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Religious Similarities

Spiritual Similarities:
It's often been said that if people would look beyond their differences, they'd find they have much more in common than they think. Learning about other belief systems doesn't mean you have to take on any part of those beliefs or practices. But understanding why others feel they way they do about certain issues and topics can go a long way to understanding each other. In other words, if you can learn about your neighbor and what they belief, then you can find a common ground for communication and understanding.
On this page, I'd like to try and show from my perspective, research and experiences, the similarities of varying belief systems. We all practice the same things, we use different names to label our rituals and ceremonies, but we're a lot more alike than some realize or are willing to admit.
Since initially posting this article, I have received over time emails that point out one or another fallacy about some of the comments stated here about certain religions. While it is easy to point out the negatives about any religion, it does me no service to do so. ALL religions, be they pagan or mainstream have their extremists, zealots and terrorists through out the centuries. Atrocities that have been committed in the name of a particular God or religion are not subject to just one spiritual path; but all.
In an effort to show our commonalities, I have left out these negative events of history. Even if those events are new and the scars are not yet healed. Instead I try to approach each belief system with an oneness and hope that we can all learn tolerance and respect, end the arguments and bloodshed, and find peace amongst ourselves for a new hopeful and positive future.

Pagan Metaphysics / Witchcraft
Sects There are many traditions/sects within the religion of Pagan Metaphysics. Often gathering in the form of a Clan or Coven.
Prayer Meditate, Cast Spells, deliver incantations, light candles & incense, sing, ring a bell
Spiritual Teachers Witches & Wizards, Shamans & Shamanka, Priests & Priestesses
General Practices

There are many labels and titles for the neo-pagan religion. Some call it Witchcraft, some refer to it as the Craft or just Paganism. A new modern label is emerging today to refer to a more holistic view of the beliefs - Pagan Metaphysics.

There is no "bible" type spiritual text for Pagan Metaphysics. Many covens or clans have their own written or oral history known as a Book Of Shadows or a Grimoire.

Worship through holidays known as Sabbats which typically fall upon the 8 seasonal changes of the year, working days known as Esbats, with ritual & ceremony. Rituals are held indoors and outdoors, often in a circle. Where ever you can build a circle, you have a ritual space.
It's important to note that not all who follow a Pagan Metaphysical path are Polytheistic. Some denominations see the Divine as a single all inclusive source which is often referred to as the Universal Spirit, the Divine Spirit, the GreatSpirits and a variety of other titles including God or Goddess. Basically, Witchcraft/Shamanism is a religion of respect and honor. Recognizing and believing that all things, seen and unseen throughout the divine universe are interconnected. My tradition follows this path. Where some traditions see the Divine as a tree who's branches are represented by different Gods and Goddesses, we see the Divine as the entire Tree. Why work with just an aspect of the branches, when you can work with the entire Tree.
neo-Pagans hold a belief in reincarnation and what is commonly known as karma. Magikal rituals are used as a means of honoring the God/Goddess and the nature of the universe. neo-Pagans believe there are lessons set upon our path to help teach us about ourselves and to overcome the karma we've created in a past life or an earlier time in this life. Through that understanding we grow in enlightenment and wisdom.
Misconceptions: The biggest misconception about neo-pagans is that they worship the devil. This is the farthest thing from the truth. Pagans do not believe in the existence of Satan, so it would be hard to worship that kind of deity in the first place. Another misconception is that Pagans don't believe in sin. Well, from the Christian way of thinking, we don't. But we do believe in karma. What you put out you will get back; good, bad or indifferent. We call it the Law of Accountability. You are responsible for your thoughts and actions, and must take the consequences those actions create. Rituals do not consist of sacrifices of any kind. A sacrifice would be considered a dishonor of life for self gratification. That kind of disrespect is an affront to Pagan Metaphysical belief.
Sects New Age, Metaphysical
Prayer Meditate, light candles & incense, sing, chant
Spiritual Teachers No title, though there are Metaphysical Ministers throughout the world.
General Practices

No formal holidays, rituals or ceremonies. Many Metaphysicians celebrate various religious holidays from Christmas to Ramadan. Practices are held in a chapel or spiritual 'center'.

There is no spiritual 'bible' written text. Metaphysics is the science beyond physics and therefore all research and resources are valid.

Believe in a universal divine force which encompasses all things of which they are part. You alone are not God, but you, I and all things around us make up God. Metaphysicians hold a belief in reincarnation and what is commonly known as karma. They believe there are lessons set upon our path to help teach us about ourselves and to overcome the karma we've created in a past life or an earlier time in this life. Through that understanding we grow in enlightenment and wisdom.
Misconceptions: Believers are Godless, they have no belief in a supreme being at all. As defined in a Christian or Jewish faith, this would be an accurate statement. Metaphysicians and New Age practioners believe that "God", often referred to as 'The Divine' is not above or separate from ourselves, but rather the result of all things combined as one. Another misunderstanding is that New Agers are flighty and always searching, never finding. Metaphysical practioners and New Age are very introspective, always looking to improve oneself through the lessons of life. They don't believe in sin. Well, from the Christian way of thinking, no they don't. But like the Pagan, what you put out you will get back; good, bad or indifferent.



