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The Pagan Credo
27 April 2011
What do Pagans believe?
Ask a thousand Pagans what they believe and you may get a thousand different answers. There's nothing wrong with this because Paganism is not in any way dogmatic in structure or basic philosophy. However, in order for people to understand a little more about the general and nature-orientated, Pagan worldview PAN has presented below a copy of the Pagan Credo. We hope that this document answers some of your questions, yet if it creates even more queries then that is the way it should be, for if anyone ever tells you that they have all the answers - avoid them like the plague!
The Pagan Credo
Originally compiled by Stewart and Janet Farrar with help from Chris Bray, (SAFF Founder), Leonora James and other Pagans.
1. Paganism is a religion (or field of related religions) in its own right, being traceable from prehistoric times through most ancient and modern cultures and making a continuing contribution to the spiritual evolution of our species.
2. It is not rigid or dogmatic in form, its exact expression depends on the individual Pagan, or willing cooperating group of Pagans. This credo is therefore itself not dogmatic but an attempt to describe the mainstream characteristics of Pagan philosophy.
3. Paganism aims to offer a way to recognise and attune with the manifold forces of nature, which already exist within and without us and which are vital to our survival, fulfilment and evolution. By celebrating the seasons and becoming one with other living creatures Pagans synchronise intimately with the planet, liberate their personalities and magnify their perceptions and talents in the interests of themselves, their groups and communities and humankind as a whole.
4. Paganism believes in the same Divine Creative Force as anyone else, because if there is one there can only be one. Like any other religion, Paganism personifies this Ultimate as a means to attuning oneself to it, because it cannot be apprehended directly, except perhaps be brief flashes of intuition.
5. Paganism's basic personification of this Ultimate is in its creative polarisation of male and female aspects, as the Father God and Mother Goddess. The God represents the fertilising, energising, analysing, intellectual, left-brain-function aspects. The Goddess represents the formative, nourishing, synthesising, intuitive, right-brain-function aspects.
6. As above so below; this basic Divine polarisation is the primal cause of all manifestation and it is reflected at all levels of being, including ourselves.
7. Pagans make use of many different God and-Goddess forms as tuning signals to different aspects of the essential God and Goddess. These forms vary according to cultural, geographical and personal backgrounds and are 'usually' (and naturally, since men and women aspire to emulate them) envisaged in perfected human form; but they are all valid. They are real in the sense that if one attunes oneself to them sincerely, they are vitalised and empowered by the Ultimate of which they represent aspects. They are not idols but are the numinous, archetypal symbols which are vital (or in everyday language, "God-given") components of the human Collective Unconscious.
8. Pagans do not worship the Devil; that would be totally incompatible with the principle of paragraphs 4 and 7 above. the Devil of monotheistic religion does not exist in Pagan philosophy. Pagans regard evil as an imbalance to be corrected, not as an independent force or entity.
9. Like all religions, Paganism believes in multi-level reality. These levels are generally defined in Pagan thinking as the spiritual, mental, astral, etheric and physical levels. Each level has its own laws but the laws of different levels do not conflict with each other; as for example the laws of mathematics, chemistry and biology are different but do not conflict with each other. Pagans believe that be understanding these laws and their interaction one can achieve results generally defined as magical.
10. Pagans regard all these levels as equally holy, and essential parts of the cosmic spectrum of manifestation. They totally reject the Dualistic concept which equates the spiritual with good and matter with evil.
11. Pagan philosophy and worship therefore tends to be strongly Nature-based. Mother Earth is not a temporary stopping-place, but our home, of which we are a vital living part, and for the health and protection of which we bear a constant responsibility.
12. The Pagan view of the Cosmos is essentially organic. The Ultimate is its creative life-force; but all manifestation is part of the total organism. Our own planet can be regarded as one limb or organ of it, and we ourselves (and all Earth's other creatures and components) as cells within that limb or organ. Our health depends on its health and vice versa.
13. Paganism therefore does not envisage a gulf between Creator and Created. The spectrum is continuous and interdependent. Each individual is of the same nature as the Source and is capable of being a channel for it.
14. On the basis of all the foregoing, most Pagans regard all sincere religions as different paths to the same truths. The particular Deity-personifications, symbology and meaningful mythology which suit one person as tuning-signals to the Ultimate may not suit another. Pagans are therefore essentially ecumenical, non-proselytising and tolerant.
15. This does not mean that Pagans cannot voice constructive criticism of the attitudes of some dogmatic systems. Pagans reject as dangerous and destructive, in particular, the belief that one's own religion is the only true one, and that all others are devilish and therefore to be condemned and persecuted.
16. Pagans lay more emphasis on continuing spiritual development than one instant revelation, though they accept that the latter can sometimes happen - usually as a breakthrough to consciousness of a longer unconscious accumulation.
17. Most Pagans believe in reincarnation in one form or another. This belief further strengthens Pagans' attitude to Earth as our continuing home for the foreseeable future, rather than as a temporary and restrictive stopping place. It is also a powerful moral force because it emphasises that all offences against other individuals, the community or the Earth and all failure to learn lessons must ultimately be put right by oneself, and cannot be evaded by bodily death.
18. Pagans' ethical attitude is often summed up in one sentence: "An it harm none, do what you will." this means achieving full self-development while accepting equally full responsibility towards one's fellow- humans, one's fellow-creatures and the Earth itself. Love for all of these is the foundation-stone of Paganism. In particular, Pagans feel a special responsibility towards the young; their vulnerability must not be abused and they must be helped to develop themselves according to their own natures, so that when they are mature they can choose their own paths - and their own religious forms - with maximum awareness and without pressurisation from their elders.