Hands down, the most common thing our Pagan readers wanted people to know is that we’re not out worshiping the devil and eating babies in the moonlight. One reader pointed out, “We are parents, spouses, soccer moms, hockey dads... just normal people who happen to worship differently.” Many Pagans identify as polytheists, but it's pretty rare for any mention of Satan to come into play, since he's predominantly a Christian construct and not a Pagan one.
It’s true! Many Pagans in today’s society hold nature in some degree of reverence. While that doesn’t mean we’re out in the woods praying to rocks and trees, it does mean we often view nature as sacred. For someone who believes the Divine is present in nature, it often follows that the Divine should be honored and respected. Everything from animals and plants to trees and rocks are elements of the sacred. As a result of this, you'll often meet many practicing Pagans who are passionate about the environment.
Pagans are not out to convert you, your child, your mom, or your best friend. And here's why. It's because although most of us don't mind sharing our beliefs and ideas with you, or answering questions if you have them, we also believe everyone needs to choose their spiritual path for themselves. We're not going to knock on your door and preach about the "word of the Goddess" at you.
4. This Isn't a Phase I'm Going Through
This one came up a few times from readers. The fact is, many people in the Pagan community have already checked out other belief systems, and have come to the conclusion that a Pagan path is the right one for us personally. People come to Paganism at a variety of ages and for a variety of reasons. Even younger Pagans are serious about learning. Most of us see it as a commitment. Granted, some will leave later and move on, but that doesn't mean it's any less valid of a path right now. Show us the respect to acknowledge that we’re not just “dabbling” in our spirituality.
When Pagans come out to their non-Pagan friends, particularly their Christian friends, there are times that it can put a strain on a friendship. But it doesn’t have to be awkward unless you and your friends choose to make it that way. While some Pagans may have a problem with Christianity, in that it didn’t work for them, that generally doesn’t mean we hate people who are Christian. Let’s still be friends, even though we have different belief systems, okay?
Most Pagans don't believe in the Christian concept of Hell. Not only that, most of us accept magic as part of our daily life. For someone who is a practicing Pagan or Wiccan, there's not really a concern about this sort of thing -- the fate of our immortal soul is not rooted in the use of magic. Instead, we take responsibility for our actions, and accept that the universe gives back what we put into it.
Lots of Pagans practice some form of divination - Tarot cards, palmistry, astrology, rune reading and other methods. We tend to use it as a guidance tool, but it’s a skill set that we often have to work very hard at. Just because one of your Pagan friends does these things doesn’t mean you should call them up and ask “what’s in my future?” every week. If your Pagan friends do divination for a living, book an appointment, or at the very least, respectfully ask them to do a reading for you at a designated time and place.
We’re not all a bunch of black-clad teenagers with too much eye makeup and giant pentacle necklaces. We don’t all dress like Stevie Nicks circa 1978. In fact, we’re just like everyone else - we’re soccer moms, teachers, physicians, police officers, military personnel, accountants, and your mechanic. There’s no Pagan Dress Code Policy, so we probably don’t look anything like you expect us to look.
Many Pagans follow a concept of “harm none” or some variation thereof. Not all Pagan beliefs are universal, so the interpretations of this can differ from one tradition of Paganism to the next. If you’re wondering about whether one of your Pagan friends adheres to “harm none” or some similar mandate, just ask. Which leads us to...
10. Go Ahead and Ask Me!
Most of us don’t mind talking about what we believe and practice, as long as you ask respectfully - just like we’d do if we had a question about your beliefs and practices. In general, it’s okay to ask. If your question is something we can’t answer because it’s an oathbound issue, we’ll tell you that too - but for the most part, feel free to ask questions. After all, it’s a great way to begin a healthy and respectful interfaith dialogue.