Throughout the history of mankind, religion has always been a constant, sometimes inconvenient, factor in society. In history, religion has meant guidance for civilizations, lending religious laws and doctrines to government, business and home. Religion has affected all aspects of daily communal life, however over the centuries that affect has dwindled down from a daily (or more often) retreat to a mere weekly (if that) nuisance. What has lead to this down cline in our attitudes as a society towards our spirituality? Even more pertinent what is religion?
According to the Merriam- Webster dictionary religion is 'a cause, principle, or system of beliefs held to with ardor and faith' (2003). But what does that mean to you or me? After asking several friends and local ministers, I found that religion has different meaning to each and every person. Though many may practice the same type of religion the actual meaning varies. For the purpose of this paper, religion is meant to mean any widespread worship of deities.
Christianity began its spread over Europe in the 4th century with the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine. The conversion itself was very gradual, taking four centuries to convert southern Europe alone (Grimassi, 2002). Persecution is the most active part in the memoirs of the Christian Church, beginning with the Jewish peoples, turning their reproachful eyes upon the Pagans in the 14th century. Christianity is a severe expression of religious ethnocentrism. The laws of Christianity demand a solitary belief and worship in their God, denouncing the existence of other deities or spiritual paths. Sanctions for breaking the commandments are most certainly negative, however in today's society many of the ten commandments could be considered mores rather than taboos, considering the lack of severe negative sanctions for going against the 'rules'.
Paganism refers to any of the pre-Christian, poly-theistic religions, or those who practice them. Wicca is one Pagan religion, as is Asatru, Santeria, Voodoo, or Shamanism (Paajanen, 2003). Paganism is also often used as a blanket term for anyone who is not Christian, Jewish, or Muslim (Sabrina, 2001). An ancient religion that utilizes the arts of Witchcraft including herbalism, divination, magick, ceremonial ritual, healing, potions, and spirit-world contact (familiars, elementals, etc.), Paganism brought communities together as a family and support group.
In Pagan religions, there is the Principles of Wiccan Belief ( see appendix A), These are widely accepted and agreed upon set of beliefs implemented by the Council of American Witches in 1974 (Sabrina, 2001). Another key point in the Pagan philosophy is the Wiccan Rede (Appendix B), a simple code of ethics similar to the golden rule. Due to the relaxed nature of theses codes, the real sanction is within your karma. Pagan society is one of extreme open-mindedness that allows for the laws of karma...