Meaning of Paganism (What it is, Concept and Definition)

What is Paganism:

Paganism means the practice of polytheistic religions that are not accepted by Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Originally, the term pagan comes from the Latin “paganus” which means ‘inhabitant of the field or village’.

The application of the term “paganism” to polytheistic religious practices is related to the officialization of Christianity, a religion that was formally established in the 4th century with the proclamation of the Edict of Thessalonica by Emperor Theodosius.

When Christianity became official, it was quickly incorporated into the urban centers of the empire. However, their expansion to the most remote areas of the countryside took longer, so they practiced polytheism in parallel with what was happening in the political centers.

Thus, little by little the term “pagan” (peasant) was identified with the religious option, until, finally, “paganism” came to mean the practice of religions that were almost always polytheistic, considered false. In the event that a monotheistic religion was considered pagan, this was due to the fact that it did not respond to any of the books of the Abrahamic religions.

In the context of the history and development of Christianity, the term paganism has also served to identify those trends within the same religion that incorporate syncretic elements from other religions or that only resemble them.

These types of derivations generated many conflicts within the Church. For example, the most conservative sectors of Christianity in Byzantium considered the cult of images to be typical of pagans, which literally occurred in the iconoclastic war.


Since the 19th century, various spiritualities have awakened that have sought to return to some beliefs and practices typical of ancient paganism. These trends derive from enlightened occultism and are considered neopaganism.

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How to cite: Imaginario, Andrea (05/17/2019). “Meaning of Paganism.” In: Available in: https:///paganismo/ Consulted:

University professor, singer, graduate in Arts (mention Cultural Promotion), with a master’s degree in Comparative Literature from the Central University of Venezuela, and a doctoral student in History at the Autonomous University of Lisbon.