Once Upon a Time in the Eighties

A memory, for May Day/Beltane…

It wasn’t really a fabled time. There was a lot wrong with it.

That said, there were things about it that were golden.

It was a moment in Northern California, in the Pagan community. It mostly took place in wild places, in woods and deep forests.

We danced naked under the full moon. We celebrated our rituals around a blazing fire. We made love in meadows. We took drugs: psilocybin mushrooms, San Pedro cactus. MDMA.

And in that golden, loving space, alive with the joy of living, the world singing around us, we grew. We evolved. We healed.

Again, to be fair: there were those among us who were unbalanced, and remain so.

But then, there were the rest of us.

We got better.  We became healthier, more alive, more connected to the deep truth of ourselves.

The moment passed. Paganism in NorCal became more urban, less pastoral.

And let us be honest: we got older. More sedentary. Less apt to show our now-pasty bodies Continue reading

Real! Live! Atheopagans! (Details on Moon Meet)

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.

For me, this is a dream.

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: Sacred World Dance by Dakini Uma Amitabha; Songs of Power by Hummingbear
12:00 Lunch
1:00 Workshop slot: Music and Dance in Ritual by Joe Veahman; Courting the Hero Within by Venee Lotusfire
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 Workshop slot 3: Science & Paganism by Lupa
3:00 Hike or Excursion to Healdsburg (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.


Science and Paganism
Instructor: Lupa
Spirituality is often assumed to be the opposite of the material, physical world. Many Pagans like to speak in terms of the Otherworld, magic, spirits and other ethereal concepts. Yet for many of us, nature is at the heart of our paths, and we can deepen our understanding and belief through knowing more about the everyday nuts and bolts of natural sciences. Join Lupa as she discusses how evolution, physics, astronomy and other scientific concepts can be woven in with nature spirituality.
Lupa is a naturalist pagan author, artist, and citizen scientist in Portland, OR. She is the author of several books on totemism and other nature-pagan topics, to include “Nature Spirituality From the Ground Up” (Llewellyn, 2016) and is the creator of the Tarot of Bones. She creates ritual costumes and other art from hides, bones, and natural and recycled items. All things Lupa may be found at http://www.thegreenwolf.com

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.

Protip for Straight Pagan Men

There’s a thing straight Pagan men do. As I’ve observed it, they kind of do it a lot. Recently, I’ve had a couple of conversations that have brought this issue into high relief.

They do it mostly to signal to women they don’t know very well—but are attracted to—that they are hip and cool and sex-positive.

It’s this: they make sexual jokes. Double entendres, puns. “That’s what she said.”

Guys, please stop this. It’s creepy. It makes people uncomfortable.

Not to put too fine a point on it, when it’s unwelcome, it’s sexual harassment. By definition, unwelcome sexual overtures, jokes, suggestions are all sexual harassment.

And here’s the thing, gentlemen: with people who you don’t know very well, you can’t tell if it’s welcome or not. People might laugh along, while inwardly dying.

So please, don’t do it. With your friends, fine; you know them, you know what they find funny and acceptable. If the person you’re talking with starts in on that vein, then also fine: they started it, and you’re welcome to play along. But when you’re attracted to someone new and you’re trying to make an impression, don’t be creepy. Lay off the sexual “humor”.

Being sex positive is not the same thing as being sexually enthusiastic. It means being respectful of the sexual agency of others, as well as yourself. It means embracing the principle that consent is ultimate, and that if someone isn’t interested, it’s time to knock it off.

The conflation of male lustiness with sex positivity is a legacy holdover in the Pagan community from the male-dominated “do what feels good” unconsciousness of the Sixties. It’s been 50 years, and it is long past time we made a definitive effort in the Pagan community to put that to rest. It’s sexist as hell and it excuses what is, to be frank, rape culture.

Obsessive focus on sex is really the same thing as being sexually repressed: an unbalanced approach to sexuality.

Don’t be a sniggering teenager. Don’t be a marauding creep.

Just be a respectful, healthy man.

 

(I have not been able to confirm this, but I suspect the illustration is a cartoon from xkcd.com)