*This post is also featured on the Pentacle Project Blog here on WordPress.
Among the vast numbers of religions that are practiced throughout the world, Paganism is one of the oldest, though it has not always been called such. I’m sure that the readers of this article are pagan or are interested in such. Some here are probably elders, Priest/esses, novices or even followers of other religions wanting some insight. Whatever you are, you have come to the right place. Let me start at the beginning.
Most people who think of Pagans get the picture of ancient Celtic Druids in the woods worshipping different deities. Think back about 10,000 BC. Believe it or not, that’s where it started. The Paleolithic Age carried with it the beginnings of people grouping together in what I will call tribes. Hunting and gathering started to appear in this period, and along with it, gods and goddesses. The women of the tribes started to discover that the food they placed in the ground started to grow. Now they no longer had to follow the migration of the animals they fed on. This discovery led to the realization of the mystery of fertilization. Agriculture resulted in the men realizing they had a part in the life cycle as well. As the tribes no longer lived as nomads they became “paganized”.
Pagan fertility symbols.
As time went on, people migrated. Of course these pagans came across the Greco-Roman people who worshipped different deities. Then came the people of the British Isles who learned about agriculture the same time as Indo-Europeans. Nowadays we call them Celts. When the Cult of the Dead came from the Mediranian Islands, they shared their secrets with the Celts and therefore created the Druids. Somehow the Druids became the overseers of the Pagan people. Not many women were known to be Druids as the men went and gained knowledge from the surrounding areas.
In the end of this time there were three major groups: Druids, the Wice, and the Pagans. The Druids were the keepers of the mysteries from the Cult of the Dead and dealt with mostly men. The Wice, who were mostly women, were the teachers of the solar/lunar tribes and held mostly women who worshipped the Goddess. The Pagans were known to be the common people who sought out knowledge from the Wice and Druids. The actual word “Pagan” is derived from the Latin word meaning “Country-dweller”. I honestly think of little hobbits when I read this description, but you can put whatever image you want there.
Hey look! Druids!
Anyway, back in the Middle East, the Old Testament of the Bible was being written. When the death of Christ came and went, people started sweeping across the land to spread the word of their lord and saviour. Soon enough they got to Rome. Tricky as they were, they converted the rulers first, as a result, had their “country-dwellers” convert as well since they needed the rulers for their survival. Pagan temples were torn down and Christian churches were erected on the sacred ground. Pagans being even trickier were made to build the churches and stuck a few Pagan symbols in the architecture, which can still be seen today.
The dark ages came and went and still Pagans worshipped the way they chose as the Christian flood drove farther out. Unfortunately for the Christians, their new ways of worship weren’t catching on with the Pagans. Unfortunately for the Pagans, the Christian leaders started spreading news that the Pagans were associating themselves with “the devil”; hence, came the inquisition. During this time, we all know, two monks under the rule of Pope Innocent the VIII wrote the book Malleus Maleficarum or “The Witches’ Hammer.” This book was the basis of the Witch Hunts that spread through Europe, resulting in the estimated nine million deaths of men, women, and children.
This reign of terror lasted from 1494 until the mid 18th century. It caused many Pagans to go underground until the 1950s. By this time, all of the anti-witchcraft laws had been abolished in England, spurring a man named Gerald Gardner to come out with a book called High Magicks Aid. He was the cause for the New Age of Religion for Wicca. Wicca became a legalized religion in 1985. The numbers for people who practice Wicca are well into the hundreds of thousands. There are more out there and there are more coming out of the Broom Closet each day. Not just Wiccans, but Pagans, Druids, and all groups under the Pagan umbrella are appearing in vast numbers throughout the world.
If most of the world knew the true history of Pagans, I believe they wouldn’t hold such a fear against us. It isn’t our fault that we can’t get the word out. People are keeping us from taking the fear from people and turning it into understanding. We all know who is keeping us from doing that, from becoming more understood and able to commune with our fellow humans in peace.
I will leave you with a little thought to carry with you throughout your walk in religious practice. How many people have died in the name of religion? How many wars have been fought between two nations who believe that their imaginary friend is better than the other? It needs to stop. I believe we are being targeted because we show no retaliation. We are indeed a peaceful people, but don’t think we can’t hold a grudge. We are taught from DAY ONE that you will harm none lest ye be harmed. Why is it that we, as Pagans, are one of the few religions who actual see the wrong doings of our brethren humans? Something can be done. Will you do that something?
Blessed be, Brothers and Sisters.
Disturbed always put it the best way.