Crypto-Pagans are pagan and neoplatonic groups that have had to pretend to be members of a mandated or mainstream religion while secretly practicing their true religion.


Given the high Christian religiosity of the United States, many American neopagans conceal their practices in daily life to avoid being ostracized or persecuted. Traditionally, the Wiccan Laws suggested hiding symbols, ceremonies and altars in plain sight, suggesting innocuous replacements for traditional magical tools. Among modern guides, City Magick, an urban pagan's manual published in 2001, gives examples of how to hide a pagan altar at your home or at work, using items such as letter openers, paper weights, and coffee cups and relaxation candles in the place of the traditional sword, stone, goblet and candle.[1]


Many crypto-pagan sects exist in the Middle East; they have gone underground to avoid persecution from the dominant Muslims.[citation needed] This can perhaps be seen in opposition to Europe, wherein pagan groups have simply been eliminated (short of recent revivals, such as the Ásatrú, and in Neo-druidism and Neopaganism), while some pagan traditions (e.g. New Year's Day) have been absorbed into mainstream Christianity. In many cases, Pagan customs and traditions have simply syncretized in mainstream Christianity, such as into cults of various saints – the old deities have been identified with the various saints. In South America, with the aggressive evangelizing of state sponsored Christianity and the suppression of native religions, there have also, arguably, been some crypto-pagan groups.

Generally crypto-pagans in the Middle East have adopted Arabic and Islamic terminology as part of their cover. Equally often, the laity knows little about the religion, which is kept as a mystery for priests and people who have undergone initiation.

The precise theology of many of these religions is still kept a closely guarded secret to this day, and the groups themselves will provide disinformation to further their secrecy. Additionally, as with Crypto-Judaism, all the members of the group might not recognize their traditions as being pre-Islamic. The secret traditions can become so tightly guarded, the traditions so aggrandized or altered via oral transmission, that not even the practicers can recognize the origin.

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  1. Pg. 106–120, City Magick, Weiser books, Christopher Penczak, ISBN 1-57863-206-4.

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