Many Paths

This is by no means a complete list of ‘Pagan’ paths and whilst I have attempted to explain each path as briefly and inclusively as possible, due to the nature of the old ways, in that they are open to personal interpretation, these descriptions do not apply to every single practitioner. I have included Shamanism in this list, however it should be noted that Shamanism (or whatever the regional / cultural name for that path is) is the basis of most, if not all of the following list of paths.

Anglo-Saxon Paganism

A form of Germanic Paganism which evolved in the British Isles after the invasion of Angles, Saxons, Jutes and Frisians. This path venerates of the deities of the Anglo-Saxon pantheon, often includes deities of other Germanic communities and has strong ties with Asatru. Unlike Germanic Paganism, there is a more common tendency to include Celtic deities, possibly due to its separation from the continent.

Animism

Animism is possibly the oldest spiritual understanding; considering ceremonial finds at Neanderthal sites, it likely predates even Homo Sapiens itself. The belief is that everything that exists has some amount of life force, and has its own experience of the world. Everything is sacred, everything is part of a great whole from which nothing is separate. It is important to honour and respect this life force.

Asatru

Veneration of the Aesir; deities of Norse Mythology concerned with human affairs such as poetry, healing and war.

Celtic Paganism

There are many forms of Celtic Paganism, the most common are listed below.

Celtic Reconstructionism

More commonly found in America, this is a form of Celtic Paganism which seeks to recreate or reconstruct a path that is as close to ancient Paganism as possible. This can take the form of any Celtic Paganism but often centres around Gaulish deity. Commonly the practitioners will use the language of the culture they are reconstructing, for instance Welsh for Welsh or Gaulish for Gaulish.

Gaelic Paganism

Following a path guided by Irish or Scottish culture

Brythonic Paganism

Following a path guided by ancient British, Welsh or Cornish culture.

Gaulish Paganism

Following a path guided by ancient Gaulish culture.

Bretonic Paganism

Following a path guided by Breton Celtic culture.

Druidry

Essentially Druidry is British, Pre-Christian Shamanism. More recently there has been a rise in a Shamanic approach to Druidry which may echo its original intention as it is very likely that ancient Druids fulfilled the role of a Shamanic figure in Pre-Christian times. Often Druidry is considered a Celtic Paganism, however the path evolved before Celtic culture. This path evolved in the British Isles in Pre-Celtic times and has adapted and changed to meet the needs of the time and of the people. In the 17th and 18th Centuries CE the path was revived by groups similar to Freemasons. Today, Druidry has become a philosophy and set of practices which can be applied to any religion though the path is now a recreated one, stitched together from other neo-Pagan practices but with a heavy focus on Celtic literature and lore. The path is practiced in different ways be various groups and has different forms. Druidry has become recognised as an official Religion in the United Kingdom since The Druid Network gained charity status in 2010. This has caused conflict in the Druid community as many Druids consider it to be a spirituality and the word religion can be difficult for many Pagans to accept.

Eclectic Paganism

A form of Paganism which draws on many paths, combining relevant paths to create one more appropriate to the needs of the individual.

Heathenry

See Asatru & Vanatru.

Hellenism

Veneration of the deities of Ancient Hellas (Greece).

Mithraism

A Persian Pagan religion which became popular in the Roman Empire and almost became the state religion in place of Christianity. The religion centres around the veneration of the Mithras, the Iranian god of the Sun, Friendship and Justice. It is a Bull sacrifice religion.

Santería

An Caribbean religion from the slave era blending traditional African Paganism with Roman Catholicism. The name is Spanish and translates as “The Worship of Saints”. This path is also known as Regla de Ocha, La Regla de Ifá, or Lucumí.

Shamanism

Shamanism is an ancient path of healing which follows an animistic viewpoint. The core ability within Shamanism, and that which sets it apart from Noe-pagan paths such as modern Witchcraft, Wicca and modern Druidry, is the ability to enter a deep trance state. Shamanism was once everywhere, although known by other names according to where in the world it was practiced and by which culture. The word Shaman comes from the Tungus (Siberia) word Saman which translates as “One who knows”. Around the world the title of a Shaman nearly always translates as a knowing person or one who knows. Druidry (a British Pre-Christian Shamanism) translates into several possible words, however, the “uid” part always translates as knowledge or “to know” (the most common theory is that it translates as Oak knowledge or, if following Indo-European linguistics “Fixed in knowledge”. The proper name for practitioners of traditional Witchcraft is Cunning folk, the word Cunning, which now brings up images of sneakiness, thievery, cheating and lying actually means “knowing” so a traditional witch is a knowing man (Cunning Man) or knowing woman (Cunning Woman). This does not apply to Wicca! This knowing refers to the Shaman’s (No matter the culture) deep understanding of, and communion with the world of spirit on a personal level. The Shaman can travel between the world of man and the various other worlds that lie beyond. The Shaman uses a trance state (Michael Harner’s ‘SSC (Shamanic State of Consciousness)’ and Mircea Eliade’s ‘Ecstasy’) to travel between the worlds (Harner would call this travelling between OR (Ordinary Reality) and NOR (Non-Ordinary Reality) in order to petition with spirits for the health and wellbeing of the people or the land, to divine the cause of an illness, see future events, or engage in spiritual battles against demons or the shamans of another clan or tribe. In some areas the trance is brought on with the used of psychedelic plant helpers however it is more common that the use of a drum, rattle, jaw harp or other rhythmic device is used. There is evidence to suggest the practice of some form of Shamanism among Neanderthals!

Tengrism

A spiritual path found widespread throughout Siberia and Mongolia, this is the veneration of deities known as Tenger. These deities represent the powers of nature and are separated into different groups dependent on which directional wind they are associated with.

Vanatru

Veneration of the Vanir; deities of Norse Mythology concerned with natural forces such as fertility, hunting, forests and mountains.

Voodoo

A Caribbean blending of traditional African Paganism and Catholicism.

Vodun

An African Paganism practiced in Benin, Togo, Ghana, and Nigeria.

Wathanism

A Pagan religion practiced among Arabic communities.

Wicca

Wicca is an organised religion within Paganism. Originally existing as Gardrnerian Wicca from 1950’s, it has evolved into many different paths, the more popular of which are listed below. Practitioners of Wicca are called Witches. Witches can practice in a group called a Coven or more often choose to practice alone as solitary witches, sometimes called Hedge Witches. Sometimes practitioners of Wicca will use the term Cunning Man or Cunning Woman which are more commonly applied to Traditional Witchcraft.

Gardnerian Wicca

This is the original form of Wicca, created by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s.

Alexandrian Wicca

One of the first branches of modern Wicca, founded by Alex and Maxine Saunders in the 1960s.

Seax Wicca

Seax Wicca blends Wicca with Anglo-Saxon Paganism.

Dianic Wicca

A form of Wicca honouring the Roman Goddess Diana and placing a strong emphasis on Feminism and Goddess as divine principle.

Traditional Witchcraft

The practice of traditional folk crafts, customs, remedies, curses and cures and folklore. Traditional Witchcraft can be practiced with any religion or culture and is found in almost every country. It is most famously practiced in England. In the United Kingdom it is found more commonly in the West country of England (Somerset, Devon and Cornwall), the East Midlands (Norfolk) and the South East (Essex, Kent and Sussex), however covens and individuals practicing Traditional Witchcraft can be found throughout the Britain. Practitioners do not often use the term Witch, rather they are often called Cunning Men and Cunning Women (Collectively Cunning Folk). Cunning comes from the Anglo-Saxon word “Kenning” which implies a deep, spiritual knowing.

%d bloggers like this: