- Religion and Philosophy
Finding Your Pagan Path
What exactly is Paganism?
While the definition of paganism can be different from person to person, there is a general consensus that a pagan religion is one that is largely earth-based and tends to be polytheistic in nature. Some simply define it as any religion that does not fall under the five major world religions (Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism).
That last definition is a bit of a stretch for most people, as many consider Hinduism a pagan religion. I personally know of some witches who strictly follow Hindu deities.
I feel that paganism is more of an umbrella term rather than a strict definition, and should be interpreted by the individual. Considering the fact that paganism is not largely accepted on the world scale, waiting for an accurate and positive description of it may take a while.
To me, paganism includes Wicca and the various forms of witchcraft, however not all pagans are witches or Wiccans. Some pagans strictly believe in the deities they follow just as the average Christian worships God or Jesus (there is nothing wrong with that, of course), which distinguishes them from being a witch or a Wiccan.
How I distinguish the difference?
Well, first off, it would be helpful to identify a multitude of things.
- Know what it is that you believe right now, and what it is that you are looking for in your path.
- Know what it is that you want to avoid, because forcing yourself into something you do not feel right about will only lead to negative things.
- Know the difference between Pagans, Witches, and Wiccans, as well as their subtypes.
Here are the primary difference between the three:
- Pagans: an umbrella term for any earth-based religion/religion other than the main five
- Witchcraft: the practice of or belief in magick and magickal influence in our everyday lives. This may be a religious practice or non-religious
- Wicca: A form of Paganism and Witchcraft. Founded by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s and is a very specific religion on its own.
All Wiccans are witches, but not all witches are Wiccans. All witches are pagans, but not all pagans are witches. Get the drift here? I know, I know, it is quite confusing. Honestly that is one of the downfalls of following a pagan path...there are a lot of things to know.
And if that is intimidating to hear, do not fret! This does not mean you need to fork out hundreds of dollars for books and slave over them to learn everything you can. Of course, if you are the type who prefers studying straight from a book, then be my guest. I personally think the act of flipping through pages and taking notes to be quite relaxing (I know I am weird).
How do I find which is right for me?
That is a tough question to answer concisely, as not everybody's mind and spirit work the same. However, I have compiled a few helpful tips and resources that can help lead you to finding a general direction in finding your path.
The key to this is to not rush it. There is no rush in finding a path that suits you best. There is also no shame in deciding to change paths or dabble in a different path to see which suits you best. Perhaps you are involved in a wide variety of practices and beliefs and would prefer to identify as an Eclectic (more on that later).
Above all, make sure you are happy with what you decide to do. What good is finding your path if it is one that leaves you feeling unfulfilled and discontent?
So here are some things that hopefully will help you find a general direction of where to go. Some are websites that I have found helpful in my own personal search, and others are just tips and tricks or spells/rituals/practices to use.
If this post is too broad for you, or you have narrowed down to a general idea of what you are looking for, look forward to my next couple of articles, in which I will dive into greater depth concerning Witchcraft and Wicca, and the sub-paths of those two. I will also do one on pagan deities and pantheons to help you from as many aspects of paganism as I am able.
Things to help you find your Path
Stones: (information from www.angelicguidancehealing.com)
- Ametrine- Clarity of Mind and decisiveness
- Amethyst- facilitates meditation and creates unity with the divine
- Aquamarine- (one of my personal favorites) awareness to inner wisdom
- Carnelian- manifesting your desires
- Charoite- Stimulates intuitive and psychic abilities
- Clear Quartz- Raise spiritual awareness, heighten psychic abilities, enhance meditation & improve communication with your guides.
- Kyanite Blue- helps facilitate higher intuition with your inner self and your spirit
- Sodalite- Increase intuition
- Tiger Eye- creates harmony and balance within you and around you (this can really help you in the beginning steps of finding your path. You can't find your true way when all disorganized in the mind!)
- Zebra Jasper- quiets the mind and helps you take action in things you desire
All of the following Herbs can aid in spiritual guidance as well as enhancing psychic and spiritual abilities and clearing the mind, which can be extremely helpful when trying to decide where to start in finding your path. Please do your research before using any of these herbs, as some may be harmful to animals or to pregnant/disabled individuals. These can be used as smudge sticks, incense, or in rituals. However you feel it will help the most, will probably work best for you!
- Mugwort- warning: can be harmful to pregnant women.
- Balsam Fir
- Bay Leaf
- Celery Seed
- Ground Ivy
- Winters Bark
Of course there are many more that can aid you in helping make a decision over what it is that you are looking for. I encourage you to research the different herbs, and to make sure they are safe before use!
- Praying to a general spirit. If you do not know of a deity you have an affinity for just yet, then you may use the terms 'Gods', 'Goddesses', 'Lord and Lady', or even simply 'Spirit/Spirits'. There is no shame in that and believe me, the gods will understand.
- Finding a fellow pagan/witchy friend who can perform a spell or ritual for you or with you to help you in this task.
- Perform or take part in divination. If you are having trouble finding a path at this moment, chances are you probably aren't very adept at divination or things of that sort. So try to find a friend or perhaps a pagan community nearby (trust me, you will probably find one if you search hard enough) that can assist you in asking for guidance. I personally use rune stones/cards when asking the divine for guidance, but many people use Tarot cards, scrying, and various other methods.
- Use the above mentioned herbs and stones to promote enlightenment in your meditation and your dreams. Sometimes the answers to your questions will come in very obscure ways, but they will surely come!
- Affirmations. When I first started my path, the concept of simple affirmations working on such a profound level was odd to me. How could simply telling myself that something will happen increase the chances of it happening? Well believe me, it works. Now of course, if you say "I will receive a million dollars" over and over again under your breath or in your head, you will most likely end up disappointed. However, reminding yourself every morning "Today will be a good day" or right before you go to bed "I will find the answers to my questions" will actually make quite a bit of difference in your outcomes. You have to repeat it a few times, and truly put your belief into what you are saying for it to work, but it will most certainly work!
- Research. Of course, this seems like an obvious answer, but looking into the huge variety of paths and seeing which ones appeal most to you and provide what you are looking for will help profoundly in making the right decision. I will be posting more articles soon that will help in that, going more in depth with various paths and what they entail, so keep an eye out for that!
Finding Your Pagan Path Part 2
Which of the following topics would you like to see next for this series?
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