While not a religion in itself, per se, Paganism is a term that refers to non-Abrahamic (i.e. Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) polytheistic religions. However, it does not refer to such religions as Hinduism or Buddhism, for example. Rather it refers specifically to religions such as Asatru, Celtic Reconstructionism, Druidry and Druidism, Hellenismo, Nova Roma, Slavic Reconstructionism, Stregheria, Traditional Initiatory Witchcraft, Wicca (both British Traditional and Eclectic,) as well as some monotheistic religions such as Dianic Witchcraft and Goddess Spirituality. While synchretic religions such as Voudon and Santeria are not always seen as Pagan, there are some followers who do self-identify as such. (Also, this is not a comprehensive list of which religions are or may be considered Pagan.)
Many Pagan religions are reconstructions, that is, they attempt to recreate indigenous European pre-Christian religious beliefs and practices. However, all Pagan religions are modern creations: none are ancient or contain but the smallest traces of the original belief systems that they are based upon, hence why they are often called Neo-Pagan.
Many Pagans honor the natural world through ritual celebration of days of significant change within nature, such as Full and Dark Moons and Solstices and Equinoxes. Many Pagans also regularly honor their ancestors. Pagans may practice their religion either alone, in established groups, or with their families and celebration may take place indoors or outdoors. However, this is not true of all Pagans or Pagan religions. Often there are more differences between two Pagans (or Pagan religions) than there are similarities, but this does not make either less Pagan than the other.
Paganism generally provides much flexibility, while still providing a framework for one's spirituality. While specific values may vary from religion to religion, codes of conduct generally come down to personal responsibility and the development of one's own personal ethos.
For this reason, it is possible to be Pagan and:
**This article originally appeared on the website for the Central Wisconsin Pagan Alliance in the fall of 2012, and was written by my husband and I. As the group is no longer in operation, I have chosen to reproduce it here and may add to it in the future, discussing some of the common threads, intrinsic values, and stark differences between a polytheist and a monotheist worldview.**
-edited December 1, 2014
Throwing the Bones