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Neo-Paganism

Doctrines Paganism is an umbrella term used to describe a variety of religions linked by common traditions; the main Pagan religions to be found in Europe are Wicca, Druidry, Shamanism, Goddess Spirituality, Sacred Ecology, the Northern Traditions, and various Magical Groups. As such, there are no official doctrines - most Pagans believe that no one belief system is correct, and that each person has the freedom to choose their own religion. The Pagan Federation, the largest umbrella organisation for Paganism in Europe, has set out three principles as follows:
Love for and kinship with nature: rather than the more customary attitude of aggression and domination over Nature; reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.

The Pagan Ethic: 'Do what thou wilt, but harm none'. This is a positive morality, not a list of thou-shalt-nots. Each individual is responsible for discovering his or her own true nature and developing it fully, in harmony with the outer world.

The concept of the Goddess and God as expressions of the Divine reality; an active participation in the cosmic dance of the Goddess and God, female and male, rather than suppression of either the female or the male principle.
(The Pagan Federation 1992 p.4)

Most Pagans celebrate eight major festivals : these are the Celtic fire festivals of Imbolc (February 2nd), Beltane (April 30th ), Lughnasadh/Lammas (July 31st), and Samhain (October 31st), based on the agricultural year, plus the Winter and Summer Solstices (December 21st and June 21st) and the Spring and Autumn equinoxes (March 21st and September 21st). These are the traditional dates for each festival, but they are not fixed; many groups often find it easier, for the practical purpose of getting everyone together, to work to a set date (usually the nearest Friday or Saturday to the dates given), whilst smaller groups or individuals working alone may choose to wait for a specific sign of nature (e.g. first snowdrop for Imbolc) and celebrate on that day.

History Pagan religions have their roots in the traditions of ancient Nature religions, reviving and recreating their practices and beliefs in the context of modern day life. Their history therefore lies with the ancient civilisations of Egypt, Greece, Rome, the British Isles and the indigenous practices of the ancestors of their particular country, and as such, Pagan religions are regarded as revived religious traditions.
Pagan groups are becoming increasingly more eclectic in the traditions they use, experimenting with practices gleaned from various world religions as well as other Pagan religions, and using those that blend with already established patterns of worship.
The Pagan Federation was founded in May 1971 under the name of 'The Pagan Front' to bring together people from different Pagan religions, to provide information on Paganism to the general public and to counter misconceptions about Pagan religions.

Symbols Many Pagans make use of the pentagram as described in the Wicca entry, and have statues or pictures of particular deities they feel close to (See entries for separate groups for symbols and icons specific to each tradition).

Adherents Since the Pagan movement is made up of individuals and autonomous groups, it is impossible to determine the number of adherents.

Headquarters/
Main Centre
 None. The Pagan Federation provides networking and contacts between individuals and groups, and can be contacted for further information at the following address: The Pagan Federation, BM Box 7097, London WC1N 3XX, England.