Paganism and Magick Do Not Always Go Hand-in-Hand
Modern Pagans have become synonymous with magickal practitioners; however, the two are hardly one and the same. Many Pagans practice no magick at all whereas others can't imagine life without it.
Does magick make an individual a Pagan? Is a path considered Pagan if it doesn't include witchcraft?
For those out there who have pondered these questions or who hold outdated misconceptions of modern Pagans, this page briefly presents where the confusion began and provides examples of Pagan and magickal paths that may be outside your previous understanding of the words.
Where the Confusion Began
The first modern Pagan path to become widely presented to the public was Wicca. This path is a religious one with a central God and Goddess, reverence for nature, and the use of Witchcraft.
Magickal practice is central to the Wiccan path. To be Wiccan and not a Witch contradicts the very foundation and definition of Wicca. (The word "Wicca" itself derives from Old English "wicce" and "wicca" which translates to "witch.")
As the most well-known of modern Pagan faiths, Wicca has become synonymous with Paganism. Thus all Pagan paths are considered magickal faiths by those who are misinformed.
As the term "paganism" is often used as an umbrella term that encompasses a wide variety of faiths, paths, and lifestyles, there's no single, strict definition for the term. The term "neo-Pagan," or new Pagan, was coined to differentiate between those paths that're indigenous and have a long, uninterrupted history from those that are new, compilations of, or reconstructions of old paths.
As a result, not all who are viewed as Pagans call themselves as such and those within the Pagan community may disagree with the use of the label by other groups. With this loose nature of the term in modern use, it's no wonder that anyone would have a hard time discerning the differences.
Pagans Who Don't Use Magick
Although many Pagan faiths most certainly do believe in magick and the human ability to use it, not all actually practice magick. In some faiths, such as Heathenry, the practice of magick is left to specific individuals within the faith; much like priests in Catholic churches perform functions of the faith that the rest of the congregation doesn't.
Other Pagans who don't ascribe to a particular religion but are pursuing an individual path resonate with the general understanding of the term "Pagan" but will gladly admit what aspects of other Pagan faiths they do and don't agree with. Some don't see a need to practice magick and others don't feel that it's a part of their unique path.
Still other Pagans may believe that magick is all around us in everything we say and do and, as such, there's no need to perform rituals or cast spells to work real magick.
To make the matter more confusing, there's a misconception that anyone who practices magick is automatically Pagan as well. As we've already pointed out that not all Pagans practice magick regardless of whether or not they believe in it, there are those who do practice magick regularly who aren't Pagan.
One great example are chaos magicians. Unlike other systems of magick, chaos magick doesn't require any sort of belief system at all.
Chaos magicians do as they do based upon what works and what doesn't work without any recognition of laws. Many believe that there are no laws and believing in such is a limitation to magick.
This isn't to say that such practitioners do whatever they want or are out harming others. While it's a possibility as is the chaos with all magickal practitioners, chaos magicians do have values and standards they choose to operate by. They simply don't abide by a shared system of belief.
As we can see here, not all Pagan paths closely resemble Wicca. The term "Pagan" is generally used so loosely that it may apply to a large variety of faiths and lifestyles.
Although the majority of Pagans certainly believe in magick, not all practice it. Then there are those who practice magick who most certainly don't consider themselves Pagan in any shape or form.
Can an individual who resonates with Paganism still use the label Pagan even if they don't practice magick? Absolutely!
© 2012 by Evylyn Rose