ancient and modern paganism essay

Over 25,000 years ago, our ancestors across the continent

practiced an ancient form of religion known as paganism. During the

Neolithic and Paleolithic time era, our ancestors were in awe of the

great manifestations of nature. Due to lack of scientific thought, they

were riddled with ignorance and superstition. Everything had a supernatural

They associated each naturalistic phenomena with a type

of god, inscribing inanimate objects with life -like characteristics .This

practice is referred to as animism. Every element ,be it thunder ,rain or

the sun ,was thought to be a god (or goddess) within it.

Eventually their gods became an object of worship known as polytheism.

Eventually many forms of polytheism evolved to what is known as paganism.

Now defined as :The worship of a god or goddess whose roots

are in pre-Christian Western Europe. Modern paganism is alive and well

today. It consists of many sub-divisions .These include ~Wicca ,druidism

Santeria and many others. Wicca focuses on the worship of a god and

goddess .In Wicca ,there is a plethora of pantheon of deities that one

can choose from including: Greek, Norse ,roman etc……

Focusing on a Greek Wiccan tradition ,this will be describing

The festival of Hecate is celebrated between the 3rd and 4th

Saturday of August. (which ever is closest to the new moon)

It is in honor of the Greek goddess Hecate. She was first worshipped

in ancient Greece -called the triple goddess of magic. She is often

represented in triple form ; maiden (youth) ,mother (fertility)

and crone (the wise woman). In ancient Rome ,she was known as

trevia ,the cross road with three paths.

Hecate is symbolized by the phases of the moon.

Each attribute correlates with a particular phase of the moon.

The waxing moon (maiden),the full moon (mother) and the

Upon arrival at the festival in Georgetown Delaware,

everyone gathers for the lecture. This is to educate the newcomers

as to what the ceremony entails. The ceremony is always rehearsed

before it is performed. After the lecture ,there is a large potluck

feast to keep everyone energized for the evenings festivities.

When the sun sets, the processional begins. With everyone

in their appropriate magical attire,(consisting of a robe and jewelry)

everyone lines up proceeds with the first phase.

This is called consecration- each person is consecrated . This is done

by covering the body in incense smoke and sprinkling of water.

This is a purification process that cleanses the body of negative

Next each person is permitted to enter the circle one by one.

Once everyone is inside the circle, the next phase begins.

At this point ,the high priest/priestess begins the calling

of the quarters or summoning the elements. Each direction is marked

by an altar and each is represented by an element.

West =air, east=water , north=earth and south=fire. The high priest

approaches each point ,says a chant and ends the chant with the

phrase ““hail and welcome””. After the elements are called , the

highpoint of the ritual begins ~ the invocation

The invocation is where the goddess is invited to attend

the ceremony. The invitation is done through a series of chants .

Ex: ““He Kau ,He Kau , He Kau””

Hecate queen of the moon and all her phases”” 3 X’’s (Hek a ta)

Next 3 women are chosen to represent Hecate ,each representing

one of her aspects.(they are chosen prior to the ritual) The maiden is in

white (purity) the mother in red (fertility) and crone in black(wisdom)

At this point the goddess speaks to the participants .Each one

gives a brief message ,usually a blessing or advice. Once the crone

has finished, each participant is invited to approach any of the three

forms and speak to them. They may ask for advice ,offering or a boon.

Once everyone has had their turn to speak with Hecate,the group

becomes silent. The goddess is thanked and dismissed.

Sometimes during a ritual a participant may feel a bit

overwhelmed with the energy that has been raised. It is for this

reason ,that the next phase ,called grounding takes place.

This is done by simply placing the hands on the ground and releasing

the energy. Once the grounding has been performed,it is time to

close the quarters or dismiss the elements.

Like the opening , the high priest approaches each element

,says a chant but this time ends with ““hail and farewell””

Once the elements are dismissed, it is time to close the circle.

A special chant is recited to close the circle :

““The circle is closed but yet unbroken,

Merry meet, merry part ,and merry meet again.

At this time ,each participant leaves the circle exiting from the point

at which they entered. Again feasting of food commences ,along with

Religious ceremonies play an integral role in our society.

Paganism fills the social ,physical and cognitive role that mainstream

References Sited ~
1)Adler, Margot 1993 ““Drawing Down the Moon””
Full Moon Pub. Phoenix ,AZ
356 pgs.

2)Murray ,Margaret ““The Witch Cult of western Europe””
Westin House Press Ny,NY

References Sited ~
1)Adler, Margot 1993 ““Drawing Down the Moon””
Full Moon Pub. Phoenix ,AZ
356 pgs.

2)Murray ,Margaret ““The Witch Cult of western Europe””
Westin House Press Ny,NY


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