To answer some questions, perhaps... Some definitions: "Pagan": from Latin paganus or pagana, meaning "country-dewller or villager". Now usually used to mean a follower of any one of a number of Earth-centered religions, or as a catch-all description of these religions. "Wicca" or "Witchcraft": somewhat interchangeable words meaning one of the Pagan religions "Wiccan" or "Witch": a practitioner or believer of above. WHAT IS PAGANISM? Paganism covers a broad range of Earth-centered religions, from the aboriginal nature-based beliefs of many cultures both historic and modern, to the recent revivals of ancient European and Middle- Eastern religions. Most Pagans agree in principle with a few basic premises: - Divinity exists, or can exist, as both female and male, in many forms and aspects, internal and external, and Nature is a sacred embodiment of the divine - Would-be messiahs, prophets, gurus, and the like are to be treated with skepticism, or just avoided - Humans are meant to lead lives of joy, love, pleasure, humour, and diversity, and to celebrate such in themselves and others - Harm to oneself, others, or the planet as a whole is to be avoided Within these rough bounds, a broad spectrum of people can quite legitimately call themselves Pagan while still differing greatly in background, belief, and practices. WHAT IS WICCA? Wicca, or Witchcraft, is one branch of the Pagan tree, and is a modern revival of a native religion of Old Europe. It recognizes a Goddess and a God who are both transcendent and inherent in Nature. Its celebrations reflect the turning of the seasons, plantings and harvests, solstices, equinoxes, and moon phases, and so on. In Wicca, an individual's personal relationship with divinity is held most important, and each solitary practitioner or group is autonomous from others. There are no holy books, or prophets, or cast-in-iron methods of practice, though most Wiccans follow a vague common thread of what they do and why. The Goddess is defined and worshipped in many aspects: as the Mother and Source of all Life; as Mother Earth; as the Maiden- Mother-Crone Triple Goddess; as the Lady of the Beasts, and so on. Some Wiccans consider all Goddesses in all cultures to be aspects of Her. All Wiccans worship Her in some form. The God is defined and worshipped in several aspects as well: the Grain God embodied in the harvest; the Horned God of the hunt; the Green Man of the woods, etc. Many see the Goddess and God as consort to one another; most worship Him to some degree, and some see Him as equal to the Goddess. Both Goddess and God have been given many different names by many different cultures, but are most often just referred to as Goddess and God, or Lord and Lady. There's really only one "rule" in Wicca, most often stated as "As it harm none, do as ye will." or some close variant. One is free to do what one likes, to the limit that one's actions do not bring harm to another, or to oneself, or to the planet or environment. WHY HERE, WHY NOW? Paganism in general, and Wicca in particular, have undergone a major revival in the last 40 years or so, with people coming to the religion from many different directions and with a huge diversity of backgrounds, beliefs, and ideas. Very few agree absolutely with the beliefs and faiths of even their closest Wiccan associates, as each individual finds in the religion her or his own particular niche. In fact, many Wiccans will likely disagree with some (maybe all!) of the broad statements in this article. So be it, and that's what the discussion group is for! Merry meet, and merry part, and merry meet again!