it depends on the path, but you are correct, certain ancient paths were more nature based, while some were more religious, death focused, and spiritual. people don't tend to notice or realize these things. ancient druids/celts use to have human sacrifices, on certain holidays it was traditional to sacrifice a white cow. [can't remember exactly which group or holiday, but i know there were live sacrifices]
that's the thing with faith though, it changes and with many pagan paths, it changes with each persons view. some people like tradition and hate the changes some newer pagans do, but it's not all bad [i say 'not all' because it drives me nuts when someone claims to be Wiccan but ignores or doesn't know the Rede, same goes for people who don't know the ten commandments and yet their faith follows them] as long as they're not hurting you, who cares?