Paganism: Why are more people choosing to join the ancient religion?

Pagans practice certain rituals as part of their religion

A group of pagans have claimed that acceptance of more people from the queer community is one reason many are choosing to follow the religion. 

In latest data from the 2021 census, it was revealed that Christianity was no longer a majority religion in England and Wales, with only 46% of people stating they were Christian. 

There are currently 74,000 Pagans in England and Wales, according to the 2021 Census - 17,000 more than in 2011. 

  • What is paganism?

Paganism is an ancient religion of diverse communities with some concentrating on Celtic traditions, spirituality, and the natural world. It’s one of the many religions, including Wicca and Shamanism, which have recently seen an increase in followers.

Sian Adler spent time with members of the religion to learn more about paganism

Although there is no official doctrine, there is a common belief that nature is sacred, and that gods and spirits live amongst people in the natural world.

Followers practice the religion through rituals to honour gods and celebrate seasonal changes. Some common pagan festivals include marking the summer and winter solstices, as well as the start of spring and the harvest.

In a documentary for ITV Wales, presenter Siân Adler explored the reasons behind the increase in paganism. 

Moss, a Pagan from Anglesey said “the world is becoming more queer because more people are happier to be themselves”.

Moss said his sexuality has been accepted in the religion and claims that is a reason for a growth in paganism.

In the documentary, Moss explained that he turned to paganism after leaving the Jehovah's Witnesses. 

“From my experience, if you’re born gay, there is no place for you there, and if you leave, you lose everything” he said. 

Sian attended one of the group's monthly rituals

Moss said realised he was gay at 12 years old - an experience he described as “soul crushing”.

This had a detrimental effect on his mental health, which resulted in him “praying to be fixed”. 

Moss said he feels more welcomed in the pagan community

As he started to reveal his sexuality at 19, Moss claims he experienced a lack of support and acceptance from members of his religion.

“The first time I told my family, they all cried,” he said. 

Moss said he was "shunned" by his family and admitted: “If I wanted any kind of life, I had to leave…I had to accept that I was going to lose everything.”

He said he has reconnected with some family members since leaving the religion.He said that his life is now “unrecognisable…I have a partner and I can be myself”.

In a statement from the Jehovah's Witness Organisation, they said: 

“Jehovah’s Witnesses acknowledge that each person has the right to choose how to live. We follow the Bible’s advice to treat all people with respect, dignity and decency, including those who may differ from ourselves.

“We endeavour to live according to the words of Jesus Christ: ‘All things that you want men to do to you, you also must do to them.’ (Matthew 7:12) Accordingly, we extend to others the same tolerance that we appreciate receiving from them.”

The full documentary, Siân and the Pagans, can be watched with subtitles on S4C clic, BBC iPlayer, and Hansh’s YouTube channel.