Modern Paganism In World Cultures

In the United States, modern paganism is one of the fastest-growing faiths. According to the American Religious Identity Survey (ARIS) conducted by sociologists at the City University of New York in 2001, approximately 307,000 Americans identify as "Wicca, Pagan, or Druid," making it one of the twenty largest religious categories in the United States, with growth expected to reach 433,000 by 2004. 

In 1990, a comparable study did not even include Wiccans, Pagans, or Druids, highlighting how quickly modern Paganism, in its various manifestations, has grown in recent years. 

This collection of articles examines the rise of religious movements in Europe and North America committed to restoring pre-Christian Europe's polytheistic, nature-worshipping Pagan faiths and adapting them for use by individuals in modern cultures. 

It's important to note that Europe and North America aren't the only places where Pagan revivals are taking place. 

In Australia, for example, notable publications on Neopaganism and contemporary Witchcraft have been published by Lynne Hume (1997) and Douglas Ezzy (2003). 

The present spread is arranged along a European-American axis in the hopes of providing a logical frame of debate with a lot of fascinating commonalities and differences without devolving into a worldwide Pagan Wikipedia. 

  • Efforts are being made all around the world to restore old, indigenous, or native religions; contemporary European-based Paganism is but one form of a much bigger phenomena. 
  • Neopaganism or Neo-paganism is a term used to describe the current revival of Paganism, with neo referring to the new and contemporary aspect of these religious groups and paganism referring to the ancient religious traditions that the modern groups perceive themselves as building on. 
  • The term Paganism will be used in the title of this collection and many of the pieces, in accord with the desires of some modern adherents of such faiths to be identified as Pagans rather than Neopagans. 
  • The word modern is used to separate current Paganism from that of the distant past, whereas in others, the word neo is used. 
  • The concept that the religious ideas and practices created by previous generations of European Pagans have continuing worth for us in our own time, despite centuries of suppression and neglect, is at the heart of modern-day Pagans' return to the past. 
  • Wicca is the most well-known modern Pagan or Neopagan religious movement, which has grown in popularity in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other parts of the world.

Because Wicca has gotten more scholarly attention than other modern Pagan traditions, this work's primary goal will not be to study Wicca in more depth. Instead, the focus will be on different forms of modern paganism found across Europe, as well as in Canada and the United States. 

This emphasis on a diverse variety of cultures and peoples is intended to address the propensity in past survey volumes, such as those of Graham Harvey (2000), Joanne Pearson (2002c), and Shelley Rabinovitch and James Lewis, to focus almost exclusively on American and British paganism (2002).

We explore current Pagan movements in Ukraine and Lithuania, the United Kingdom, Ireland, and Iceland, and the United States and Canada in the pages ahead. 

Today we observe Eastern European, Western European, Northern European, and transatlantic versions of contemporary Paganism when these areas are divided into geographic zones. 

Other distinctions are also significant: between Western Europe and North America, which are highly industrialized, affluent, and ethnically varied, and the former Soviet Union, which are less industrialized, poorer, and ethnically homogenous. 

It will be seen that the spiritual treasure of the economically disadvantaged Eastern European republics, which were ruled for much of the twentieth century by nominally atheistic Soviet Communist governments, is not in short supply. 

Eastern Europe's tenacious preservation of premodern customs and folklore has given a solid basis and a never-ending source of inspiration for a plethora of thriving Pagan organizations.

You may also want to read more about Paganism here.

Be sure to check out my writings on Religion here.