Paganism

sabbat

The term “sabbat” usually refers to the eight seasonal celebrations observed by many Pagan traditions, but can also refer to any formal gathering of witches or Wiccans. The seasonal celebrations include the winter and summer solstices, the spring and fall equinoxes, and the four mid-points between the solstices and equinoxes, called cross-quarter days. Many Pagans use the Wiccan names for these holidays, which are Yule (winter solstice, around December 21), Imbolc (around February 2), Ostara (spring equinox, around March 21), Beltane (around May 1), Litha (summer solstice, around June 21),... Read more about sabbat

Alexandrian

The Alexandrian tradition is a variation of the Gardnerian tradition of British witchcraft. Alex Sanders and his wife Maxie personally initiated may followers int the craft, and the initiates became known as Alexandrians.

new and full moons

The different phases of the moon’s cycle are significant in some Pagan traditions, especially in Wicca, where the moon is associated with the Goddess. Wiccans believe the inherent spiritual power in nature is greatest on the night of the full moon. They gather at that time to work magick related to increase, fullness, and fruition, such as prosperity or growth. On new moons, Wiccans often gather for ritual that is connected with the unseen or for goals that need a period of gestation.

immanence

Most Pagans believe that divinity is immanent, or present, in the physical world. Some Pagans believe that a single divine force is present in all things; others believe that all living and natural things have a soul or spirit. The Pagan belief that the human body is holy is connected to their belief in immanent divinity.

grove

Sacred groves have historically been among the most important sites for Pagan worship. In Druidism, trees are thought to have specific attributes that contribute meaning to the site where they grow. Contemporary Druid groups are often called “groves.”

full and new moons

The different phases of the moon’s cycle are significant in some Pagan traditions, especially in Wicca, where the moon is associated with the Goddess. Wiccans believe the inherent spiritual power in nature is greatest on the night of the full moon. They gather at that time to work magick related to increase, fullness, and fruition, such as prosperity or growth. On new moons, Wiccans often gather for ritual that is connected with the unseen or for goals that need a period of gestation.

Starhawk

Writer, ritualist, and teacher of the late 20th and early 21st century whose book The Spiral Dance is considered a primary text on Witchcraft. She frequently engages in political activism, including protesting nuclear development and advocating for gay rights. Starhawk is also a leader in the eco-feminist movement.

Druidism

Before Europe was conquered by the Romans in the early centuries CE, members of the priestly elite of Ireland, Britain, and modern-day France were known as Druids. In their religious culture, groves of trees, bodies of water, and elevated landscapes were closely associated with various gods, goddesses, and spirits and became important sites for worship. Today, Pagans who specialize in the revival of practices and beliefs from these parts of Europe often refer to themselves as Druids or Celtic reconstructionist Pagans.

Book of Shadows

In religious witchcraft traditions, the Book of Shadows is a body of liturgical writings and lore that is passed down from teacher to student. Traditionally, the book is copied by hand.

polytheism

Polytheism is a belief in many gods. Most Pagans are polytheistic. Some are soft polytheists, believing that all gods are aspects of one greater God/dess (or sometimes aspects of two greater deities, a Goddess and a God). Other Pagans are hard polytheists, believing that the gods are separate, objectively existing beings with whom devotees can have relationships. Still other Pagans see the gods as archetypes or metaphors for natural forces or parts of the human experience.

Lughnasad

The Pagan Holiday of Lughnasad or Lammas celebrates the first summer harvest. It takes place on or near the first of August and, for some Pagans. represents the wake of the Sun King. In one myth cycle, the Sun King comes into being at the winter solstice, achieves union with the Goddess at Beltane, and dies at the summer solstice so that the wheel of life can continue. Those who practice Irish traditions often honor the god Lugh at this holiday, as well as his mother Tailltu, whose funeral games were traditionally held at this time.

Hellenismos

Hellenismos is the reconstructed practice of ancient Greek religion. Hellenic Pagans devote themselves to the Greek pantheon and model their ritual practices based on historical and archeological texts. For some Hellenic Pagans, the historical accuracy of their religion is very important; others believe that innovations are necessary to keep the religion relevant to the modern world.

Gimbutas, Marija

Marija Gimbutas (1921-1994) was a Lithuanian-American archeologist whose theories about matriarchal prehistory were extremely influential on feminist Paganism. Although her theories have been weakened by subsequent research, in the 1970s and 1980s, many Pagans embraced Gimbutas’ work as a source of hope for a peaceful, modern Goddess-worshipping society.

solitary

A solitary is a Pagan who does not regularly practice with a group. Solitaries may join groups for special occasions, but the bulk of their practice occurs alone. Today, solitaries make up the majority of self-identified Pagans.

circle

In some Pagan traditions, a “circle” refers to the people who gather for a ritual. When standing in a circle, all the participants are able to see each other, with no one member elevated over any other. This practice is often felt to encourage egalitarianism and community. At a ritual, a circle will be “cast” to provide a container for the energy to be raised and to denote a differentiation between the ritual space and everyday reality.

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