DEFINITIONS (Examples of definitions by people defining themselves as “Pagan.”  Note, other definitions exist, and not everybody using the terms below identifies themselves as Pagan.)


Animism: A philosophical, religious or spiritual idea that souls or spirits exist not only in humans but also in animals, plants, rocks, natural phenomena such as thunder, geographic features such as mountains or rivers, or other entities of the natural environment


Asatru:  A family of religions honoring the Norse/Teutonic Gods (Aesir) and nature spirits (Vanir). Some believe that the Gods and Goddesses of different pantheons have nothing in common.


Ceremonial Magick: A diverse system of ritual practices that draws on many ancient and modern grimores or books of magick.  Several primary sources include, and are not limited to, the greater and lesser keys of Solomon the king and any number of kabalistic/alchemical/astrological texts


Druid:  Typically, a member of one or more of several Pagan groups that emerged, starting in the 1960's and are still being established today.  These groups commonly place an emphasis on Celtic or Indo-European studies, art and liturgy, ritual, education and service to their local communities.


Earth Religions: include Pagan religions (Wicca, Druidism, Shamanism, etc.), traditional religions of indigenous peoples, those variations on indigenous religions (Voodoo, Ifa, Santeria, eclectic Native American Inspired medicine societies, etc.) and on variations of widespread religions (Christian, Moslem, Sufi, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Taoist, Shinto, Unitarian Universalist, etc.) that honor nature and the Earth and our place in it, along with similar mystic beliefs and practices.


Mystic: One who believes or works with the principle that any being can have direct personal knowledge of the Divine without intervention of an outside authority. While the Divine is commonly thought of as godlike or spiritual, we include in the definition of mystic those whose beliefs, ethics, and practices include sophisticated forms of transcendental secularism involving consciousness at a non localized level unifying with individual's surroundings and that which is.


Neo-Paganism: A collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted in indigenous traditions or deriving inspiration therefrom, characterized by a belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy, and immanent divinities. Often nature-centered and supportive of gender equity. Often used interchangeably with Pagan.


Pagan or Neopagan: Someone who self-identifies as a Pagan, and whose spiritual or religious practice or belief fits into one or more of the following categories:
* Honoring, revering, or worshipping a Deity or Deities found in pre Christian, classical, aboriginal, or tribal mythology; and/or
* Practicing religion or spirituality based upon Shamanism, shamanic, or magickal practices; and/or
* Creating new religion based on past Pagan religions and/or futuristic views of society, community, and/or ecology;
* Focusing religious or spiritual attention primarily on the Divine Feminine; and/or
* Practicing religion that focuses on earth based spirituality.

* A member of an eclectic, mostly modern, religious movement encompassing a broad array of religions that revere the Divine in nature and/or draw upon the myths and symbols of ancient faiths.

Often used interchangeably with Neopagan. Most Pagans are Pantheistic and Polytheistic, with some exceptions.


Petwo: An AfroHaitian rite of Central African origin with roots in the Haitian Revolution dedicated to the veneration of warrior spirits, called "Lwa.”  Associated with quick-acting medicine, psychic self-defense, fire, the forest and the dead.  Part of a larger ritual complex called "Vodou."


Shamanism: A solitary spiritual practice honored in cultures around the world and throughout history.  Shamans journey into the world of spirit to find wisdom & healing for themselves and their community.


Vodou: Is an AfroHaitian ritual complex of primarily West and Central African origin, but intermingled with folk Catholicism, dedicated to the veneration of spirits called "Lwa" and of the ancestors.  Important rites include Rada (West African-derived) and Petwo (of Central African origin).  Vodou has been intermingled with local practices in countries with a strong Haitian immigrant presence (including the U.S., as well as Dominican Republic and Cuba, where is it is called "Vodú" or "Vudú").


Voodoo (New Orleans): A branch of Voodoo that is similar to Vodou and emphasizes the direct relationship between the Loa and the individual practitioner


Wicca: A category of religion involving witchcraft, working in circles, calling the elements at the quarters, and doing rituals at full moons, new moons (in many cases) and the eight Sabbats -- along with the Wiccan Rede (and variations on it).


Witch: A practitioner of a religion that honors the Divine in nature and uses magic as a tool for personal and global transformation. 






