Imbolc is the Celtic name for the Neo-Pagan High Holiday celebrated on or near February 2. This time of the year signifies creativity, initiation and the taking of form of the new year that started at the winter solstice. It is also known as Brigid, after the Celtic triple Goddess of smithcraft, healing and poetry.
Goddess spirituality is a common term for contemporary devotion to female deities. Many modern goddess worshippers worship a single Goddess, of whom the many named goddesses of mythology are thought to be aspects. Goddess spirituality is associated with the feminist movement.
The spiral dance is a Pagan ritual dance that follows a snake-like coiling pattern. A line of dancers spirals into the center, back out, and back in again. Each dancer passes face to face with all the other participants; each member of the community is seen by all. The spiral dance is often danced as the culmination of the energy-raising part of a ritual.
Dianic Pagans, taking their name from the Greek goddess Diana, honor only goddesses or the Goddess, never any gods. Most Dianic groups are women-only and grew out of the feminist movement. These Pagans say that a unique, positive energy is generated by single-gender groups.
The festival of Beltane is celebrated on or around the first of May. It honors the generative energy of spring time, the energy of sexuality, and the fruitfulness of union. Many Pagans celebrate it with a maypole dance, a ritual in which participants perform a simple dance while holding strands of ribbon attached to a central pole.
The term “pagan” (from the Latin paganus) originally meant “peasant” or “country dweller.” For many Pagans, the term suggests a life lived close to the land. Today, nature spirituality is an important thread in contemporary Paganism. Some Pagans also focus on reviving polytheistic systems of belief and practice, especially those that passed away or were destroyed as Christianity swept across Europe. Still others embrace Paganism as a religion that offers feminine and queer images of divinity and sex-positive, body-affirming values.
A kindred is a group of Heathens. This term emphasizes contemporary Heathen kinship with ancestral practitioners of Germanic and Northern European religious traditions. Although some Heathen groups believe it is important for Heathens to have Northern European ethnic heritage, many see kinship in spiritual terms and welcome practitioners of all ethnic backgrounds.
Heathenry is the reconstructed practice of ancient Northern European religion. Heathens devote themselves to the Norse gods and view the Icelandic Eddas and sagas (originally oral poems recorded in the 13th century) as sacred texts. Ásatrú is one of the better-known types of Heathen religion. For some Heathens, the historical accuracy of their religion is very important; others believe that innovations are necessary to keep the religion relevant to the modern world.
The Gardnerian tradition of Wicca, a form of religious witchcraft, follows the writings and teachings of Gerald Gardner (1884–1964), which were published in England in the 1950s. Gardner claimed to have discovered and been initiated into a group that was practicing an ancient indigenous British religion. Within the Pagan community, there is debate over how much Gardner received from tradition and how much he created himself. In either case, the tradition has been influential; many groups in the United States follow the ritual guidelines published in Gardner’s books or taught to his initiates... Read more about Gardnerian tradition
Tarot cards are used for meditation and divination by some Pagans. Tarot cards are usually elaborately illustrated using symbols and images from Western mysticism. Many artists have created their own variations on the Tarot, and dozens of different decks are available for sale. There are many possible ways to use Tarot decks, but Pagans often lay out elaborate spreads of cards to intuitively explore personal or spiritual questions, or they may draw a single card in the morning to gain insight about the day ahead.
Eclectic Pagans bring aspects of many spiritual paths together. Some Pagans pride themselves on the high degree of authority granted to each person to develop his or her own spiritual path. Hence, many practitioners adapt practices from a variety of Pagan traditions, as well as from indigenous and other world traditions.
Reconstructionist Pagans use historical and archeological texts to attempt to reconstruct ancient religions, including Greek, Egyptian, Celtic, Roman, Canaanite, and other historical religious traditions. Some reconstructionists attempt to practice these religions in as historically accurate a way as possible, while others are more interested in adapting these traditions to a contemporary time and place.
In Paganism, “magick” refers to the ritualization of one’s spiritual intentions. It is often spelled with a ‘k’ after the usage of Aleister Crowley, a 20th century esotericist who wished to differentiate his practice from stage magic. Today, the alternate spelling separates the spiritual practice from the fictional magic of fantasy novels and films. Magick is not about cultivating supernatural powers, but rather about aligning oneself with natural forces to manifest an intention. In Paganism, ritual techniques that change a person’s consciousness so that he or she may better perceive and... Read more about magick
Some Pagan traditions refer to their ritual leader as the High Priestess and/or the High Priest. Generally a High Priestess or High Priest has been formally trained and initiated and has substantial experience. Some Pagan groups practice shared leadership where different priestesses or priests rotate, and there is no one High Priest or Priestess.
Goddess is a term used to refer to the female deity, either in the singular as the supreme divine reality, or in the plural as one of many particular or localized feminine deities. In the Hindu tradition, the Goddess refers to the very powerful, even supreme Goddess known variously as Durga, Kali, or simply Devi. In today’s Pagan traditions, the Goddess may refer to one of the ancient female deities such as Diana or Isis, or to the universal and supreme Goddess known under many names.