“We are not on this planet to ask forgiveness of our deities”
― Scott Cunningham
What Do Pagans Believe?
Every belief system has a core of ethics and beliefs by which it generally operates. That’s true in Paganism to a great extent. Certainly Neo-Pagans are a diversified and often motley crew but there are certain underlying things tie us to each other even remotely. Having a vision-based faith isn’t easy because people think you’re just making stuff up. However, the alternative to vision is dogma, and that’s pretty much a “four letter word” to Pagans. So what are some of the ideas about life (the universe and everything) on which the majority of Pagans agree?
Pagan Beliefs about Magick, Power, and Balance
Pagan Views #1: Magic simply IS.
We are not talking here about sparkling lights or rabbits out of a hat. Rather magic is a result of directed energy that exists in and around us all the time. As children the whole world seemed chocked full of magic, like wishing on dandelion seeds and really believing our wish would come true. As people grow, they become a little more hardened to the simple wonders, which is a terrible shame.
Pagan Views #2: Confusing Complexity with Power.
In Paganism, “simple” still has meaning and power. You know the old saying about taking care of the small stuff and the big stuff works out in the end? Well magic is like that. If we direct our will toward ethically using the power of life in all things toward helping with small stuff, most else sorts out pretty well.
More importantly you don’t have to go hunting for magic – it simply IS… here, now, everywhere, inside you! The ability to make change begins in the mind. Think differently about the world and your spiritual place therein, and you are making leaps and bounds toward utilizing magic effectively.
Pagan Views #3: Firm Foundations.
Henry David Thoreau wrote, “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Our spiritual nature is like that. While we always want to remain aware of that nature, there is also the mind and body in this equation. When one is out of balance, everything gets whacky.
Pagan Perspectives on Grounding, Free Will, and Solitary Witchcraft
Pagan Views #4: Grounding.
Going one step further, it’s important not only to have cornerstones but also one foot on the ground. Like a good bit of whimsical daydreaming, our magical aspirations can become really lofty to the point where there is little hope of ever manifesting them. This in turn creates discouragement and doubt, undermining our spells or rituals directly. By staying cautiously discriminating we can avoid this pot hole along our soul’s journey.
Pagan Views #5: Free Will.
Where some faiths teach reliance on deity, Pagans rely on the self. Yes, some have Divine archetypes that figure into ritual and tradition. Nonetheless, we are the ultimate Priest and Priestess in our daily lives, and that means being responsible. You achieved your driver’s license in life, so get into that seat and drive carefully. You see, free will is somewhat like free speech – people use it but don’t always think about the consequences. We would never want to give up such liberties, but we SHOULD consider the implications of how we apply them.
Pagan Views #6: Independent but not Alone.
Most Pagans are staunchly independent, often preferring solitary practices to that of a group. Nonetheless, Pagans are not without a support system. In nearly every spiritual community there are people ready, willing and able to lend assistance (as it should be).
Pagan Understandings on Diversity, Earth Cycles, Intent & Mindfulness
Pagan Views #7: Beliefs are Rarely, if Ever, Universal
It’s not unusual for Pagans to move in and out of various levels of socialization and isolation for a variety of reasons. But even in those moments of being alone, we understand that we are still part of a greater whole, the “network of life” if you will. So we truly are of stardust and sand. Life’s network allows us independent thought and action without having to be lonely. We know that everyone will not agree with 100% of our Universal views (even other Pagans) and that is wholly ok! Pagans aren’t pizza – we can’t please everyone.
Pagan Views #8: Life has a Rhythm.
The sun rises and sets. The moon moves through phases. The Earth has four seasons. These are patterns on which humankind has relied for thousands of years. This rhythm provides continuity, a sense of safe predictability that isn’t out-of-place even in our high-tech society. As we appreciate these cycles and ponder their symbolism, it impacts the way we live daily (hopefully with a sense of gratitude) and the way we weave our magic.
Pagan Views #9: Thoughts and Intent.
The intention of our thoughts and actions matters as does the power of our words. The idea behind affirmations is setting up a scenario in which we hear self-affirming phrases repeatedly. That message goes to our mind as a power pattern. Over time, that positive pattern becomes permanent. That is the goal; the intent.
Pagan Views #10: Meaningfulness Matters.
Having said that, no amount of words or deeds matter if they make no sense to you. In magic, if it’s not meaningful it’s pretty useless. So, Paganism asks – what is your intent? What holds you back? How do we make magic and life truly meaningful moment to moment? Great questions that only each individual can answer honestly.
Pagan Views #11: You are What You Eat
We use this phase in daily life when talking about our heath. Well, it applies to spirituality too. What kind of energy do we figuratively “eat”? Are we taking platefuls of negativity even unwittingly? Negativity is like mud in the human aura making everything dirty and messy, sometimes even beyond the individual level.
Pagan Views #12: Fixing it.
Beyond this, we need to understand that despite all good intention, even the best plate in the universe can shatter if you drop it. When this happens, and the fault lies firmly in your lap, remember what mom said: “if you mess up, clean up.” Apologies are easy words, actions that reflect your sincerity are harder but far more helpful. This goes back to personal culpability and being our own Priest or Priestess.
You will find some Pagans who don’t agree with everything written here, and others who have a LOT more to say on the subject. This is just a starting point. If you have a friend or family member who is Pagan, these views on magic and life may help you understand that person better. And if you have been thinking about a Pagan lifestyle, this article may help you sort out if it’s really the right path for you.