Field Guide to Neo-Paganism

Bright-Eyed Novice

You just read this cool book about a religion where there's a Goddess and a God, and they meet outside in nature, instead of some scary old building. They think sex is good not evil, and you want to know where to sign up.

Distinguishing Signs: Mispronounces god/dess names, has to think a moment about which is deosil and which is widdershins. Has a shiny new athame (rhymes with "A-frame".)

Grand Old Wo/Man

Actually remembers Woodstock (the first one.) Will tell you about the time they dropped acid with Kerry Wendell Thornley - or maybe it was Robert Anton Wilson. Anyway, it was somebody with three names. Or was it three people with one name?

Distinguishing Signs: Luxuriant gray locks, listens very intently, knows dish about people you've only read about.

Tree Hugging Nature Sprite

Most prized possession: one of Judi Barry's old tree spikes. Simultaneously believes in universal love for humanity and returning the planet to a pristine, uncorrupted state. Apt to remove clothes and fondle the shrubbery at a moment's notice. Can discuss compost in great detail.

Distinguishing Signs: No meat, no fragrance, no leather, no plastic, no smoke, no drugs, no eco-exploitive products, no animal tested cosmetics, no TV, no car, but very tolerant.

Anal Retentive Ceremonial

Book collection actually holds up the ceiling in places. Is studying Greek, Latin and Hebrew all at once. Does "workings" instead of "rituals". All twenty volumes of their magical diaries are all in Enochian.

Distinguishing Signs: Won't go anywhere without a book. Is constantly aware of which direction is east. Dresses according to planetary conditions, or whatever was on sale at Wal-Mart.

Womyncentric Gynocrat

A man's shadow crossed her altar once and she spent three weeks purifying it. She'll have no wands in her chalice, thank you. No boys allowed in her full-moon club. Can hold forth for hours on the magical properties of menstrual blood.

Distinguishing Signs: Tiny axes or curved knives, just right for amputating a penis, are a favored symbol and often hang conveniently from her body parts. When a man approaches she rolls her eyes and stops talking.

Sexy Pagan Nymph

Oh, they're so nice! All that warm, round, sex-positive flesh — and you can actually carry on a conversation with them between orgasms... pant, drool...

Distinguishing Signs: Cute. Horny. Displays prominent cleavage. Will recite love poetry to you under a full moon. Likes to do it outdoors. Often destitute. All too few of them.

Corporate Closet Witch

"Hey, boss, I'd like to take February 2nd as a personal day..." Has an entire chapter of their Book Of Shadows concerned with spells for purifying the workplace. Doesn't mind working on Christmas, especially if there's overtime involved. Quit being overtly Pagan at work since being canned by that born-again boss, but still refuses to say "Merry Christmas."

Distinguishing Signs: Can assume a properly smiley work persona at the drop of a hat. Constantly glances around the room anxiously looking for co-workers and their spies. Non-distinctive style of dress, no conspicuous tattoos.

Childe Ov Kaos

Can name seventeen industrial goth bands without pausing to think. Knows what a Prince Albert is, and may have one.  Personally feels that if no panicky headlines appear the day after you do a ritual, you screwed up.  Painted on their jacket, engraved in their flesh and/or boldly displayed as jewelry is an emblem which resembles a combination of corporate logo and arcane symbol. If you don't know what it means, they'll think you're a dweeb.

Distinguishing Signs: Easy to picture as an alternative musician or bike messenger, difficult to visualize as a school teacher or research assistant, impossible to imagine as a TV news anchor or bank officer. Always wears black leather, even when sleeping.

Pagan Celebrity

At conventions, stays on the hotel floor that requires a special key for elevator access. Lurks around knots of conversation eavesdropping in order to see if their name is being mentioned. Arrives in helicopter especially for rituals. Starts every sentence with "I". If you ask them how it's going, they hand you a press release.