ADF Druids typically work magic in a space that they define as the center, and call into the center what they are looking for. ADF Druid rituals generally involve a procession, invoking a Gatekeeper to open the doors between the worlds, centering, invoking triads (ancestors, nature spirits and the gods, and/or other triads), raising energy through creative offerings to the Goddess/Gods invoked, release to the deities, who return it, often to a purpose, reading an omen, passing a cup, thanks and formal closing


Ceremonial Magick: Many work with the greater and letter rituals of the pentagram and hexagram, invocations (high magick) and Goetia (low magick) or spirit evocation.  Prominent orders are the Ordo Templi Orientis and the Golden Dawn, both of which have been heavily influenced by free masonry.


Dianic Witches: Most worship/work with only Goddesses and celebrate creation at the changing seasons. 


Petwo: The volatile Petwo Lwa like fire, and in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, a sacred "Boukan" fire in the yard outside the house, when ignited becomes a portal to call the dead and the Petwo spirits.  Also associated with the Petwo Lwa are the Pakèt Kongo, medicine bundles for protection and healing.  Implements of slavery turned into symbols of ritual power can be found on the Petwo altar such as chains and whips.  Practitioners strongly warn against trifling with the Petwo Lwa, as service to these spirits requires sincerity and discipline.


Shamans often use drumming or other methods to access the other worlds, find spirit allies (power animals, etc.) and return with the ally, who then does tasks, healing, etc. when sent.


Vodou Communal ceremonies to honor the Lwa include dance, drumming, and song, led by a priest (called "Oungan" in Haitian Kreyòl) or priestess (called "Manbo.")  Through possession trance, the Lwa convey guidance to the community.  The Oungan or Manbo may offer consultations and healing work, and will often form a religious house comprised of initiates and followers.  A practitioner will often keep an altar for the Lwa at home and may become initiated if the Lwa call for this, but it is not required.


Voodoo (New Orleans) Similar to Vodou but rituals are apt to include the presence of a living Temple Snake along with Loa and spiritualist practices particular to New Orleans. 


Traditional Indigenous Peoples and Other Earth Religionists use a variety of techniques that may include some of the above -- as well as techniques that may be unique to their religions.


Wiccan Witches typically work magic in circles between the worlds to influence the world.  Rituals usually involve purification, centering, casting a circle, calling the four elements, calling Goddess and a God, Raising energy in the circle that is released to the objective, grounding, cakes and wine, and thanking powers invoked and closing.  Wiccan witches typically do rituals at Full and New Moons, Solstices, Equinoxes, and cross quarter points of the year (Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas).  Some Witches use shamanic technique and work with their spirit allies in their magic.  Others use ceremonial magickal forms in which entities are invoked or created and sent to do work.




Traditional: Follows very closely specific forms of practice and belief that are handed down by clergy and/or teachers and usually have strict hierarchy and may have many restrictions to preserve the purity of the tradition.


Eclectic: Spiritual practices in which people explore a variety of paths and find out what works for them.  The origins of many eclectic paths may include such influences as the Women’s movement, the Counterculture of the 60s, New Age practices, traditional Wiccan practices, practices of indigenous peoples, and the needs and tastes of the individuals involved.  Groups tend to be egalitarian and consensus oriented.  Eclectic groups may evolve into traditions, as people find a body of practice that works well for them, and they adopt these as standard operating procedures.


Animistic: (from Animism In religion, the term is the belief is that "everything is alive", "everything is conscious" or "everything has a soul".  It has been further extended to mean a belief that the world is a community of living persons, only some of whom are human.  It also refers to the culture or philosophy which these types of Animists live by, that is, to attempt to relate respectfully with the persons (human, rock, plant, animal, bird, ancestral, etc.) who are also members of the wider community of life. 



Brief definitions and terms from practitioners that it would be desirable to add include:

* Kemetic (Egyptian Paganism)

* Ifa

* Santeria

along with brief summaries of their underlying ritual forms. 


I have seen definitions on the Internet and in books, but would prefer definitions from experts in organizations that use these forms to describe their traditions .  Any assistance on this would be appreciated.


Blessed be and Never Thirst!


Larry Cornett (216) 583-0007