|I'd rather be a|
|Suckled in a creed outworn|
Neopaganism is a series of religious beliefs, often polytheist, animistic or pantheist in nature. Although some neopagan practices draw inspiration from pre-Christian European religions, essentially all of it was dreamt up since the late 19th century. Prominent neopagan faiths include Wicca, some variants of Asatru, and neo-Druidism. Due to its syncretic, anti-dogmatic, and highly personal nature, neopaganism can be seen more as a subculture than as a religion.
As a general rule, faiths such as Hinduism and vodun are not considered part of the neopagan community; rather, the term is usually understood to refer to any sort of mish-mash of ideas that are mostly from pre-Christian European religious traditions. Amusingly, some neopagan beliefs are based on false Christian propaganda about "heathen" practices.
Neopagans are usually pretty tolerant, because they aren't that keen on convincing you or your children (or even their children) to follow their religious beliefs. And, they will only turn you into a newt if you really piss them off. (Also, more often than not, they're fighting amongst themselves anyway, if only to try to get rid of the crazies like Kevin Carlyon.)
Their beliefs tend to centered broadly around these concepts:
- The earth as mother of all life. see Gaia
- Goddess worship; or that there is both a God and a Goddess (Lord and Lady)
- Respect for other lifeforms, including their oppressors
- Certain holidays, most notably Halloween, or as they spell it, Samhain and the Winter Solstice (Yule)
- Belief in the Gaia hypothesis as a literal truth rather than a philosophical viewpoint.
- Tarot card reading
- Astrology and the reading of horoscopes
- Sexual acts with people they like. Guess it turns out I'm a neopagan after all...
- Various forms of meditation
- Ritual "circles" for worship and celebration.
- Rune symbology and magic
- Reiki healing practices
- Talk to water nicely and it will talk back nicely (see Water woo.)
- Belief that crop circles are real manifestations of "something".
- Belief that crystals are magic
Those perceived by the broader neopagan community as overly self-centered or superficial are often branded "fluffbunnies" and dismissed with the same sort of contempt often directed at people who shop at Hot Topic.
 Symptoms of Neopaganism
It is often said within Neopaganism that "you don't become a pagan, you realise you are one". Therefore, in the spirit of public education, here are some warning signs:
- Your favourite films include Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter and The Wicker Man (but not the crap Nicholas Cage version). And anything about King Arthur.
- You feel inspired by trees, mountains etc.
- You feel that there's some spiritual aspect to life, but the main religions have nothing to offer you.
- You have a dreamcatcher.
- You are a vegetarian, environmentalist and/or a political radical.
- You like quite a few of the following: ancient Egypt, being outdoors, black, bonfires, cats (especially black cats), green, herbal remedies, horses, night-time, sex, silver, Stonehenge, storms, Terry Pratchett, Vikings, goats.
- Deja vu makes sense, because it really seems that you have been here before.
- You can't resist the urge to use Papyrus as your font of choice.
Some groups, particularly Asatru and "Hellenic Reconstructionist", prefer the term "mesopaganism", to denote the fact that they try to reconstruct (as much as possible) the ceremonies and faith of older, "paleopagan" faiths (such as the ancient Norse and Greek religions.) The term "mesopagan" is used to denote the fact that they know they are not fully the same as the old groups (due to the loss of so much information), but to also distinguish themselves from the neopagans who instead prefer to forge a completely new path. Most neopagans consider mesopagans to be further members of the overall umbrella term, but there is sometimes tension between the two groups as well.
It should be noted that owing to the necessity of hewing as closely as possible to historically attested rituals, mesopagans do not adhere to most of the beliefs and practices enumerated above.
 See Also
- Robert Graves if you like your "academic" served up with a bit of manipulation.
- ↑ Though most Asatru hate the term, and prefer "heathen"
- ↑ Though there have apparently been some strong negotiations between Neopagan groups and the mainstream Hindu groups to form a polytheistic alliance.
- ↑ Though Neopagans are shameless at appropriating vodoun ideas and loa, without necessarily understanding any of it