Elen the Celtic Goddess

She is a goddess of wild places, especially the Celtic moorlands, the woods, and the heathlands. Seeking her out required going to these wild places and looking for her in every aspect of the wild lands. Elen is in the mist in the air and in the heartbeat of a tree.

Smoke Cleansing

By Justine Lieberman

When most people walk into my home, I watch them drop their shoulders, inhale, and smile. It’s like they just walked into a sanctuary or spa. Even with my small dogs barking their greetings, my guests seem to relax almost immediately. Clients, friends, and family have repeatedly commented on how calm and peaceful they feel in my home. My house is not outwardly calm, between the dogs barking, the three teenagers, the robot vacuum choking on a sock, the game blaring on the TV, and the dishes in the sink, you might be thinking, “CHAOS!”. Sure, those things could be chaotic, and yet, my guests feel perfectly at ease. This is because my home is smoke cleansed regularly, and strongly energetically protected. 
Have you ever walked into a home that just felt heavy, dark, or gave you the heebeegeebees? Are there places that just feel off to you? I remember having a sleepover at a friend’s house in 6th grade, and her house just felt uncomfortable. I never slept over again, but as an adult, I visited her home, and it still felt off. Almost like I was cold, even though it wasn’t cold at all. This really struck me because as a tween, I didn’t think much about it, I just recognized my discomfort. As an adult, I recognized the same feelings I had felt all those years ago. I felt validated but also concerned. I wondered why her house felt so uncomfortable. I wish I had the tools then that I have now because I would have offered to smoke cleanse her house.
All spaces carry energy, whether it’s a home, office, bathroom, church, hospital, school, park, or alleyway. The energy may be so subtle that you don’t feel anything at all, or it may be strong. It can be strong in a positive, or peaceful way, and it may be strong in a negative or even scary way. Just as human beings have the capacity to take on other people’s energy, most commonly noted in empaths, this whole world experiences energetic imprinting. We don’t have to suffer from the intensity or even minimal low vibe energy. In my last blog, “Protect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Peace”, I shared ways to create energetic barriers for your personal aura. Today I want to dive into doing the same for your home. 
Smoke Cleansing is an ancient tradition that has been used in many cultures throughout history and is still a common practice today. We are familiar with Indigenous people in America who use smoke to not only cleanse but also open portals to the spirit world, however, burning herbs to promote cleansing and spiritual connection has been practiced since ancient times all over the world. Biblically God commands the use of incense as early as Exodus, and the wise men who came to witness the infant Jesus after his birth brought frankincense and myrrh as offerings, two herbs that are still used to smoke cleanse and protect to this day. Egypt has been known to burn herbs to purify their homes and help the inhabitants to sleep well. Temples across China and Asia have burned herbs, such as mugwort to support emotional wellness. Africa and India have both been known for smoke cleansing as well. Even Australian Aboriginals and Islanders use different herbs to cleanse with smoke. European witches were put to death for using herbs as salves, remedies, and smoke cleansing. 
You may be wondering if Smoke Cleansing is cultural appropriation. It is a highly controversial subject. As witches, it is important to touch on this subject as we strive to be as ethical as possible. I do not intend to lecture anyone, however, I do find that skirting around it just because it’s uncomfortable is privileged and disrespectful. I have shouted from the rooftops about the injustices to witches, and the 13 million women who were tortured, kidnapped and murdered by drowning, hanging, burning, and countless other insidious ways. Therefore I would be remiss to skirt over the 56 million indigenous men, women, and children who were brutally murdered in the Americas by European settlers. This was a successful holocaust. Hideous extermination of human beings, their religions, customs, and culture. It’s truly tragic. 