Catholic, Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, etc.

And yes The Catholic denomination is part of Christianity

Prayer Pray, light candles & incense, sing, meditate
Spiritual Teachers Priests, Nuns, Ministers, Bishops, Cardinals, The Pope, Deacons
General Practices

Worship through organized services, rituals & ceremonies. Recognize several holidays relating to events in their religions history. Or Adopted from other beliefs as a means for easy conversation to Christianity. Worship is held in a church or chapel for prayer, ritual and worship.

Recognize the Holy Bible as their written history and spiritual text. This book is found in many forms, many interpretations and has a rich history of how it has evolved to today's common versions.

Believe in a supreme being which created and encompasses all things, known as the one God, Jehovah or Yahweh. God sent his only son, Jesus, to earth to teach the ways of God and become the savior of mankind through crucifixion and resurrection. Through the acceptance of Christ into your life, and being baptized, you are guaranteed a place in Heaven.
Misconceptions: I struggled on this one, so I asked a friend of mine who is a devout Catholic what she thought the misconceptions of Christianity are. Here's what she said. The main misunderstanding is that Christians are closed minded. That might be true with some believers, but I think you can say the same for all faiths. There are always extremists in every group. The second misconception is every Christian's mission is to convert the world to Christianity. Again, that might be the way of some extremists, but not the majority of Christians. She did strongly suggest that all Christians study any pre-King James version of the bible in order to understand many of the original ideals within the religion.
Sects Orthodox, Hebrew, Modern, etc
Prayer Pray, light candles & incense, sing, chant
Spiritual Teachers Rabbi
General Practices

Worship through organized services, rituals & ceremonies. Recognize several holidays relating to events in their religions history. Worship is held in a synagogue for prayer, ritual and worship. In the Kabalaistic Calendar, there are 4 spiritual holidays that follow the seasonal changes of the year.

Recognize the Tora as their written history and spiritual text. Along with the Kabbalah (or Cabala), which is often called the book of Jewish Mysticism.

Believe in a supreme being which created and encompasses all things. This means that there exists a Being that is complete in all ways and He is the cause of all else that exists. He is what sustains their existence and the existence of all that sustains them.

The word torah means "a teaching". The Torah is HaShem’s teaching to the Jewish people. In the Torah HaShem tells us how to live. The Torah has many mitzvos (commandments) in it. They are HaShem’s instructions to us. The Torah also contains stories. These stories are true and teach us about our history and our relationship with HaShem.

The daily prayers follow a basic pattern with some variations on Shabbos, Yomim Tovim (holidays) and other special days.

Consider this as well, like the Celts and Native Peoples, The Hebrew community is well known for it's many tribes of Israel. Although male and female are not worshiped, they are honored as two opposing forces, often seen through the story of Adam and Hava (Adam and Eve). The Kabala itself has a tone of "spells" within it, as the Hebrew/Jewish book of mysticism, it has many magikal undertones. Many Cabalists also keep a spiritual journal, much like a Witches Grimoire. They often name the journal after a holy man. One can even be found on the net called Romach Pinchas in Hebrew. Another similarity with pagans, one of the most important holidays to Paganism is Samhain. The Hebrew have a similar word Samehin, meaning 'To be happy'.

Misconceptions: One of the interesting misconceptions is that Jews do not believe in Jesus. They do, but they view him as a prophet, not the Savior foretold. Another misconception is that Jews worship money. Again, untrue. Jews intertwine their entire life with their spiritual beliefs. Thus their work is a means of worship and honor. To care for yourself, your family and your home is showing respect for the gifts given to you by God.

To learn more, please visit Talmud Torah: Basic Jewish Education

Sects Islam, Muslim, Shite, Sunni
Prayer Prayer is performed 5 times a day. There is a specific ritual used for these prayers. They include specific words and movements.
Spiritual Teachers An Emam (the equivalent of a priest). An Emam can be a woman or a man.
General Practices Worship through ritual & ceremonies. There are only 2 major holidays. Ramadan and Ede which is after Ramadan. Ramadan is the time of spiritual cleansing, Ede is a celebration of the new spiritual life to come for the year. Worship is often held in a mosque and led by an Emam.

