Pagan… a term generally used to describe indigenous or polytheistic religions. Well, that’s the technical definition, but more often than not we will ind this used to describe anyone following a religion with spiritual, mystical or historic roots. It’s origins were in Latin and quickly came to mean ‘of the countryside’. Of course, the word and its use has evolved drastically over the years and especially in the last 70 years.
Describe a Pagan? In the UK you can select ‘Pagan’ as your religious beliefs on the government census. The word no longer has any derogatory connotations and is used as an umbrella term, often by those who do not care to dig deeper and understand the religions and beliefs typically characterised as Pagan and placed under its umbrella. The BBC website even has a Pagan religious calendar- a quick look at it will tell you that it is actually a Gardnerian Wiccan calendar and bears little meaning to many other religions that the BBC class as Pagan.
When speaking of or referring to other religions- I use the appropriate names for their beliefs rather than an umbrella term. Why is it inconceivable that they should do the same for us they chose to label ‘Pagan’? By accepting this, we tolerate and approve their lazy dismissal of us as not being worth their time- like a parent dismissing what their babbling child is talking about as being rubbish. When the followers of Abraham (oooh…yes, I mean Christians, Jews and Muslims) degrade our beliefs as not being worth their effort to understand or acknowledge through the use of the correct names, why do we find members of the unfortunately titled ‘Pagan Federation’ laying claim to the right to be called ‘Pagans’. It would take me 2mins to identify these people as being Wiccan (they are by large) yet they blindly pursue a claim to the title of Pagan despite the inferred mocking of their Wiccan religion by those who will not use its name. The Abrahamic religions expect to be shown the appropriate respect by being referred to in terms and names that differentiate them from each other and I firmly believe that we, whatever our non-Abrahamic religious beliefs are, should be doing the same.
I do not share beliefs with a Wiccan, a Druid, a Celtic Reconstructionist or Hellenic person- I mostly have beliefs in common with those that would identify as Heathen or Asatru. Yes, there are varied beliefs to be found within any of these communities- there are variations to be seen in different schools of worship within any of the 5 major world religions. I am an Odian Heathen. I share the same beliefs in the Aesir and Vanir as any Heathen/Asatruar, but I have my own specific form of worship and manner of practice.
I call on all members of religions typically grouped under the umbrella of Paganism to stand up and say “I am…”