“Smudging” is a term used by Indigenous people for smoke cleansing. While Smoke Cleansing is not exclusive to Indigenous people, the term “Smudge” is. The other issue we run into is that many people use white sage to smoke cleanse because of its magical properties, and popularity. Smudging, and all Indigenous religious practices were banned in the United States until 1978. This type of oppression is abhorrent, and the reason it is argued that it is inappropriate for non-natives to adopt these customs. I have made this error myself, and until recently I used the term “Smudge” when discussing Smoke Cleansing, not realizing that the word is not for me to use. In addition, I have used white sage to smoke cleanse, however, this sage was picked wild for me by a dear friend who is Indigenous and has been one of my beloved teachers. I felt panic in regards to using white sage, but just as my dear friend invited me to a Sweat Lodge, I was informed that being invited, and gifted these items and experiences means that in these circumstances I have the honor of participating in these sacred rituals. It would, however, be inappropriate for me to buy and burn sage, just as it would be inappropriate for me to create a Sweat Lodge, according to my Indigenous friends. In addition, white sage has been over-harvested, and therefore it is unethical to purchase unless you can guarantee that it has been sustainably harvested. 
So what is acceptable to burn while smoke cleansing? First, I would suggest feeling deeply into yourself, your practices, and your ancestral roots. Due to my modge podge of ancestry, I have looked into the cultures of my bloodline ranging from Ashkenazi Jew to Swedish, to Scottish, Irish, French, German, and Brazillian. For most of my life, I only had a real connection to my Jewish lineage, so I chose to start there. A quick Google search can help you to discover herbs and other powerful plants that your ancestors may have used. 
Others believe that it is most ethical to choose to use herbs that grow native to the area where you live, on the basis that the energies where you live are more connected to the plants that naturally grow in that region. Ultimately it is up to you to feel into what speaks to your heart and keeps you aligned. Lavender, rosemary, cedar, mugwort, and juniper are all effective alternatives to white sage, or palo santo.
Smoke Cleansing is a tried and true method for dispersing negative, stagnant, or stale energy. It’s surprisingly simple, but a somewhat tedious task when performed with intention. You will find that different cultures have different rituals. I encourage you to do your own research and find a ritual that feels good to you. Personally, my preference for Smoke Cleansing whenever the energy in my home feels heavy, or tense, as well as after we have had guests, is two rounds of smoke cleansing, using two different herbs. The first to banish the old or negative energy, and the second to fill my space with fiercely protective love. I begin by opening everything, all the windows and doors, and each and every cabinet, and closet. I bless and command the first herb by saying “I command you to banish all negative, unwanted, and unhealthy energy from this space, and so it is.” then light my herbs in a bowl or heatproof container, and begin at my front door. I use a small broom or hand fan, and wave the smoke, moving the bowl counterclockwise (to banish), I walk counterclockwise through the entrance of my home, fanning the smoke from top to bottom, making sure not to miss corners, and other hidden places, like underneath desks and shelves. I continue this way, moving from room to room, always starting from the entrance, and paying special attention to enclosed spaces, like cabinets. Afterward, I command my second herb (which is often some type of flower) by saying, “I command you to fill this space with fierce protective love, and repel any and all negative or unwanted energy from this space.” Then I begin again, only this time I move clockwise to bring in positive loving energy. Love is my “religion”, so I choose to use love as my protector, and nurturer. If you have a special connection to specific deities, you can call on them as you command your herbs. 
After I have Smoke Cleansed the entire house, I light a candle to seal the deal, then close all the doors, windows, and cabinets. Before lighting this candle, I meditate on its purpose, and command it to bring calm, gentle, loving, and protective energy into my home, and anoint it with specific essential oils. Any candle will do, as long as it has never been burned before. Unless you have designated a larger candle for this purpose, in which case, you would still meditate on its purpose before lighting the candle, and rather than blowing it out, I suggest snuffing it out. 
There are many practices for smoke cleansing, we would love to hear yours! And don’t forget that you can smoke cleanse any item that comes into your home, as well as your vehicles! For more on protecting your home with symbolism, check out my previous blog, “Protect Yourself, Your Home, and Your Peace”.

