Do Pagans Believe in God?

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Many Pagans honor the divine in their practice and belief. Image by swissmediavision/E+/Getty Images

So you're interested in Wicca, or some other form of Paganism, but now you're a little worried because some well-meaning friend or family member has cautioned you that Pagans don't believe in God. Oh no! What's a new Pagan to do? What's the deal here, anyway?

The deal is that most Pagans, including Wiccans, see “god” as more of a job title than a proper name. They don’t worship the Christian god - at least in general, but more on that in a minute - but that doesn’t mean they don’t accept the existence of deity.

Various Wiccan and Pagan traditions honor different gods. Some see all deities as one, and may refer to The God or The Goddess. Others may worship specific gods or goddesses–Cernunnos, Brighid, Isis, Apollo, etc.–from their own tradition. Because there are so many different forms of Pagan belief, there are nearly as many gods and goddesses to believe in. What god or goddess do Pagans worship? Well, it depends on the Pagan in question.

Honoring the Divine in Many Forms

Many Pagans, including but not limited to Wiccans, are willing to accept the presence of the Divine in all things. Because Wicca and other forms of Paganism place a good deal of emphasis on the idea that experiencing the divine is something for everyone, not just select members of the clergy, it's possible for a Wiccan or Pagan to find something sacred within the mundane. For example, the whisper of wind through the trees or the roar of the ocean can both be considered divine.

Not only that, many Pagans feel that the divine lives within each of us. It's rare to find a Pagan or Wiccan who sees the gods as judgmental or punishing. Instead, most view the gods as beings that are meant to be walked beside, hand in hand, and honored.

Christo-Paganism

Do keep in mind that there are also a number of people who practice magic within a Christian framework - these are people who self identify as Christian witches.

Often - although not always - they continue to honor the Christian god. Some also incorporate the Virgin Mary as a goddess, or at least someone who should be venerated. Still others honor the various saints. But regardless, that's still Christianity-based, and not Paganism-based. 

What about Wicca, precisely? One can be a witch without being Wiccan. Wicca itself is a specific religion. Those who follow it–Wiccans–honor the deities of their particular tradition of Wicca. By the rules of Christianity, it's a monotheistic religion, while Wicca is polytheistic. These make them two very distinct and very different religions. So, by the very definition of the words, one could not be a Christian Wiccan any more than one could be a Hindu Muslim or a Jewish Mormon. 

Many Paths, Many Gods

But going back to the original question, regarding whether Wiccans and other Pagans believe in God. There are many other paths of Paganism, with Wicca being just one of them. Many of these belief systems are polytheistic. Some Pagan paths are based on a concept that all gods are one. There are also some Pagans who follow an earth- or nature-based belief system outside of the concept of deity completely. Still others accept the existence of the Christian god - because after all, we accept the existence of gods of other pantheons - but we simply choose not to honor or worship him.

Patheos blogger Sam Webster says,

If you are Pagan, worshiping Jesus Christ, or His Father or the Holy Ghost, is a ... problem. There is nothing to forbid such, but why would you? Technically worship strengthens that which is worshiped... both in the world and in the life of the worshiper. Thus worshiping any or all of the Trinity makes you more Christian and less Pagan. This looks good to Christians. Christianity and its God desire our (that is, Pagans and everybody else) elimination through ideological imperialism and ethnocide; all must be converted.

So, the bottom line? Do Pagans believe in god? In general, many of us do believe in the Divine, in some way, shape, or form. Do we believe in the same god as our Christian friends and family members? Not usually, but like all of the other questions about Paganism, you're going to encounter people who simply do what works best for them.

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Wigington, Patti. "Do Pagans Believe in God?" ThoughtCo, Nov. 25, 2017, thoughtco.com/do-pagans-believe-in-god-2561833. Wigington, Patti. (2017, November 25). Do Pagans Believe in God? Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/do-pagans-believe-in-god-2561833 Wigington, Patti. "Do Pagans Believe in God?" ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/do-pagans-believe-in-god-2561833 (accessed April 23, 2018).