Paganism generally—and Atheopaganism specifically—comprise intersecting sets of growing communities.
And as we grow, we change.
Generally, for example, the Atheopaganism Facebook group has been a very kind, warm context, but there has been more friction lately, and a need for more hands-on moderation.
This is inevitable. When we were a group of 300 people, it was easy for people to know one another and for norms and conduct standards to be implemented organically.
But now, there are nearly 2,000 people in the group, with about 20-30 coming in each week. Those folks don’t know the group vibe yet, and some of them are used to an Internet that is pugnacious and argumentative… as well, for those who have belonged to other Pagan online groups, as deeply credulous in scientifically unsupported beliefs.
None of this is anyone’s fault. It is a natural result of the growing popularity of Atheopaganism as a path and a community. And fortunately, we’ve been able to calm the waters again and return to a thoughtful, kind atmosphere most of the time.
What I’ve seen in the broader Pagan community is that while we once all practiced together and didn’t worry about who believed what, we are becoming increasingly segmented by ideology and tradition. Unfortunate, to some degree, but also inevitable, humans being as they are.
As I write this, smaller Atheopaganism groups focused geographically are starting to define themselves. I think this is great. But it is once again, a change driven by growth: there are now enough Southern Hemisphere Atheopagans, UK Atheopagans, Dallas/Fort Worth Atheopagans and New York/New Jersey Atheopagans to make the leap at convening their own online (and, in some cases, real world) spaces.
What does this mean for me? Honestly, not too much other than the thrill of seeing my baby stand up on its hind legs and start to toddle along on its own. I am going to keep right on creating material and resources and events, and helping to get the word out about this path as a viable option for scientifically-minded people who yet seek meaning and connection and a sense of values and purpose. I’m drawn to stay in touch with such smaller groups, but as they proliferate that may not be possible with all of them. I’m only one person, after all, with work and a life.
A part of this transition that I really love, in fact, is that I have never wanted to be “the leader of Atheopaganism”. I’m the founder, but that doesn’t have to make me the leader. All I can do is speak the truth as I see it, exercise my creativity in celebration of what brings me joy and wonder, and encourage and foster others as they create their own practices, however much or little they may draw upon my ideas.
So here is to change! May it bring happy surprises and lucky breaks, and many more fellow journeyers with whom to share this path we are creating together.