Neo-Pagans use ritual to express their connection to and attune themselves to divinity. These rituals are often consciously created, rather than inherited from tradition. The most common form of Neo-Pagan ritual is the celebration of the Wheel of the Year, the eight seasonal stations which include the solstices and equinoxes and the points in between. The Wheel of the Year is a year-long spiritual meditation on the rhythms of nature and the corresponding rise and fall, ebb and flow of our inner lives. Other forms of Neo-Pagan practice include meditation, singing, chanting, dancing, drumming, and feasting.
Neo-Pagans generally look to the myths and religious practices of pre- and non-Abrahamic (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) cultures for inspiration. Neo-Pagans are not monotheists. Neo-Pagans don’t have concepts of a fall, sin, or salvation. Neo-Pagans don’t hold any scripture or book as authoritative. Some Neo-Pagans, however, may incorporate some Christian or Jewish motifs into their spiritual practice. Neo-Pagans believe that women should share religious power equally. Neo-Pagans have a pro-body and pro-sex ethic. Neo-Pagans advocate for the equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
Neo-Pagans don’t believe in the Devil or Satan. Neo-Pagans do not see the darkness, death, or destructive natural forces as evil. They do see patriarchy, the rape of the environment, and harming others as morally reprehensible. However, rather than blaming any metaphysical being for these evils, they see them as the natural result of human choices. The Neo-Pagan Horned God may be confused by some Christians with their Devil. The Neo-Pagan Horned God represents a valorization of our animal natures, especially our sexual natures. But while some Christians condemn this part of ourselves as the embodiment of sinfulness, Neo-Pagans affirm this part of ourselves as the embodiment of divinity.
Wicca is closely related to Neo-Paganism, and the histories of the two movements overlap. However, the two are also distinguishable. Wicca is an initiatory mystery religion which blends esoteric ritual forms with pagan mythology and witchcraft folklore. When British Traditional Wicca was imported to the United States, it came into contact with the Counterculture, feminism, the environmental movement, Neo-Jungian psychology, and the mythology of Robert Graves, and was transformed by that contact into a distinct movement. Neo-Paganism is distinguishable from British Traditional Wicca in that it is: (1) eclectic, rather than traditional, (2) open, rather than initiatory, (3) more celebratory than esoteric, and (4) distinctly environmentalist/ecological.
Neo-Pagans are diverse in every way. There are Neo-Pagans of every gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and political persuasion. Most Neo-Pagans do tend to lean toward the liberal side of the political spectrum. Many participate in some form of liberal social activism. Some Neo-Pagans lead very traditional or conventional lives outwardly. Others express their Neo-Paganism through their choice of career and their lifestyle. Many Pagans participate in one or more alternative subcultures. There are Neo-Pagans who participate in other religious communities, especially Unitarian Universalism. You probably already know a Neo-Pagan. Chances are they seem as normal as you on the outside, and are just as weird as you on the inside.
Neo-Paganism is about being here and now. Neo-Paganism is the moment when you are the most alive and most aware of the world around you. Neo-Paganism is the moment that sweeps you away into spontaneous ceremony and celebration of the life within and all around you. Neo-Paganism is the place where you feel the most at home, the place where you connect to the natural living world in deep and intimate ways. A Neo-Pagan someone who sees the sacred everywhere they go. A Neo-Pagan takes breath as sacrament. A Neo-Pagan is someone who feels with their whole being. A Neo-Pagan can be anybody at any time.
Neo-Paganism is often described as an “earth religion” or “nature religion”. It has also been called “the Green Party at prayer.” Most Neo-Pagans practice an earth-centered spirituality, which means they perceive the divine as manifest in the physical world. This is the quintessential component of a Neo-Pagan religious identity. Neo-Pagans valorize physical space as a vital element of spirituality and maintain a this-worldly focus in their religious lives. Modern life has the tendency to cut us off from kinship with the world of living nature, until we feel as if we are a cog in a great machine. Neo-Pagans seek to restore a sense of our oneness with nature through ritual and environmentally sustainable living.