What Transfaith Means When We Say "Pagan Traditions"


The term “pagan” originally meant “rural,” and was first applied to religions displaced, erased, or heavily modified through contact with Christian Empire. Though there is some disagreement as to whether the term presently refers to all those outside of the Abrahamic traditions (Islam, Judaism, and Christianity) or to those outside what some consider the “major religions of the world,” Transfaith is committed to honoring a diverse range of spiritual traditions, even when they are awkward to categorize or label.

Our Pagan Traditions section is intended to include a wide range of perspectives, even though the perspectives included may or may not identify as Pagan as a proper term. We recognize that the label is imperfect and also overlaps in significant ways with our Indigenous Traditions section.

As an umbrella term, Pagan Traditions are in some part defined more by opposition from (or persecution by) Christianity, than by what they all share in common. Many, but not all engage the ancestors. Many, but not all engage the Earth and elements as sacred. Many, but not all acknowledge a polytheistic worldview. Many, but not all are organized in small and/or informal structures (compared to institutional structures in many other World Religions).

Our Pagan Traditions section includes displaced, diasporic, and reconstructed traditions. As traditions that have experienced disruption, their relationship with colonization is often complex (including pre-colonial, anti-colonial, post-colonial, and/or arguably still-colonial approaches).

In recent years, even more as of late, there has been a revival of interest in using the indigenous religions of pre-Christian Europe to bolster and entrench white supremacy. Transgender people of faith have not been exempt from this disturbing trend. As a multi-racial organization, Transfaith is committed to prioritizing anti-racist perspectives in everything we do.

Transfaith welcomes Pagan Tradition blog pitches and submissions from practitioners who may not identify as Pagan, including (but not limited to) practitioners of traditions such as animism, shamanism, divination, and traditions of the African Diaspora. We invite you to be in conversation with us about supporting diverse spiritual/cultural workers and working to build a respectful, accurate definition of “pagan.” Please be in touch at editors@transfaith.info