Not all of my readers identify as pagan, but even among pagans the terminology can cause trouble. Below are the working definitions I use; they may differ significantly from other pagans’ usage, but at least having it spelled out means we’ll have an easier time getting on the same page.
This is a work in progress, and will be updated as I come across terms or ideas I’d like to add, or if someone asks for clarification on a topic.
Pagan: Probably the most contentious of them all! I use the definition I learned at The Cauldron: “a person or path that is not [solely] Jewish, Christian, or Muslim, and self-identifies as pagan.” It is largely a negative definition (that is, defined by what it is not as opposed to what it is) but I find this definition the most useful- it does not exclude people who consider themselves pagan, and doesn’t drag in people that pagans think should be pagan. I’ve included “solely” because there are plenty syncretists out there who incorporate Abhramaic aspects into their religions.
Priest/ess: A person who serves a deity or other spirit. This can be a temporary or lifelong work.
Cleric/clergy: A priest whose service involves serving the community at a personal level.