hope Women's Tennis Team.
Just as the term "Eastern religions" refers to Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, etc., the term "NeoPagan" refers to a collection of separate religions which share a few common themes.
Most Neo-Pagan traditions have many of the following factors in common:
* their faith was almost or completely wiped out in the past and has since been reconstructed from ancient information sources.
* a duotheistic or polytheistic belief system (they recognize a Goddess and God, and/or believe in many deities).
* many followers are solitary practitioners.
* others are involved in small groups, which various traditions call circles, covens, garths, groves, hearths, kindreds, etc.
* they celebrate four main seasonal days of celebrations each year, associated with the equinoxes and solstices.
* many also celebrate four additional days, each between a solstice and equinox.
* they prefer to conduct their religious rituals outdoors where practical.
* many do not practice their religion publicly because of the danger of abuse from very devout but misinformed Christians who have associated them with an evil and non-existent form of Satanism.
* they have a minimal or no hierarchical structure.
* they have a concern for the environment.
* They feel close to nature and its cycles.
* They follow a behavioral code that requires them to avoid hurting themselves or others.
Recommended books (Free download):
Benjamin Rowe - A Ritual Of The Heptagram
Anonymous - Confessio Fraternitatis
Sepharial - A Manual Of Occultism
Anonymous - Pagan Stones And Gems
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