Paganism. When asked what it is, most people will not be able to give you an accurate definition. In fact, in preparation for this article, I asked several random people to define “paganism” for me. Most people honestly admitted that they did not know. Those that did know admitted they knew because they had dabbled in the earth religions.
I went to the dictionary to find the definition of “pagan,” and found it to be defined as one who is not a Christian, Muslim, or Jew, especially a worshiper of a polytheistic religion, one who has no religion, or a non-Christian (The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition). I have to admit, this was not quite the answer I sought.
Witches in our midst
Whether you are aware of it or not Paganism is very much alive today as a religion. Perhaps you might recognize it under a different name? Witchcraft. Does that sound too harsh? How about Wicca?
Wicca is the name you might recognize best. I was almost entirely ignorant of Wicca until eleventh grade, when a good friend of mine informed me during an in-depth discussion about religion that she was a pagan. This girl was from a good Christian family, so my first question was how her parents felt about this decision. They didn’t mind, she claimed. It’s not like she was walking away from the church. It was, she claimed, entirely possible to follow paganism and be a Christian at the same time.
If so, my only remaining question is, why does a secular, non-Christian dictionary define “pagan” as simply “one who is not a Christian”?
My contact with any practicing witches was cut off until my first year at university, when I met a young man on the bus. He lived on my street and took the same bus as me every morning. He is a witch, actively involved in the practice of the religion Wicca. Like my friend from high school, he refers to himself as a Pagan, in the religious, if not, moral sense of the word. It was through this friend that I discovered how active witchcraft is today.
When you first read the word “witch” perhaps the first mental image is that of an old hag and her cauldron. Thinking about teenagers practicing witchcraft, one first tends to think about angsty Goths dressed in near-shredded black clothes, with black finger nails and black lipstick. But Goth is a subculture, not a religion. One does not need to be a witch to be a Goth than one needs to be a Christian to attend church. One decision may influence the other, but they can be mutually exclusive. On the contrary, both my friends who were Pagans dressed quite normal, though the girlfriend from high school admittedly leaned towards long flowing skirts and ribbons.
Modern Day Halloween
In today’s world, there is an undeniable lure towards spiritualism. What is the root of this lure?
It is now October, and my friend from university is preparing for Halloween. Among practicing pagans, Druids and Wiccans, it is said that that there are two days in the Celtic calendar when the veil between the spirit world and the physical one is thinner. Halloween is one of these two nights, as it is the midpoint of the Fall and Winter equinoxes. Because the veil between the spirit and the physical world is believed to be thinnest on this night, the Druids and Celts would communicate with the dead through seances. Modern Wiccans still engage in this practice.
The question remains, what is the pull of Wicca? Why are so many people drawn to Wicca?
A recent study finds that only 12 per cent of Canada’s population of more than 30 million is atheistic. The remaining 82 per cent believed either in God or in some “higher power.” In the United States this number is even lower, as only 0.3 per cent of the population is entirely atheistic. These studies suggest that people gravitate towards believing in some kind of supernatural power, rather than denying the spiritual aspect of existence. It takes considerably more work for the average person to disbelieve in God than it does to believe in Him. I think this coincides with the Biblical teaching that God created humankind with a spirit, and humankind is aware of this.
So if humankind is inclined to spirituality, why and how do people choose the kind of spiritual practices they follow? Why do people chose witchcraft and paganism? Is truth found in this form of religion?
The Truth About Paganism
It is said that the best deceptions are made believable when mixed with a grain of truth. There is a tiny grain of truth in Paganism, and this, mixed with the sweetness of the lie, makes for a palatable religion that is gaining increased popularity.
What’s the truth?
The truth is that there is a spiritual realm to the world. It is an undeniable fact. However, despite their inner knowledge of this fact, people want proof. They want to see and touch and feel and know. They want to know the future, and so some turn to Tarot cards and astrology. They want to know the past and the fate of their deceased loved ones, and so turn to spiritualism and psychics. They see the beauty of nature and so instead of worshipping the God who created nature, they worship nature itself, calling her a goddess. The followers of this religion, aware of their own spirit, have made their own spirit out to be “like a god.”
What’s the lie?
The religion of Wicca is such a palatable and beautiful deception. It begins with certain basics which even cause some Christians to do a double take and consider it.
Part of the “Pledge of Pagan Spiritualism”, the sort of “believer’s creed” held by Wiccans reads as follows:
May I always remain strong and committed to my Spiritual ideals in the face of adversity and negativity. May the Force of my Inner Spirit ground out all malevolence directed my way and transform it into positivity. May my Inner Light shine so strongly that malevolent forces can not even approach my sphere of existence.
There is a basic acknowledgement of malevolent forces. There is an understanding of Good and Evil, common to all of mankind. There is an awareness of dark forces. There is, however, no concept of how sin originally began. There is no acceptance of humankind’s imperfections and our inability to save ourselves.
The pull of Wicca, Paganism, and Spiritualism as a whole is the search for solid proof of something most people already know to be true. We do have a spirit that longs for a spiritual connection with God. God made us that way. But God also made us to have connection with Him through Jesus Christ. And that is the difference. Paganism, Spiritualism and Wicca deny the power and authority of Jesus Christ over their lives. Their way of finding spiritual connection and fulfillment involves using their own human wisdom and strength to find answers by invoking dark powers, which are antithetical to Jesus Christ.
In a letter written to the early Christians in the Greek merchant city of Corinth, around 50 A.D., a man named Paul observed that God used the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and the weak things to shame the strong, because His “foolishness” is wiser than our wisdom and His “weakness” stronger than our strength. He did this so that no one can boast about their own strength or wisdom before Him.
In Paganism there is a basic search for truth and proof of this truth. However, they try to prove God without ever looking His way. There are many tangible ways in which God proves Himself to His people. Nature is one of these ways. However, there are times when God calls us to simple faith, without total exhaustive proof. They will not believe in Him because they have not seen Him. But blessed, Jesus says, are those who have NOT seen and yet believe.
What about you? What is it that you are looking for? One can spend a whole lifetime searching for perfect proof. One can create proof to satisfy a desire. One can also look at the proof that exists and accept it as it is. Instead of worshipping nature, worship Jesus Christ, the God who created nature.
Instead of seeking self-enlightenment and self-fulfillment through dark knowledge and powers, worship Jesus Christ the God who died for humankind so that we could find fulfillment in Him. In doing this, in finding faith in the love and forgiveness that comes through Jesus Christ can one can be satisfied.