Do Pagans Have a Holy or Sacred Book? What About Temples and Priests?

In short, no, yes and not exactly. We don’t have a book of words which are common to all pagans, but you may find words, passages and books which resonate particularly with you and to which you refer for inspiration, guidance and comfort. There are many books out there which are classed under the category of paganism, or usually New Age/ Self Help in bookshops, but you can also find profound words in the History sections if you are a reconstructionist, or under cookery, gardening or poetry, pretty much anywhere, really. The profound can be found anywhere, and it’s simply a case of finding out what suits you best.

Temples wise, we’re a bit short in the traditional sense. There is the beautiful Goddess Temple in Glastonbury which is open to all, and there may be other temples or shrines in private ownership, being converted summer house structures, single standing stones or small stone circles made for the express purpose of conducting ritual and worship in a private setting. Being pagan usually means that ritual, worship and praise is done in the out of doors under the sky. Sometimes you come across a sight which moves you in some way, a beautiful waterfall, an inspiring sunset, a great oak stood alone, a wild meadow in full summer sun, a frozen lake, a natural clearing in the middle of a forest. Places like these are pagan temples and places of worship. For some pagans, the back garden does just fine, being handy for getting back home afterwards and somewhere familiar to connect to. Pagans generally go along the lines that we are stewards for the land, and so feel responsible for it in some way. It may be that they’ll pick litter up on a walk, volunteer with the BTCV to help manage the countryside, visit places which they connect to on a regular basis or, if living in a tower block in the middle of a city, simply grow a window box indoors and treat that as a living shrine instead. Some pagans have other types of shrines inside their homes, these can be a statue of a deity with incense or an offering plate or bowl in front, a room corner, small table, or box which has things of importance on it (mine has statues of the gods, two drinking horns, my Mjolnir necklaces, my runes and a space for offerings).

Priest wise the short answer is that you’re it. No-one stands between you and the gods or can intercede on your behalf. In Wicca everyone is counted as a priest or priestess in their own right, and the High Priest or Priestess is elected from that number. Druidry has three distinct stages of knowledge, and a recognised hierarchy of individuals who lead ceremonies and ritual. Just because someone says that they are a Priestess or Priest doesn’t mean that they have a nationally recognised academic qualification which is regulated or registered. They may have studied for many years, yes, but it’s not something you can list on your CV. In other forms of paganism there may or may not be those who act as priests, and indeed there may or may not be recognised deities. If you’re drawn to a particular path, read around and find the words and structure that that path uses. Just remember that you follow your own path, and you choose which way to go.

– Amalasuntha



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