Believe in a supreme being which created and encompasses all things, known as the one and only God. He was not created, he is the mighty, merciful and compassionate God. They believe in Jesus as the prophet of God. David, Isaac, Joseph are also prophets. Muslims believe that when Jesus was placed on the cross, God reached down and removed him before the crucifixion. Replacing Jesus with another man. God took Jesus and sat him by his side, allowing him to live so that he might return again and proclaim God's truth. To them Jesus is alive, he never died. He is merely waiting by the hand of God to return. They do believe in Heaven, Hell and the Devil as well.

Muslim's believe in magik, but the practice of magik is not allowed. They believe that one who dabbles in magik is susceptible to the influences of the Devil and therefore susceptible to the corruptive powers of black magik. Good magik is practiced through one's deeds in day to day life. They believe in psychic powers as a gift from God, but not as something one can practice and learn.

To learn more, try visit The Muslim Fellowship

The biggest misconception of Muslims is that they are all terrorists. This is totally untrue! Most Westerners know nothing of the realities and beauties of Islam. Since the time of the Crusades, propaganda has been circulated to convince the ignorant that Islam is hard, warlike, narrow-minded, and either sensual or puritanical--depending on which of these seemed more shocking at the time! Islam as Muslims have always known it--the religion of tolerance, harmony, wisdom, and above all, peace--remains a stranger to those who have not lived it.

Islam means Peace, Muslim is Belief in Islam. So Muslim is the Belief of Peace. Another misconception is that women are 2nd class citizens. Again, untrue. Women are seen as the primary leaders of their culture. In fact, the Muslims were the first culture to give women the right to vote 1400 years ago. Soon after women were allowed to own their own land and not long after that they were considered as an equal of man.

I would like to thank my friend Sam (a practitioner of Islam) for helping me with this section of the Similarity posting. Without his help, this would have remained a blank section for some time to come.


Sects Nations of the U.S., Canada, Central & South America
Prayer Chant, practice a form of meditation, light incense
Spiritual Teachers Medicine Men & Medicine Women
General Practices

Worship through rituals & ceremonies. Holidays are often festivals that coincide with seasonal events. Ie: Harvest time.

There is no spiritual 'bible' written text. Most Native Peoples have a very rich oral history that is still passed down through generations today.

Believe in a universal divine force which encompasses all things. Often called 'The Great Spirit'. Most (if not all) Native peoples practice respect for all things as the corner stone for their spiritual lives. In doing so, they are honoring the Great Spirit and all things sacred in the world. Native peoples lived/live in tribal communities and are often associated with a larger 'nation' of peoples. Many Native Americans believe in communicating with all nature spirits, from plants to animals and more. When death comes, many people believe an animal messenger will come to guide their journey to the Great Spirit.
Misconceptions: There's not enough room here for the misconceptions of Native Peoples. But if I were to select one, I'd share the one so often told to me by wise brethren who live the life each day. Natives are ignorant and simple minded. Well, hopefully if you're reading this, you know how ignorant that statement is. Native Americans are very intelligent and artistic people who learned long ago how to live with the natural world around them, without abusing it or taking from it and never giving back to it.

Sects Celtic regional traditions or clans
Prayer Chant, meditate, light candles & incense, use various musical instruments, cast spells, or magik circles, rely heavily on psychic abilities for divination, teaching and healing.
Spiritual Teachers Shamans & Shamankas, Priests & Priestesses
General Practices

Worship through rituals & ceremonies. Holidays are often festivals that coincide with seasonal events. Ie: Harvest time. They honor all things seen and unseen; and have great reverence for the divine force of the world/universe. The believe in the balance of all things, and strive to live in balance with the natural world around them and spiritual world that runs through them.

The Celts in general have an extremely rich oral history. Little was ever written or inscribed on paper, stone or other decorations. But their history is now stuff of legend and myth and can be a fascinating journey of research.

Believe in a universal divine force which encompasses all things. Often called God/Goddess. Practioners respect for all things is the corner stone for their spiritual lives. In doing so, they are honoring the Gods and all things sacred in the world. They share similarities with Native American Peoples, so consider a few of these: Both Celts and Native Peoples lived/live in a clan community often associated with a larger geographical area of peoples (ie: a common example.. The Clan McCloud were Highlanders; The Seminoles were part of the Cherokee nation). You can see more about this below.
Misconceptions: Most practioners consider themselves to be a form of Pagan, therefore their misconceptions are identical or at least very similar. That Celtic Shamanism is a modern creation. For more about this, you might want to read the Celtic Shamanism article on this site.
Sects Theravada, Mahayana, Vajrayana are the major sects
Prayer Chant, meditate, light candles & incense, ring a bell or gong
Spiritual Teachers The Dalai Lama, Monk, Priest and Nuns.
General Practices Worship through ceremonies, festivals, and prayers.

Buddhism is more a way of life and philosophy than a religion. Buddhism explains a purpose to life, it explains apparent injustice and inequality around the world, and it provides a code of practice or way of life that leads to true happiness. Buddhists sometimes pay respect to images of the Buddha, not in worship, nor to ask for favors. They believe in karma and reincarnation in the form of rebirth.

