THIRTEEN QUESTIONS, define and describe a pagan.
(homework from a 1984 class) 
1. define and describe a pagan.  

"For  the pagan and primitive peoples whom Jews and  Christians  alike 
have  always  reviled as idolaters, the moving air, the  fire  on  the 
hearth, the rhythm of the seasons, the bird on the wing, the  markings 
and  movements  of  the beasts, the  streaming  waters,  the  circling 
stars  ... all these, and the works of man's own hand, are alive  with 
an intelligible presence.  They are symbolic doorways that invite  the 
imagination through to high experience."
Theodore  Roszak  

"It  is necessary to treat the animals well, and to regard all  things 
as if they were living beings who hear and understand."
Johan  Turi,

In  historic times a pagan would have been any number of peoples  wor-
shiping  nature gods.  This worship seems to have been based  in  pre-
historic forms of religion including shamanism with a pedigree of it's 
oldest  forms  echoing  back more than 30,000  years.   Because  these 
religions  were based mostly in tribal cultures emphasizing  tradition 
rather  than  sophistication, the sources tend to  be  entirely  oral.  
Verbatim  memorization, while it's possessors survive, tends to  be  a 
more exact method of transmitting data than holy texts which can  (and 
have been) altered or completely changed.  

With the complete suppression of the tradition, however, knowledge  of 
paganism  has faded to a faint glimmering of references  and  supposi-
tion.   In modern times a pagan would tend to be someone  feeling  the 
lack  of  purity,  lack of originality, lack of  rootedness,  lack  of 
foundation  in over-theologized religions whose original  message  has 
been overgrown and altered to suit priestly interests, whose  leaders' 
preachment  is motivated often by self-interest and whose  'qualifica-
tions'  are primarily glandular and (sick) psychological  rather  than 

The pagans I have met are, in general, more sensitive than normal  and 
'feel' the world directly, in contrast to this miasmatic culture which 
submerges us in 'safe' anonymity, relegating us a guaranteed role as a 
consumer  unit.  The religions that fail to give us more dignity  than 
that,  that fail to foment rebellion against such an insult  naturally 
lose  those  more sensitive people.  They fail to grant us a  path  of 
rejoining  to ourself.  A pagan seeks this and it is the very lack  of 
structure which allows the freedom of thought and feeling and practice 
that attracts so many people that have been 'lost' by other religions.  
In  our 'culture' traditions regarding the manner of living are  rele-
gated  to the 'ignorant' past and lost.  Responding to this  need  the 
neo-pagan  will  try to re-create a life-enhancing  religion  open  to 

individual experience based on whatever gleanings of the ancient forms 
are left.  Given enough intelligent application and sufficient politi-
cal  freedom,  a reasonable facsimile, true in spirit and  similar  in 
some  forms will evolve.  Truly, much of what was lost  was  priceless 
and  will never be recovered, but also a great much of what  was  lost 
had decayed beyond recovering so that the last people to suffer  under 
these  benighted  superstitions that had once  been  vital  religions, 
probably were better off without.  We have the opportunity to rebuild, 
to renew with vitality, to recover what was good that is still  known.  
People  being what they are, divergence seems to be the rule,  yet  we 
live in a 'global village' and cross-reference and cross-fertilization 
is inevitable.  It is the talent of wicca to seek that which works and 
as we relearn what can create a life that is true to the heart we will 
share.   Given the degree of computer interconnection in our  society, 
it  would not be surprising that techniques rediscovered in one  place 
would  be known world wide within a season, just by word of  computer.  
It  is a time for hard work for what we do now will be what those  who 
come after will have to build on.  The freedom of choice and  associa-
tion and abundance of sources almost guarantees that bull in the  name 
of  the gods will quickly get trashed.  It is a time for  honesty  and 

A pagan is a being in a state of  becoming.   

