Paganism Questions FAQ: Pagan vs. Heathen

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Jun 10, 2010 2:16 PM CST
Name: Wendy
N. of Houston, Texas - 8b
An Old Wive's Tale
Does pagan and heathen mean the same thing?

Sort of.

The Romans called country dwellers "pagani". Those country folk were not converted to Christianity until sometime after the city folk. So pagan came to mean someone who was a little backward and was still practicing the old country ways instead of the hip and happenin' new religion like the city folk.

The Old English word Heathen has a similar derivation, meaning someone who lives on the Heath which is a kind of barren countryside.

From there both words came to mean unbeliever.

In the modern pagan community Heathen is usually used to refer to Germanic pagans.

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[Last edited Jun 10, 2010 2:22 PM CST]
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