Paganism has its roots in the indigenous, pre-Christian religions of Europe, evolved and adapted to the circumstances of modern life. The social infrastructure of Paganism reflects the value the community places on unity in diversity, consisting of a polycentric network of inter-related traditions and local groups served by a number of larger organisations. In Scotland, the Pagan Federation acts as an educational and representative body liaising with government and other relevant bodies on behalf of the Pagan community.
Pagans understand Deity to be manifest within nature and recognise divinity as taking many forms, finding expression in Goddesses as well as Gods. Goddess-worship is one of the primary characteristics of Paganism. Pagans believe that nature is sacred and that the natural cycles of birth, growth and death observed in the world around us carry profoundly spiritual meanings. Human beings are seen as part of nature, woven into the great web of life. Most Pagans believe in some form of reincarnation, viewing death as a transition within a continuing process of existence.
Customs and Practices
Pagan ethics emphasise the responsible exercise of personal freedom in trying to live in harmony with others and with nature. Pagans are deeply concerned about the protection of the environment and many regard environmental activism as a religious duty. Pagan worship seeks to honour the divine powers and to bring the participants in harmony with them, to celebrate the turning of the seasons and to mark the transitions of human life with appropriate rites of passage.
Places of Worship
Paganism has no buildings dedicated as places of public worship. Instead, Pagans hold their ceremonies in woods, on hilltops, along the seashore, at standing stones, in parks, gardens and private homes.
Most Scottish Pagans celebrate a cycle of eight seasonal festivals known as the Wheel of the Year. These are Samhain (31st October), Midwinter or Yule (21st December), Imbolc (2nd February), Spring Equinox (21st March), Beltane (30th April - 1st May), Midsummer (21st June), Lughnasadh (1st August) and Autumn Equinox (21st September).
Food and Diet
For ethical reasons, most Pagans have a strong preference for organic and free-range foods, while many are vegetarian or vegan.
Click here for useful links to the Pagan Federation in Scotland.