Greenbelt Interfaith News

    January 1998

    Pagan Leaders Send Definitions to Dictionary Editors
    Pagan Educational Network

    Leaders of some of the best-known Pagan organizations in the US sent a letter to six major dictionary publishers in December, urging the adoption of new definitions for Neo-Paganism and Witchcraft. Accompanying the letter was a resource packet including etymologies, estimates of the number of Pagans in the US, historical documents from the movement's early days, and extensive documentation of the use of Pagan and related terms in all media.

    The recommended definitions were created through cooperative effort via e-mail. The recommended definition for Neo-Paganism is: Collection of diverse contemporary religions rooted in indigenous traditions or deriving inspiration therefrom, characterized by a belief in the interconnection of all life, personal autonomy, and immanent divinities. Often nature-centered and supportive of gender equity.

    The recommended definition for Witchcraft is: A Neo-Pagan religion, loosely organized in autonomous traditions, honoring masculine and/or feminine divinities and practicing magic and folk traditions for benevolent ends, such as healing and the mystical development of the self; wicca.

    The effort, coordinated by the Pagan Educational Network, was supported by the Aquarian Tabernacle Church, Elizabeth Barrette, the Brideswell Collective, the Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids, Church of All Worlds, Circle Sanctuary, Covenant of the Goddess, the Covenant of Unitarian Universalist Pagans, Ellen Evert Hopman, Holy Order of Mother Earth, Howling Wolf Coven, Janes Tidings, Ozark Avalon, Reclaiming, The Summerlands, The Third Road, United Pagan Ministries, Wiccan Community Fund, The Wicked Word, Witches League for Public Awareness, The Witches Voice, and WyrdWeavers Collective.

    It is hoped that this cooperative effort will convince editors to augment existing definitions to reflect contemporary usage of these terms.

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