As part of the Cultural Consumption bit of the Personal & Professional Practice module at uni, we are have been tasked with visiting a religious building. I’ve been to a few buildings associated with different religions, from the churches related to the sub-genres of Christianity to Mosques to Synagogues to Gurdwaras, but I’ve never knowingly been to a Pagan site.
Wiccans, Druids, Shamans, Sacred Ecologists, Odinists and Heathens all make up parts of the Pagan community. Paganism describes a group of contemporary religions based on a reverence for nature. These faiths draw on the traditional religions of indigenous peoples throughout the world. As their beliefs are based on nature, they don’t tend to use buildings for their worship, instead favouring the outdoors.
In Leeds there is a modern Pagan circle, which was built in the 1980s and used by the Leodis Pagan Circle for rituals and ceremonies, such as the Summer Solstice, or the Autumn Equinox. It is on the Leeds Heritage Waterfront Trail, near to Thwaite Watermill in Stourton.
Many people wrongly assume that Pagan rituals include devil worship, godlessness and hedonism. In an interview with the BBC local witch, Debra Scott, explains that “thoughts like that are completely wrong. We worship God and Goddesses and definitely don’t believe in the devil.
“We revere nature so we have evidence of our divinity in the nature around us. Worship is carried out as an open ritual at several sites including a stone spiral and stone circle in Leeds. Many Christian festivals are based on an older pagan celebration, one example is Easter.
“Ostara is our celebration of the Goddess, Eostre. The symbols of Eostre are the hare and an egg, so I really know what my Easter egg means to me when I eat it. We pagans predate many of the major religions of today.”
I liked visiting the circle because, like many places of worship, handmade artistry was employed in decorating the space and celebrating beliefs. I liked being outside much more than inside, and the reverence to the space felt more natural than the whispered constraints of a religious building.