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Common Pagan Rituals and Beliefs

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Paganism is an ancient type of religion which has quite an inauspicious

reputation today. There are many types of paganism, most date back

thousands of years, which include Wicca, Witchcraft, Paganism, and a few

other lesser known and practiced variations. Yet all of these religions

are similar and share common beliefs. Wicca is the most common of these,

as it also demonstrates the shared belief of doing good that is common to

most forms of paganism. Another common belief, is to gather in small

groups, called covens, to practice pagan rites and ceremonies with others.

There are many ancient beliefs, archaic rituals, and forgotten traditions

that are practiced by pagans. Many of these are also the origins of

widely practiced traditions in the Christian-dominated world of today.

A defining characteristic of many pagan religions, especially Wicca, is

the worship and closeness to nature. Pagans treat animals kindly and

respect all things, living or nonliving, as though they were a person (Roy

N. p.). They also share the worship of their nature gods, which increases

their respect for all that is around them (Roy N. p.). Pagans are very

sensitive people that also have a high regard for personal privacy (Roy N.

p.). With this belief of privacy, many pagans have more time to keep in

touch with their inner selves and with the nature around them. Wicca, a

more popular pagan religion, focuses on the Earth and uses pure white

magic to help others (Roy N. p.). In fact, the Wiccan creed is, "An it

harm none, do as thou will," which agrees with the "good" philosophy

(Beliefs N. p.). Altogether, pagans have a great deal of emphasis on the

life and beauty of the nature that thrives around them and are radically

different than the mythical rumors of witches that have been given to them

over time.

Another defining characteristic of many pagans is the dedication to

knowledge and self exploration (Roy N. p.). In fact it has been said

that, "Witchcraft is the oldest, most irrepressible religion in the world

because it stimulates the intellect, promotes a simple, practical way of

life, and most importantly, is emotionally satisfying" (Art N. p.). There

is a set of beliefs, called the Laws of Magic that help illustrate the

beliefs supported by Wicca and other pagan religions. Many of these laws

are practical, yet they also relate to the more religious aspect of

paganism. One of the most important laws, the Law of Knowledge, states

that witches believe that all knowledge is power, no matter how big or

small (Bonewits N. p.). A related law, the Law of Self-Knowledge, states

that witches should truly know themselves, for this prevents doing harm to

others, once the understanding of the harm is seen (Bonewits N. p.).

There are many other laws, one such law explains that coincidence does not

exist, but that everything is part of a larger plan (Bonewits N. p.). The

Law of Similarity states that similar representations of things can be

made to represent them, such as voodoo dolls (Bonewits N. p.). The Law of

Personification states the important belief that anything, concrete or

abstract, can be considered alive for whatever purpose (Bonewits N. p.).

One commonly known law, The Law of Perversity, also called "Murphy's Law,"

states that if anything can go wrong, it will (Bonewits N. p.). As if a

summary of all other beliefs, The Law of Unity says that everything is

linked together to every other thing, in any space or time (Bonewits N.

p.). So, as shown here, all pagans, whether Wiccan or not, follow the

basic guidelines and beliefs that knowledge is power. To support this

belief are many other more specific beliefs that help the individual learn

and grow.

Rituals and traditions also play a large role in Wiccan lives and

activities. The most common of these includes the rituals associated with

the new and full moons, as well as the 8 sabbats. The 8 sabbats are

equally divided throughout the year, along with the seasons, and help

attune the practicing Wiccans to the cycle of the year (Sabbats N. p.).

The first of these sabbats is Yule, practiced around December 21; it

represents the rebirth of the light and the awakening of new goals

(Sabbats N. p.). Candlemas, celebrated on February 2, banishes winter and

is the favored time for initiating new members into a coven of witches

(Sabbats N. p.). It is also tradition at this time to light all the lamps

in the house (Sabbats N. p.). Ostara, a familiar holiday, is usually

around March 21 and symbolizes balance and equilibrium.



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