Modern European Paganism

Just as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam can be grouped together as monotheistic “Abrahamic” religions that believe in a single all-powerful god, polytheistic religions that honor a multitude of deities also form religious “families.” Among them we find the myriad Hindu sects, Buddhism, which is nontheistic in its theology but includes polytheistic elements in its practice, tribal traditions from the Americas and Asia, the African and Afro-diasporic faiths, which include modern Umbanda and Santeria, and European paganism.

Until very recently, the possibility that a Native European polytheistic faith could be a viable option would have been met with incomprehension. Today, however, a linear worldview that includes an inevitable progress toward a cataclysm decreed by a single, all-powerful God is proving dangerously attractive to some, and to the rest of us, simply dangerous. Instead of a worldview in which neither humanity nor nature have intrinsic meaning because all such meaning derives only from God, or polarizes into a conflict between absolute Good and absolute Evil, we need a worldview that sees holiness in everything, recognizes that spirit takes many forms, and believes that history moves in circles, not a straight line.

The first European polytheistic religion to become well known in Europe and North America in the twentieth century was Pagan Witchcraft, or Wicca, which includes a multitude of traditions derived from or inspired by survivals from European folk religion and the work of Gerald Gardner.  However, Wicca is by no means the only kind of European paganism to flourish today. A second, and rapidly growing, branch of the family consists of the “reconstructed” traditions based on the practices and beliefs of specific cultures. These include the Celtic traditions, among them the different kinds of Druids; the Hellenic traditions, which draw from ancient Greece; the Kemetics, who base their practice on the religion of Egypt; Baltic traditionalists, who have revived their native religions in their newly independent nations; and the religions of the Germanic peoples in Scandinavia, on the Continent, and in England.

Sources: Diana L. Paxson from “Essential Asatru”

Dr. William Price

Today in weird history —> On January 18, 1884 Dr. William Price attempts to cremate the body of his infant son, Jesus Christ Price, setting a legal precedent for cremation in the United Kingdom. Price, a Welshman, was an interesting character in many ways. He adopted the Druid “religion” for many years; here he is onstage in 1884 wearing Druidic attire. At the time he cremated his infant son, cremation was illegal in England, but his action helped change the law…

#WeirdHistory #WilliamPrice #Cremation #Druid

Paganism in England

Almost 57,000 (surely many more now) people in England and Wales identify themselves as Pagan, according to the 2011 census, making Paganism the largest non-mainstream religion. In addition there were nearly 18,000 Druids, Heathens and Wiccans – all groups which are identified as Pagan.

Paganism is best described as a group of religions and spiritual traditions based on a reverence for nature.

Like Hinduism, there is no single founder, scripture or religious philosophy. Most Pagans, however, believe in the divine character of the natural world and Paganism is often described as an “Earth religion”.

“Uninvited witchcraft is generally frowned upon”

~ David Spofforth Pagan Federation

“Paganism is a spiritual path to some, a religion to others, that helps people to reconnect with the natural world, their ancestors, and the Otherworlds of myth and folklore.”

~ Damh the Bard, of the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids (OBOD) – one of the UK’s largest organised Pagan groups.