1. Introduction to
community in Scotland, history, origins, present situation, way organised.
Paganism has its roots in
the indigenous, pre-Christian religions of Europe, evolved and adapted to
the circumstances of modern life. Its re-emergence in Scotland parallels
that observed in other Western countries, where it has been growing
rapidly since the 1950's. The social infrastructure of Paganism reflects
the value the community places on unity in diversity, consisting of a
polycentric network of inter-related traditions and local groups served by
a number of larger organisations. In Scotland, the Pagan Federation acts
as an educational and representative body liaising with government and
other relevant bodies on behalf of the Pagan community
2. Basic Beliefs
Pagans understand Deity to
be manifest within nature and recognise divinity as taking many forms,
finding expression in Goddesses as well as Gods. Goddess-worship is one of
the primary characteristics of Paganism. Pagans believe that nature is
sacred and that the natural cycles of birth, growth and death observed in
the world around us carry profoundly spiritual meanings. Human beings are
seen as part of nature, woven into the great web of life along with other
animals, trees, stones, plants and everything else that is of this earth.
Most Pagans believe in some form of reincarnation, viewing death as a
transition within a continuing process of existence. In Paganism,
spiritual truths find expression in mythopoeic and symbolic forms rather
than through doctrine, and reflect a synergy of polytheistic, pantheistic
and animistic understandings of the divine.
3. Custom and Practices
Pagan ethics emphasise the
responsible exercise of personal freedom in trying to live in harmony with
others, and with nature. Pagans frequently use the phrase 'If it harm
none, do what you will' to describe this approach to life.
Pagan worship seeks to
honour the divine powers and bring the participants into harmony with
them, to celebrate the turning of the seasons, and to mark the transitions
of human life with appropriate rites of passage. Rituals usually begin
with the creation of sacred space by the marking out of a symbolic circle
and the blessing of those within. They may involve meditation, chanting,
music, prayer, dance, poetry and the enactment of symbolic drama together
with the sharing of food and drink.
4. Places of worship
Paganism has no buildings
dedicated as places of public worship. Instead Pagans hold their
ceremonies in woods, on hilltops, along the seashore, at standing stones,
in parks, gardens and private homes.
Nearly all Scottish Pagans
celebrate a cycle of eight seasonal festivals known as the Wheel of the
Year. These are Samhain (31st Oct), Midwinter or Yule (21st Dec), Imbolc
(2nd Feb), Spring Equinox (21st Mar), Beltane (30th Apr- 1st May),
Midsummer (21st Jun), Lughnasadh (1st Aug), and Autumn Equinox (21st
6. Food and Diet
For ethical reasons, most
Pagans have a strong preference for foods derived from organic farming and
free-range livestock-rearing, while many are vegetarian or vegan.
7. Concerns of the
Pagans regard nature as
sacred and are deeply concerned by the damage inflicted by modern,
industrialised societies on the natural world. Many regard environmental
activism as a religious duty. Pagans honour Deity in female as well as
male forms and strongly uphold equality of the sexes. Women play a very
prominent role in Pagan religion. Pagans take it for granted that
different people will experience the divine in different ways, and are
thus very tolerant of other life-affirming religious beliefs.
Proselytising is regarded as offensive and ill-mannered.
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