Kennesaw State student Luke Gardner felt himself pulling away from Christianity. He felt this intense itch he could never scratch, and a pull from the center of his chest. Gardner never quite felt comfortable in church, and never truly saw himself represented in scripture. He always believed in questioning authority, and never accepted answers for face value. Gardner has been told that his persistent search for answers and his interest in the paranormal and witchcraft are what drew him to paganism.
In 2016, he realized his pull was to paganism. Its ethereal spirituality had been beckoning him for years, but like so few of us, Gardner discovered that there was a relationship between paganism and Christianity.
According to the Pagan Federation International, a pagan is anyone who follows a “polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.” Paganism is an umbrella term that encompasses several religions. Paganism worships nature in the holistic sense, and several followers worship a, or multiple, god or goddesses.
One of the most recognizable forms of paganism is Wicca. Wicca finds the divine in nature and the stars, so there is no official text. Wicca promotes balance between self and nature at all times. The religion is best known for practicing witchcraft, but according to Wicca.com, not all Wiccans practice witchcraft.
“One can be a Witch, without being a Wiccan, just as a person can be a Christian, without being a Baptist,” according to Wicca.com. Unlike the Ten Commandments in Christianity, there is only one rule in Wicca, called the Wiccan Rede— “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”
“I don’t believe in telling people how to have their own metaphysical experiences,” says Gardner. “As long as your believes and practices aren’t harmful, then I support you.”
During medieval times, pagans were viewed as Satanists and witches by the Catholic church. As a way to combat this, the church began altering pagan holidays to fit their Catholic ones. Halloween and Christmas are two holidays heavy with pagan influences.
Because Paganism comes with many misconceptions, few followers publicly declare themselves as Pagan.