Thea's Inbox: Questions from Beginners

Wiccan essentials for beginning your path or getting back to basics.

  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Tags
    Tags Displays a list of tags that have been used in the blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Login
    Login Login form

Can I Be Pagan and Christian?

I’ve been studying Wicca, and it really appeals to me. But I was raised Christian. Can I practice both at the same time?

First off, you should know that this is a very loaded question, and you might receive different answers from different Wiccans, Pagans, and Christians. This is my two cents, but I don’t pretend to speak for everyone in these communities.

Can It Be Done?

I think it’s not impossible to practice Wicca or Paganism and Christianity fully at the same time, but it’s difficult, because there's a fundamental conflict over deity. Christianity asks Christians to accept Jesus as their savior, and the Bible makes it pretty clear that the Christian god is the only god for Christians. Pagans, however, usually worship gods other than or in addition to the Christian god. So it’s challenging to be a fully practicing Christian and a fully practicing Pagan at the same time, while still being true to both traditions.

That said, I have seen people have success with choosing one of the paths as their main path, and integrating elements of the other path into their practice. For example, one of the most beautiful and powerful rituals I’ve ever been in was one done by indigenous Mexicans, who called their traditional gods together with the Virgin Mary. And I’ve known some practicing Christians who add some Pagan ritual elements, like working with the elements, into their private devotional practice. Some churches, such as the Unitarian Universalist Church, are reasonably accepting of Paganism. Making this work requires being flexible. 

First, Ask Yourself Why

If you are serious about practicing both paths, to be completely in integrity with your practice and yourself you need to ask yourself why you want to do both. If you’re keeping Christianity as your ace in the hole, you’re not really respecting either Christianity or Paganism.

Most often, the people who ask me whether they can be Pagan and Christian at the same time are young beginners who have discovered Wicca or Paganism at a point when they are trying to individuate from their families. They have a natural yearning to try something new, but also want to hang on to the comfort of the old. Some are afraid that becoming Pagan will make their families mad, so they keep practicing Christianity publicly to avoid conflict. Some of them have been raised to believe that Wicca and Paganism are evil, so they try to practice both paths because they feel guilty about their interest in Paganism—almost like they think that if they’re Christian, too, it somehow makes their illicit Paganism okay. Neither of these is a good reason to practice both paths together.

If, however, your reason is because you love both paths and you feel that blending them in some way will help you have a more well-rounded and fulfilling spiritual life, that’s a very legitimate reason. Be honest with yourself. What do you really, truly want? And how flexible can you be to make it happen?

Other People

Know that choosing to practice both paths together may get you some unwanted attention. Christianity and Paganism don’t exactly have a happy history together. Traditionally, Christianity has taken a pretty dim view of Wicca and Paganism. And more than a few Wiccans and Pagans have had negative experiences with Christianity and carry around anger or hurt about it. Accept the fact that everyone in both camps, everyone’s brother, and everyone’s brother’s gerbil will have an opinion about your choice, in part because you're breaking the rules, and in part because they feel your choice to do both paths somehow undermines their own choice not to. Validating their spirituality is not your problem. If practicing both is what you really feel called to do, stand firm and get a thick skin. It’s nobody else’s damn business.

Forging Your Own Path

The other big challenge is that if you practice both traditions together, you’ll likely be forging your own path. Others have done it already, but there’s still not a lot of precedent, and there isn’t an instruction manual. I haven’t read the books below, so I can’t tell you how good they are, but they might help you get started.

ChristoPaganism: An Inclusive Path  by Joyce Higginbotham and River Higginbotham

The Path of a Christian Witch  byAdelina St. Clair

Best of luck. You’re not choosing the easy road, but it might well be a very rewarding one.

Last modified on
Rate this blog entry:
2

Thea Sabin is a writer/editor whose professional work currently focuses on web content management, curriculum development, and instructional design. She has taught a variety of subjects—including editing, high school English and theater, gardening, crafts, Wicca, and astrology—off and on for more than two decades. A practicing Wiccan since her teens, she first started teaching Wicca—very, very badly and long before she was ready—in college. She wrote her book Teaching Wicca and Paganism in the hope that it would help other teachers get a better start than she did. Her first book, Wicca for Beginners, was designed to help seekers new to Wicca build a foundation for Wiccan practice. Find Thea on Facebook or at www.theasabin.com.

Comments

  • Jeanine Byers
    Jeanine Byers Sunday, 09 February 2014

    I've read both books. The first, by the Higginbothams, is perfect for people seeking to integrate both paths. The second isn't as good, but does provide support and validation as it tells the story of someone in exactly this position.

  • Greybeard
    Greybeard Monday, 10 February 2014

    Gerald Gardner opined that one could be an "...unorthodox christian and a witch at the same time. It seems to me easier than being a Christian and a Communist." The key word there is "unorthodox." Christian denominations have consistently condemned witches and other pagans since the first Hebrew monotheists. To be a pagan or witch and a Christian one would have to ignore all the doctrine about having only One God and "never suffer a witch to live." Of course you could be a "pick and choose" Christian adopting some part of their doctrine when it feels comfortable, and likewise being a "pick and choose" pagan. It seems to me that someone who picks only pieces of both religions and ignores the parts that conflict isn't really practicing either religion. They become a non-Christian and that is compatible with being a non-Pagan. Those are compatible. Your mileage may vary.

  • Terence P Ward
    Terence P Ward Monday, 10 February 2014

    Given the contradictions in the Bible, I don't know that any Christian today could follow all of its edicts. However, despite the pronouncements to the contrary, the advice of Jesus pretty explicitly directs his followers to discard all that came before. It may well be difficult to find a group of like-minded people to practice both Christianity and some form of Paganism with, but I have never seen anything written about Jesus that would suggest that he himself would have a problem with it. It's not a party I would attend, but I could definitely see a good time being had by all.

  • Please login first in order for you to submit comments

Additional information