Two Thousand and Counting

Atheopaganism started out with me talking to myself.

Fifteen years ago, after two appalling experiences in the Pagan community, I quit. I retreated from the community and my friends, I let my altar gather dust, and I abandoned my rituals and observances. But soon I missed my ritual life, and so I began an exploration into the meaning of religion, how it serves the various appetites of the human brain, and how a religion can be based in the real world as described by science, and yet still meaningful, moving, and life-enhancing.

The story is told in the essay that grew out of that period of exploration, and in my book.

Long story short, I created a description of Sacred Pillars, ethical Principles, and ritual practices rooted in reality as described and verified by scientific investigation: a Pagan practice that didn’t ask a practitioner to subscribe to fanciful and unverified claims.

It worked for me. And some friends asked me about it, so I sent it to them, and I stuck the essay up on Scribd in case anyone else might find it interesting.

Flash forward to today.

Now, first of all, one of the things I learned in short order was that I wasn’t the first to connect a naturalistic worldview with Pagan practice.

So I make no claim to that innovation. I know there are at least 20 people out there who came up with their own versions, and wrote about them online, and if only I had done a better job of research, perhaps I would have found and subscribed to one of those.

But mine appears to have caught on in a significant way. And today, we celebrate the growth of the online Atheopagan community (on Facebook) to more than 2,000 members, with more coming every day.

By every metric—Facebook members, blog followers and visits, and most recently., downloads of THE WONDER podcast—Atheopaganism is growing in apparent appeal and scope.

And a part of me is still floored. I just did this for myself, not to start a movement.

And yet, here we are, we Atheopagans. More and more by the day.

We believe in the Sacredness of the world, of the great Cosmos as they are. They need no invisible intelligences or woo-woo forces in order to be so. And we, humans, a product of cumulative evolution, are flawed to be sure, but also magnificent.

We believe in the power of mythic, poetic, ritual behavior. We know it can help us to be happier and better people, to foster a better world.

That’s enough. The rest is details.

I think about those thousands of people scattered across the world, building their practices, celebrating the Earth and the turning of the seasons, committed to kind and progressive values, working to make a better world, and my heart could just burst with the love I feel.

Thank you for joining me on this journey.

I’ll close with the dedication from my book:

This, nonbelieving seeker, is for you.

It is for you in your search, in your intellectual integrity, in your joy and your frustration.

You’re not alone.

There is a way to marry the spiritual urge and the rational mind.

Let’s talk about it.

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