What Are the Different Pagan Religions

What are the Different Pagan Religions?

The word “Paganism” is an umbrella term encompassing hundreds of different religions and spiritual paths. When the word was first used at the end of the Roman Empire, it was meant to describe any person practicing a religion or spiritual path other than the three Abrahamic religions: Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. 

Today, the same is still very much true. While some believe that the word “Pagan” simply means a follower of a polytheistic religion, that’s not necessarily true. There are certainly Pagan paths that are monotheistic, and even completely non-theistic or agnostic paths such as Secular Paganism or Humanistic Paganism.

It can be pretty difficult to know or understand all of the different Pagan religions, as there are so many. So let’s take a look at five of the most prevalent in order to help you get a better grasp of such an all-encompassing spirituality.


Probably the most well-known Pagan religion, Wicca has its origins in matriarchal pre-Christian religions. Though there had been many iterations of Wicca since the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the religion was mainly brought to the fore by Gerald Gardner in the 1950s with his Gardnerian tradition. 

Consisting of mainly Goddess worship with other associated deities, such as the Horned God, Wicca is a religious path centered around nature and witchcraft. There are many different ways to practice Wicca, whether as a solitary witch or in a coven. Whether you decide to focus your traditions on the home, like a Kitchen Witch; or nature and garden, like a Green Witch, or the practice of neutral magick, like a Grey Witch, there are paths for everyone in Wicca. Just don’t ever use the terms black or white magick. Magick doesn’t have a color. It is a neutral source whose objectives are set by the intent of the witch performing the magick.

Hellenic Paganism

Hellenism or Hellenic Paganism, Hellenic Polytheism, or Hellenismos, is the Pagan practice of worshipping the Gods and Goddess of Ancient Greece. Hellenism is a reconstructionist religion based on the honoring of the Olympian Gods and Goddesses, Greek heroes, and nature spirits. 

A reconstructionist religion, as you’ll see again later with Kemetism, is the idea of reconstructing an ancient religion to fit modern times. Due to the fact that the original religion of Ancient Greece had no set form of worship or religious practice, modern-day Hellenic Pagans are able to be just as diverse in their worship and practice. As with Ancient Hellenism and unlike many Abrahamic religions, the deities of Hellenic Paganism are not considered to be intangible beings, but are instead believed to be higher beings on the ladder of society. They are tangible forces in the lives of those who worship and follow them.


Heathenism or heathenry is the umbrella term for the worship of Germanic deities. There are many different paths of heathenism including Asatru/Asatro, which is the following of Norse Mythologies; Theodism, or Anglo-Saxon Polytheism, is the reconstruction of the practices and beliefs of Northern European tribes; and Irminism, which is an Ariosophy (which translates to “The Wisdom of the Aryans”) that worships the German God Irmin, who was believed to be the patron God of the Saxons.


Kemetism is the worship of the Ancient religion of Kemet, Egypt. There are two main forms of Kemetism: Kemetic Reconstructionism and Kemetic Orthodoxy. 

Kemetic Reconstructionism, as the word suggests, is a reconstruction of the Ancient Egyptian religion and its pantheon of Gods and Goddess for modern times. Kemetic Reconstructionists strive to be as historically accurate in their worship as possible, while realizing that modern times require modern practices. 

Followers of Kemetic Orthodoxy, on the other hand, consider themselves monolatric, rather than polytheistic, like Reconstructionists. Monolatry is the worship of individual deities as parts of a whole deity. Think of the facets of a diamond. Each facet, in itself, is not a whole diamond, but together, they make up the whole. This whole diamond, in Kemetic Orthodoxy, is called Netjer, which translates to “divine power”.


Modern Druidry, though taking its name from ancient Celtic beliefs, doesn’t necessarily follow the same path as modern Celtic Reconstructionism. Because the ancient Druids left no written record, modern Druidry falls on the eclectic side of the religion spectrum. 

What is the same, though, is that both ancient and modern Druids follow a nature-centric path promoting harmony and connection with all living things, including the earth. Druids believe that the natural world is permeated with Spirit, and therefore believe it is dynamic and alive. Druidry is a polytheistic religion, but there are no set pantheons to which all Druids worship. 

What is your path? Did we list it here? Let us know!

Five Tips for Celebrating Yule as a New Pagan

Five Tips for Celebrating Yule as a New Pagan

If you’re new to paganism and eager to celebrate Yule, you may be feeling overwhelmed by the avalanche of information out there. After all, there are countless ways to observe the Yule holiday, each with its own history and traditions. 

The Sabbat is the longest night of the year. Following Yule, the sun begins its long and meandering journey back to earth. Here are five helpful tips on ways you can celebrate Yule as a new pagan that will help you make the most out of your first winter solstice as an occultist.

1) Decorate a Yule Altar

The altar is where you’ll perform rituals and commune with gods. The time it takes to create an altar depends on your level of ambition, but it’s well worth taking your time to create something that reflects you and honors your spirituality. Don’t worry about getting every detail right—as long as there are objects on your altar that represent you and what matters to you, it will serve its purpose. If your altars need some sprucing up throughout the year, here’s an easy and effective way to refresh them: replace or rearrange photos or stones at new moon. And don’t forget to do an annual deep clean! 

