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Historically, paganism was used by Christians to designate any religion or people who were not Christian or Jewish. The pagan religions were those that were not Abrahamic, given that Islam did not emerge until about the 8th century BCE.

Without Christianity, no other faith would be referred to as pagan, as it was used to denigrate religions that came before Christianity, with the exception of Judaism, from which Christianity originated.

Although the terms are often used interchangeably today, paganism is used to refer to the old religions, while modern paganism is known as neopaganism or contemporary paganism, which are new religious movements influenced by the various old pagan beliefs.

Early Christians referred to the people of the Roman Empire who practiced polytheism as "pagans," a term that was near, if not entirely, synonymous with "gentiles" or "heathens." Pagan and paganism were pejorative terms, the implication being that they were inferior to the Christian or Jewish religions. Until modern times, it was considered to be pejorative, the implication being that pagans believed in false gods.

Not much is known of the original pagan religions, although there has been some evidence from anthropology, archeology, and ancient literature.

Paganism has never referred to a single religion, and that is also the case with neopaganism. Most pagan religions were pantheistic, polytheistic, or animistic, although some were monotheistic.

Because little is known of the ancient pagan religions, defining paganism is difficult. Christians referred to a wide variety of diverse cults as a single group, largely as a matter of convenience. The term from which paganism is derived implies polytheism, but not all of them had a polytheistic worldview. Many of the old pagan religions believed in a supreme being, but most of them believed in a class of subordinate deities or divine emanations.

To Christians, the only important distinction was whether someone believed in the one true God, and all others were considered to be pagan religions.

As Christianity grew to dominate the Western world, and Islam arose and grew to dominate many other parts of the world, paganism decreased or went into hiding. Many pagans were converted, either to Christianity or to Islam, while large numbers of those that did not convert were killed, on both fronts.

Interest in pagan religions was revived during the Renaissance of the 14th-17th centuries, with a revival of Greco-Roman magic.

Fascination with Celtic and Viking revivals were seen in literary works during the Romantic era of the 18th-19th centuries, portraying Celtic and Germanic polytheists as noble savages.

Pagan mythology was also seen in 19th-century folklore or fairy tales.

A revival of pagan religions also began in the 19th century, largely with Wicca and neo-druidism, which included elements from Theosophy and the occult.

Given a dearth of historical information of the theology or practices of the ancient pagan religions, neopagan sects are new religions, although most of them share a view of the natural world as divine, which is why most neopagan religions are described as Earth religions.

At best, pagan is an umbrella term that refers to a wide variety of belief systems reaching back before the advent of Christianity.

Many practicing neopagans describe their worldview as a philosophy or a way of life rather than as a religion, although others have fought to be recognized as religions. Like paganism, neopaganism refers to a wide variety of religions and belief systems who have some characteristics in common.

Topics related to pagans or paganism are the focus of this category. Those relating to neopaganism, neodruidism, or any of the other neopagan faiths may be submitted here, or to an appropriate subcategory.






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