A person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions. The origin of the word is said to be Pagus, Latin for country dweller. Some say that gentile, idolater and health are synonyms. Basically a pagan is someone whose religious views are other than Christianity, Judaism and Islam.
Pretty simple when you think about it. No matter how you slice and dice the religions, anything outside those three religions would fall under the pagan umbrella. Much like how anything outside of a Catholic, would be considered a Protestant.
When one country conquers another country many of the customs of the old country are melded into the customs of the new and a new custom is created. For example if we look at the yearly calendar for example there is clear evidence of this. Many holidays have transitioned into something much different than the original.
We can take the American holiday Halloween for example. Halloween is based on a melding of several different days. Samhain is an ancient Celtic festival celebrated to prepare for the winter and honor the dead. Being a fire festival common traditions included bonfires. Some believed that on this night the veil was the thinnest between the living and the dead and would leave treats out for the dead to find. Others would carve turnips into frightening faces to keep watch over their homes. This laid the foundation for our modern Halloween traditions, including trick or treating, wearing masks and of course the dear jack-o-lantern. Other holidays such as Christmas, Easter and even Groundhog day have Pagan DNA.
I believe the same thing happens with religion.
I’ve been a party to several group discussion around Pagans who follow Jesus. I read over and over again how they include Jesus as part of their God/dess collection and consider themselves to be Christians. This always confuses me. I can only compare it with my own belief structure.
1. I am a Pagan because I do not follow one of the three world religions.
2. I am a Witch because I cast spells and practice candle magic.
3. I am not Wiccan because I have not been initiated into an order.
4. I am Hecatean because I follow Hecate.
Now, looking at those statements I can validate each. When someone says they are Christian these are what I see.
1. They am Christian because I believe that Jesus is the son of the God of Abraham, the one true God.
2. They believe that Jesus is the Messiah.
3. They believe that Jesus died on the cross and arose 3 days later.
4. They have accepted that I am a sinner and that I can only be saved by believing 1-3.
Ok, see where I get confused? A pagan by definition is a follower of something other than the three world religions. A Christian can only believe that the God of Abrahman is the one true God. You can’t really say I’m a Christian who also follows Bast. Well, let me rephrase, you certainly can say whatever you’d like to say, but based on what the ‘rules’ for Christianity are, you’re not.
I did do a bit of generalizations on the “What I believe a Christian is” because each group has different requirements. There are different paths in Christianity. Catholics believe that a person must get Last Rites before they die. Some believe that if you’re not baptized you are not a Christian. So I guess technically one could argue that in their particular “pagan” path Jesus is the son of God and they have other Gods or Goddesses as well.
Personally I believe its fine to have or not have a religion. A person may be able to embrace what a particular God or Goddess stands for without having to believe that they were an actual being. To me I believe that we are all energy and when we finally get it right, we can all join together in that pool and be at peace.
Namaste & Blessed Be