Details on Moon Meet (edited July 20)

The first Pagan festival for Atheopagans, nontheist Pagans, and naturalist Pagans is actually happening. It’s called Moon Meet, and it will be August 4-6 of this year, on private land near Healdsburg in Sonoma County, California. It’s coming up, so  CLICK HERE to register to join us!

I am so excited about this gathering!

There seems to be a trend in the naturalistic religion world right now: the drive to connect in real life. Shortly after announcing Moon Meet, I was invited to be a part of an email and Skype conversation involving many of the most prominent voices in the nontheist/naturalistic spirituality community about creating a conference or gathering in 2018. Imagine it: scientific pantheists, Atheopagans, spiritual naturalists of contemplative paths, all coming together to share talk and fellowship, perhaps ceremony.

I don’t know how far we’ll get, but I know this: five years ago, the suggestion of naturalistic spirituality—”religion without the supernatural”— was bizarre and foreign, and social media was just beginning the process of our far-flung community being able to connect across the Internet. Two years ago, we had a dustup in the Pagan community over whether nontheist Pagans even belong in that community.

Now, it seems, we have moved beyond whether we exist, and whether we belong. Now we are talking about connecting beyond the Internet, seeing one another’s faces. Thus, Moon Meet, and whatever may come out of that conversation I mentioned.

Where, I wonder, will we be in five years?

I guess we’ll just have to wait to find out. But in the meantime, we ARE going to gather this August, and here is what the event will look like:

Friday Evening/Night

5:00 Arrival.
7:00 Dinner
9:00 Opening ritual and Bardic Fire–bring songs, stories and poems to share

Saturday

9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Workshop slot 1:Music and Dance in Ritual by Joe Veahman;   Sacred World Dance by Dakini Uma Amitabha

12:00 Lunch
1:00 Workshop slot: Courting the Hero Within by Venee Lotusfire; Songs of Power by Hummingbear
3:00 Ritual planning session
6:00 Dinner
8:00 Main Ritual (planned that afternoon)

Sunday

9:00 Breakfast
10:00 Community Discussion: How do we grow and evolve the nontheist Pagan community?
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Hike or Excursion to Healdsburg
4:00 Regather, pack up
5:30 Closing Ritual
7:00 Final Dinner (Nearby Restaurant, not covered in registration)

Workshop Offerings

Sacred World Dance
Instructor: Dakina Uma Amitabha
In this ‘playshop’, diverse traditional dances from around the globe are entwined with nature-centered spirituality, core shamanism, and authentic expression methodology. These teachings honor the spirit of the ancient cultures that these dances embody while bringing a spark of new life and passion to them, empowering students to explore and create their own sacred dance practices. Come prepared to move and sweat! Bring your whole self! All ages and genders welcome. Some dance/movement experience is helpful but not required.

Music & Dance in Ritual

Instructor: Joe Veahman
Workshop participants will learn to incorporate call and response songs, motivational rhythms, and simple circle dances appropriate for ritual.
The course will focus on the ways music and dance can transform your ritual into a powerful interactive and inspirational experience that will resonate with all who join in your ceremony.
In the first segment, you will learn a basic call & response song, and will have the opportunity to explore creating your own, original song.
in the second segment, you will learn how different traditional rhythms can alter the audience’s experience, and will join in creating several rhythms.  No drums are required (although you are free to bring one!) – everyone can feel free to clap along.
In the final segment, you will learn a circle dance, using simple steps that anyone can learn.  The dance will be low-impact and slow – accessible to most everyone.

Songs of Power
Instructor: Hummingbear
BREATH…INTENTION…RHYTHM…
These are your powers.
Shaping of Melody and Tone…
These are the Gifts of Passion.Finding the words that resonate with the tone of your intention…
This is the work of well-grounded intelligence.This is the Craft I Teach.
This Power Is Yours,
Waiting To Be Claimed.You don’t need past experience with music or singing;
you don’t need any instruments.All you need is breath—and self-respect.—Hummingbear

Courting the Hero Within

Instructor: Venee Lotusfire

Come explore, play and experiences the realms of the self. Connecting to your inner guide,  your own source of power through somatic play, personal ritual, and allowing whatever arise from within you to expresses itself fully within the a safe co-created container.

On this journey you are the Guru of your own transformation as you sink into your internal landscape and find your own path into deepening your self-awareness.

Come willing to witness and be seen, to open up to the beauty and the ugliness that resides within, to push the edges of your comfort zone, to lean into the unfamiliar and unmapped territories of your soul, to embody the wisdom of you.

Our tools : Somatic play,  listening to our internal wisdom, group exploration,  unconditional vocalization, polarity work, journaling and self inquiry.

Please wear comfortable clothes you can move in. Bring a water bottle and journal.

Conduct Standards

At Pagan gatherings and conferences in the past few years, it has become customary to issue conduct standards for participants in order to create a safe environment and a clear understanding about how participants are expected to relate to one another.

Accordingly, here are conduct standards for Moon Meet.

We hope and expect that participants will conduct themselves in a manner consistent with the Atheopagan Principles; to act with integrity and to be respectful of others, to honor them as they are, to seek affirmative consent before initiating any form of physical contact, and to respond proactively to amend their behavior if they receive feedback that their conduct is making someone uncomfortable.

The event will not tolerate bigotry of any kind. Racism, sexism, classism, homophobia and transphobia have no place in Atheopagan community.