Incorporate meaningful colors such as blues, whites and silvers when you decorate your altar. Include the vibrant reds, whites and greens of the holiday season. Evergreen boughs are a welcome classic, so add some dark greens as well. 

Solar symbols are a very relevant choice for your altar, since Yule is a Sabbat that reflects the return of the sun. Some ideas are to use gold discs, gold candles, and any other object that represents the bright, shining light of the sun. You can also DIY a sun candle by purchasing a large pillar candle and inscribing it with solar symbols and words.You can also add sprigs of holly and pine cones. Boughs from pines, fir, juniper and cedar (which are all part of the evergreen family) are traditionally connected to themes of protection and prosperity, as well as that of a continuation of life and renewal. If you’re up for crafting your own besom, use birch branches to build it. This would be a great tool for your magical workings, spells and rituals related to enchantments, renewal, purification, fresh starts and new beginnings. As long as you have the space for it, let your imagination and creativity run wild and fill your altar with as many things as you want.

Some of these items could come in handy as part of your Sabbat decor: 

Fruit and nuts can be added to your altar. Lay out bowls of winter nuts like walnuts, pecans, and hazelnuts. Rest some fresh fruit such as oranges and apples on your altar.

Mistletoe symbolizes fertility and abundance and is a classic symbol of the winter holidays around the world.

Snowflakes, icicles and snow bring a little wintertime magic to your altar.

Candy canes: they may be a classic Christmas holiday offering, candy canes can be utilized as a way to direct magical energy in your practice.

Bells are popular in Pagan practice as they are known to drive away evil spirits. However, you can repurpose them to bring harmony to your magical space.

Sun wheels and other solar symbols are a very relevant addition to your altar as they tie into the sun’s long journey back to earth. Use them to feel that connection.

2) Gather with Loved Ones

As you get started in paganism, there may be many people you’d like to spend time with—both old friends and new. However, if you live far away from family or significant others, remember that there are plenty of other pagans out there! If you have trouble finding local groups online, find other pagans on social media sites, like here, on Coven Cloud. You can message your new pagan friends about getting together during your favorite holiday celebrations. Whatever you choose to do, don’t let distance keep you from participating in special events with loved ones who share your beliefs. It’s important to create connections with people who respect your journey—and distance often gets in the way of that.

3) Make an Evergreen Yule Wreath

If you’re already celebrating Christmas, making an evergreen wreath is a nice way to incorporate some of your pagan beliefs into your festivities. Gather fresh greenery—either from your backyard or purchase it at a local florist or craft store—and wrap ribbons or yarn around it in any design you choose. Making wreaths with candles around it is another common practice, which you can easily adopt. While decorating your wreath, recite mantras and manifestations to bring your dreams to life.

4) Give Back to Nature

Pagans believe that nature is sacred. Spending time outdoors during Yule is a great way to strengthen your bond with nature and give back to Mother Earth. Whether you decide to take a walk or go camping, getting into nature gives you an opportunity to connect with something greater than yourself. And, if you really want to get in touch with nature at its core, try tree-planting! You’ll be giving Mother Nature something beautiful while also reducing your carbon footprint. What could be better?

5) Burn a Yule Log

While some may prefer to burn an actual Yule log, others may not be able to find one. If you fall into that category, you can still celebrate with a faux log or candleholder. Decorate your log or candle holder using red and green ribbon and hang a wreath of evergreen over it. Make sure to include traditional elements of celebration, such as holly and mistletoe. Some people also put candles in their Yule logs; however, it is important to be very careful when doing so. Be sure not to leave them unattended when lit and never add anything flammable to your decoration if it isn’t already made from flammable material. The Yule log is typically burned for twelve nights starting on the Winter Solstice and going for 12 nights (from approximately December 21st to the 1st of January). However, the log isn’t kept burning throughout those 12 nights; a portion of the log is burned each night until the 12th night, which would see the last of it burned. Traditionally, the leftover piece is then kept until the following year, when the last year’s Yule log will be used to light the next year’s. 

