Contemporary Pagan Communities of Northeast Kansas
A Pagan is anybody who practices a religion that is not one of the major world religions. This includes indigenous beliefs of Africa and Asia, but is generally used to describe pre-Christian European traditions. The word Pagan itself comes from the Latin paganus meaning "someone who is not from the city, rather from the country." It also denoted civilians, those who were not soldiers in the Roman Empire military. It was a polytheistic belief system which utilized ritual sacrifice. From it's earliest usage, Pagan had a derogatory connotation. Beginning in the Middle Ages, the term Paganism was applied to any unfamiliar religion, which was assumed to worship false gods. Today many individuals embrace the term Pagan, however, there are some who don't use this term because of its origin in Christian theology, and instead identify only by the name of their particular religious path.
Paganism does not represent any one specific belief system. Most modern Pagan religions existing today express a world view that is pantheistic, polytheistic, animistic, or a combination. However, some are monotheistic Pagans. Paganism is typically classified as an Eath Based religion which believe the earth and all its creatures to be sacred and practitioners try to live in harmony with nature. They see humans, nature, and the divine as interconnected. Pagans tend to worship gods and goddesses whose imagery includes aspects of nature.
Contemporary Paganism, also known as Neopaganism, is a collective term for new religious movements influenced by or derived from the various historical pagan beliefs of pre-modern Europe, North Africa, and the Near East. Some practitioners attempt to reconstruct indigenous, ethnic religions as found in historical and folkloric sources as accurately as possible. Others, in particular the followers of revival paths such as Wicca and Neo-Druidism, have their roots in 19th century Romanticism and retain noticeable elements of occultism, Eastern philosophy, and Theosophy.
Northeast Kansas has a vibrant, yet secretive Pagan community. There are six active covens in the area and a handful of Pagan groups. Despite the multitude of Wiccans worldwide, it is still a religion many find mysterious and sinister, while others are unaware it even exists. I endeavor to challenge pre-conceived notions based on ignorance or fear and help share the beauty and goodness of Paganism. This exhibit explores the major beliefs and practices associated with Wicca and other Pagan religions, Witchcraft and magick, major holidays, rights and discrimination, local covens and groups, Pagan stores and resources, six oral histories from local Pagans, a glossary, and bibliographies for further research.