2.  Define and describe a witch.  

I would say that a witch is someone belonging to a coven and  worship-
ing  nature gods.  A witch may have special knowledge and  powers  re-
garding herbal lore, magic, divination, magical flight, separation  of 
the  body and soul, love philters, amulets,  exorcism,  trance-medium-
ship, hypnosis, communion with god/dess', communication with  spirits, 
drawing down the Moon, invocation of good and exorcism of evil  influ-
ences, and more, perhaps.  The means of producing these results may be 
in the traditional circle, guided by a priest and priestess, by chant-
ing, drum-beating, dancing, ritual invocation and supplication.  

These  powers have been supposed to be special wild or inherited  tal-
ents  to  do  evil by intention alone (1) but I feel  they  are,  when 
possessed, no more or less than the natural power of life, consciously 
directed.   This power is automatically controlled daily  without  our 
conscious  direction or realization.  As our digestion or  circulation 
function  without  express thought, the life power is utilized  at  an 
even more basic level to create our life and world.  Expressed  uncon-
sciously  for whim or feat, self-destruction or in creativity,  it  is 
not  without us but a part of us, a part of every living cell.   Thus, 
not  only  is it a very legal power to us, but to miss  to  direct  it 
consciously would be like missing the oars in a rowboat, the doors  of 
a  house.  Some people brag that they never read the  directions  sup-
plied in the package.  To avoid discovering the 'directions'  supplied 
with  life would seem to be to miss most of the glory of being  alive.  
(1)  Witches were and are supposed to be entirely evil and opposed  in 

every action to the expression of life.  (Surely such a creature would 
self-destruct!)  This is an expression of the 'alien' theory which has 
been used by many (ignorant) cultures to explain the presence of  evil 
and imperfection in a world that is 'supposed' to be perfect.  It is a 
terrifying  theory but apparently people would rather be scared  silly 
than  say,  "I made a mistake" or "What seems evil to us is  just  the 
natural  working of life."  The appellation of 'witch' has been  given 
to Huns, Jews, heretics, and recently to men by some feminists.  

3.  Are you one of the above or both? 
4.  If so, say what and why.  

I  am myself.  I am what I do.  I have avoided labels for  myself  and 
would not start sticking them onto myself based on the attendance of a 
few functions.  Precisely, I have not been accepted as an initiate, an 
essential step in a tradition oriented to group membership.  I am  not 
a pagan in the sense that, outside of weekly circles, I do not worship 
any god or goddess.  

5.  What do you see as positive in paganism? 

I have always felt good in the circle.  I have said it previously that 
I am happy to be here.  But in thinking how to answer this question  I 
have  found  some answers that have much  reinforced  these  feelings.  
What is here in paganism is unique and precious.  

Here  there is the encouragement of individuality and also  a  strong, 
positive  and unique group identity; this is very rare, especially  in 
our society.  

Here  there  is  spiritual expression within a  true  construction  of 
religion  and including respect for the need for personal  freedom  of 
expression; this is very rare in any society.  

Here  there is tradition in a society that has eschewed  tradition  in 
favor of the new, especially new products; yet what is the meaning  of 
products which have no context?  

Here there is honor to each sex in a society that is very divisive and 
competitive and generally derisive of everyone especially women.  Here 
there is a celebration of life in a society that seems to have forgot-
ten  where it came from and remains; which if it recognizes nature  as 
valuable converts it into a prepackaged commodity.  Indeed, the  value 
of nature is a matter of constant debate, a debate that is  inevitably 
won by those who see value only in dollar signs.  

Here there is a group of intelligent people large enough to be  inter-
esting  yet small enough that each is important, whether one  attends, 
who  one  is and especially if one participates in  helping,  each  is 
important.   All these things are RARE in our society;  their  conver-
gence here is unique and precious.  