Distinguishing Signs: Always has plenty of books to autograph and will personally sell them to you at a slight discount from cover price. Never seen unaccompanied by beefy Amazonian bodyguards and doe-eyed hangers-on. Seems vaguely afraid of anyone they don't already know.

Scary Devil Worshipper

Would never be caught dead skyclad. Rarely smiles, except in a snide, knowing way which insinuates you are an ignorant peasant worthy of conquest. Secretly enjoys Rush Limbaugh and read The Bell Curve with smug satisfaction. Fascinated with Nazis. Probably has never hurt a fly, but they want you to think they're capable of vast destruction.

Distinguishing Signs: Lots of black and red. Men like goatees, women favor heavy black eyeliner.  At least one inverted pentagram somewhere on their person. If you see several of them getting tanked in a bar, it would be wise to stay far away.


Every magical gathering has at least one of these, along with several variants along the lines of Gerald Gardner, Tituba, Morgan LeFey, or somebody who was Atlantean royalty. Many of them were abducted by aliens recently, and have disturbing dreams rich with arcane symbolism that they will tell you all about, in great detail.

Distinguishing Signs: Look for the intense gleam in the eyes, the backpack rattling with various psychiatric medications, and the garments that were clearly designed and tailored on another planet.

Ravin' Pagan

Young and psychedelic. Can dance non-stop all night. Refuses to do boring Eurocentric rituals and prefers deities from sunny climes with lots of interesting local plants. Can say "Ayahuasca" ten times real fast and deliver long quotes from Terrence McKenna.

Distinguishing Signs: Dresses in color combinations that hurt the eyes unless you've taken ecstasy. Bloodshot eyes, blissful smile, never goes anywhere without ritual drum.

Fairie Queen

Is he a she? Is she a he? Are they a couple, or are those two a couple or are all four of them a quadruple? If getting answers to these questions could disturb you, best stay away. If, on the other hand, these kind of questions seem overly judgmental, you might have a real good time...

Distinguishing Signs: When you look at this person, does every sex act you've ever experienced in your life seem hopelessly vanilla? If so, congratulations -- you've found a Fairie!

High Episcopagan

Do their rituals have a script, a choreographer, a stage manager, an orchestra with chorus and last at least three hours? It's a High Episcopagan! They can memorize pages and pages of Olde Englishe, have more ritual garbs than most people have socks, and consider their main pagan influences to be Gerald Gardner, Judy Garland and Busby Berkeley.

Distinguishing Signs: Book of Shadows exceeds five volumes. Knows every note of "Carmina Burana" Don't ask them about that 18th century seed pearl trim on their ritual hat unless you've got an hour to spare.


If it's in a book, it must be true. If it's in an old book, it must really be true. If it's in an old book that was handed down from an oral tradition of people who couldn't read, then it must really be way true. Gnashes their teeth if anyone shows up at a circle wearing a watch, glasses, or other mechanical assistance. Believes that anyone who lives in a city, eats meat or has a regular job dare not call themselves a pagan.

Distinguishing Signs: Has hissy fits when somebody brings up the old "Crowley ghosted Gardner's books" argument. Goes around correcting everyone's Gaelic, Old Norse, Latin, and Babylonian.

Dances With Bunny Rabbits

Uses animal symbolism to express nearly all opinions and feelings. Charter member of PETA. Thinks meat eaters should be publicly executed. Has many, many, many pets. Has a spirit animal. Personally owns 927 models, pictures, and other depictions of their spirit animal.

Distinguishing Signs: Not counting the Pagan his/herself, how many animals can you see when looking at them? If the count surpasses five (including critters found on tattoos, jewelry, garments and undies), you've found a worshipper of beasties.

Priest/ess of Political Correctness

Analyzes everything they read or hear for sexist-racist-homophobic- imperialist-Eurocentric content without paying attention to what is actually being said. Believes in personal liberty—everyone has the right to be overbearing, dogmatic and holier-than-thou, not just the Xtian Right. Incredibly boring yet annoyingly self-righteous all at the same time.

