Faith CoLab: Tapestry of Faith: Building Bridges: A World Religions Program for 8th-9th Grades

Activity 3: Neo-Pagans

Activity time: 10 minutes

Materials for Activity

  • Apples for all participants
  • Knives

Preparation for Activity

  • Gather a few knives for youth to share. Knives only need to be sharp enough to cut the apples. If you are concerned, provide only one knife and plan to monitor its use.

Description of Activity

Youth learn about Neo-Paganism.

By definition, Neo-Pagans base their religion primarily on the beliefs, traditions, and rituals of ancient, earth-centered religions. The most popular Neo-Pagan religions in the U.S. are the Druids, based on Celtic tradition, and the followers of Asatru, based on a Nordic tradition.

The Celts lived in several different places of the modern-day British Isles and were not a uniform culture. Hence, over 300 different gods and goddesses have been identified as worshipped by the Celts, though many are presumed to have been local gods. About 33 appear to be supreme. Some of the most popular ones are Arawn, Brigid, Cernunnos, Cerridwen, Danu, Herne, Lugh, Morgan and Rhiannon.

The number 3 is important in Druidism. It represents the sacred (that is, earth, water, and sky); the being (that is, spirit, mind, and body); and time (that is, past, future, and present). The Druids tend to look at the world in threes.

Neo-Pagans and Wiccans are frequently discussed together because they share many beliefs. These might include:

  • Emphasis on nature
  • Creating balance is important. Bad things result from imbalance.
  • Balance includes equality amongst the sexes.
  • Accept people with diverse identities and different walks of life.
  • Do not proselytize.

Yet, there are ways Neo-Pagans and Wiccans differ. These might include:

  • Not all Wiccans worship deity.
  • Not all Neo-Pagans believe in magic and the casting of spells.
  • Neo-Paganism places a higher priority on rediscovering and reconnecting to the ancient ways.

Toss each participant an apple. Instruct participants to cut their apples along the equator, creating a top half and bottom half. You might demonstrate this first. When you open the two halves, you will see a pentagram in the center of each open half. Demonstrate. Then, invite youth to cut their own apples and enjoy their apple during the story, which mentions the pentagram in the apple.