6.  What do you see as negative in paganism.  

I don't know.  I haven't had any problems so far.  The need for secre-
cy is inconvenient in some respects particularly at work and with some 
friends  who,  I am certain, will never be able to  grasp  the  notion 
correctly.   But then secrets can be kind of fun, too.  I  have  found 
the  essential  facts  of paganism not directly accessible  but  I  am 
beginning to understand that it is a fairly large subject.  (Added  15 
June '89)  A certain lack of focus.  It is understandable since  there 
is no central authority to impose goals.  Yet is should be possible to 
agree on basic needs and goals and though there would be no  overseer, 
a  kind  of competition based on comparison of  results  (apparent  in 
fests, perhaps).  To achieve this, however, we need to understand what 
is  needed and why.  Still there does seem to be a good deal  of  work 
being done in different places.  The quality and amount of information 
is expanding every year.  

7.  What is your concept of death? 

An incomprehensible, insensible condition concluding our actions  here 
on earth.  A period of summation and consolidation; having shed to the 
earth  the accumulation of errors and age in the body, one is  reborn, 
washed  clean in the blood of the new life.  I particularly  like  the 
idea  that it might be something like Scrooge's Christmas Eve;  seeing 
and understanding the events of one's life, then the regrets of  unex-
pressed love would be the motive impelling the soul to rebirth.  

But then I don't really know.  It might be nothing.  

8.   What  do the following words bring to your mind:  god,  goddess, 
priest, priestess.  

God, Goddess, ineffable, incomprehensible being beyond our concept  of 
good  or  evil.  The notion of sex in gods is our  convention  to  aid 
philosophical  discussion and to assist in forming an emotional  rela-
tionship.   (added 15 June '89)  "Maybe something more, rooted in  our 
nature.", Daniel's comment.

Priest, priestess: persons who have made a commitment to further their 
religion  by their personal effort.  Being ordained or  initiated  and 
all that.  The sexual distinction is trivial, relatively speaking,  of 
course.   The essential act is that of spiritual guidance and this  is 
more a matter of training and talent.

9.  What are the privileges and obligations of a teacher?

To  share knowledge, to have one's expressions listened to,  to  enjoy 
the  responses of one's students.  To be responsible in what  and  how 
things  are  taught.  To admit freely areas of one's doubt  or  little 
knowledge  to be clear in expression and patient in  explanation.   To 

respect and respond to the students efforts as the teacher's purpose.

10.  What are the privileges and responsibilities of a student?

To  share  knowledge, to enjoy the attendance of a  teacher  to  one's 
education.   To work actively toward the development of  one's  educa-
tion, to respect the teacher and cooperate and trust, within reason.
The teacher's responsibilities are greater.

11.  What do you seek from Wicca?

A  personal path and some help along the way.  Friends that don't  say 
things like "You don't believe THAT, do you?"

12.   Are  you more attracted to the religious or  practical  side  of 

I can't say.  My conception of any sincerely religious person is  that 
he  tries to express his convictions into his life.  To me,  it  seems 
that  the  most potent form of prayer is in work.  Or  like  Gurdjieff 
said,  "Work as if everything depends on work.  Pray as if  everything 
depends on prayer."  It seems to me the lack of practical work  leaves 
a  religion without a skeleton, the rest of the tissue has nothing  to 
hang  on.  I would say that the practical side, including much of  the 
wisdom teachings, should not be separated from the religious except as 
a convention to facilitate teaching.

13.  Are there any areas of this framework that you particularly  wish 
to study.  What  and why.

I'm not sure.  Right now I'm just taking it all in in any order  what-
ever.  I would like to understand the philosophical framework better.
(added 15 June '89)  Moon lore has happily occupied me this last  year 
and  promises  to  be a long-continuing interest.  The  laws  and  the 
social framework of wicca are also very intriguing.  My idea now about 
ritual work is that it is possibly best as a form of self-therapy,  at 
least  in the beginning, since all of us come to this  very  demanding 
subject  full  of  flaws enough to trip us up  constantly  unless  our 
personal peculiarities can be pinned down and dealt with.