What is Paganism?

Updated: Mar 2

Just a simple scroll through Google suggests “Paganism” was a term used by early Christians for

people who practiced polytheism. It was also the term used for religions other than the big 3-

Judaism, Christianity or Islam in later years. But the history of Paganism goes back to the

Pre-Common era.

Paganism is actually an umbrella term used for many many religions, including traditional

paganism, Hinduism, Jainism, Shinto, Traditional Chinese religion, Zoroastrism, Druidism and

many more which had not one but many things in common. We all prayed to many gods, used

herbs and other forms of natural healing techniques, idol-worshipping and most importantly,

used astrology or divination. Of course not all the people practiced all of this, but it was a single

system of belief, which was very wrong and foreign for the Abrahamic religions.

A Pagan or Heathen was someone who practiced divination- any form of connecting to the

divine or using herbs for healing; which seemed like magic to closed minds in the 15th century.

So what really happened to the peace and harmony of letting everyone live? Where are those

people now? Are there still pagans today? The answer to this is backed by a long history of

massacres and bloodshed.

Long ago in 1400s, a group of people in North America started taking religion rather literally. To

them, Pagans were unnatural, strange creatures who were using “Go’s resources in wrong ways”

as nobody had the right to heal or hurt other than God. Soon the target was acclaimed to be doing the bidding of the Devil; mainly women, old age people, people with disabilities, people with marks on body or anything that made them look or seem different from the group. This was

labeled as Witch-Hunting which became an obsession for the population. What made you a

witch? It could be simply anything: Pagan? A witch! Do you use herbs for medicine? A witch!

Are you a single woman surviving without a family? A witch! Do you have a dab mark on your

body? A witch! Are you an aged widow? Definitely a Witch! Anything that others could use against you to mark suspicion could land you up in jail, or for extermination. But what was the

darkest deepest secret of this was that Pagans were killed; especially with religious strictness.

For more than 300 years this hysteria continued spreading its devastating turmoil through Europe

and America. One of the most known events is the Salem Witch Trials, which was marked in

History on 1st March 1692. This story of heartbreaking events took place in Salem,

Massachusetts. Throughout history, as per records, 100,000 people were accused of practicing

witchcraft and at least 50,000 people were sentenced to death that is officially recorded. (Well, if

you are in power you would want to keep the records in dark). Some claim this number was

more than 9 million, including men, women and children. Not even animals were free of the

torture and accusations that fell on them.

One major factor of these killings became the book named Malleus Maleficarum, loosely

translated as the Hammer of Witches, written by a Catholic clergyman named Heinrich Kramer

and published in Speyer, Germany in 1486; this book was treated as a guidebook to eliminate

pagans and proved to be the most lethal book for them. For more than two centuries it was the

kill-book used by alleged witch hunters. People got creative on how to kill: by not letting the

target sleep, or making them walk till they were dragged, throwing them in water and many


It was not till many many years later that the killings were officially stopped, not really sure

when or if they stopped illegally. In 1950s when the Neo-Paganism reform came into action, it

gave birth to Wicca- a religion based on old ideas of Paganism that ensures no baneful magic is

ever done, even if someone has hurt you. This changed the idea about pagans and the old

families that still had some traces finally came out.

So I tell you now, why it is so hidden; because as history states, paganism has dark and red trails

that make even today's generation tremble. It's hidden because the taboos became the reason for

hundreds and thousands of murders and it is hidden because it is real. Yes, pagans are real and

they walk among us. Not wearing long coats or capes, but in jeans and probably buying yogurt

cups at the same grocery store you do. Or the nice neighbor who always smells like incense.

Keep an eye and you might find one in between the camouflage of life.

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