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How do I Begin on a Pagan Path?

Updated on December 16, 2016
Bonfire
Bonfire | Source

Introduction to Paganism

Many people today seem to be looking for a spiritual path. Perhaps they never had one and feel a void, or maybe the tradition they were raised in was not right for them. As a result there are many seekers out there. Some of these seekers have discovered Paganism and have questions. This is for those seekers.

Types of Pagan Religions

Beltane
Beltane | Source

Types of Pagan Religions

One of the first things you will find is that there are many different types of Paganism. Like Christianity, there are “denominations” if you will. Some are very similar while others seem to be polar opposites. Since this is an introduction into Paganism, I shall not get in depth. I shall however advise you to read all you can and research the different types of Paganism. One or more will surely call to you, and then you can move on to studying those. If you are more interested in the natural world, with little interest in formal ritual, a form of Witchcraft may interest you. If you prefer more elaborate ceremonies then perhaps Ceremonial Magick is more to your liking. Someplace in between? Consider Wicca, and research the many traditions within Wicca. Then again, you may prefer to simply identify as "Pagan", with no other modifier.

Sound confusing? It can be. That is why you need to read, read, read. Then do your research. And as always, follow your intuition as to what feels right to you. A note of caution here. Do be discerning when doing research. The internet is a great tool, but as with most subjects, not everything you read will be true or accurate. If in doubt, double check, or if you can, ask someone who practices.

An invaluable resource on the internet is Witchvox.com. This site lists many different traditions with in depth information on each. It also has a “local” area, by state, where you can find shops, workshops, groups, events and so on.

Samhain Ancestor Altar
Samhain Ancestor Altar | Source

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Yule Altar | Source
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Stone Circle | Source

Getting Started

Now you have done some research and know a bit about the traditions. Maybe one has caught your interest. Read all you can of course, but don’t forget to spend some time in nature. Most of the Pagan religions involve being a part of nature. Go to a place you feel safe and comfortable and just observe. Listen. Feel a part of the natural world. Take your shoes off if you can and feel the dirt or sand under your feet. Breathe.

Another way to connect is to set up a sacred space all your own. It can be indoors or outdoors, a room in your home or a corner in your room. Where doesn’t matter, as long as it has meaning to you. It should be a place you can meditate or pray, and place things that are symbolic to you. If you don’t live alone and want to keep it low key, you can keep it very simple by placing a plant and a candle in the space.

If you can, try to find a local shop that offers workshops. These are wonderful, as you are not only learning, but connecting with other Pagans as well. Not everyone wants to be part of a coven or group, but it is useful (especially when first starting out) to be able to meet with and talk to others on a similar path.

Most Pagans follow The Wheel of the Year - dates that mark the progression of the year and the seasons. These are as follows:

(Pagan holidays are from sunset to sunset, so the dates given mark the beginning of the holiday. The Solstice and Equinox festivals can vary a day or so, according to the calendar.)

Yule - Winter Solstice, Dec. 21. This is the first holiday of the year. It marks Midwinter, the time when the Sun starts to gain strength again. From this point, there is more sunlight in each day.

Imbolc - February 1st. This the day when the promise of Spring is upon us. Snowdrops pop their heads above the frost and life is returning beneath the surface. Many traditions to mark the coming of Spring are on this day (think of Groundhog Day). It is the Feast of Brighid, the Goddess of fire, healing, crafts, midwives, poetry and so much more.

Ostara - Spring Equinox, March 21st. This is when we welcome Spring. The land is fertile and the warmth is returning. Things are in bloom. This is a fertility festival, marked by eggs and rabbits. Planting seeds for the harvest. The God prepares to reunite with the Goddess.

Beltane - April 31st. The Goddess and the God are united. The land is fully alive and there is merriment and fun before the work of the coming Summer. A good day to commune with and work with the Fae.

Litha - Midsummer, June 21st. This marks the day when the Sun is at its strongest. Marriage of the Goddess and God. Much work has been done, but there is much more left to do. This is a period of waiting mostly for the seeds to grow. Tend to what has been planted. Another good day to work with the Fae.

Lughnasadh - August 1st. The first Harvest. The wedding feast of the God Lugh. Blessing of the grain and wheat, making of and sharing of bread.

Mabon - Autumnal Equinox, Sept. 21st. Second Harvest. Honouring the fruit of the harvest. Thanksgiving. The God prepares for his descent back to the underworld.

Samhain - October 31st. The Third Harvest. Celtic New Year. Honouring the Ancestors. Preparing for the winter months ahead. Good for Divination. The veil between the worlds is very thin. Another day to honour the Fae. The God descends into the underworld, dying to be reborn again.

In addition, many Pagans honour moon cycles (Full and New Moon). Some prefer formal rituals for all of these, some would rather mark them quietly and still others may like to celebrate some formally or with a group and others as solitaries.

Some More Thoughts

Once you have read, researched and reached out, you are on your way to a path that will bring you much happiness and fulfillment. There are many more things you will need to think about and decide on - such as whether or not to be out of “the broom closet”. Know that whatever you decide on is right for you, as you are the one walking your path. Don’t let anyone else tell you what to think or believe. The benefit of Paganism is that in most traditions, you are your own line to the divine. With that comes freedom but also responsibility. These beginning steps are exciting and fun, and can lead you to many interesting places. Enjoy the journey.


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    • cperuzzi profile image

      Christopher Peruzzi 4 years ago from Freehold, NJ

      Great advice. Few people realize the options of another religion.

    • SM OBrien profile image
      Author

      Sharon OBrien 4 years ago

      Thank you.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      I just don't see you on a religious path. But I see you in a spirit filled journey to share your kindness and love ---- I will learn more about paganism from you.

