Where the Wild Things Are: Explaining Pagan Beliefs to Others

What do you tell people who ask you what Pagan means? How do you explain being a Witch? If you choose to explain at all, of course.

Religion is not a news item for public consumption. It’s a personal thing.

But, if someone does ask you and you decide you want them to understand, what do you say?

I start by telling them it’s an Earth religion. I do not mention hell or devils or any of that Christian claptrap. Of course, it comes up. Usually they are politically correct enough to say “But don’t you believe in God?” rather than “But don’t you think you will go straight to hell?”

This is a good time to remember the Wiccan Rede. It’s also a good time to remember to be tolerant of other belief systems. Do not try to convert someone to your ideas. That’s not what they asked you for.

Instead take time to explain what being a Witch, Wiccan or Pagan is all about, to you. Make it personal. I’m not saying you need to show them your Book of Shadows, let them play with your altar or anything else you have stashed away. But, let them see what being Pagan means to you, on a personal level.

Tell them about the history, traditions and culture. Show them how Pagans care about life, nature and people. Personally, I do not talk about God and Goddess or spells. I don’t make those a part of my belief system. For me it really is about an Earth religion, my focus is on nature and culture. So, when I tell someone about being a Witch I am talking about caring for the environment, following old traditions, being interested and curious about living things in general. I have some focus on women, but more because I am one than any Dianic influence.

I am quite eclectic and fairly solitary and that’s just how I like it. I tell people that too. Some have asked if I dance naked with other women under the moon, but those were mostly horny net geeks on IRC.

Originally posted to ‘BackWash: Where the Wild Things Are’ newsletter, January, 25, 2003.

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