When most people hear the word paganism, they tend to think of devil-worshiping satanists or evil witches casting spells. In reality, paganism is neither, though narrowing the definition of a pagan down to one type of religion is virtually impossible. Paganism encompasses a variety of religious beliefs including, but not limited to, Wicca, Druidism, Asatru, Voudon, Shamanism and blended alternative religions.
Many people interested in learning more about all that paganism entails often wonder what the basic principles of paganism consist of. Though these principles will of course vary from one pagan religion to another, most pagan religions follow the same general set of principles in some form or fashion.
Responsibility of Beliefs
The most basic tenant of paganism is that it is your own responsibility, not the responsibility of any government, institution, church or other people, to choose what you believe in regards to spirituality, values, ethics, the nature of Divinity, etc.
Personal Responsibility for Your Actions and Personal Development
The development of your personal beliefs, morals and ethics is your own responsibility. The belief that we are products of our own environment does not stand within the pagan structure, as paganism teaches that it is the responsibility of each individual to learn to recognize what is right from wrong, regardless of our early environment.
Everything is Sacred
Most pagan religions believe that everything in the universe is sacred, but the definition and level of sacredness applied to an object will generally vary from one pagan to another. For some pagans, all parts of our universe are considered divine and as such, sacred and worthy of our deepest respect.
Freedom of Choosing Deity
In all pagan religions, it is up to the individual to determine what Deity means to them, who or what Deity is right for them and how they ultimately develop their relationship with their chosen Deity. Pagans have many different ideas about what encompasses Deity and how their Deity is represented. It is up to the individual, through study of their religion, meditation and in some cases prayer, to determine what image of Deity is right for them.
Scope of Consciousness
Most pagan religions believe that consciousness extends far beyond the restraints of human form and physical existence. All life forms contain some level of consciousness, from the smallest insect to the giant redwood trees growing in the forest. Furthermore, consciousness does not end when we die, rather it survives death and exists simultaneously on multiple levels of reality.
Of course, these basic principles of paganism are just a few of the most common ideals held among the many forms of pagan religion. Since the term paganism is something of an “umbrella” term, used to cover a wide range of spiritual paths, it would be virtually impossible to provide a detailed and comprehensive list of principles that apply to all pagan religions. For the most part however, these very basic principles can be found in almost all forms of paganism from Asatru to Voudon, and everything in between.