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Neo-Paganism

grapevine
The Academy in Athens.

Introduction

Neo-Paganism, or European paganism in the modern era, began in the 1920's and 1930's in Germany and Austria. This was the period of the German Romantic movement, which gave rise to popular interest in German's religious and cultural antiquity as a subject of celebration and study, rather than of one of worship. This was encouraged by the elected National Socialist government. Once in power, some pagan holidays became elaborate and popular state celebrations.

We are now in the "third revival" of Neo-Paganism which started in the 1960's and has spread worldwide. German Neo-Paganism is the movement that gave expression to Ásatrú, other Heathen reconstructionist movements and as well as modern Neo-Paganism.

Neo-Paganism is an expression of nature-orientation and the need for personal and spiritual growth. In ritual practice especially in the United States there is substantial influence from Wicca.

In general, Neo-Pagans believe Deity to be manifest in nature while taking many forms as the Gods and Goddesses. Neo-Pagans believe that nature is sacred, and cycle of birth, growth, and death to be a reflection of our innate attachment to a cosmic cyclical order within the spiritual realm.

Therefore, it is evident that we are as much a part of nature as are the trees, other animals, and even the stones and the earth itself. We are all part of the spiritual web of existence, equal in existence, each on a spiritual journey.

Death is seen as a transition, and not as an end. This transition is one of many taken in the learning process of the spirit (soul). Thus, reincarnation is central in the Neo-Pagan belief system.

Neo-Paganism places responsibility on the individual for living in peace with others, with nature, and in the observance of ethical government laws.

Neo-Pagans usually do not have places for public worship. But there are still some traditional Pagan holy places, especially ancient holy places that are still accessible in Europe.

While some Neo-Pagans are vegetarian, this is a personal choice. No traditional Pagan tradition in Europe has never subscribed to vegetarianism. Many Neo-Pagans do have a strong preference for foods derived from organic and free-range livestock farming. As nature is regarded as sacred, many Neo-Pagans actively support environmentalist issues and organizations.





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