Vocabulary & Definitions
from Many Religions
BELIEFS OF PAGAN TRADITIONS (DENOMINATIONS)
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
This term describes a person who does not follow any one system of philosophy or religion, but selects and uses what are considered the best elements of all systems. The resulting "eclectic" system often derives from a wide range of historic periods, the concept or element in each instance often being chosen for its appropriateness to personal tradition, geography, purpose, and/or cultural background.
Eclecticism can function within any religion, to varying degrees of acceptance, but is especially common in "modern" religions like Neopaganism. Some who have maintained their affiliative (meaning, from childhood or family) faith tradition do not view such "buffet" practices as valid. On the other hand, Neopagans would point out that outdated, useless and potentially psychologically harmful doctrines should be shed or ignored.
Magical practitioners who focus primarily on aligning actions with these Elements are called Elementalists, of which I am one. Many Neopagans include Spirit as a fifth element. Kabbalists (Jewish magical philosophic tradition) would also add Matter as the sixth Element.
Goddess Worship (general)
Hedgecraft (see Hedge witch)
Neo-Paganism, or just "Paganism," is a modern religion. Just as in the other major world religions there is a wide variety of denominations, called "traditions" or "trads" within the larger umbrella of Paganism.
Most Neo-Pagan traditions have many of the following factors in common:
- their faith was almost or completely wiped out in the past and has since been reconstructed from ancient information sources.
- a duotheistic or polytheistic belief system (they recognize a Goddess and God, and/or believe in many deities).
- many followers are solitary practitioners.
- others are involved in small groups, which various traditions call circles, covens, garths, groves, hearths, kindreds, etc.
- they celebrate four main seasonal days of celebrations each year, associated with the equinoxes and solstices.
- many also celebrate four additional days, each between a solstice and equinox.
- they prefer to conduct their religious rituals outdoors where practical.
- many do not practice their religion publicly because of the danger of abuse from very devout but misinformed Christians who have associated them with an evil and non-existent form of Satanism.
- they have a minimal or no hierarchical structure.
- they have a concern for the environment.
- They feel close to nature and its cycles.
- They follow a behavioral code that requires them to avoid hurting themselves or others.
Wicca is a modern religion (i.e., based on experience rather than dogma) originated by Gerald Gardner in the British Isles in 1950. Gardner mingled goddess theology and magical science in his new "tradition". Rather quickly, splinter groups began forming, or "hiving off," resulting in myriad traditions or "trads" within Wicca and Neopaganism in general.
Many books that have been published in the last fifty years (see web sites for Llewellyn, Weiser, New Page) are about Eclectic Wicca and becoming a magical practitioner.
Recently there has been a great deal of debate, and many Eclectic and/or Solitary Neopagans feel that use of magic is a skill, and should not presuppose belief in the God/Goddess polarity (see Bitheism, above).