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Expository Research: Paganism

How much do people know about paganism?

Research Disclosure & Introduction:

In the intent of culling a correct analysis from a representative sample of people, the researcher will be unequivocally impartial and examine via direct interview from those of both religious and non-religious backgrounds as well as those of separate cultures and ethnicities and as well as a variety of age and sex. The religious background, age, sex, ethnicity and/or cultural background of the researcher will not be voiced or communicated in any way. 

Also, keep in mind that the name of the interviewee will be kept anonymous if the interviewee wishes, if so, the interviewee must address themselves as “Anonymous”. 

As a participant, the interview and/or information can be ended/discarded with an unquestioned request. No unsolicited information will be given out by the researcher. This essay will be made public by the 2nd of November if the participant wishes to discard any participation you may contact the researcher at [email protected] or by Facebook message via “Nathaniel Reidhead.”

Stereotypes represent common misconceptions and are blatantly yet subliminally ignored throughout our American culture. Whether it is an implication that suggests the ignorance of a socially conditioned populace or an unexposed and slightly brainwashed individual, stereotypes can go vastly unnoticed and unexposed. Mostly, stereotypes lead to uninformed assumptions which can be highly unethical. 

Not only can it be offensive, the misinformation is intellectually regressive on the individual’s part and those around them. It is important to not offend people as to avoid interpersonal conflict, maintain an accepting and mannerly behaviour, and as well as retain viable information; it is important to learn and accept other people’s cultures or beliefs although you may or may not agree with them. 

Everything you will ever know will amount to the kind of person you will become as well as what kind of society America can become as a collective people.

Knowing: Debunking False Information

As a collective mass, approximately 58% of those interviewed either did not know what paganism was or assumed what paganism was. To clarify, Paganism is a very broad yet objective term that will always mean “anyone who is not a Christian”. Paganism represents many religions and is more of an umbrella term that encloses many polytheistic, dualistic, monotheistic, or atheistic belief that does not fall in a Christian, Islamic, or Judaic denomination.

An interviewee, Jessie walls, age 35, stated that “Religions where a female deity is the basis of their religions...It’s a religion that predates before Christianity...A lot of the practices and traditions are adopted from Pagans…”. While some of this is true, it can be concluded that it isn’t solid information. 

Many pagan religions tend to have a female deity, but not exclusively as the basis, although many do such as the Dianics who consists of only females as Diana as their idol. Many and most pagan religions do predate Christianity as well as many traditions, however, one religion, Wicca, did not arise until the Gardnerian age in Europe between 1884 and 1964. 

Many Wiccan practices exist in many traditions, guided by, essentially, the Wiccan’s Rede that basically ascribes that “And you do no harm, do what ye will.” Interviewee Jessie Lee, age 15, confused paganism with Wicca which tends to also be a common misconception. If you are Wiccan then you are pagan, but if you are pagan, that doesn’t mean you are Wiccan.

Interviewee Linda Peterson, age 63, a proud Mormon, states that paganism is “Someone who does not believe there is a God and or Jesus Christ.” The mistake here is that she is associating all pagans as atheism. Although an atheist is technically a pagan, just like the common misconception with Wicca, being pagan does not mean you are an atheist, but it is true vice versa.

Believed: Stereotypes and Common Misconceptions

One stereotype that is common to be assumed that most people believe, is that a Pagan is a devil worshiper or a Satanist. Obviously, that would be wrong considering that this was already presumed about Atheism and Wicca mentioned previously. You are pagan if you are a Satanist or a devil worshiper, but you are not automatically a Satanist or a devil worshipper if you are pagan. 

Surprisingly, only approximately 42 percent of the participants had mentioned that this a stereotype or that it is a variation of the sort. Some automatically related paganism with witchcraft, barbaric tribes, or evil, but for the majority, the problem wasn’t mass stereotyping but just mass ignorance; not many knew anything about it if any at all.

Mostly, common stereotypes revolved around those who tend to dress differently, listen to rock music, and were undeniably goth. Interesting enough, the Pagans themselves who participated in the research stereotyped themselves as devil worshipers or Satanists. 

Participants Involved (And Interviews)

Interview 1

What is your name? Curtis Noller

Are you a male or female? Male

How old are you? 21

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Athiest

What do you think a pagan is? “They either worship or not worship the Christian god, but I assume they do not.”

What do you know about paganism? “Not much, other than assumptions that they worship a “goat god” or mother earth.” “I believe it has to do with the pentagram or Wicca. I don’t remember what god they worship.” “…Goat-like figure deity…”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? None.


