Meet the Atheopagan Society Council!

This year, terrible as it has been in so many ways, has seen Atheopaganism evolve to a new level. We have created a legal entity which can carry on the work of the path beyond the life span of any individual: The Atheopagan Society.

This nonprofit corporation is as remarkable for what it isn’t as for what it is. It isn’t a membership organization: no one is going to make you pay just to be an Atheopagan. Instead, it is simply an organization designed to create resources, provide education and training, and organize support for Atheopagans and for the promulgation of Atheopagan values in the world.

The Atheopagan Society has its own website, found here. There you can find details about what it is and what it does.

But I wanted to write today about some very special people who have come together to lead the Society: to do the work of building and sustaining it so Atheopaganism can continue to be a growing movement, a growing voice. I, too, am a member, though not an officer: we are the Council of the Atheopagan Society.

A couple of us are anonymous. That’s natural: it can be hard to be public about being a Pagan or an atheist, but especially both. These members are nonetheless tremendous contributors to our culture and our community.

So please: meet your Atheopagan Society Council. My hat is off to each of you and it is my pleasure to work with you on the Council!

Arwen Gwyneth Hubbard

Chair

Arwen is a Pagan, a mother, science teacher and ecologist. She lives in the high desert on an off-grid, permaculture homestead with her family and their very well loved cat named Moose. Arwen is a co-host with me on the podcast THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism.

Dr. Jon Cleland Host

Vice Chair

Dr. Jon Cleland Host is a scientist who earned his PhD in materials science at Northwestern University & has conducted research since 1997.  He holds eight patents and has authored over three dozen internal scientific papers and eleven papers for peer-reviewed scientific journals, including the journal Nature.  He has taught classes on biology, math, chemistry, physics and general science at Delta College and Saginaw Valley State University.  Jon grew up near Pontiac, and has been building a reality-based spirituality for over 30 years, first as a Catholic and now as a Unitarian Universalist, including collaborating with Michael Dowd and Connie Barlow to spread the awe and wonder of the Great Story of our Universe (see www.thegreatstory.org, and the blog at evolutionarytimes.org).  Jon and his wife have four sons, whom they embrace within a Universe-centered, Pagan, family spirituality.  He currently moderates the yahoo group Naturalistic Paganism and posts videos on his YouTube Channel. Jon is also a regular columnist at Humanistic Paganism.  His column is called Starstuff, Contemplating.

Tonya (Orin) McNeese

Treasurer

I am an electrician, a mama, and an Atheopagan. I have always struggled with the realization that so many people have forgotten that religion, especially Paganism is meant to be metaphorical. I am proud to be a part of Atheopagan growth and to have finally found like-minded individuals.

C. Wendt

Secretary

C. Wendt is a microbiologist with over 15 years of experience in instructional design & delivery.  Any further details about her are on a need-to-know basis.

Robin C.

Robin is an educator, librarian, and nature nerd. Her spiritual practice consists of hiking, gardening, cooking, making art, and looking things up.

Katie Frooman

Katie Frooman (she/her) is a stay at home mom of two cats and two humans that lives in the beautiful Black Hills of South Dakota. She is passionate about fiber crafting, leftist politics, and authentic Goa/southern Indian food and finds peace running outdoors, stargazing, and mushroom foraging.

James Morganstern

Atheopagan. Thelemite. Heathen. Druid.
I’ve danced through many pagan circles for just over 3 decades and spent several years facilitating seasonal public rituals in the Midwest. I moved to California in 2014 and currently live amongst the redwoods along the Russian River. I make attempts at being a woodworker, an artist, a musician, and several other things.

Lilith Uhler

Lilith is a behavioral ecologist and biodiversity/conservation biologist, a bird nerd, a plant geek, a wife, and a mom.

Soil and Sky; Love and Joy

There are those who try to hijack Paganism in the name of their bigotry and their hatred: who crow “blood and soil!” as if that means something. As if it is anything more than an adolescent boy’s angry braying.

Like most big lies, the “blood and soil” of neo-Nazis–some of whom describe themselves as “folkish” Pagans or heathens– contains a tiny kernel of truth buried in its pile of garbage. Because there is nothing wrong with a sense of allegiance to land and to family.

The problem is in how right-wing haters narrowly define land and family: they value only this land where “we” came from…and “our people” is only people of our ethnicity.

It’s nonsense, of course. And it reveals a many-layered onion of insecurity, resentment, rage, ignorance, projection and failure to grow.

You can tell by the emotional tone of a religious path whether it is worthy or not. The rage, repression, humorlessness and hatred of fundamentalist Abrahamic religions and “folkish” Paganism alike are clear indicators that they are not paths to joy, liberation, or right living. Our Atheopagan Principle #5–Perspective–makes it clear that for us, a sense of humor is not peripheral: it is essential, so we can keep a humble perspective about ourselves and our journeys.

To us, the soil and sky that are the birthright of every creature on Earth are not grounds for excluding and defensiveness and hatred. No; they are the inspiration for never-ending joy and love, for wonder and amazement.

And we welcome all who would share this awe, this kindness, this generosity.

The philosopher Karl Popper demonstrated in the 1950s that the one thing a tolerant culture cannot and must not tolerate is intolerance, for if it does, intolerance will eventually become its norm. So we should be vigilant, in the Pagan community, not to countenance bigotry and hatred in the name of pluralism: it is the antithesis of pluralism.

Atheopaganism is no different, and we have to be vigilant in protecting our kind, warm community from hatred. When people apply to join the Facebook group, for example, we not only consider their answers to the application questions, we look at their profiles. If we find signs of fascism or bigotry or insensitivity to the experience of the oppressed, we’ll take a pass. Our events have clear and explicit written nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies that every attendee must endorse.

I contend that the Pagan community at large should be doing the same. Conferences should (and many are, I should be clear) exclude participation by such “folkish” bigoted applicants. If they can’t agree to adopt some basic decent values, we are under no obligation to let them play in our spaces.

“Folkish” Paganism/heathenism is a stain on our religious movement. We are well within our rights to shun it, even if it technically meets some of the generally accepted criteria for what constitutes Paganism.

A Mood

I have been thinking…

No. I have been feeling about this community of people, the nontheist Pagan community.

I have been feeling because sometimes such appreciation, such gratitude wells up in me to be with you all.

So a wrote a thing.

THIS Community

We’re having none of the bullshit, thank you.

We’ve seen the paths of the lost and confused, and chosen.

We aspire:

To lofty goals and a kinder world,

To sense, sensibility, sensuousness, sexiness, Self-made-Sacred:

Sifted

Through the fine grate of experience, cultivating it, the joy.

And to be better.

We’re having all of the work, thank you,

Because we are stained. None has escaped

The gray of hopelessness, the whisper of bigotry,

The assumptions and biases and blinding dust.

We are having the work to be clean, to be better,

To aspire to the world we know is possible.

We’re having all of the lusciousness, thank you.

The juice of this life drips down our chins.

And though we understand its origins, this in no way

Dilutes its sweetness.

We shave with Occam’s Razor to make our nerve endings shudder

With forbidden nakedness, we run trembling tongues to taste.

We climb to the mountaintop whose name is YES,

Breathing stars

The butterfly glory of a cold breath’s air.

I light this candle now, my people,

Feeling you in your magnificence

In your struggle

Feeling you in your learning

In your leaping and falling short

Feeling you in your glowing hearts

I light this candle now blessed,

So blessed that you are with me

Each one. You strivers and seekers,

Scientists and ritualists and makers of new

Reality.

I light this candle. Welcome, beloveds.