People ask me, “if your religion isn’t about gods, what, really, is the point? Why do you do it?”
It’s a valid question, because there are several things that Atheopaganism isn’t for. It isn’t for worshiping. It isn’t for entreating supernatural assistance, nor for attempting to influence the physical Universe through wielding of Unseen Forces. It isn’t for attaining an afterlife.
No, Atheopaganism can’t offer those things. It operates within an understanding of finites: that the Universe is finite (there are things we imagine that are not so); that our lives are finite (we die); that our powers are finite (we cannot affect the course of physical events merely by wishing to do so, however ornate and fervent our wishing may be.)
I have just returned from Pantheacon, a four-day gathering of 2,500 Pagans, Heathens and others for workshops, rituals, parties and socializing. I work in the Green Room there, checking in presenters as they arrive, so I don’t have as much time as I might to attend workshops and rituals, but I did make it to a few events this year, including two I played a role in: a panel on atheism in Paganism (packed to overflowing!), and the annual Spark Collective ritual, which emerges from the Fire Circle tradition. I led the ritual this year—it was entirely deity-free, btw. And I attended a lovely workshop/ritual led by Shauna Aura Knight on “Finding Your Personal Magic.”
These events, and the many warm and loving, happy experiences of interacting with friends between, make it clear to me what my religion is for.
Like any large community, the Pagan community has its share of crazy. It has its share of angry. It has its share of social ineptitude.
But by and large, what I see there is people trying to be better people, and to make the world a better place. A place with more love, more happiness, more justice, more sustainability.
My religion is about those things.
It’s about joy. It’s about using ritual and meditative techniques (“magic”) to heal from your woundedness and learn compassion from it. It’s about building and experiencing community. It’s about deepening the sense of connectedness with and celebration of the All that Is. It’s about creating more inclusiveness, and breaking down boundaries that oppress.
And it’s about fun. It’s about profundity, but it’s also about play.
I came away from Pantheacon feeling a warm sense of connection to the intersecting circles of people I know there, and of fondness for the whole shaggy outrageous enterprise. We may disagree profoundly on questions as large as the very nature of the Universe, but they are as a whole good people. People owning the wrongs they do and seeking to make them right, people opening their eyes to issues of injustice and privilege, people seeking to learn how to process conflict without emotional violence. People opening their hearts to celebrate.
I emerge from PCon into my Spring Fast with redoubled commitment to this community and to the good that can stem from it, as well as to my own Atheopagan work.
Which—as I was reminded by the shining eyes of the many who thanked me for organizing the panel on atheism in Paganism—is a worthy path. A way forward towards a better world.