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Paganism refers to the pre-Christian indigenous religions of the classical world, although the term was later adopted to mean any non-Christian religion. Social scientists tend to use the terms polytheism or pantheism when discussing modern indigenous religions. There is also a modern movement of self-identified Pagans, known as neopaganism, deriving believes from pre-modern European traditions, such as from the Norse or ancient Celts.


The term “pagan” is derived from the Latin word paganus, which originally referred to a person from the countryside, but had a negative connotation, as in a “country bumpkin.” In the Middle Ages, the world was believed to have religious connotations, and was applied to people outside the boundaries of Christianity. Thus, the Vikings, for example, were considered to be pagans, or heathens.

Contemporary individuals who consider their religion to be paganism are participating in reconstructed religions, such as practiced by the Druids. Wicca is another form of modern paganism. Wicca is a witchcraft religion, worshiping gods and goddesses of the Earth. Wicca in particular has no unified theology or hierarchical structure, but rather regard the entire cosmos as a living thing. Pagan religions are polytheistic, nature-based and generally worship a Goddess figure, as opposed to the male God of Abraham.

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