A History of Neo-Paganism and Druidry: 1 – Define Paleopaganism, Mesopaganism, and Neopaganism, giving examples of each.

6 08 2017

Define Paleopaganism, Mesopaganism, and Neopaganism, giving examples of each. (minimum 100 words for each)

The Roman term “Paganus” was originally a derogatory term for a country dweller. It is thought that people living in rural areas were slower to adopt the new religion of Christianity in the Roman Empire and continued following the older polytheistic and animistic religions for a long time after the official conversion and therefore they were called Pagans. Today Paganism is being revived as a polytheistic or pantheistic religion. Isaac Bonewits distinguishes between three types of Pagans, however these are not clear categories and can overlap at times.

First are Paleo-Pagans which are the “original, polytheistic, nature centred faiths of tribal Europe, Africa, Asia, the America’s, Oceania and Australia, when they were practiced as in tact belief systems.” He also adds the modern practices of Taoism, Shino and Hinduism to this list and argues that billions of people are following them today. Examples of older Paleo-Pagan religions include the religions of the Celtic, Anglo-Saxon, Norse, Greek and Roman religions being practiced 2000 years ago.

Second is Meso-Paganism, which is a “term for a variety of movements both organised and unorganised, started as attempts to recreate, revive or continue what their founders thought were the best aspects of the Paleo-Pagan ways of their ancestors.” However, other worldviews that were “monotheistic, dualistic or non-theistic” also had a big influence on these, thanks to the cultural dominance of Christianity, Islam, Zoroastrianism and Buddhism. Examples could include Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, Theosophy, Spiritualism, Voudoun, Christo-Paganism, Mahayana Buddhism and Thelema. It also includes Revival Druidry traditions such as the Order of Bards, Ovates and Druids.

Third is Neo-Paganism, which, is a “term for a variety of movements both organised and (usually) disorganised, started since 1960ce or so (though they had literary roots going back to the mid 1800’s), as attempts to recreate, revive or continue what their founders thought were the best aspects of the Paleo-Pagan ways of their ancestors, blended with modern humanistic, pluralist and inclusionary ideals, while consciously striving to eliminate as much as possible of the traditional western monotheism, dualism and puritanism.” Neo-Pagans tend to share beliefs in multiple gods and goddesses, emphasise the immanence of deity, be committed to environmentalism and perform rituals and magic, while avoiding racism, sexism and homophobia. Examples include the Church of All Worlds, Wicca, Asatru, Fyrn-Sidu, ADF Druidism and Reconstructionist groups such as Gaol Naofa, Nova Roma, Dun Brython and Hellenismos. The term Neo-Paganism was popularised in the 1960’s and 70’s by Oberon Zell of the Church of All Worlds.


Ellis, Peter B. The Druids. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1998. Print.

Adler, Margot. Drawing down the moon witches, Druids, goddess-worshippers, and other pagans in America today. New York, N.Y: Penguin/Arkana, 2006. Print.

Hutton, Ronald. The Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996. Print.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Defining Paganism: Paleo-, Meso-, and Neo-.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “Frequently Asked Questions about Neopagan Druidism.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “The Origins of Ár nDraíocht Féin.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “What Neopagans Believe.” Web.

Bonewits, Isaac. “The Reformed Druids of North America and their Offshoots.” Web.

Hopman, Ellen Evert. “The Origins of the Henge of Keltria.” Web.

Meith, Vickie, and Howard Meith. “The Origins of the Celtic Traditionalist Order of Druids.” Web.

Thuin, Dylan Ap. “The Origins of the Insular Order of Druids.” Web














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