Interview 2

What is your name? Taela Terrillion

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 21

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian/American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Protestant

What do you think a pagan is? “A person who isn’t necessarily Christian, but it’s such a broad term that it’s hard to define.” “It varies from person to person.”

What do you know about paganism? “You cannot really pin-point particular practices or traditions. They are hard to identify”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “The music. Preferably rock music or new age music. They love holidays, and celebrate a lot in regards to mother earth with multiple deities.” “Another stereotype might be that they do strange things or out of the ordinary. Things people would say is odd.”


Interview 3

What is your name? Lauren Lant

Are you a male or female? Female

How old are you? 21

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian/American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Christian

What do you think a pagan is? “Paganism is a broad term with multiple religions inside it just as Christianity would.”

What do you know about paganism? “A lot of symbolism really, I’ve seen my friends wear black but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything.”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “My dad specifically is misinformed and biased against pagans such as assuming they are devil worshipping.” “A stereotype would be like sacrificing a cat (Carl Junction event. A baseball bat to a disabled kid and sacrificed a cat. Mid-eighties.)”


Interview 4

What is your name? Jessie Walls

Are you male or female? Male

How old are you? 35

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian/American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Inconclusive

What do you think a pagan is? “Religions where a female deity is the basis of their religions...” It’s a religion that predates before Christianity...” “A lot of the practices and traditions are adopted from Pagans…”

What do you know about paganism? “A variety of beliefs, practices, and traditions. Many branches and a broad spectrum of different religions…” “Very nature-based, nature provides everything” “It is more female based…” “A variety of male-dominated religions exist as well…”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “Witchcraft and Paganism is commonly misconstrued as synonymous…”


Interview 5

What is your name? Keanya Henning

Are you a male or female? Female

How old are you? 20

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? African American/American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Christian

What do you think a pagan is? “I don’t know.”

What do you know about paganism? N/A

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? N/A


Interview 6

What is your name? Jessica Goodman

Are you male or female? Female.

How old are you? 15.

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian.

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Pentecostal Christianity.

What do you think a pagan is? A person that worships based upon nature.

What do you know about paganism? The idea arose from Christians in Europe.

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? That is somehow is related to witchcraft and evil.

Interview 7

What is your name? Linda

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 63

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? White, raised Catholic

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Mormon

What do you think a pagan is? “Someone who does not believe there is a God and or Jesus Christ.”

What do you know about paganism? “That there are many individuals and cultures that do not believe either through never having learned or disbelief.”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “Strange question, how would I know that something I heard was a stereotype?”


Interview 8

What is your name? Tyler Riddle

Are you male or female? Male

How old are you? 18

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian/ American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Baptist

What do you think a pagan is? “Worshiping animals.”

What do you know about paganism? N/A

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? N/A


Interview 9

What is your name? Karl Marin

Are you male or female? male

How old are you? 19

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Asian/Filipino

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Christian

What do you think a pagan is? "Paganism is a different religion that has nothing to do with Christianity."

What do you know about paganism? "I don't know much about paganism but from what I've read it's just another type of religion."

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? "I don't believe in stereotypes I believe that you have the right to practice whatever religion you want. I have heard that some pagan religions such as Wicca have something to do with nature."


Interview 10

What is your name? Omid Sharifi

Are you male or female? Male

How old are you? 18

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Persian/Iranian

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Buddhism

What do you think a pagan is? A pagan is a person following any religion that deviates from main world religions (mostly monotheistic).

What do you know about paganism? "To me, it's simply practising a religion that is not well known to the common man."

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? "Pagan is synonymous with Heathen which has a bad connotation, so when I was younger, I thought of all pagans as barbaric hunter-gatherer tribes. The term pagan also used to make me think of Norse mythology specifically."


Interview 11

What is your name? Jo Thompson

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 47

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Eclectic Pagan

What do you think a pagan is? “One that does not follow a specific set of beliefs but instead chooses their own path.” “I am eclectic pagan, which means that I have taken beliefs from many religions and decided on those that make sense to my soul and resonate in my heart.”

What do you know about paganism? “This question is broad for me as I've studied many different religions and faith paths. To keep it brief paganism is a path that does not follow mainstream religions.”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “Those pagans don't believe in God or a higher power. Many pagans believe in God, most just don't see him as a single parent.”


