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It often seems that many people have a complete misunderstanding of Paganism. Meaning they have misconceptions far enough from the truth that they basically still have no idea what you're talking about, they just think that they do, and these misconceptions are usually bad. This leads to persecution, attempts at conversion for the pagan's "own good," and widespread belief in negative stereotypes.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying all people have a negative reaction to pagans, there are many people who are accepting and nonprejudicial, but there are those who aren't.

One common negative stereotype is a tendency to equate pagan with satanic. Very few pagans even believe Satan exists, much less worship him. So what is pagan if it isn't satanic?

Pagan: 1. n. Anyone not a Christian, Muslim,or Jew: heathen 2. adj. of pagans

Doesn't tell you much does it? It's never made sense to me to define something by what it isn't. It's true that a pagan isn't Christian, Moslem, or Jewish, but that doesn't give you any idea of what it actually is. It also does not include the historically Eastern religions, such as Buddhism, and Taoism. Pagan is a catch-all word that describes basically any other religion that you can think of. Most, but not all of these religions are earth, or nature, based. What that means is that practicers of these religions have a high respect for the Earth and all that comes from her (plants, animals, etc.). Wicca, Native American Shamanism, Druidism, Asatru, and Discordianism are all considered pagan religions, kind of like Methodists, Baptists, Episcopalians, and Christian Scientists are all considered Christian. The main shortcoming of that analogy is that while different Christian religions all follow the Heavenly Father, different pagan religions almost never follow the same god(dess). Almost any mythology, be it Greek, Roman, Norse, Celtic, is/was a pagan religion.

I've also found pagan defined as "a person who has no religion," which is not really accurate. People without religion are either atheist (do not believe there is a God) or agnostic (don't claim to know if there is a God or not). The closest truth to the idea that some pagans have no religion, are Eclectics, who follow no one specific religion. They follow a kind of "mix and match" path, rather than any specific set of teachings, Gods, or beliefs. Each has a religion, but it is uniquely their own. This is the type of path that I follow.