An interesting note on this tradition: although Christians also practice the “twelve nights of Christmas” starting from Christmas Day through the Epiphany on the 6th of January, this was done as a way of incorporating Pagan traditions into Christian traditions to make conversion of Pagans to Christianity easier.

These are just some of the ways that you can make the most of celebrating Yule as a new pagan and begin developing your own practice around this meaningful time of year.

What do Sagittarius Leo and Aries have in common

What do Sagittarius, Leo, and Aries have in common?

If you’re interested in the zodiac, then you likely know at least a little bit about Sagittarius, Leo, and Aries, but do you know what these three feisty signs have in common? Of course, three of these zodiac signs are fire signs. Sagittarius is ruled by Jupiter, Leo by the Sun, and Aries by Mars. Fire signs are passionate and bold, unafraid to take the road less traveled when they believe it will lead them to their purpose. Fire signs are known for their passion, creativity, spontaneity, inspiration, and strong-willed spirit.

1) The Sagittarian

An explorer at heart, the Sagittarian values freedom above all else. No matter where they are located on earth, there is a constant quest for adventure. They have a lust for life that fuels their every waking moment. The farther away from home they are, or whatever situation or activity they find themselves in, it’s always an opportunity to learn something new about their world or themselves. Intellectual and talkative, constantly learning is one of their favorite pastimes, along with exploring wherever they are visiting. People born under this fire sign will definitely never be bored! Life is too short to spend time being bored or unhappy, so it’s time to get out and see what other people’s lives look like beyond your own.

Sagittarians have an unbridled optimism that shines upon every aspect of their life. Life should be full of fun experiences, so live life to its fullest while you can! It would be a shame if you didn’t live up to your full potential by not knowing what you’re capable of. Your curiosity will lead you down many paths before your journey here on earth comes to an end, so don’t put limits on yourself just because others have already placed limitations upon themselves. As friends, Sagittarians are insightful, wise, and honest, but they can also be blunt and too direct. They struggle to share their truths with tact and sensitivity. They are great to have around as their talkative, sociable nature makes it easy for them to connect with everyone.

2) The Leo

This fire sign is an extrovert who loves to be around people and sports surprisingly thin skin. Criticism can pierce them deeply. They crave affirmation, praise, and validation. Leos are always willing to lend a helping hand. These generous individuals like everything to be just right for them before getting started, but once they’re on board with a project or team, it’s impossible to stop them from blazing ahead. Leos are like the sun: warm, constant, shining on all those in their orbit.  They are fixed, steady, predictable friends who love to-do lists, can be resistant to change, and take time to adapt to pivots.

In romance, Leos take center stage. They love being adored by their partner and will go out of their way to put a smile on their face. They need their partners to lavish them with affection and prove their love and loyalty. Once they are settled into a trusting relationship, they make playful, affectionate partners that enjoy keeping things hot and heavy. Leos are secretly sensitive though. They are quick to put up a brave face when hurt, but inside, they are more vulnerable than their fiery-lion outside would let on.

3) The Aries

The first quality of an Aries that people typically notice is their creative (fiery) energy. This fire sign is always on the move, putting their independent and entrepreneurial spirit into action. Aries-born individuals make up some of the most inspiring leaders, and can get even the most “stuck” people moving with their energetic, motivating attitude. Their energy is infectious and they have a limitless curiosity for everything (including new projects). This makes them an exciting friend to hang out with. They are somewhat competitive, but love to celebrate and uplift their friends.

Aries also have a child-like fascination with the world and a sense of adventure that can be a little reckless and impulsive at times. They don’t like to be told what to do and avoid being controlled at all costs. They do far better being their own boss than having to answer to someone else. Their boundless energy is best channeled in physical activity (preferably outdoors), or challenging projects that they can pour their whole heart and mind into.

If you’re born under an astrological fire sign, your potential is incredible! If not, then you would gain much by befriending a Sagittarius, Leo, or Aries to reap the benefits of their fiery personalities.

Magick 101 How to Cast a Circle of Protection

Magick 101: How to Cast a Circle of Protection

Casting a circle before performing magick is an important part of spellwork, whether you’re trying to make your goals manifest or banish an evil spirit from your home. There are many different techniques for casting circles, but they all serve the same basic purpose of creating an area free from the negative energies of the outside world that allow you to focus on your spell work undisturbed. If you’re looking to begin practicing magick, knowing how to cast a circle of protection will help give you confidence and make it easier to perform spells effectively and safely. Here’s how to do it!

