Date: 08 December 1997
For: Immediate Release
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of the number of Pagans in the US, historical documents from the movement's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.
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, Anne Newkirk Niven, 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
Our Freedom: A Pagan Civil Rights Coalition