This is a bit of a bandwagon post. John Beckett and Jason Mankey have just posted about “Five Bad Reasons to be a Pagan” and “Five Good Reasons” to be one, respectively. They’re at Patheos, which I no longer link to, but you can find them easily if you like.
Their posts got me thinking about how happy I am with my Atheopagan practice. It’s been ten years this year since I stripped the god-imagery that I really didn’t believe out of my practice and completed my essay on why I wasn’t going to pretend any longer.
At that moment, a profound sense of relief and “rightness” swept through me. Finally, I felt I was practicing spirituality with both feet firmly on Planet Earth. I could fill with love and celebration at the glory of the natural world without cheapening it with the idea that it was trying to communicate with me, or cared about my path or behavior. I could confront the fact of my impending death without kidding myself about afterlives or reincarnation. I could conduct meaningful symbolic rituals without either being self-conscious about them as “pointless” nor presuming that they had power and significance beyond those they have for me. And I could stop pretending that there are exceptions to what science can study and assess.
Arriving at Atheopaganism—divesting myself of old and discredited “occult” systems and theologies, embracing the science that affirms the power of ritual and religious practice—has proved tremendously beneficial to my inner life. It has thrown my arms wide to the sheer wonder and beauty of What Is, without having to make it wear the forms of goddesses and gods and other pretense.
Here, then, are five great reasons to be an Atheopagan:
Connectedness to the Magnificence of the Real. You can keep your scientific rationalism, your critical reasoning, your insistence on believing only in things for which there is credible evidence, and still enjoy the benefits of religion through Atheopaganism.
In Atheopaganism, we don’t feel the need to gild the exquisite lily of the Universe. They are enough: the good Earth, the mighty Cosmos.
A Path of Exploration and Growth. Atheopaganism both demands that we grow as people, and provides us with tools with which to do it. Through ritual, through inner journeys, through personal work, we seek to be the best people we can be.
Values and Principles. Mainstream Paganism is a bit thin on articulated values and principles. But Atheopaganism is more explicit about how to live a life of integrity and goodness. We hold truth, beauty, love and life sacred. We conduct ourselves to be the best humans we can be. We are actively engaged in making the world a better place. We are the people we have been waiting for.
Freedom. Atheopagans have no rigid religious dogma. We have no hierarchy of leadership. We have no ordained system of religious observance. Ours is a make-it-yourself religious path whose keystone is to do what works for you. We encourage adaptation of the cycle of holidays and the structure of ritual to fit your local context and your personal tastes. Atheopaganism is your religion, for you.
Happiness. This is your life. It’s the only one you’re going to have, and by comparison to the processes that evolve life and the Earth and the Cosmos, it is incredibly brief. Atheopaganism is about embracing that life. engaging it at all the levels from the intrapersonal to the societal. It is about being joyous and connected and grounded and powerful and alive.
Life is a precious gift. We should live it to the fullest, and that includes coming to know ourselves deeply, to connect deeply with one another, to celebrate the beauty of the journey and to improve the world while we’re here. Atheopaganism is a means to all of these ends: a path for a richer, fuller. more profound life.
At least, it is for me. I hope you feel the same.