Tools you will need: 

Candles: White can work in a pinch, but colors representing the elements work best. 

Green – Earth

Yellow – Air

Red or Brown – Fire

Blue – Water


Earth – jasper, moss agate, onyx, aventurine, black tourmaline

Air – opal, aventurine, citrine, tiger’s eye, turquoise

Fire – amber, fire opal, fire agate, carnelian, sunstone

Water – amethyst, aquamarine, pink tourmaline, lapis lazuli, coral

Something to cast the circle with: an athame, chalk, salt, smudge stick, earth-charged water, paint, rope, etc.

1) Prepping your space

With all of your tools set out, stand in front of them and visualize what you want your finished product (your circle) to look like. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths and make sure you really see it in your mind’s eye before opening them back up. You can even draw out what you want it to look like if that helps. Once you have an image clear in your head, grab one of your tools—it doesn’t matter which one—and start drawing it where you’d like on the floor or on some other surface that will be safe for paint or chalk. When you’re done with that, add another tool and keep going until you fill up your space. 

2) Drawing your circle

The purpose of casting a circle is twofold—protection and focus. For protection, it’s important that you create an unbroken space around yourself. This means drawing your circle in one continuous motion. If you stop, even for just a moment, you break your circle and invite outside energies into your protected space. If all else fails, use physical barriers like salt or chalk (or rope for very large circles) to form your perimeter. Remember, when casting your circle, it is important to do so while walking deosil (clockwise) around the perimeter of your circle. To release the circle after your spellwork is done, walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) three times around the perimeter.

3) Invoking energy

To start, you must be open and receptive to new energy. To do so, take some deep breaths while focusing on your chakras. Start with your root chakra (near your tailbone) and draw energy from there up through your sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, and third eye chakra, until you reach your crown chakra at the top of your head. If something feels wrong, stop and take more deep breaths until it feels right again.

4) Verbalizing the ritual

First, give an overview of what you’re about to do. This is basically telling your audience (whether it be yourself or actual people) that you are about to perform magick. Focus on safety, protection, and asking for blessing from whatever deities/spirits/guardian angels you believe in; ask these forces for protection during your rite. You can make up your own blessings or say something easy and non-denominational, if you’re just beginning, such as “Elements/Spirits of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, I call on thee together. Attend my rite and protect and consecrate my circle, above, below, and within.”

10 Most Mind Blowing Ways Christianity Stole From Paganismmm

10 Most Mind-Blowing Ways Christianity Stole

When Christianity spread throughout the Roman Empire, it didn’t come without controversy. The Romans saw Christians as hostile heathens who rejected the religion of their ancestors. But many of the customs practiced by early Christians were actually borrowed from the pagans they so despised, all as a means of converting the Pagans to Christianity. Here are the 10 most mind-blowing ways Christianity stole from Paganism!

1) The Number 12

The number 12 has an important place in both Pagan and Christian traditions. Pagans worshipped a number of gods, usually 12, but also 22, 32, or 36 depending on the region. Early Christians paid homage to Jesus’ 12 apostles and even today it is said that he will return to Earth with his 12 disciples. Likewise, early Pagans often built temples in groups of 12, with circular designs like Stonehenge (in England) or The Sanctuary at Corsepius (in Turkey). Today, Christians are encouraged to welcome Jesus into their lives through 12 steps programs like Alcoholics Anonymous. 12 is also considered a good omen because many people believe it has no imperfections.

2) Christmas Trees

Early Christians were called tree worshippers by Romans who noted their custom of decorating Christmas trees during holidays. The first documented use of Christmas trees was in Germany in 1521. The ancient Greeks and Scandinavians also decorated trees to celebrate the Winter Solstice, but it is uncertain if they were using evergreen or just hung ornaments on their trees. Early Pagans would bring evergreen branches into their homes and decorate them to bring light and life into the home during the dreary winter months. It has been suggested that Pagan cults worshipped sacred groves of evergreens, thus giving rise to modern-day Christmas tree traditions, but there is no hard evidence to support these theories.