    • SM OBrien profile image
      Author

      Sharon OBrien 4 years ago

      Thank you. Yes, I find that "religious" doesn't really fit me. Spiritual is more to the point for me. And there are so many paths up that mountain.

    • Blue Poppy profile image

      Blue Poppy 4 years ago

      I'm looking forward to your writings on Paganism. I've always been interested this subject and Wicca but aside from allowing myself to get distracted from time to time to read and/or see something on these subjects, I've never seriously delved into in depth research. These are fascinating subjects especially magic and unexplained phenomena that even I have experienced throughout my life. May your path stay focused, peaceful and rewarding.

    • SM OBrien profile image
      Author

      Sharon OBrien 4 years ago

      Thank you. Yes, it sometimes takes a while to find the right path but once you do, it becomes that "Ah Ha" moment where it all falls together. Much peace to you along the way.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      Paganism, in my view, covers all earth-friendly, native spiritual practices. As SM said, the field is wide open. In addition to Wicca and witchcraft (for some reason, I thought they were the same), there are Native American and Aboriginal practices, Druidry and Faerie in Western Europe, and the shamanism of Eastern Europe and Russia. Thanks for introducing the topic, SM.

    • SM OBrien profile image
      Author

      Sharon OBrien 4 years ago

      Thank you! Yes, there are many practices that fall under the umbrella of Paganism. As for Wicca and Witchcraft, it is a point that can be confusing as not all Wiccans are Witches and vice versa. There are fine points to both, and ask a room filled with 5 Witches to describe the Craft, you will come away with (at least!) five different answers.

    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 4 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      The Water bearer is a wonderful "goddess" from Buddhism. Both for travellers and to sustain life. But that Buddhism is sure a hybrid when it comes to paganism.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      I think I shouldn't have said "earth friendly" as much as "earth centered," i.e. the practice focuses on the earth as a living being and her seasons as life-creating cycles we need to understand, honor, and be one with. We humans are only one of many equally valuable life forms, each with its different role in keeping the earth healthy and balanced. I don't see Buddhism as that kind of practice, although it certainly has its own power.

    • Dr. Arthur Ide profile image

      Dr. Arthur Ide 4 years ago from Iowa

      Pagan (from the Old Latin paganus) means "country folk" who worshipped nature by protecting the forests, streams, flora and fauna. Wiccans, and other earth-centered religions, were among the original environmentalist, ecologically aware: they warred against those who cut down trees, tore up soil and moved stones to create artificial roads. Pagans believed that mortals should not leave a footprint behind, but become one with nature, and their goddess was Anna, a Teutonic (German) deity transmogrified into the mother of Mary (a word that originally meant fertility). True pagan worship centers on the protection of Gaia (Earth) and her forces and rejects drilling for oil or water, removing mountain tops for altars, etc.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      All of that I agree with, except for the goddess being Anna. Each pagan practice has its own way and names for representing the life force of the earth and its other inhabitants. I sure like the rest of the description though.

    • catgypsy profile image

      catgypsy 4 years ago from the South

      Wonderful hub. It is truly a very misunderstood subject and I'm looking forward to reading more from you.

    • Dr. Arthur Ide profile image

      Dr. Arthur Ide 4 years ago from Iowa

      Anna was never the name for a person--even Martin Luther cried out "St. Anna save me, and I will be a priest" the night a storm shook the forests of Germany. Ann is merely a word of "Thunder and Rain" or Storm. The ancient religions defined all natural phenomenon as deities, and gave each a name (Zeus = thunder bolt of lightning, for example). There was never an Anna (person) or any other god as all are mortal created to ensure a privileged group could avoid work and live off the labors of others (they were the priests and kings). Thus the Druids in the north to the Oracles in Greece and priests in Egypt were set aside to write the messages of the gods as Holy Writ--and feed off the labors of others. True paganism looks to the individual for its own understanding and worship by protectig the Mother Goddess (Gaia) who in Egypt was Isis, Asherah in Canaan, and Hera in Rome, etc.

    • SM OBrien profile image
      Author

      Sharon OBrien 4 years ago

      The earliest people sought ways to understand the world around them and created "stories" to help them explain. These stories became the myths and the gods. And using the existing templates, all future "religions" followed suit, often using the gods, goddesses and stories from previous practices and adapting for their own use. There are good arguments that I have heard for both camps of the "Are the gods real" debate. And I think the topic for another hub I am working on.

    • watergeek profile image

      watergeek 4 years ago

      Very good. Stories about Jesus, of course, evolved in the same way. He started out as an individual exceptionally connected to the way the universe works, but then in order to give him (or themselves) credence, Paul and others pulled in the old myths about immaculate conception, stars in the heavens, worshiping kings, etc. all of which had been used before with earlier spiritual deities. I look forward to your next hub, SM.

    • Angie Jardine profile image

      Angie Jardine 4 years ago from Cornwall, land of the eternally youthful mind ...

      Congratulations on being chosen as a Rising Star and thank you for this hub.

      I have long believed that one should seek one’s own spiritual path as that must be much more personally meaningful.

      The flexibility of paganism and the close bond with Nature make it very appealing to me and living in Cornwall we have a lot of pagans of all sorts down here. There is something very moving about connecting to the land around you whilst leaving an offering of flowers or sea shells at one of our holy pools.

    • Beata Stasak profile image

      Beata Stasak 4 years ago from Western Australia

      Congratulation to your nomination, very interesting article:)

    • WiccanSage profile image

      Mackenzie Sage Wright 3 years ago

      Love the stone circle in the yard; great hub.

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