Distinguishing Signs: Beady hyper-alert little eyes are constantly in motion, waiting for someone to do or say something bad. Has loud and attention-attracting hissy fits when confronted with everyday things such as advertising or corporate franchises. Rudimentary sense of humor is rarely activated.

Our Lady Of Intense Suffering

Is constantly persecuted. You're probably persecuting her right now, you just don't realize it. Became a Pagan because she decided it was that most persecuted religion of all. Can't enjoy anything because it would be selfish to have any fun when so many are suffering.

Distinguishing Signs: Tales of woe. Even less of a sense of humor than Priest/ess of Political Correctness. Bristles when anyone says the words "masochist," or "whining".

I Am Not Spock (at the moment)

Knows at least three filks about Cthulhu and at least forty Star Trek jokes. Has found a clever way to create simple furniture from stacks of science fiction paperbacks. Can name ninety different kinds of spaceship.

Distinguishing Signs: Two fisted drinking style. Probably still lives with parents. Many cryptic buttons, badges, patches and other insignia. Too smart for their own good.


Insist that they aren't homophobic; they just believe that Paganism is about a Goddess and a God and they do it and what could be more obvious than that? It just doesn't "work right" if you try any other way! Are secretly afraid that gays and/or lesbians are dying to jump their tender hetro bones.

Distinguishing Signs: Living spaces abound with depiction's of satyrs with enormous genitals and huge-breasted, doe-eyed goddesses. Long manicured nails and wreaths of flowers (on females only — men have big, bushy beards instead.)

Norse Code

Heroic and Vikingly, these pagans often get into trouble with festival organizers and park rangers due to their fondness for running around with a huge battleaxe in one hand and a full mead horn in the other. They throw the best parties, but if you're a wimp, you're expressly not invited.

Distinguishing Signs: Look for the large, foreboding, biker-like persons wearing runes, with many pounds of amber dangling from their necks.

Pentacles, Inc.

Pagans have disposable income too, right? So how come they aren't buying my hand forged Venus of Willendorf necklaces—they come in silver and gold, and each one has a genuine cubic zirconium belly button. Would you like a reading? Will that be Visa or MasterCard?

Distinguishing Signs: Has business cards featuring little embossed pentagrams. You never seen so much Egyptian god/dess jewelry on a human being in your whole life.

Lord Fang Glory-Wing

"I may look like a normal person, but I'm really a dragon." Defines every action (or inaction) that they take on the basis of what kind of dragon they are. Gets mightily offended anytime someone points out that "don't dragons usually have wings?" . . . Spends a lot of time off by them self pretending that they're not trying to breath fire. Can go into great detail about the differences between the dragons found on Pern, Krynn, and Middle-Earth. Can recite to you every paragraph of every page pertaining to their "colour" out of the AD&D Monstrous Manual™. Has a high paying job but lives in virtual poverty because every time the Franklin Mint comes out with a new dragon sculpture they just have to write a check for $800.

Distinguishing Signs: Small apartments filled with broken down, garage sale furniture, contrasted with expensive, glass-fronted, internally lit display cases containing their collection of dragon sculptures and toys. This collection can often reach numbers made up of three digits, and if you count in the paintings, posters, books, sheets, and pj's, another digit can be added. Bad skin and a hair-do that can only be described as "slept on".

Dragon Fetish

Oooooooh!!!!  It's a DWAGON! How much is it?  I'll find a place for it on my bookshelf, bumper, altar, etc.  Don't you worry!  Do you have it in more colors?

Distinguishing Signs: Loves dragon anything. Will wax rhapsodic on dragons for hours (and hours and hours)... Most have real cheesy grins, which become very obvious when dragon anything is mentioned in their presence. Nice and weird but very friendly.


Some consider these people to be a contradiction in terms. They believe in a God and a Goddess, but have been going to the local Church (or Synagogue) for so long that they can't give up on it entirely. They know there's "more", but they just can't decide which "more" is for them.

