Neo-paganism is a form of new religious teaching based on ancient pagan teachings and spiritual practices.
Neo-paganism tries to revive the ancient polytheistic religions of Europe and the Near East and is closely connected with ritual magic and modern sorcery.
The prefix “neo-“ meaning “new” implies that ancient beliefs and traditions have been opened anew and adjusted to the modern age. The word “pagan” is more difficult to define. It usually applies to any ancient pre-Christian sets of religious beliefs, deities, symbols, rituals and practices. As a result, paganism is not the name of a specific religion; the term is descriptive and is applied to any new religious trend that tries to reconstruct ancient religious traditions. It appears mainly in Northern and Western Europe.
The most famous manifestations of neo-paganism are the Wicca religion and modern sorcery, druidism, German neo-paganism, as well as other trends. Neo-paganism also encompasses aspects and elements from other modern spiritual movements.
Neo-paganism is closely connected with the Russian culture and the process of pre-Christianisation of Russian society (19th century). Some scientists think that it was introduced as a “project aimed at the elimination of Christianity” by Tukhachevsky and Zhilyayev in 1918.
Slavic neo-paganism (Rodnoverie) began to develop in Poland in the nineteen twenties. It spread due to such Soviet figures as Vladislav Kolodzei, Yan Stakhnyuk, Porfiry Ivanov. Prof. Vladimir Shayan, became the first ideologist of Rodnoverie. Officer Aleksandr Kurenkov and writer Yury Mirolyubov also contributed to the propagation of neo-paganism. Neo-paganism in its current form developed by the end of the 1970s with the help of the activity of the Muscovite Arabist, Valery Yemelyanov and the former dissident and neo-nazi activist Aleksey Dobrovolsky.
Scientists distinguish several neo-pagan religious movements that have their characteristics depending upon the geographical position of their followers. For example, Tengrism gave a new meaning to the ancient religion of the Turkish and Mongolian nomads and turned into the Yakut movement of Vera Aiyy and the Kyrgyz movement of Tengir Ordo.
The faith of Finno-Ugric peoples turned into neo-paganism in Finland and Estonia. This has a different set of authentic rituals and cult ceremonies.
The Scandinavian neo-pagan movement in Denmark is called Forn-Sidr. In Germany Wicca and Asatru are practised. Altai Burkhanism, Baltic, Armenian and Celtic neo-paganism have developed in accordance with their peculiarities.
Slavic neo-paganism is typical for other European countries. It is characterised by the inclusion of mythological elements and a high percentage of imitation texts. Not all Slavic neo-pagans are apolitical – some keep to the “aryanism” idea and participate in Russian marches. Slavic neo-paganism is characterised by various types of swastika and Kolovrat is the main symbol. The Book of Veles is a personalisation of the holy scripture of neo-pagans who believe in their multiple gods (numbering about 29) and create various organisations, with the Moscow Slavic pagan community as the main one.
Alhough neo-paganism draws inspiration from ancient religious myths and practices, it is a modern religion intended for the satisfaction of existing spiritual needs. Primary attention in neo-paganism is paid not to the historical reliability of some ideal pagan past but to creating “pagan perception”.
Neo-paganism, as a new religious movement, attempts to revive pre-Christian natural religions that appeared either in Europe or in local congregations. Despite the variety pf practices, neo-pagans try to reunite people and nature. One of the existing forms of neo-paganism is modern witchcraft or Wicca.
Along with the spread of the Internet, interest in neo-pagan religions has broadened. Often teenagers seeking “their faith” become new followers of neo-paganism.
The most famous neo-pagan religion that is often presented in texts for teenagers is currently Wicca, which is a duo theistic religion with a natural tradition of religious sorcery. It was originated in Britain by Gerald Gardner in the 1940s.
Neo-paganism supports ancient religious traditions and druidism. This religion takes different forms depending upon its geographical distribution. It renews pre-Christian religions that were practised many centuries ago. Currently, most neo-pagans come to their faith as adults, but more and more neo-pagans are raising their children in this religion, creating a new and interesting phenomenon – second-generation neo-paganism.