Ritual for Atheists: a Note of Encouragement

This post is directed to our friends in the atheist/skeptic community. Thanks for checking out Atheopaganism! I’m glad to have you here.

And I want you to know that I know: it feels a bit silly to start with.

When you first start doing Atheopagan rituals as an atheist who has never had a religious practice, it feels contrived and hokey and uncomfortable. It can also feel good, but the discomfort often undermines the sense of rightness or meaning rituals can bring.

I know, because I went through it. It’s been nearly 30 years now, but I remember only too well how uncomfortable I was when first confronted with standing in a circle holding hands, talking in flowery language to invisible Presences, drumming and dancing…all of it, the whole megillah.

The challenge for atheists who move in the direction of ritual observances is that the atheist/skeptic community lauds the analytical part of the brain, and many atheists are accustomed to living there as much as they can. And that is the exact part of the brain you want largely to turn off during ritual.

Now, Atheopaganism makes it somewhat easier for you. As far as we’re concerned, there aren’t any invisible Presences, and personally, I avoid unnecessarily flowery language: inspirational poetry is one thing; lobbing lofty thees and thous all over the place is just…awkward.

Where I’m going with this, fellow atheists, is to encourage you to keep going. Being able to relax and surrender into the Ritual State is a learned skill; it gets easier. And the rewards are tremendous.

Ritual practice can open a whole new dimension to life that is filled with meaning, kindness, joy, love and emotional healing. It can make us wiser and better people.

So take a deep breath, and begin. Do solitary rituals so you don’t have to feel self-conscious. Work with your family, or a friend.

And try to keep a straight face. It won’t be too long before the thought of rolling your eyes never even occurs to you.

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