Interview 12

What is your name? Marteeno Brown

Are you male or female? Male

How old are you? 19

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? African American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Mormon

What do you think a pagan is? “I don’t know.”

What do you know about paganism? N/A

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? N/A


Interview 13

What is your name? Anonymous

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 21

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? South Korean

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Christian

What do you think a pagan is? “I don’t know.”

What do you know about paganism?

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any?


Interview 14

What is your name? Anonymous

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 21

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? South Korean

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Inconclusive

What do you think a pagan is? “I don’t know.”

What do you know about paganism?

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any?


Interview 15

What is your name? Amber Jourdan

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 33

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Caucasian Southern American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? "Pagan- I'm a natural witch celebrating the elements, the seasons, working with plants. I believe in there being many faces of power throughout the universe, however, each is just another face of the same energy (Demeter, Persephone, Zeus, Apollo, etc)...Raised Presbyterian, Methodist and Baptist."

What do you think a pagan is? "An individual who celebrates nature and follows an older path religiously speaking.... But that really isn't What I think when I think of a person who is pagan. That is What I think of in response to the question. On a deeper level, I think of a pagan individual as someone who not only celebrates nature but is incredibly more in tune with it, and themselves, than your typical American. They rely heavily on intuition and their guidance from the universe."

What do you know about paganism? "Paganism, in a nutshell, is the main title for the old polytheist religions that existed all across Europe before the rise of Christianity."

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? "Those pagans all basically look like "Goths" however I know we all walk different paths. You could only catch me in all black at a funeral, and even that is iffy...."


Interview 16

Name: Lauren Woodall

Gender: Female

Age: 25

Ethnicity: White

Cultural background: European American

Religious belief: "Eclectic Pagan. I don't adhere to any particular deity but believe whatever deity is out there isn't that involved in individual lives, but rather is nature itself. Therefore, I work more with spirits."

What do you think paganism is? "In essence, nature worship."

What do I know about paganism? "That it is inclusive, flexible, and tolerant? There is an endless amount of forms of it, and an argument can be made that paganism is any religion that is non-monotheistic."

Stereotypes you've heard? "Devil worship. And that you have to be batshit crazy to believe in fairies and such."


Interview 17

What is your name? Ashley Wingo

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 23

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? White/Native American

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief?  "Pagan. I believe in a God and Goddess, reincarnation, the Threefold Law, divination and witchcraft."

What do you think a pagan is? "Paganism is for people who don't follow a main, usually monotheistic religion. It can be very structured or eclectic depending on the path you choose. Pagans generally worship and give high praise to Nature and animals. Being Pagan doesn't mean you're a witch and being a witch doesn't mean you're Pagan. It's so different for everyone, it's hard to summarize."

Stereotypes you've heard? "We're Satanists and the devil is working through us. We sacrifice animals and/or humans."

Interview 18

What is your name? Matthew De Clairmont

Are you male or female? Male

How old are you? 24

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? White/ Italian

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? "Pagan, I believe in reincarnation, karma, magic, and other gods."

What do you think a pagan is? "The study of the earth and the belief that there are other gods."

What do you know about paganism? "That paganism is different for each individual. Each person studies paganism and magic in their own way and their own time."

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? "Those pagans are devil WORSHIPPERS and that we are evil. That we eat babies and we kill animals. These are lies set up by the church to scare people and make them fear us."


Interview 19

What is your name? “Tay”

Are you male or female? Gender Fluid

How old are you? 19

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? An eclectic amount including an African, Brazilian, and Hispanic.

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Majority is Christian

What do you think a pagan is? “What the Christians call people who are not Christian.” “Nature-based religions.” “Media bias taught that the majority are devil worshipers.” “Doesn’t matter, religion is religion.”

What do you know about paganism? “Old beliefs that predate Christianity are paganism.” “Paganism influenced Christianity.”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? “I don’t know.” “The mostly consist of witchcraft, Satan worshippers, and sacrifice.” “Anyone who refuses the new religion.”

Interview 20

What is your name? Eula Peoples

Are you male or female? Female

How old are you? 18

What is your ethnicity/cultural background? Jamaican

What is your religious/ non-religious affiliation or belief? Rastafarian

What do you think a pagan is? “A person who believes in the supernatural stuff in the world.”

What do you know about paganism? “They have many god(s) that they worship.” “Different rituals are common, for instance, for luck or for fun.” “Their fashion is a little bit different.”

What stereotypes have you heard/believed if any? N/A

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