Crypto-Pagans are pagan and neoplatonic groups that have had to pretend to be members of one religion while secretly practicing their 'native' 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. Modern literature gives tips to practitioners of pagan witchcraft for hiding symbols, ceremonies and altars in plain sight, and suggest innocuous replacements for traditional magical tools. For instance, City Magick
, an urban pagan's guide 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.
Many crypto-pagan sects exist in the Middle East
; they have gone 'underground' to avoid persecution from the dominant Muslims
. 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
), while some pagan traditions (yule
) have been absorbed into mainstream Christianity. 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.
, who live in northern Iraq and have been severely persecuted by Muslims in the past, privately worship a Peacock god called Melek Taus
, as well as an incarnated god called Adi. However, in their public dealings, especially when Muslims are present, they refer to Adi as "Sheik Adi", make no mention of Melek Taus, and hide their sacred statues of the peacock god.
will go through great lengths to keep their religion private and secret. They too have faced persecution from Muslims during the spread of Islam. As a result, they have adopted Islamic and Arabic terminology, they dress similar to Muslims, and they refer to their religious founder as an Egyptian ruler, Sheik Hakim
. In private, their religion is thoroughly un-Islamic, and, with its talk of divine emanations, aeons, realms of ideas, migration of souls, etc, is steeped in not only ancient Paganism but Neo-Platonic