SOME DIFFERENT LOOKS AT WHAT PAGAN/PAGANISM MEAN
The term PAGAN originates from the word "paganus" which is Latin. There are 3 main interpretations.....
-Most modern Pagan sources interpret the word to have meant "rustic," "hick," or "country bumpkin"
-- a pejorative term. The implication was that Christians used the term to ridicule country folk who tenaciously held on to
what the Christians considered old-fashioned, outmoded Pagan beliefs.Those in the country were much slower in adopting the
new religion of Christianity than were the city folks. They still followed the Greek state religion, Roman state religion,
Mithraism, various mystery religions, etc.,long after others had converted.
- Some believe that in the early Roman Empire, "paganus" came to mean "civilian" as opposed to "military."
Christians often called themselves "miles Christi" (Soldiers of Christ). The non-Christians became "pagani"
-- non-soldiers or civilians.
-C. Mohrmann suggests that the general meaning was any "outsider," -- a neutral term -- and that the other meanings,
"civilian" and "hick," were merely specialized uses of the term.
By the third century CE, its meaning evolved to include all non-Christians. Eventually, it became an evil term that implied
the possibility of Satan worship. The latter two meanings are still in widespread use today. There is no generally accepted,
single, current definition for the word "Pagan."
There are many different ways the word "Pagan" is used or defined. The following way is used by many
Pagans in reference to themeselves. "Paganism" refers to a range of spiritual paths. These are generally Neopagan
religions based on the deities, symbols, practices, seasonal days of celebration and other surviving components of ancient
religions, which had been long suppressed.
-The Druidic religion is based on the faith and practices of the ancient Celtic professional class
-Followers of Asatru adhere to the ancient, pre-Christian Norse religion
-Wiccans trace their roots back to the pre-Celtic era in Europe
-Other Neo-Pagans follow Hellenismos (ancient Greek religion), Religio Romana (ancient Roman religion), Kemetism (ancient
Egyptian religion) and other traditions.
Paganism is occasionally used to refer to animistic, spirits-and-essences filled belief systems. These are based upon
direct perception of the forces of nature. Many native, aboriginal religions fit this definition.
The term "Pagan" is sometimes used to refer to ancient polytheistic religions. The Cambridge Advanced Learner's
Dictionary defines "pagan" as: "belonging to a religion which worships many gods,
especially one which existed before the main world religions."