“Yes, Mr. Goat Foot … In losing you, they were losing their body wisdom, their moon wisdom, their mountain wisdom, they were trading the live wood of the maypole for the dead carpentry of the cross.”
— Tom Robbins, Jitterbug Perfume
Neo-Paganism is a non-Abrahamic or non-JCI religion. “JCI” refers to the monotheistic, Abrahamic traditions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, which are sometimes called the “religions of the book”. Of course there are many religions that are not in the JCI tradition which also are not Neo-Pagan or Pagan, including Hinduism, Shinto, and the African diaspora religions. In spite of this, it is still useful to define Neo-Paganism in contrast to Christianity and the other Abrahamic faiths.
- Neo-Pagans look to pre- and non-JCI cultures, myths, and religious practices for inspiration.
- Neo-Pagans are not monotheists. They are polytheists, henotheists, pantheists, panentheists, duotheists, animists, and monists.
- Neo-Pagans usually do not see divinity as transcendent. In some sense the gods of Neo-Paganism are understood to be immanent, present in the material world.
- Neo-Pagans honor the diversity of nature and human experience. Neo-Pagans advocate for the equal treatment of all people regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation.
- Neo-Pagans are not dogmatic. They maintain a pragmatic and tentative attitude toward questions of religious truth. They reject all exclusivist claims to truth and oppose all who seek to deny the freedom of others to believe or practice their religion as they will.
- Neo-Pagans are not patriarchal. Neo-Pagans believe that women should share religious power equally. If divinity is conceived as male, then it is also conceived as female.
- Neo-Pagans do not subscribe to the submission/dominance relationship with the earth; this is replaced with a stewardship/care model.
- Neo-Pagans do not have concepts of sin or salvation. This is replaced with concepts of healing and compassion; this renders a pro-body and pro-sex ethic.
- Neo-Pagans do not have concepts of sin or a fall from divine grace. For Neo-Pagans, the primary experience of divinity is one of connection — not alienation — connection to divinity, to the earth, and to one another.
- Neo-Pagans don’t see time as leading linearly to a final apocalypse or to heaven. Instead, Neo-Pagans emphasize the cyclical nature of time, whether or not this translates into a belief in the literal transmigration of the soul.
- Neo-Pagans don’t hold any scripture or book as religiously authoritative.
Some people object to the definition of Neo-Paganism as non-Christian or non-JCI by pointing to Christo-Paganism or Judeo-inspired Neo-Paganism. While some Neo-Pagans do draw on Christian and Jewish motifs for inspiration, these hybrid faiths remain distinguishable from the JCI faiths for the reasons outlined above.