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In the first case, there is a deeply felt need to connect with the past as a source of spiritual strength and wisdom; in the second case, there is the idealistic hope that a spirituality of nature can be gleaned from ancient sources and shared with all humanity." Strmiska notes that Pagan groups can be "divided along a continuum: at one end are those that aim to reconstruct the ancient religious traditions of a particular ethnic group or a linguistic or geographic area to the highest degree possible; at the other end are those that freely blend traditions of different areas, peoples, and time periods." Reconstructionists do not altogether reject innovation in their interpretation and adaptation of the source material, however they do believe that the source material conveys greater authenticity and thus should be emphasized.Strmiska also suggests that this division could be seen as being based on "discourses of identity", with reconstructionists emphasizing a deep-rooted sense of place and people, and eclectics embracing a universality and openness toward humanity and the Earth.
Accordingly, many groups have exerted an influence on, and in turn have been influenced by, other Pagan religions, thus making clear-cut distinctions between them more difficult for religious studies scholars to make.The Pagan relationship with Christianity is often strained.Contemporary Paganism has sometimes been associated with the New Age movement, with scholars highlighting both similarities and differences.Similarly, Strmiska stressed that modern Paganism should not be conflated with the belief systems of the world's indigenous peoples because the latter lived within the context of colonialism and its legacy, and that while some Pagan worldviews bore similarities to those of indigenous communities, they each stemmed from "different cultural, linguistic, and historical backgrounds." Many scholars have favored the use of "Neopaganism" to describe this phenomenon, with the prefix "neo-" serving to clearly distinguish the modern religions from their ancient, pre-Christian counterparts.Several academics operating in Pagan studies, such as Ronald Hutton and Sabina Magliocco, have emphasized the use of the upper-case "Paganism" to distinguish the modern movement from the lower-case "paganism", a term which is commonly used for pre-Christian belief systems.
A third point raised by Strmiska was that by embracing the word "pagan", modern Pagans are defying past religious intolerance in order to honor the pre-Christian peoples of Europe and emphasize these societies' cultural and artistic achievements.