Distinguishing Signs: On their altar they have: a Holy Bible, a Pentagram, a Star of David, a statue of Buddha, and even The Book of Mormon (You never know). This way they have all the "bases" covered. They can hold, at length, a conversation about ANY religion in the known world. They place the name of their "primary" religion in front of Witch, e.g., Southern Baptist Witch.

I'm a Discord ... Oh, a Golden App .. Fnord!

Prone to sudden changes of direction, attitude, emotion, and mentality. Over all the best at laughing at themselves, Discordians are that practical-joker uncle at any family gathering that all of the serious members dread, but whom the children love. Rarely at a loss for something to do or say, regardless of whether or not is appropriate or even has any bearing on the current situation. These followers of the goddess of chaos live what many strive for but will never achieve.

Distinguishing Signs: They are usually impossible to quantify, but if you know someone who can never be counted on to do the same thing twice, or to do something different the next time, you may have found a follower of Eris. Owns at least one copy of the Principia Discordia, has it bookmarked on their computer, knows who wrote the forward to each addition, and knows what P.O.E.E. stands for.

Discordian Neo-Anarchist

Argumentative. Infuriating. Goes on philosophical tangents for hours, only to lead the discussion into obsurdities that make your brain hurt to think about them. Smiles too much. Laughs too much, especially at things that are *NOT* funny. Makes fun of everyone's sacred cows, especially yours. Is iconoclastic to the point of cliche'. Rants and raves about huge conspiracies and secret centuries-old organizations.

Distinguishing Signs: Yin/yang pendant with a pentacle and big yellow apple inside. Carries around any books by Douglas Adams or Robert Anton Wilson. Refuses to take themselves - or anyone else - seriously.

Monster Truck Pagan

Can grow their own food, build their own house, sew their own clothes homeschool their children and brew their own organic hooch. Are looking forward to the bleak, post-apocalyptic world postulated by the environmentalists as they can't wait to run amok through the country, worshiping ancient gods, blowing up strip malls and rutting on the divider line of every interstate.

You may be a monster-truck pagan if your anointing oil is 30 weight.
You may be a monster truck pagan if cakes & wine means tailgate party.
You may be a monster truck pagan if Autumn is the Burning Time.

Distinguishing Signs: Resourceful, clever and very well versed in the U. S. Constitution. Eats meat with visible twitches of pleasure. Is aware that primitive religions have nothing to do with crystals, Atlantis or unicorns.

Bubba Witch

Can typically be found wandering the country roads, bare foot and in jean suspenders. When they pass a person in their town it is always their cousin. Their idea of a circle chant is hooting and hollering at barn yard hoedowns! If they ain't makin' a rukus in town, their off chasm' 'coons through the woods, making more noise than their 13 hunting hounds! "Yeah, maybe ah shuld ave 12 dawgs 'n me ta make a propa cercle, but ah unly gots 10 fingas! How ya 'spect me ta count ta 13? gonna let me borra' youz fingas?" [draws his trusty dagger, he and ol' yeller circling for the kill]

Distinguishing Signs: Straw protruding from clothes and hair like additional appendages. We won't even ask what they were doing in the hay loft to get all messy like that! Their pickup truck gas caps are replaced with a nifty black cloth with a white pentacle on it, or is that a white hood with a black pentacle? In any case, they are never without baccy-blackened gums (the teeth fell out long ago) and always have at least one spit cup on their person.

Ninja Witch

These night-clad Pagans are amusing from a distance only. They sneak through the shadows of streets pretending they can't be seen by everyone and trying to ignore the car lights and strange looks everyone gives them. The looks are merely coincidental of course "I'm the mighty invisible ninja, noone can see me!" They ain't too funny when you do actively point them out, they're Hilarious. They usually react by making all kinds of funny squeeky sounds and trying to stick their foot in their mouth, or is it supposed to be your mouth?

Distinguishing Signs: Always in a baggy ninja jump suit and carrying one of those dangerous plastic Katanas the kids buy at K-Mart for Halloween. Pentagram throwing stars and an adorable lil' red pentacle on their hood. Supposed to make 'em seem dangerous! ooohhh... scary.

