Do Pagans Recruit New Members?

Wiccans, and other Pagans, are not coming to your door to sell you stuff. Image by Ferguson & Katzman/Image Bank/Getty Images

A while back, I got an email that said, "I'm a Christian, and I have a spiritual challenge for you. If you can convince me that the god of Wicca is the one true god, I'll convert. However, if I can explain to you why the Christian god is the only true path to salvation, you have to convert. What do you say?"


This email, as I explained to the person who wrote it, presupposes that (a) I'm interested in some sort of Spiritual Thunderdome Challenge, (b) that I'm really concerned about the opinion of a total stranger, and (c) that I'm on a quest to convert people I don't even know to believing the same things that I do.

All of which are completely ridiculous notions.

One misconception that some non-Pagans, including this individual, have is that roving groups of Wiccans, Druids, Heathens and other random types of Pagans are out to convert others into following the One True Pagan Way. Evidently, contemporary Pagans gain some sort of Karmic Bonus Points for every new member they sign up, and travel around stealthily trying to recruit unsuspecting souls into joining the Pagan/Wiccan Membership Club. Nothing could be further from the truth, although I've often wondered what I'd do with those Bonus Points if I had them -- maybe redeem them for fun prizes, like the old Greenbax Stamps at Piggly Wiggly.

At any rate, cut and paste the following into your memory right now:


Wiccans - and all of the other Pagans - are also not out to convert your child, your mom, your dog or your best friend.

And here's why.

It's because although most of them don't mind sharing their beliefs with you, or answering questions if you have them, they also believe everyone needs to choose their spiritual path for themselves. Many Pagans will tell you how empowering their belief system has been for them, or how it's helped them get through some really dark times, or even how they've used the knowledge they've gained to become a successful and happy person.

But they are not you, and you are not them, which means what works for someone who is currently a Pagan might be completely different than what works for you.

Spirituality is an individual need. What Bob needs in a religion is not necessarily what Jim needs in a religion. Bob may feel called to a structured doctrine, with laws laid out very specifically for him, and clear guidelines as to what the deities want from him. Jim, on the other hand, may find that a more free-spirited approach works best for him, where he has just one or two basic rules that he can interpret in the way that works best for him. These are two very different sets of needs, and may be met by two very different spiritual paths. Pagans generally understand that what's right for one person may not be right for the next, and they respect that difference.

Finally, understand that some Pagan belief systems, like a few types of Wicca, are mystery religions. This means that while there's an awful lot of publicly available information, there's a whole lot more that you don't learn until you actually become Wiccan (or a member of some other initiatory, oathbound path). Most don't go around blabbing to strangers about what they've learned, because gaining that knowledge takes a lot of dedication, study, effort and hard work.

Gardnerian Wiccans, for instance, have no interest in signing up a whole bunch of new recruits because traveling the Gardnerian path, like many other Pagan systems, is something that shouldn't be taken lightly.

Pagans are also not out to convert your child or teenager. That's because most of us believe religious upbringing is the job of the parents. It's YOUR duty to educate your child in spiritual matters, not ours. If a teen wishes to learn about Paganism, and asks questions, most Pagans will happily answer -- but they'll never accept a minor into a Pagan or Wiccan group without parental permission. Even then, it's kind of iffy. They'll also never offer private study lessons to someone who is underage.

It's often said that the seeker must come willingly, on their own, or their search isn't really valid.

That's the case here -- people who choose for themselves to learn about Pagan religions will be met with open arms. On the other hand those who are happy otherwise are free to remain as they are.

Paganism doesn't have a recruitment club, and Pagans don't get Frequent Flier Miles, or free toaster ovens for every new member they rope in. They don't do a door-to-door sales pitch. They want to practice the spirituality that works best for each individual, and they respect that need in others. Pagans believe that it's healthy to have religious diversity, and they know that people who are meant to follow a Pagan path will eventually find their way to one when the time is right for them.