Okay, for the really clueless, Paganism, or Neo-Paganism, is non-Judeo-Christian/Islamic religion. That covers quite a bit of ground, however, Satanism is a perversion of Christianity, so Satanism is not any form of Paganism. Paganism, as a word, is on the same categorical level as the word 'Christianity.' It's very broad, and there are countless denominations of Paganism: Asatru (Norse Paganism), Buhddism, Druidism, Shintoism, and my favorite, Wicca. Those are only a couple that came to mind in the time it took me to type them. There's lots more. For a nice list and description of some of the major religions (including Christianity), visit The Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance. The word "pagan" comes from Latin, meaning "country-dweller." Or, more colloquially, "hick." That's where the stupid pointy witch hat thing comes from, in a way; in Medieval Europe, the tall, pointy hat was out of fashion, but provincial hicks weren't up on current fashion. Some of those pointy-hat-wearing provincial hicks also still worshipped the old gods and goddesses of their forebearers, which was also out of fashion as Christianity gained adherents. Therefore, drawing a "witch" with a pointy hat was making fun of them for not being fashionable in either their clothing or their worship.
I am, as previously hinted at, Wiccan. In (very) brief, that means I think that the divine forces of the universe manifest in both male and female deities. I try to keep to the Wiccan Rede, "An it harm none, do what you will." I believe in re-incarnation, and lean heavily towards animism, believing that all things in the natural (not man-made items) world have some kind of spirit or energy to them. Those are the basics of Wicca. Any further in-depth you want to go, until I get my hind-end in gear and make this a really nice website, you'll just have to e-mail me.
Next common question: Why do I believe this way? Well, I tried being an athiest when I was younger, and quite frankly, it's boring. Ever heard of Occam's Razor? It's this theory that, all things being equal, the simpler explanation is going to be true. Well, I subscribe to more of an Aesthetic Razor; all other things being equal, whichever sounds nicer and appeals to me more is what I go with.
How did I find out about Wicca? It's a long story. When I was sixteen years old, just before we left for Germany, a semi-cousin, Parker, gave me a pentacle (that's the five-pointed star inside a circle, which is the background to this page) and a mini-incense pack. He said it would be a good-luck talisman on the flight overseas, and I should be wearing it before we left. So I went and got a silver chain. Then I climbed up on the roof, which was something I liked doing when I was younger and more limber, with the little pack of incese, a favorite rock, some water in a film canister and one of my mom's lighters. Up there on the roof, with no clue what I was doing, I consecrated that pentacle as a talisman for protection against the destructive forces of the elements. At this point in my life, I'd never heard of paganism, other than in reference to mythology, and I'd definitely never heard of Wicca.
So we get over to Germany, and people start asking me what the necklace means. I generally shrugged and said that a friend had given it to me. Then one person told me the five points were symbolic of life, in particular of a human standing with arms & legs apart, and that the circle around it was to keep the life in. Okay, that was cool. Then one of my classmates showed me where in the school library was a copy of The Truth About Witchcraft, not by Scott Cunningham, but by Hans Holzer. In a Department of Defense Dependents school library, no less! This thing had been written in 1971, a year before I was born, and was all about Alexsandrian Wicca. I was stunned! There was a name for what I felt? Other people thought the same things? It was one of the most amazing things I'd ever read.
Now, more than ten years later, I know a lot more. I've dedicated myself to Athena, goddess of Wisdom and War. I like to think of the militant part as 'fighting for just causes.' I've never been an 'official' member of a coven, but I've hung around with a couple, and pretty much determined that it's not for me. I really don't want politicking to be a part of my religion, and as soon as you put two people together, you've got politics. Anything involving even two people means compromising, and I don't want to compromise with my worship. I've tried to attend some of the local CUUPs meetings, but I'm just not much of a joiner, and I have a brain like a sieve. I usually forget when the semi-monthly meetings actually are.
In other news, there's this really cool font, called WoolBats, that you can download. It's great for putting nifty little graphics into all sorts of things, especially since you then have a pentacle that's font-sizable. :-> In fact, the symbol on Medea's (my web-familiar) wing is from the WoolBats font. It's the symbol for Athena. Medea guards my website from ill intent. Rowan Sterling, another TriPod member, made her for me. She's apparently stopped making them, which is a loss for all you poor sods who didn't get to her in time, but at least I have one. =P Anyway, Medea's colors are similar to another drawing of a pegasus I...have. Somewhere. On me. You figure it out....
There's some amazingly cool Pagan kid's stories written by Katherine Dyer. My daughter loves them. I'm often challenged by trying to figure out how to teach her about Paganism, without being heavy-handed. The stories help. So does this poem written by a friend of mine, "The Evening of Samhain."
Here's some neat sites to see, people to type at....