Who is a Pagan?
there are different definitions for the word "Pagan" , here are two different definitions you may find in any dictionary:
||Middle English, from Late Latin paganus, from Latin, civilian, country dweller, from pagus country district; akin to Latin pangere to fix ― more at PACT
Babylon English-English Dictionary:
1 : heathen; one who is not a follower of one of the three main religions (i.e. Christianity, Islam, Judaism); believer in polytheism.
2 : a follower of a polytheistic religion.
well in the first definition they describe a Pagan as someone who is not either a christian or Muslim or Jew. which makes a huge circle of possibilities, by that definition a Buddhist is a Pagan as well!
for understanding why they call everyone beside Christians, Muslims and Jews a Pagan we gotta look into root of the word Pagan. Pagan is the name Christians gave to people that did no worship their god in their way, everyone counted as Pagan unless they were a Christian or either Jew or Muslim. actually the word Pagan or better say Paganus was used as an insult same as Occult which is a word created in the same way.
in the second definition we come across a more specific circle of possibilities, someone that does not believe in unique god. or believes in more than one god, a Polytheistic. but is this really mean a Pagan can not believe in one god? the answer is both definitions are not quite correct nor are wrong.
to define a Pagan we gotta look into why people call themselves a Pagan, some people are still Christians or Jews or whatever and still call themselves Pagans, why?
well in the world of Neo-Paganism (paganism in new shape, dated early 20th century) one that practices Magic and chooses one or more paths within Occult paths of Paganism counts him/herself a Pagan. some of them believe in unique god when some of them don't believe in any god (atheistic), they all count as Pagans in the general definition, a Satanic Initiate may believe in Devil as his deity or may not believe in him. so one may practice or study one or more Occult path to be called a Pagan, you can't consider someone a pagan if is not practicing or studying anything or do not confirm at least one of many paths or in case of eclectic Pagans believing in bits from each.
Figure I: Horned God
What is Wicca? is it Pagan? is it different from a Witch?
Wicca by dictionary's definition is:
||probably from Old English wicca wizard ― more at WITCH
A religion influenced by pre-Christian beliefs and practices of western Europe that affirms the existence of supernatural power (as magic) and of both male and female deities
who inhere in nature and that emphasizes ritual observance of seasonal and life cycles –Wic·can
wi-kən\ adjective or noun.
that is a good general definition about what Wicca is. it's originally a Celtic path within witchcraft with believing in main god (horned god of hunt, sun and power, Figure1) and goddess (goddess of fertility, love and healing, sometimes triple goddess, young middle aged and old women or 3 phases of Moon) and practices white magic (none harmful magic) with lots of principles they have to obey. original Wicca was a secret Path (occult) when the covens met in dark hours and held their knowledge in secret. which is why we know not much from old Wicca along with many other paths.
so when we speak about a Wicca we're referring to a certain Britannic / Celtic path that is just part of Witchcraft not all of it, there are many witches that are not a Wiccan (someone practicing Wicca) and yet a witch,
so who is a witch? in simple words someone practicing Witchcraft. someone knowing sorcery in any shape, either spellcraft or other shapes of Magic.
but lots of people practice witchcraft or use magic that are not a Witch and bear many other names.
like a Warlock or a Sorcerer even a Druid and lots other names that i can't recall right now.
principles and sorts of magic and practices they do defines who they are, sometimes they're just eclectic means they don't believe in one path but have mixture of different believes and practices.
a Witch is a Pagan as is a Wiccan, Wicca is a one of or maybe the biggest path within Paganism and I dare to say if we can reveal ourselves in many places in the world as a Pagan today is because of founder of Neo-Wicca and big part of neo-Paganism Master Gerald Gardner who founded Gardenian witchcraft as well. read more about Gardner in http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerald_Gardner_(Wiccan)
What as Esbat?
an Esbat is a meeting between coven members between Sabbaths (sabbat) for different purposes either a simple gathering or a ritual.
Pagan Sabbaths are special occasions of the year based on special feasts of Celtic Witches. we have 8 Sabbaths and you can read about them in the chart below dragged from Wikipedia.
Figure II: A Shamanic Symbol
Who is a Shaman?
Shamanism is the oldest path known on the planet earth, Shamanism is rooted in old Siberia and a Siberian tribe named Tungus, which practiced a different kind of spiritualism and had different sort of living among other occultists, the word Shaman is driven from the word Saman a sort of mushroom that had special healing effects and they used in their herbalism medicine. Tungus people learned soul traveling (astral projection, which we will talk about later) and used it to fetch information from the land of dead or other worlds. but Native Americans had a different sort of Shamanism, they called the high priest or priestess a Shaman. someone with high power to heal illness and predict future or bring rain! though Shamanism had an origin inside Siberia and North America, but we have Shamanism all across the universe with different tasks and definitions. a Japanese Shaman is nothing like a Native Americans or a Tungus's. majorly the Siberian Shamanism is known as the universal Shamanism, and a Shaman is someone who is called by ancestors to take a journey to the under world and come out alive and be called a Shaman or die within that quest!. when the apprentice receive the call can not refuse to answer it, he has to carry out the task. Shamans are best healers known, they use natures spirits for healing and they travel among the worlds and perform what they are asked to, they're sending out ghosts of dead when they are asked to.
Figure III: the ogam airenach, scan of the Auraicept na n-Éces, Book of Ballymote (AD 1390)
Figure IV: Sacred Tree of Life
Who is a Druid?
The word Druid is driven from the Celtic word "Draoi" means Oak, It is true that Oak is the most sacred thing in a Druids life and the ritual of Oak and mistletoe is the most sacred ritual among them.
Druids were nobles and famous people of old Britain and Gauls they were warriors, historians, musicians and Scientists of their time, druids were priests of their covens, leaders of wars, finest magicians of their time. unfortunately little is known about the original Druids because they never wrote down their knowledge for security reasons. they barely wrote some stuff in Ogham which was a sort of symbolic hand write not a whole language to speak with. and the Ogham writings left from those times barely give any information about who they were and what they did. the only accounts about Druids are written by Greco-Roman travelers that described them as religious priests that performed human sacrifices and believed in a form of reincarnation. neo-Druids are totally different from what is described above, in general neo-druids are children of mother nature and they respect trees and nature a lot, they worship gods and bring them gifts and they perform magic but the form of magic they perform is a lot like witchcraft.
i guess this Post can not bear more characters, so to be continued in another post