3) Fish

If you’ve ever partaken in a Communion service, you’re familiar with its origins: Jesus performed his first miracle at a wedding by turning water into wine. (The first documented Communion ritual was practiced in Alexandria and involved bread and wine.) The fish symbol appeared on early Christian tombstones and other artifacts as a nod to Jesus, who stated that he will make you fishers of men. But the reality is that the symbol of the fish finds its roots in Paganism. The Christian symbol of the fish, called the Ichthys, even gets its name from a Pagan God, coincidentally named Ichthys, who was the son of the sea goddess, Atargatis, in Babylonian mythology. Pagans worshipped the symbol of the fish, often drawn by two intersecting crescent moons, as a symbol of fertility, believing it resembled a woman’s womb, thus representing the monthly cycle.

4) Fire

In ancient times, humans used fire as a tool for cooking, keeping warm, and light. In addition to these benefits, fire also had religious significance in many cultures. It was believed that divine forces were responsible for providing fire to humankind and so certain rituals were performed to appease these gods. Fire rituals were performed by Ancient Egyptians, Greeks, Hebrews, Incas, Native Americans, and many other cultures around the world. One of these Pagan beliefs is represented in Christmas celebrations where families gather together around a Christmas tree, which has lights adorned on it. Lights that, in ancient times, were actual candles, not the string lights we see today.

5) Easter and Easter Eggs

Pagans and Christians alike observed that eggs were a magical and unique thing: they start out in a lifeless shell and turn into a living, breathing animal over time. It didn’t take long for Pagans to adopt eggs as symbolic of new life, springtime, and transformation, while in Christianity, eggs, and Easter eggs, in particular, symbolize Jesus’ resurrection and emerging from his tomb after three days. Like with many Christian holy days, the holiday known today as Easter got its origins from the Pagan festival of Ostara, a celebration of the Vernal Equinox. 

6) The Virgin Birth

Think Mary was the first virgin to give birth to a god, demi-god, or son of God? Think again! Virgin births have been around in mythologies for centuries before Jesus. One of the earliest mythologies of an immaculate conception was that of the Egyptian God Horus, borne of the virgin Isis. Other virgin births prior to Jesus consist of Zoroaster, Mithra (who’s birthday is also written as December 25th), Krishna, and the Tien-Tse (Sons of Heaven) in China, among others.

7) Death and Resurrection

Like the myth of the virgin birth, Jesus’ resurrection cannot be solely (or even primarily) attributed to Christianity. 5000 years before Jesus’ death and resurrection, the Egyptian God, Osiris was killed and resurrected (more than once!). Osiris’ son, Horus, was also killed and resurrected. Moving onto Greek mythology, Adonis, Hermes, Dionysus, and Herakles all died and were resurrected. Other deities who were killed and subsequently resurrected include Tammuz of Babylonian mythology, Zarathustra, Mithra, and Krishna. The latter of which was believed to be crucified as well.

8) Longer Days at Easter

The earliest Christians may have decided to celebrate Easter on a Sunday because it meant they could worship for longer. During some years, Easter would be celebrated on April 21st or 22nd, rather than March 25th—but Christians still kept their firstfruits celebrations by congregating in church. Pagans, on the other hand, held celebrations at night since they thought that’s when spirits were most likely to wander into our world. It’s no wonder that Christians started celebrating Easter sunrise services!

9) Sunday Rest Days

The ancient Romans had a day of rest on Sunday. The ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Persians, and even ancient Jews had a concept of a day of rest. Some have speculated that Christians stole their Sabbath from Pagans, but it’s possible that all religions were taking a page from history.

10) Christmas

The Christmas tree tradition can be traced to Pagan practices in Germanic Europe. Heathens decorated fir trees in honor of their god, Thor, around December 24—the same day that early Christians used to celebrate Christ’s birth. But the theft from Paganism goes far deeper than simply Christmas trees. The entire holiday of Christmas – you know, the supposed day of Jesus’ birth? – was stolen from the Germanic celebration of Yule, and the Roman festival of Saturnalia. Though it is widely accepted that Jesus’ birth coincides with Christmas Day, historical texts suggest that Jesus was, instead, born in the Spring, however, in an effort to convert Pagans, who were very attached to their holy days, early Christians adopted Pagan celebrations and renamed them. 

Written by Vehemence