Paganism has its roots in the pre-Christian religions of Europe. Its re-emergence in Britain parallels that in other western countries, where it has been growing rapidly since the 1950s. The social infrastructure of paganism reflects the value the pagan community places on unity in diversity; it consists of a network of inter-related traditions and local groups served by several larger organisations. In Scotland the Pagan Federation acts as an educational and representative body.

Pagans understand deity to be manifest within nature and recognise divinity as taking many forms, finding expression in goddesses as well as gods. Goddess worship is central in paganism. Pagans believe that nature is sacred and that the natural cycles of birth, growth and death observed in the world around us carry profoundly spiritual meanings. Human beings are seen as part of nature, along with other animals, trees, stones, plants and everything else that is of this earth. Most pagans believe in some form of reincarnation, viewing death as a transition within a continuing process of existence.


Attitudes to healthcare staff and illness

 Most pagans have a positive attitude towards healthcare staff and are willing to seek medical help and advice when sick


Religious practices

Most pagans worship the old pre-Christian gods and goddesses through seasonal festivals and other ceremonies. Observance of these festivals is very important to pagans, and those in hospital will generally wish to celebrate them in some form. As there are many diverse traditions within paganism, you should ask individual patients if they have any special requirements. Some pagans may wish to have a small white candle or a small figure of a goddess on their locker.



For ethical reasons, most pagans strongly prefer foods derived from organic farming and free-range livestock rearing, while many are vegetarian or vegan.



There are no organised fast days, but some pagans choose to fast in preparation for Ostara (spring equinox).


Washing and toilet

Washing and toilet present no unusual problems for pagans


Ideas of modesty and dress

There are no particular points to be noted in this area and few pagans would object to being examined by doctors of the opposite sex.


Death customs

Most pagans believe in some form of reincarnation, viewing death as a transition within a continuing process of existence. Pagans accept death as a natural part of life and will wish to know when they are dying so that they may consciously prepare for it.

Individuals may ask for rituals (soon as possible after death)


Birth customs

As paganism celebrates life, birth is viewed as sacred and empowering. Pagan women will wish to make their own informed decisions regarding prenatal and neonatal care.


Family planning

Pagans will generally plan pregnancies, and use contraception as appropriate. Paganism emphasises women's control over their own bodies, and the weighty decisions relating to abortion are seen as a personal matter for the woman concerned, who will be supported in the choices she makes.


Blood transfusions, transplants and organ donation

Most pagans would have no objection to blood transfusions and may receive transplants or donate organs for transplant.