Paganism and Pagans
Since 1995 a number of South African Pagans have taken the opportunity to express their pleas for religious tolerance and an end to discrimination against religious minorities in South Africa.
Many new Pagan religious communities have been formed, each of which have and are contributing toward building, through networking, sharing and teaching, the Pagan community of South Africa.
To date (2018) there is no accurate census of the number of Pagans in South Africa. Official government censuses have never listed Paganism as a census choice. It may be assumed that Pagans who registered for the 2001 Census, were collectively lumped with ‘others’ under either one of these listed figures:
Other beliefs 283815 – No religion 6767165 – Undetermined 610974
No official or definitive South African census on the number of self-defined Pagans exists.
Insular Pagan communities around the country are bound by their own religious rules, codes of conduct, religious traditions and theologies.
Entry into formal and insular communities sometimes involves an initiation into the religious beliefs of that community.
The South African Constitution guarantees the right to freedom of religion and belief.
Several Pagan organizations and religious institutions are currently designated ‘religious organizations’ by the Department of Home Affairs [s5 Civil Union Act] and nominate Pagans who are members of these organisations, as religious marriage officers.
Public Pagan Groups
Many diverse Pagan groups have been formed since 1996, reflecting the independent spirit of diversity so characteristic of the modern Pagan movement in South Africa. No one person or group may be said to speak for all Pagans in South Africa.
The Pagan Freedom Day Movement was founded in 2003 through the cooperative efforts of Clan Ysgithyrwyn, the Pagan Federation of South Africa, CORD, The Grove, Lunaguardia, the House of Ouroborus, and many other non-aligned Pagans. The Pagan Freedom Day initiative was launched to facilitate annual regional Pagan celebrations of religious freedom on Freedom Day – 27 April 2004. In January 2004, this initiative was formerly chartered as the Pagan Freedom Day Movement (PFDM). Pagan Freedom Day celebrations remain an annual event in most provinces.
The South African Pagan Rights Alliance (SAPRA) was founded in 2004 as a Pagan human rights activist alliance. The Alliance was constituted to promote the guaranteed liberties and freedoms enshrined in the Bill of Rights and to assist South African Pagans, whose constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms have been infringed due to unfair discrimination, to obtain appropriate redress.
The South African Pagan Council (SAPC) was formed in December 2006 and currently serves as a round table organization for almost every existing public Pagan organization and religious community, and many solitary Pagans who choose not to belong to organized groups. All affiliated members (individuals and groups) to the Council remain independent and autonomous.
South African Pagan newsletters and magazines, including the longest running publication Penton Independent Pagan Media (since 1995), have also appeared to network a growing and diverse national community of Pagans seeking to identify with, and to shape the emerging identity of South African Paganism as a minority religion.