Glossary entry for
pagan

The word "pagan" comes from the Latin "pagus", meaning a country district. When Christianity spread, those living away from the cities and towns were the last to be reached. They often resisted the new religion, much preferring the nature worship they had been practising for centuries. As usually happens, a supplanting religion tries to discredit the old ways. "Pagan" thus became a term of abuse, indicating devil worship and immoral behaviour. (The Christian devil is simply the nature-god Pan turned into a figure of evil and dread.) Some people to-day are turning to forms of paganism or nature worship, in order to cherish the Earth and find meaningful values which they can't see in the orthodox religions.

Contributed by Alan Pert, Sydney, Australia

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