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PAGAN?: A Definition

'PAGAN': A DEFINITION [From: "Wiccan Beliefs & Practices" by Gary Cantrell]  Pagan comes from the Latin word 'pagani' or 'paganus', which translates into "hearth or home dweller," generally meaning a country person.  In the days of the Roman Republic, the word 'pagani' was somewhat derogatory in its application since those so addressed were considered "country cousins" and were usually thought of as being somewhat inferior to their more wordly, city-dwelling counterparts. With the expansion of Christianity, the word 'Pagan' was redefined as one who worshipped the old gods and goddesses and did not seriously worship the new Christian god. In the early years of the Christian movement, being a Pagan had not yet taken on the ominous overtones of heathen or heretic that later led to the persecutions and horrors of the Dark Ages, that period in history generally referred to as the Inquisition or the Burning Times.  The current definition of the word 'Pagan' from: The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language is: "a practioner of any of the non-Christian, non-Muslim or non-Jewish religions, typically holding a polytheistic or pantheistic doctrince, philosophy or creed." A Pagan is thus anyone who follows a religion other than the Christian, Muslim or Jewish religions.  This obviously includes such diverse religions as the Hindu, Taoist, Confucian, Buddhist, Pacific Islander, American Indian, and, of course, all the nature-oriented or Earth-worshipping god and goddess religions.  According to information culled from both 'The 1993 Encyclopedia Britannica' and the 'The 1998 Cambridge Fact Finder', the total of these so-defined pagan religions accounts for approximately 50 percent of all the religious adherents in the world, which is, needless to say, a significant number of individuals.