Nonetheless, many pagans are excited to talk about their spirituality and answer questions from curious friends and acquaintances.
But insulting them with jokes about witches on broomsticks isn't going to help facilitate dialogue.
Religious leaders to this day use the term to call out people of any faith whose greed or worldly lust cause them to stray from the flock.
For droves of practicing pagans around the world -- numbers of which are difficult to measure -- these connotations present a public relations nightmare, making it difficult to share the reality of their faith when confronted with de facto bias.
A variant of the Germanic paganism found across much of north-western Europe, it encompassed a heterogeneous variety of disparate beliefs and cultic practices, with much regional variation.
Based on the evidence available, the historian John Blair stated that the pre-Christian religion of Anglo-Saxon England largely resembled "that of the pagan Britons under Roman rule... However, the archaeologist Audrey Meaney concluded that there exists "very little undoubted evidence for Anglo-Saxon paganism, and we remain ignorant of many of its essential features of organisation and philosophy".
Britons who found themselves in the areas now dominated by Anglo-Saxon elites possibly embraced the Anglo-Saxons' pagan religion in order to aid their own self-advancement, just as they adopted other trappings of Anglo-Saxon culture.
Baldr · Borr · Bragi · Búri Dagri · Dellingr · Eir · Forseti Freyja · Freyr · Frigg · Fulla Gefjon · Hel · Heimdallr (Rígsþula) Hermóðr · Hlín · Höðr · Hœnir Iðunn · Jörð · Kvasir · Lofn · Loki Máni · Mímir · Nanna · Norns Nótt · Odin Sága and Sökkvabekkr · Seaxnēat Sif · Sjöfn · Skaði · Skírnir · Skuld Snotra · Sól · Thor · Týr · Ullr Vali · Vár · Vé · Víðarr · Vili · Vör Developing from the earlier Iron Age religion of continental northern Europe, it was introduced to Britain following the Anglo-Saxon migration in the mid 5th century, and remained the dominant belief system in England until the Christianisation of its kingdoms between the 7th and 8th centuries, with some aspects gradually blending into folklore.
The pejorative terms paganism and heathenism were first applied to this religion by Christian Anglo-Saxons, and it does not appear that these pagans had a name for their religion themselves; there has therefore been debate among contemporary scholars as to the appropriateness of continuing to describe these belief systems using this Christian terminology.