Why Do People Become Pagan or Wiccan?

BeltaneGlastonbury_1500
People become Pagan for a variety of reasons. Matt Cardy/Getty Images News

Question: Why Do People Become Pagan or Wiccan?

A reader writes in, "I'm not Wiccan or any other kind of Pagan, and I'm trying to understand why people are leaving Christianity to follow the Pagan religions. What is it that makes people turn their backs on a God of love and peace to worship Pagan gods?"

Answer

This answer is going to come in a couple of different parts here, so bear with me for a minute.

We're going to skip over the part where your statement refers to the Christian god as strictly a loving and peaceful one, and by implication, hints that Pagan gods must not be either of these things.

Anyway, the first, and possibly most important, thing to remember is that not everyone was Christian to start with. There are many, many people in the Pagan community - Wiccans and otherwise - who have never been Christian. Some were raised agnostic or atheist, others in Jewish families, etc. So let's try to set aside the concept that all Pagans are simply dissatisfied Christians. 

The second thing that needs to be mentioned is that for the majority of Pagans, it's not a question of running away from something, but instead moving towards something. Those who were once Christian didn't simply wake up one morning and say, "I hate Christianity, I think I'll go be Wiccan (or Heathen, or Druid, etc)." Instead, most of those people spent endless years knowing they needed something other than what they had.

They spent time seeking and searching, until they found the path on which their spirit was most content.

Now, that having been said, why do people become Pagan? Well, the answers to that are as varied as the people who are part of the Pagan community. Some possible reasons for becoming Pagan include -- but are not limited to:

  • Most Pagan belief systems include polarity between the masculine and feminine. Some people find that this balance is more to their liking than a patriarchal community.
  • A need for acceptance. In general, Pagan groups have no restrictions or injunctions against homosexuality, bisexuality, or other gender status. Someone in the GLBT community needing spiritual fulfillment may be drawn to Wicca or other Pagan paths because they know they'll be accepted without any regard to who they sleep with.
  • A sense that there's something else out there. For many people, the idea of one single god seems illogical. Many people are drawn to the polytheistic aspects of Paganism.
  • A need to reconnect with nature. In our fast-paced society, more and more people are becoming aware of a need to get outdoors, away from the city, and reconnect with the earth the way our ancestors did. Many Pagan belief systems, including Wicca, embrace the connection between man and nature, and encourages people to find the Divine in all of nature's creations.
  • Paganism, for the most part, is pretty flexible. There is no set doctrine, no universal big book of rules, and no church hierarchy. This means that people can practice their faith any way they like.
  • A need for personal empowerment. Most Pagan paths put a lot of emphasis on personal responsibility. If someone makes a mistake, they must learn to live with the results, and they can't weasel out of things by saying it was the will of God.

Regardless of why someone has become Pagan, it's not uncommon to hear people say that finding their spiritual path gives them a sense of "coming home," as though it was where they were supposed to be all along. They haven't turned their back on another faith, but simply opened their spirits to something more.