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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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