What is the SPF?
The Scottish Pagan Federation, also known as the Pagan Federation (Scotland), is part of the Pagan Federation family. The Pagan Federation was founded in 1971, with Scotland becoming a specific district in the early 1990s and becoming an independent organisation in 2006.
The SPF is a democratic organisation with members from all Pagans traditions. We have four elected members, including our Presiding Officer and Deputy Presiding Officer, who are elected by our membership every three years.
The SPF Council are responsible for running the SPF and hold a full council meeting at least once a year. The SPF Council is made up of our Elected Members, Treasurer, National Interfaith Officer, Regional Coordinators, Local Organisers, Chaplains and our other Officers including LGBT+, Mental Health and Wellbeing, Disability and Inclusion, Safeguarding, and Honorary Members. All SPF Council members are volunteers, and the SPF would not be able to run without these people.
Paganism is an umbrella term for a group of faiths and beliefs which have their roots primarily in nature and a connection to the divine. Some Pagan paths may have connections to reconstructionism such as Hellenic Pagans, whereas other traditions, like Wicca, have developed over the last century.
As Paganism encompasses a range of it would be impossible to provide a single definition that would appropriately explain all aspects of Paganism. We have a page dedicated to providing some information on some of the different Pagan paths.
The Scottish Pagan Federation raises the voices of Scottish Pagans to government, NGO's, other relevant bodies and the general public. The SPF provides accurate information and advice on modern Paganism on request, facilitates access to Pagan worship and supports the Pagan community activities across Scotland. It is also active in inter-faith dialogue across Scotland and is a member of Interfaith Scotland.
The Scottish Pagan Federation does not speak for all Pagans but can reasonably claim to represent a broad swathe of what might be termed mainstream Paganism.
Paganism has no central authority or governing body, and is strongly egalitarian. Pagans and Pagan groups are autonomous.
What we do is:
- We raise issues affecting Pagans with appropriate bodies
- Promote tolerance, respect, and mutual understanding of Paganism
- Campaign for respect and equality alongside other religions in Scotland
- Defend and protect Pagans from defamation and religious discrimination
- Provide accurate and factual information on modern Paganism to the Scottish Government, non-government organisations, the media, and the general public.
- While we provide accurate information about Paganism and represent many Pagans, we recognise the diversity of Paganism and we do not claim to speak for all Pagans in Scotland.
Services we provide:
- Reputable Celebrants, who are recorded in the Register of Approved Celebrants which is maintained by the National Records of Scotland. Our celebrants can perform legal Pagan wedding ceremonies as well as baby naming, funerals and other rites of passage
- Support the Pagan community with our Chaplains, LGBT+, Disability, Mental Health, and Safeguarding Officers.
- Host an annual national conference and a family-friendly summer camp
- Publish our digital magazine – eSPIN – for our members
- Host a list of moots and groups across the country
- Provide information on Paganism and suggestions for further study upon request
You do not need to a member of the Scottish Pagan Federation to contact any of our officers or to attend any of our events.
What the SPF has achieved in the last twenty years:
- Became a standing member of the Scottish Government’s Faith and Belief Representative Group.
- Successfully campaigned for a Pagan tick box on the 2022 Scottish Census.
- Enrolled with Volunteer Scotland, allowing us to perform PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) checks for officers supporting children or protected adults, such as our Youth Officer or Mental Health and Wellbeing Officer.
- Led a Pagan Prayer at the Interfaith Scotland COP26 Vigil in 2021.
- Conducted the Pagan Discrimination Survey to understand Pagan experiences of discrimination in Scotland.
- Successfully campaigned for legal Pagan weddings, we now have twenty celebrants around Scotland who can perform legal Pagan weddings.
- Successfully campaigned for same-sex marriage, all our celebrants can perform weddings for couples of any gender.
- Gained representation on Interfaith Scotland.
- Campaigned for a Pagan tick box in the 2001 census and then carried out detailed analysis of the religious responses to provide the first ever official figures of Pagans in Scotland.
- Challenged Pagan defamation in the media and worked with media to provide accurate information about Pagan practices.
The Three Principles
The three principles of the Pagan Federation (Scotland) are a general outline of some key, mainstream Pagan attitudes and beliefs. They look at how we relate to the Earth, other living beings, and the divine (our Goddesses or Gods or a more abstract spirit of life). Each is open to a range of honourable and reasonable interpretations.
We also acknowledge that Paganism is beautifully diverse, and our principles are not a doctrinally definitive Pagan creed.
We are aware that the Pagan Federation (England and Wales) have updated their three principles, however our principles are linked in with our recognition with the Scottish Government and other public sector organisations. This recognition has enabled us to conduct legal Pagan weddings, often known as handfastings, and be a part of Interfaith work.
Love for and Kinship with Nature. Reverence for the life force and its ever-renewing cycles of life and death.
The first principle emphasises the importance of love and respect for nature in Paganism. It recognises that human beings are part of nature and that our lives are intimately interwoven with the web of life and death.
A positive morality, in which the individual is responsible for the discovery and development of their true nature in harmony with the outer world and community. This is often expressed as 'Do what you will, as long as it harms none'.
