If you are just
discovering paganism, the wealth of information may seem
overwhelming. I have compiled a list of questions that are often
heard from newcomers. These are broad questions that can be hard to
answer with specific information tailored to each individual.
Hopefully, this FAQ will give you information you can use to narrow
down your search.
Question: Where do I start?
This is a
near-universal question. I recommend a little introspection. Are you
looking for a religion (consisting of worship of deities) or are you
interested in a magical craft? While some pagan religions blend the
two, many do not. Pagan religions range from reconstructionist to
eclectic. Many practice witchcraft or ceremonial magic without
religious overtones. Where do your interests lie?
Becoming familiar with
the lingo of paganism and the definitions of often-used terms is
important. You will discover that definitions vary (and often result
in heated arguments). As you are starting out, learning to
differentiate between pagan, Wiccan, and witch is important. Which
leads us to the next question. . .
Question: What is the difference between a pagan, Wiccan, and witch?
Contrary to the
opinion of some popular authors, the terms are not synonymous.
Paganism is often used as an umbrella term to describe pagan
religions. Wicca is but one of these religions. Reconstructionist
religions (Hellenismos, Asatru, Kemeticism, etc.) are another kind.
Wicca and recon religions have very little in common with each other
as religious practices. Still other types of pagan religions exist,
such as Gywddon, Feri, Discordianism, and Satanism.
Wicca is one practice
of religious witchcraft. (Dianic paganism is often considered
another.) While all Wiccans are witches, not all witches are Wiccans
(or even pagan). Witchcraft can be practiced in conjunction with any
compatible religion, or as a practice unto itself.
Question: Do all pagans follow the rede?
No. Each religion
has its own system of ethics, many of which are antithetical to
"harming none." Also, Wiccans themselves disagree as to
the meaning and importance of the rede. Many note that "harm
none" is a shortened version that does not faithfully encompass
the whole poem's meaning. There is a wealth of articles on the
web that provide more information.
Question: How can I find a coven or group to practice with?
The first stop for
finding someone in your area is to visit The Witches' Voice.
Their directory is the most complete one on the web, especially for
Wicca. However, many people are not listed in the directory. If you
live in a rural area, it may be difficult to find someone to practice
with. If you do find someone, he or she may not have the same beliefs
or practices that you do.
Patience is a virtue in
finding a coven or group. It may mean networking or searching for a
long time to find the group that you fit with. It may be best to
remain solitary rather than becoming part of a group that does not
meet your needs, or, even worse, is unethical.
Question: The coven I found says I'm too young. Now what?
Many covens and
groups have an age requirement due to legal fears. Some have the
limit because they feel that an underage person does not have enough
maturity to practice with them. Whatever the reason, don't be
discouraged: the religion will still exist when you are older.
Many of our members
have excellent ideas for how you can begin your training while still
underage. Sana's page,
"An Open Letter to Young Seekers",
is pertinent for aspiring Wiccans, although some of her advice
applies to other religions as well. Ready mythology and history,
learn languages. Being well-read will give you an excellent
foundation for future pagan studies (and it doesn't hurt for
other aspects of your life, either!).
Question: What are your beliefs in deity?
A. There are many kinds
of belief. Some believe in the gods as archetypes. Others believe
that gods have many facets and that all gods are really one. Still
others believe that each god is a separate and distinct entity. These
are just three types of belief. Others include monotheism, pantheism,
Exploring how you see
deity may help you in your search to find the religion that best fits
you. For example, reconstructionists tend to be overwhelmingly hard
Question: How do I determine which god(dess) to worship?
A. There are many ways
to connect with deity. On the historical level, a first step includes
reading the myths associated with those gods that you are interested
in. Read modern takes on myths and talk with people who worship those
gods today. This may be difficult if you are interested in a culture
with few written records or have been called by a deity whose name
you don't know. Praying to that deity and honoring him or her
will help you develop a relationship with that deity.
Many will tell you that
you don't choose which deity to worship; the deity will choose
you. Don't feel disappointed if this doesn't happen right
away (or ever). Some pagans don't ever get called by a
Keep in mind that you
might not end up worshipping the deity (or pantheon) that you
initially chose. This is a common occurrence as well.