Why Naturalism? Because This.

Yet another example of a Pagan in a leadership position using that position for sexual misconduct, citing woo-woo “spiritual” reasons involving disembodied entities and “magical bonds” as “explanations” for his abuse.

How far would such hokum fly in a naturalistic Pagan community?


At all.

Willingness to take someone’s word about supposed supernatural processes and invisible beings is a formula for being abused. Healthy skepticism would have tossed this creep out on his ear long ago, but the conventions of many Pagan communities which take at face value highly improbable assertions about the nature of reality create safe contexts within which abusers can operate.

Say what you like about naturalistic Paganism, one thing is clear: a naturalist thinker isn’t going to be lured or cajoled or strongarmed into being abused with “magical” explanations.

This happens too much in the Pagan community. A healthy dose of skepticism is the cure for the problem.

And here’s a rule of thumb: any time a “leader” or “teacher” of any kind suggests that to “advance” you need to do something sexual: RUN.


6 thoughts on “Why Naturalism? Because This.

  1. Pippa Abston MD, PhD, FAAP

    Hmm… while I agree that a naturalist wouldn’t get away with magic tricks, unfortunately, there are sexual abuses of power in secular human settings too. As a woman, the abuse of sexual power frightens me far more than the specific stories used to prop up that power.

    It’s actually a significant concern in atheist circles, which are dominated currently by powerful men, some of whom abuse their power without invoking the supernatural– or cover up sexual assault/ downplay it.

    I think it’s critical to recognize that in ANY context where power disparities can arise, organizationally or otherwise, we must be prepared to watch for sexual abuse/assault and confront it quickly. No group is immune.


    Liked by 3 people

  2. I agree, but healthy skepticism is still the solution–the kind of hero-worship that sets the table for abuse in secular situations is just as vulnerable to skeptical doubt as it is in “magical” communities.


    1. Healthy skepticism is >a< solution, but unfortunately not one for, e.g., main force. That I am skeptical of your right to someone else's body does not necessarily mean I can stop you from taking advantage.


  3. Being skeptical is good in any case. Yes, people do use spirituality to abuse people, and yes some pagans are gulliable to such abuse. But, simply being immune to spirituality and magic doesn’t mean that the person will escape being abused. They will escape being abused by that kind of abuse.

    Abusers groom communities as much as they groom individuals. They are adept at turning away skeptical questions and turning it on the person. The community re-enforces the worldview or groupthink what the abuser wants them to. In discussions of teachers who abuse students, parents are often split into the teacher would never do that and the teacher did that. Parents who report abuse are often told they are wrong. So, it is not as simple as not believing or believing in magic that makes someone a target for abuse.

    The question that can be examined is in which communities, is abuse most often reported or occur? Reporting of religious communities and school communities are abundant, but are there other areas underreported? Are Pagans more likely to be abused than Roman Catholics or United Methodists? Is it religion, or a figure of trust that is the factor?

    In my case, it was a minister who was a family friend. People trusted him. My family trusted him. Now, was the trust stemming from his position as minister? From his personality of being friendly and helpful? Perhaps a little bit of both.


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