For more information, visit The Buddha Net

Misconceptions: That Buddhists worship Buddha as a God. They are some how 'weak' or inferrer in some manner because of their great respect for all life forms, for peace and non violence.
Sects Saivism, Vaishnavism, Shaktism and Smartism are the 4 major sects.
Prayer Chant, meditate, light candles & incense, pray
Spiritual Teachers Priests
General Practices Worship through ceremonies, festivals and rituals

Also called Sanatana Dharma, "eternal religion," and Vaidika Dharma, "religion of the Vedas," Hinduism encompasses a broad spectrum of philosophies ranging from pluralistic theism to absolute monism. The 4 major sects share a vast heritage of culture and belief: karma, dharma, reincarnation, all-pervasive Divinity, temple worship, sacraments, manifold Deities, the many yogas, the guru-nishya tradition and a reliance on the Vedas as scriptural authority. They believe in God as the creator of the universe, and worship idols as tangible representations of God. As such they honor many different gods and goddesses. The believe in karma and reincarnation in the form of transmigration.

Please visit for more information.

Misconceptions: My research didn't help me much in this area. I'm hoping that's a good thing.

A Personal Note:
I've indicated many times that my heritage is Celtic and Cherokee. My 5th Grt.Grand Father, Julis C. Dugger was one half of a Trader partnership between European settlers and native peoples. More commonly called 'Indian Traders'. Julis and his partner have been recorded as the first white settlers on what is now the Virginia/Tennessee border. It is this regional area that brings us to the mixing of cultures. As other Europeans arrived in America and traveled into the mountains, the Trading settlements grew. But like many small villages of the 1750-1760's, outsiders were not very welcome. Often times, these settlements attracted and often invited others of their 'kind' to stay and build within the community. Anyone outside 'kinship' was often shunned, unwelcomed or bluntly asked to leave. Predominantly, eastern Tennessee, southwestern Virginia and the northwestern section of North Carolina were settled by Celts. Well, settled isn't exactly the correct word. The Cherokee were in these areas long before the Europeans arrived at Plymouth Rock.
At this time in our sad history of America, there were many European cultures who automatically turned at odds with the Native Peoples of the region. But many Celts welcomed their native neighbors and shared similar understandings of love, nature and life. Take a look at the many common beliefs and practices between these two cultures in the table below and you might understand why their unique union often occurred. And why so many of us who have Celtic lineages also have Cherokee ancestors.

This practice isn't reserved for Celts and Cherokees however. I think just about everyone in America can find similar intercultural relationships. If you take the time to compare the two cultures you're from you might find that they are more similar than you think. Here's an example of what you can look for and how you can find the similarities between peoples:

Celtic Cherokee
  • Live in clans
  • Spiritual leader is often a Shaman or Shamanka
  • Widely used herbs and other plants in medicines. More so than many other Europeans.
  • Believe in nature spirits, in trees and animals, as well as, unseen protectors such as fairies and elves, etc.
  • When you die, the Banshee come to take your soul out of it's earthly embodiment.
  • Many Celts practice varying forms of paganism. Karma and reincarnation are the cornerstones of these beliefs.
  • When you needed guidance in your life you took a spiritual journey. Either performed by the Shaman, or guided by the Shaman.
  • Hold a strong belief in magik.
  • Believe "the little people" help to trick or to guide your journeys. Along with Forest Sprites and other woodland spirits.
  • Live in tribal villages
  • Spiritual leader is often a Medicine Man or Medicine Woman
  • Widely used herbs and other plants in medicine and spiritual rituals.
  • Believe all of natures creations contain spiritual souls or a spiritual essence and are part of the 'Great Spirit'.
  • When you die, the Great Spirit sends a messenger to guide your spirit from it's earthly embodiment. Often an animal.
  • The Cherokee believe in a form of reincarnation and karma. Although aspects differ slightly, the concept is the same as the Celts.
  • When you needed guidance in your life you took a spiritual journey. Either performed by or guided by the tribal Medicine Man or woman.
  • Believe in a form of magik. Ask a Medicine woman about shape-shifting and you might hear.."It's just magik".
  • Believe the Great Spirit can guide your journey through animals.

From the earliest of settlers, inter-cultural marriages began. I'm sure some of them were made out of trade bargains, but many were from mutual interests of love and attraction. What ever the reason, it created the opportunity for both cultures to merge their individual beliefs together. This was the case with my families history. After 200 years, those early compromises of spiritual rituals, meanings and practices have grown into their own set of beliefs, and traditions that have expanded and evolved into to incorporate the beliefs of the old world, and knowledge of the modern world.

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Created: 04.04.1999        Updated: 03.05.2010