Otaku Pagan (sub-titled)

Has an equal amount of Japanese Manga as books on Paganism, sometimes more. Often dresses up as their favorite anime character. Often cannot sit still for five minutes without frolicking. Their God is a warrior God named Hitokiri Battousai and their Goddess is Belldandy.

Distinguishing Signs: Their ritual garb looks too much like a Shinto robe or a kimono. Their BoS is written in Japanese. They often put Japanese slang in to convey emotions. When they get confused they say "Oro?" Their ritual sword is a katana or another Japanese blade. They call raising energy raising your ki level.

Otaku Pagan (dubbed)

Has more Sailor Moon or Dragonball stuff than possibly imaginable. Cannot take a single thing seriously. Even more frolicky than a sub-titled Otaku. Probably wanted to get into Paganism because s/he wanted to be a "magical-girl." Doesn't know a thing about Japanese culture. Thinks all anime is like Sailor Moon (and gets really shocked when they rent "Ninja Scroll...".)

Distinguishing signs: Freaks out when "skyclad" is even mentioned (A sub-titled Otaku wouldn't even care). Often jokingly calls you a "meatball head" if you insult them. Their ritual wand is pink with a crescent moon on the end and during ritual they shout "moon healing, escalation!" Quotes Sailor Moon and Dragonball every chance they get.


Often found discussing the best method of removing hot wax from keyboards. Seems unaccustomed to sunlight. Have had coven-mates for years whom they have never seen face to face, much less know which continent they live on.

Distinguishing Signs: Casts circle with #5 torx driver. Chalice contains Jolt. BoS is writtin in Perl. Refers to eclectic ritual as "cross-platforming." Thinks "naked in your rites" means a non-GUI environment.

New Age Energy Worker

Talks at great length on auras, crystals, charging, & the flow of energy & light. Often talks to angels or fairies along with their deities. Books are mostly about massage, reiki, acupressure points, candles, & crystals, with an occasional mythology or pagan book thrown in.

Distinguishing Signs:Always wears/carries LOTS of crystals. Viewed as almost harmless by fundies. Upon first meeting you they offer to balance your chakras & aura. Any ailment you have, they have a crystal with them for it.

Harry Potter Wannabe

Actually believes the spells from Harry Potter books work and that the magical beneficial and melevolent beings from the novels are real. Quotes fluently from the books. Writes and shares fan-fiction among others of their kind. Speaks reverently of J. K. Rowling. Was shocked to learn that Dumbledore is gay.

Distinguishing Signs:

Distinguishing Signs:Wears appropriate Hogwarts House garb and carries a wand, all purchased online. Calls you a Muggle if you are not dressed similarly. Extreme examples have round-rim glasses or other distinguishing characteristics of a person from the Harry Potter books' cover art, often accompanied by a fake English accent.

RPG Psuedo-Gnome

Believes that one's persona, constructed in game-space, is a useful construct for living real life. Worships his favorite DMs.

Distinguishing Signs: Almost total lack of satorial sensibility, personal hygeine, or balanced nutrition. Peppers speech with common role-playhing game jargon. Often attends SF cons and disappears for tens of hours at a time into gaming rooms, only emerging to use the lavoratory. Can talk at length poetically about past glorious campaigns. Always claims to be a high-level form of whatever his persona is. Chronically under-employed.

Pagan Atheist

"I don't believe in any deities, but if any of this stuff makes me a better person, I'll do it anyway."

Distinguishing Signs: Chameleon-like ability to be difficult to distinguish from other pagans they keep company with. Asks hard questions and looks smug when a true believer answers. May claim to be an initiate of a tradition that you have never heard of. If male, tends to hit on attractive young pagan women.

-- originated by Charon Nebula and Joseph Maxin
"The Magickal Flame" 'zine, Pantheacon Convention 1998
amended by anonymous others

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