All of us in the nontheist/SASS*/Atheopagan sphere start out having to contend with that pesky internal Critic Voice that says, as we begin to move out of our ordinary mental states and towards creating or participating in ritual, “THIS IS STUPID. YOU’RE MAKING A FOOL OF YOURSELF.”
For we are practical, rational folk, yes? We sift the world for evidence to make our determinations. So actions for no concretely definable reason become questionable at best. Ergo, the Voice.
Yes, that voice speaks JUST LIKE THE CHARACTER DEATH in the late lamented Sir Terry Pratchett’s novels, with as much authority and gravitas and certainty.
The difference between Death and your inner critic, though?
The critic lies. A lot.
In fact, most of what the critic says–though it may contain an irritating droplet of truth–is lies. It’s trying to keep you small in order to keep you safe, but…you don’t want to be small, do you?
Ritual is a form of play–even when it’s solemn and earnest–and play is a deeply important thing in human experience. Playfulness fosters happiness and celebration. Playing together builds community with others of similar worldview and values. But we have been cudgeled throughout our upbringings with the Christian Overculture’s ideas of “putting away childish things” and “acting our age”.
It takes courage and effort to reclaim our childlike, wondering, enjoying-the-magic-of-living selves. So when you lay down that cloth and start to create a Focus, tell that nattering voice thanks, but no thanks: you would rather be silly than captive to a mentality that exalts suffering over joy.
It gets better over time. After all these years, I find it pretty easy–almost automatic–to enter the presence and glow of the Ritual State.
But if you are just starting out and can’t remember your birthright, let me spell it out:
You have the right to be witchy and dramatic, to be silly and playful. And to express the wisdom that is You.
You are entitled to All The Feelings. You are an Experimenter, a Voyager, an Explorer of the endless wonders that are yourself and your world.
Your license in these pursuits is UNLIMITED save by the required consent of others you enlist to pursue them with you.
By the authority vested in me by dint of being a human being,
Signed very cordially,
with love and kisses,
*SASS: Skeptical, Atheist/Agnostic, Science-Seeking Pagans and witches.