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Internet Book of Shadows, (Various Authors), [1999], at

                          "What is Paganism" 

The following is the text from a brochure that
BAPA (Bay Area Pagan Assemblies) puts out called
"What is Paganism".

Written by the founding directors and members of
Bay Area Pagan Assemblies (BAPA).

Their website is at

NOTE: the Bay Area referred to here is the San Francisco Bay Area,


"History of Paganism

"The term Pagan has numerous common definitions.  Many dictionaries
define a Pagan as anyone not of the Judeo-Islamic-Christian religions.
Some people consider anyone who does not share their religion to be a
Pagan.  Still others believe that a Pagan is a person who is
anti-religion.  None of these "definitions" manage to capture the true
meaning of the term.

"To discover the core meaning of Pagan, we look back to ancient times
when the word Pagan referred to a person of the country, or a peasant.

{deletia... in summary, several paragraphs relating the history of the
Catholic Church and the poor peasants' inability to relate.  Brief
description of the "glory of the Goddess and God in each starry night"
and note of the inconsistancies of the original Pagan beliefs with the
Catholic church.  Also, several paragraphs detailing the development of
of the Church's campaign to expunge Paganism, some of the methods
employed and the subsequent Witch Hunts.  Finally, an overall summary of
the persecution.  If interested, let me know and I'll post it

"Paganism in Modern Times

"Today, little is known about the Pagans who survived what is now often
called "The Burning Times."  Paganism, as it exists today, is best
described as the practice of any of a number of nature-based religions,
traditions that find their roots all over the world.  {Liana- sound
familiar?} Many modern Pagans call themselves "Neo-Pagans" to declare
their religion as a revival of the old beliefs.

{more deletia... in summary, two paragraphs comparing contemporary
Pagans to the peasants of old, extolling our intelligence and
involvement in technology.  Also a paragraph defusing the Satanism
comparison.  Again, if interested, let me know and I'll post it.}

"What do Modern Pagans Believe?

"Paganism is actually a large umbrella containing a number of
nature-based religions beneath it, from the European-originated Wicca
and Druidism, to African Yoruba traditions and Hawaiian Huna.  As a
result of this diversity, it is impossible to make statements about the
beliefs of Pagans that will apply to *all* {italics} Pagans.  However,
some statements can be made that will, in general, apply to a vast
number of Pagans.


"Many Pagans tend to:

"* Be polytheists, believing in more than one deity or more than
   one aspect of a single deity.

"* Be pantheists, seeing the God/Goddess force represented in everything
   around them.

"* Recognize the divinity of the feminine as well as the masculine, not
   seeing masculinity as a superior force.

"* Believe that the life force is sacred, and that nature, as a vital
   representation of that force, is divine.

"* Believe that all life forms are equal, sharing an equal claim to the
   earth as a home.

"* Believe that each individual is solely responsible for his or her

"* Believe that the forces of nature can be shaped in ways commonly
   called "magical."

"* Believe that magical acts designed to bend one to another's will are
   manipulative, and not encouraged.

"* Believe that whatever actions a person takes, magical or mundane,
   good or bad, come back to him/her, sometimes threefold.

"* Believe that there is no single path to spiritual fulfillment, and
   that the individual must determine the spiritual expression most
   appropriate to him or her.

"* Believe in reincarnation, or some form of life after death.

"How do Pagans Practice Their Religion?

"Many Pagans find spiritual expression through the practice of ritual,
or religious ceremony.  These rituals, often held at significant points
in lunar or solar cycles, offer an opportunity for Pagans to commune
with the godeesses and Gods, to celebrate the passages of life, and to
work magic.

{deletia... in summary, paragraphs relating techniques to "raise power"
explaining that we don't espouse "power over" (my words).  Also outlines
goals that many pagans have in mine when raising of power. Outlines the
sabbats, and relates the pattern of the seasons.  Briefly describes
Beltane and Samhain.  Once again, let me know if you would like to see
this text.}

"Each Pagan religion has its own special way of recognizing the passing
of the seasons and personal life passages.  Ritual offers a way to imbue
these moments with magic and reverence.

{deletia... last paragraph giving information on how the reader can
learn more about Paganism, specifically in the Bay Area, and relating
the goal that BAPA has in mind.}

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