Participants experiencing violation of these standards are encouraged to come to me onsite and register their concerns. Any unsafe person will be asked to leave.

Now, knowing our crowd, I doubt that spelling out these standards is really necessary. But it is better to do so than not.

Mutual respect is the watchword, friends. Keep that in mind, and everything else just naturally falls into place.

It’s going to be a fantastic gathering! Please register to join us this August.

There is a Way

There is a way we can be with one another.

It is a way of kindness and mutual respect, of vulnerability and accountability. It is a way of playfulness and joy in the uniqueness and creativity of the other, a shared celebration.

It is a way so powerful and yet so simple, a way so pleasurable and so deeply comforting, that it brings me to tears to think of it.

And for the past three days, I have been immersed in a warm bath of it.

I have been—again—to the fire circle.

IGNITE 2017 was a gathering of some of the most incredible, complex, beautiful, creative humans I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. I imagine that could be said about most any cohort of people, if they were able to live in the truth of their being. But this group is able to do so, and that is the difference between the ordinary and the extra-.

It’s hard work, too. Hard to be that brave and open. Hard work simply in the logistics of erecting the circle itself, providing food for fifty people, camping in hot and dusty conditions.

But the nights. Oh, the nights, until dawn comes. The drumming and dancing, the singing and poetry and stories. The heartfelt conversations outside the circle, the flickering torchlight, the fire blazing in the circle’s heart. The reunions with old friends, the finding of new ones with love shining in their eyes.

No “woo-woo”. No supernaturalism. Just wisdom and love.

Hard to believe it’s a substance-free event, isn’t it?

There is a way we can be with one another in a ritual space that brings out the very kindest and best in us. And then, learning, to carry that out into the world. To be better people, on a planet that badly needs them.

There is a way.

On Freedom

In the United States, we lionize “freedom”. We make much of how “free” we are, boast of it. Our national narrative is filled with reinforcing stories about liberty and the struggle for freedom.

But what is it?

If freedom means anything, it must be the freedom not just to believe as one wishes, to think as one will, but also to act as one will. To be treated as an equal. And that freedom is in danger in this country at this time.

We are, in reality, one of the most authoritarian states of the developed world. We have a higher rate of incarceration even than China or Saudi Arabia or Russia. Offenses that might warrant a police warning in other nations routinely result in prosecution of Americans; particularly, Americans of color. Police here are militarized. And as we have seen, they get away with murder.

A lot.

Currently, freedom of speech, of the press, and of religion are all under attack by the right wing in this country. Radical conservatives want us to be a nation where we are “free” only to express what they believe, what they want others to think. The abominable person currently occupying the White House does his best to freeze out legitimate journalism, castigating it as “fake news”. And so-called “Christian” conservatives press calls for “religious freedom” measures to authorize discrimination against religious minorities and LGBTQ people under color of law, and to oppress women through control of their medical choices.

We have a very long way to go before this nation is “the land of the free” by comparison with other developed nations. And we appear to be moving in the opposite direction at the moment.

Let’s not even get started on the checkered history of this country’s support for tyrants elsewhere, nor its military belligerence.

Here, on “Independence Day”, we have a bloody flag to contemplate, and a country becoming more rigorously repressive by the day.

Still, there are bright spots. Throughout the country, for example, decriminalization of marijuana—bans on which have been used particularly to oppress people of color and the poor for nearly a century—is becoming widespread. And the culture is changing such that within a generation, LGBTQ people are going to be widely accepted no matter what the “Christian” right has to say about it.

Finally, our judiciary appears—for the moment—to be defending principles that the neofascists of the American right hope to destroy.

The right would have us believe that “freedom” is a flag-waving, chest-beating boast, and a license to be as cruel and terrible to others as one wishes. The right does not believe in the common good so much as the individual whim.

We, I hope, Atheopagans, are a countervailing voice to those for whom bigotry, oppression and destruction of the common good at the behest of personal greed constitute “freedom”.

Ours is a vision of an expansive world, where difference is celebrated. Where the Great Commons—the Sacred Earth itself—is treasured and stewarded as the birthright, progenitor and carekeeper of our species, now and into the future.

Where “freedom” means the freedom to be individual, to believe and practice as we like without the structures of government telling us otherwise, and a general principle of kindness to one another as we each explore our individual paths.

Freedom is something we hold in our hearts, regardless of what happens out in the world. It colors our behavior, and is a beacon we aspire to in our personal struggles: to be free of the internal oppression of our wounds, as well as to be free of the external constraints of injustice.

We are Atheopagans. We will not be what those who boast and brag about “freedom” while they try to take it away from others want us to be. We believe what we do, we practice as we do. We sing and ritualize and observe our Sabbaths and strike a new path into the future without fear. And we stand for the freedoms of those who are oppressed.

We are free.

Happy Independence Day.

Four Days Left! Register for Moon Meet at Discounted Price!

Moon Meet will be the first Pagan gathering for Atheopagans, non-theist Pagans, and those interested in or curious about our paths. It will take place Aug. 4-6, on private, redwood-forested land near Healdsburg, California, in the wine country of Sonoma County.

Due to a generous contribution by an anonymous benefactor, we have been able to reduce the ticket price to $40…which includes five meals! But this rate persists only until the end of June; after that, the event price goes back up to $90.

So get your registration in now! Directions to the site will be mailed to registrants; it’s about 20 minutes outside of Healdsburg.

Follow the link above for details about this exciting event, and go HERE to register. We look forward to seeing you there!