The second principle puts forward a broadly humanistic approach to ethics which seeks to maximise both individual freedom and personal responsibility. It recognises our place as human beings within the web of life and that everything we do, or refrain from doing, has consequences for ourselves and for others. It encourages working towards peaceful outcomes while acknowledging the legitimacy of both self-defence and justice.This is compatible with all Pagan paths, and essential for a tolerant, diverse and humane society. The Wiccan Rede is given as an illustrative, but not definitive, example of this general approach to ethics - this does not insist that we harm none under any or all circumstances. It does encourage us to be aware of the context in which our actions operate, to consider the probable consequences of the choices we make, to choose those that are reasonable and proportionate in the circumstances and minimise such harm as cannot be prevented, and take responsibility for our contribution, by either action or inaction, to the outcome. Hard ethical decisions are not about whether harm will happen, but about where it will fall.
Recognition of the Divine, which transcends gender.
This principle encompasses a range of Pagan understandings of divinity including, but not restricted to, pantheism, all forms of polytheism including duotheism, Goddess-recognisant monotheism, non-binary divinity, and animism. It requires us to acknowledge that where the divine is understood as deity or deities having gender, it must include a Goddess or Goddesses as well as a God or Gods.It also recognises that there are Pagan understandings of divinity which cannot be categorised by gender. Modern Paganism tends to approach theology through a synergy of multiple understandings of the divine or Divinity in the abstract, and modern Pagans tend to regard the honouring of the Gods, of the divine as it is manifest within this living world, as of greater importance than theological speculation as to its or their precise nature.
In the early 1990s, Scotland became its own distinct district within the Pagan Federation, bolstered by the success of the first-ever Scottish conference. Jean Fowler and her husband were the first District Managers (DMs), looking after both Scotland and Ireland at the time.
In 1997, John and Kitty Macintyre took over as DMs and were instrumental in the development of the SPF. Their dedication was the driving force for improving understanding and recognition of Paganism in Scotland. Interfaith recognition formed the backbone of John's activism, helping the SPF to be accepted into membership of the Edinburgh Inter Faith Association (now Interfaith Scotland) in 1996.
It was also through John and Kitty's hard work that the SPF became independent of the Pagan Federation in 2006, though the organisation still maintains a close relationship with all PF organisations.
In 2008, as SPF's Education Officer, Fiona Tinker developed an 'Introduction to Paganism' teaching module suitable to be taught as part of religious, moral and philosophical studies in schools. Whilst acting as Education Officer, Fiona also acted as an advocate for Pagan parents with schools, as well as liaising with official education bodies. Fiona served as Depute Presiding Officer between 2009 and 2015.
In 2017, Steffy VonScott and Jennifer Connolly were appointed as DMs following an announcement by John that he and Kitty were retiring from the role. John and Kitty remain as part of the SPF Council as Honorary Members.
Two important SPF activists, Louise Park and Fiona Tinker, helped improve Pagan recognition in terms of legal marriage and education.
Louise Park who was also Presiding Officer between 2009 and 2015, ensured that our organisation became a recognised religious body authorised to nominate Celebrants to conduct legal Pagan marriages in Scotland in 2004. Louise was our Celebrants Coordinator until 2019 and she also successfully campaigned for same-sex marriage equality, leading to her conducting the first-ever same-sex marriage in the country.
In 2018 Steffy VonScott was elected as our Presiding Officer. Steffy had a strong vision for the SPF’s next steps which included campaigning for a Pagan tick box in the 2021 Scottish Census.
Steffy had many conversations with Pagans around the theme of discrimination and, as part of his plan for the SPF, developed the Pagan Discrimination Survey in collaboration with our Deputy Presiding Officer Helen Woodsford-Dean. This research received over 500 submissions and would highlight discrimination experienced by Pagans in Scotland. Following on from the initial survey results the SPF wrote to the First Minister and several Ministers and MSPs in the Scottish Parliament. As a result of this in 2022 the SPF was invited to become a standing member of the Scottish Government’s Faith and Belief Representative group.
In 2020 the SPF faced many challenges due to the global pandemic. Our annual conference, which would normally be in Edinburgh, was cancelled. However, the SPF was able to adapt quickly and created an online conference with our talks available on YouTube and some live discussion groups via Zoom.
Matt Cormack, a qualified therapist with experience working with spirituality, was appointed our Mental Health and Wellbeing Officer. Matt ran monthly check in groups online for Pagans across Scotland to have a space to talk during the pandemic and is still available to speak to Pagans one to one.
In 2021 the SPF was successful in enrolling the SPF with Volunteer Scotland. This means that we are able to carry out PVG (Protecting Vulnerable Groups) checks for officers working with children or protected adults.
Our National Interfaith Officer, Linda Haggerstone, led a Pagan Prayer at the Interfaith Scotland COP26 Vigil in Glasgow in 2021.
In 2022, for the first time, the Scottish Census form had a Pagan tick box after many years of campaigning by the SPF.
The SPF is ambitious for Pagan recognition in Scotland and have several objectives for the next five years.
- To successfully campaign for a Pagan tick box in the next census, which will be in 2021
- To continuously campaign for tolerance, acceptance and understanding of LGBTQIA+ people. A significant proportion of Pagans identify as LGBTQIA+
- To create a third Pagan event in the West of Scotland, ensuring there is something annually in each region of the SPF
- To continually work within the civic interfaith movement to ensure mutual understanding and respect between different faiths
- Develop our digital channels to educate others on Paganism and provide a strong voice for the community
- We are always reviewing our goals, so if you have a suggestion, please get in touch.