Paganism is an umbrella term for many different spiritual paths that tend to have one or more of the following characteristics:
- pantheistic (believing in “The Universe” or “The All”)
- duotheistic (believing in a God and a Goddess)
- polytheistic (believing in many Gods and Goddesses)
- nature-based (believing in the sanctity and power of nature)
- magic-based (believing in using personal will, ritual, and tools to bring about specific outcomes)
There is not a universal list of rules that govern all Pagans, but most Pagan paths do have a system of ethics and integrity, a moral code, and/or a belief in karma. Paganism predates the monotheistic Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam), and many modern holidays traditions, cultural beliefs, and superstitions come from modern society’s Pagan roots.
Learn more about Paganism:
What is Paganism? from the Pagan Federation International website
The Path of Paganism by John Beckett
Paganism: An Introduction to Earth-Centered Religions by River Higginbotham and Joyce Higginbotham
My personal flavor of Paganism is that I am an initiated First Degree in a Wiccan tradition, I follow the Celtic pantheon, and I follow Labyrinth spirituality. Here are some of my favorite symbols:
The Celtic Tree of Life represents the interconnectedness of all things. The Labyrinth represents the spiritual journey inward to find what one needs. The pentacle represents the five elements of earth, fire, water, air, and spirit, and that they are all connected.
There are four major organizations for which I volunteer, or have in the past:
Austin Pagan Pride Day (APPD) is a chapter of the national Pagan Pride Project. Through education, activism, charity and community, the Project promotes tolerance and understanding between people with different belief systems. If you are a Pagan, the project can help you find pride and confidence in your path. If you are not a Pagan, the project can help you understand your Pagan friends, coworkers, and family members. I served as the treasurer for two years and have a table every year to represent my other organizations.
The Council of Magickal Arts (CMA) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit Texas corporation founded in 1980 that creates two festivals a year, hosts multiple work-ends, owns Spirit Haven Ranch, and produces The Accord. This association of practitioners of the religions of the magickal arts promotes spirituality based on Pagan beliefs, and is open to people of all traditions who are interested in celebrating nature, spirit and community. I have been an Austin Representative for 13 years, most of that time the Lead Representative; I also now serve as the Representative Coordinator. I served as the Teen Co-Coordinator for one year and the Youth Services Manager for two years. I have been the Master Labyrinth Keeper for two years, and I also coordinate the Maypole at Beltane and the Funerary Procession at Samhain ever year. And I’m the top fund raiser for the organization!
The Pagan Student Alliance (PSA) at UT Austin is a student support organization for people of alternative religions, loosely focusing on a spectrum of polytheistic and earth or nature based faith-systems, and a forum for interfaith discussions. We seek to provide a venue in which to explore various aspects of these systems as well as to host social functions, rituals, and philanthropy events and initiatives. We also seek to increase the Pagan presence on campus and in the wider Austin community, as well as a myriad of other initiatives as deemed fit by the student membership. I was a member of this organization when I was in a student college, and several years after I graduated decided to start it back up, as it had died out. I ran the club single-handedly for a while, and now I serve as the Community Relations Coordinator and help out the officers as needed. We have kept this incarnation of the PSA (nobody knows how many there have been) active since 2010.
The Texas Alliance of Pagan Students (TAPS) is a non-profit that strives to provide support, education, and resources to members of the Pagan student community, as well as provide opportunities for networking with other students and student organizations in Texas. Myself and my counterparts for the Texas State University’s Pagan Student Fellowship started this organization to build up and connect Pagan student groups around the state. We have put on two annual conferences and are growing steadily.