Paganism (from Latin paganus, meaning "country dweller", "rustic") is a blanket term typically used to refer to religious traditions which are polytheistic or indigenous.

It is primarily used in a historical context, Greco-Roman polytheism as well as the polytheistic traditions of Europe and North Africa before Christianization. In a wider sense, extended to contemporary religions, it includes most of the Eastern religions and the indigenous traditions of the Americas, Central Asia, Australia and Africa; as well as non-Abrahamic folk religion in general. More narrow definitions will not include any of the world religions and restrict the term to local or rural currents not organized as civil religions. Characteristic of Pagan traditions is the absence of proselytism and the presence of a living mythology, which informs religious practice.

Ethnologists often avoid the term "pagan," with its uncertain and varied meanings, in referring to traditional or historic faiths, preferring more precise categories such as polytheism, shamanism, pantheism, or animism.

In the late 20th century, "Paganism", or "Neopaganism", became widely used in reference to adherents of various New Religious Movements including Wicca. As such, various modern scholars have begun to apply the term to three groups of separate faiths: Historical Polytheism (such as Celtic polytheism, Norse Paganism, the Cultus Deorum Romanorum and Hellenic Polytheistic Reconstructionism also called Hellenismos), Folk/ethnic/Indigenous religions (such as Chinese folk religion and African traditional religion), and Neopaganism (such as Wicca and Neo-Druidism).

Read more about Paganism:  Terminology, Historical Paganism, Pagan Survivals in Folklore, Early Modern Period, Romanticism, Contemporary Paganism

Famous quotes containing the word paganism:

    “If she belongs to any besides the present, it is to the next world which artists want to see, when paganism will come again and we can give a divinity to every waterfall.”
    Henry Brooks Adams (1838–1918)

    The Anglo-Saxon hive have extirpated Paganism from the greater part of the North American continent; but with it they have likewise extirpated the greater portion of the Red race. Civilization is gradually sweeping from the earth the lingering vestiges of Paganism, and at the same time the shrinking forms of its unhappy worshippers.
    Herman Melville (1819–1891)