Pagan Worship

As Paganism is a very diverse religion with many distinct though related traditions, the forms of Pagan worship vary widely. It may be collective or solitary. It may consist of informal prayer or meditation, or of formal, structured rituals through which the participants affirm their deep spiritual connection with nature, honour their Gods and Goddesses, and celebrate the seasonal festivals of the turning year and the rites of passage of human life.

Pagan Worship
Pagan Worship

Pagan ritual, with Emma Restall Orr, Chief Druid, The British Druid Order

As Pagans have no public buildings specifically set aside for worship, and most believe that religious ceremonies are best conducted out of doors, rituals often take place in woods or caves, on hilltops, or along the seashore. To Pagans the finest places of worship are those not built by human hands – as well as at stone circles, in parks, and private homes and gardens. Women and men almost always worship together and Paganism generally emphasises equality of the sexes. In certain paths, however, women may take the leading role as representative of the pre-eminence of the female principle.

Ceremonies usually begin with the marking out of a ritual circle, a symbol of sacred space which has neither beginning nor end, and within which all stand as equals. At the quarter-points, the four directions and the corresponding elements of Earth, Air, Fire and Water will be acknowledged and bid welcome.

There may follow, according to the purpose of the rite, any or all of meditation, chanting, music, prayer, dance, the pouring of libations, recitations of poetry and/or the performance of sacred drama, and the sharing of food and drink. Lastly the circle will be formally unmade, the directions, elements, and all the forms of divinity that have been called upon thanked, as the rite ends.

Ritual Pagan wine
Ritual Pagan wine

Pagans do not believe that they are set above, or apart from, the rest of nature. They understand divinity to be immanent, woven through every aspect of the living earth. Thus, Pagan worship is mainly concerned with connection to, and the honouring of, immanent divinity. The rituals are akin to a symbolic language of communication between the human and the divine: one which speaks not to the intellect alone but also to the body, the emotions, and the depths of the unconscious mind, allowing Pagans to experience the sacred as whole people within the act of worship. The approach is primarily mythopoeic, recognising that spiritual truths are better understood by means of allusion and symbol rather than through doctrine.

No Comments

Post a Comment