Although there are many different pagan pathways that each have their own traditions, boundaries with diverse ways of exploring spirit and concepts of what spirit is, there are some key themes and beliefs that are recognised as being very similar; Wicca, Druidry and those of a similar spiritual kinship share these core beliefs, which are open to individual interpretation and expression, allowing us to connect and explore in our own way.
This is the belief that all things- human, animal, plant, and non-living- are imbued with a soul, an essence of Spirit. The word “anima” originates from mid-19th century Latin and means “life or soul”. Being aware of this encourages us to treat all beings and things with respect, to appreciate each in its own natural, unique form. The energy of Spirit reverberates on many levels, on many frequencies and vibrations. Spirit takes many forms- the first spring buds pushing up from the earth, the rain pouring from the sky, in the moment of an eagle swooping down on its prey, in the cricket-hush of twilight, the way a spider web gleams with jewel dewdrops, a newborn baby’s cry, in the last breath of an aged dying man . It is within and around all; we are all apart of it, and it is apart of us.
The word “polytheism” originates from 17th century Greek “polutheos” which means “of many gods”. This is the belief that there are many gods and goddesses, that there is no one deity, pantheon, or belief is superior to any other. Connection with Spirit through deity is ultimately a very deep personal experience; we all have our own ideas about a god/goddess (and of course some people don’t believe in a deity of any sort!) and whatever our individual ideas are, they should be acknowledged and respected; differences are to be recognised and honoured. Accepting polytheism encourages us to respect others’ beliefs as valid spiritual paths that are a unique part of that individual’s learning and growth.
The connections with our ancestors reach beyond our blood lines within generations of our family tree; our ancestors also include those who have walked the earth before us, who have left their legacy to make the world a better place. All those who have ever stood for freedom, justice, peace, equality, and those who gave their time, resources, skills or lives to higher causes are honoured. Our ancestors inspire us, guide us and protect us as we experience this life, and we give thanks for their blessings, for without our ancestors, we would not be who we are in the world as we know it today. We remember those who we have known who have passed, and we honour their memory and celebrate their life and the lessons they have taught us.
At the heart of most pagan beliefs is a deep reverence and love of nature. Beyond our domestic borders there is much to learn and experience. The natural order and balance of the world can be observed through the life-and-death cycles of animals and plant life, the stunning variety and diversity of natural species, the rhythm of the lands and tides and the subtle yet profound changes and transitions within Nature; these external stimuli can help us internally reflect on the harmony and motions within up our own personal lives. Nature is full of energy, life, death, progression, balance and creation, the greatest inspiration for our spirit. The elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water are intrinsically linked with every aspect within Nature, and we seek to honour and work in harmony with the elemental spirits. The Earth we live upon needs protecting, and conservation of our natural environments is a key focus within many pagan groups, and reducing our impact on our surroundings is generally good pagan practice.