MOON MEET: A Weekend with Atheopagan Friends

Moon Meet 2017 was wonderful! A warm, fun gathering, where we shared meals, rituals, discussions, workshops and a vision for Atheopaganism as a growing path.

I went up to the site on Thursday, the day before the event began. Joined by so-helpful Atheopagans Orin, Jody and Collette, we helped site owner Jeffry to complete tidying the site, to decorate with paper lanterns, signs with inspirational quotes and white “Christmas” lights. At night, the forest became magical. We enjoyed a delicious dinner and shared community as the feeling of the event began to settle in.

On Friday, we continued to prep the site until the rest of the attendees began to arrive. Tents sprouted here and there. We prepared the ritual circle by building altars (thanks, Orin!), cropping overhanging branches and raking the ground down to the dirt to protect against the spread of fire, and installing an iron fire pit (thanks to Steve and Jonathan—so sorry your emergency wouldn’t allow you to stay).

Friday evening’s potluck meal was delicious. The spark arrestor for the fire pit hadn’t arrived yet, so we didn’t have a fire that night, but we enjoyed shared company with conversation and a Bardic circle of singing, recitations and other offerings.

Saturday after breakfast (thanks to Jeffry, Bethany and Sally for making sure we had coffee early!), we held our workshops: a ritual dance workshop with Dakini (thanks to Jody for drumming!) and after lunch, Jody and Collette’s workshop on ritual rhythm, vocalization and circle dancing.  Fun!

Thereafter, we had a discussion session to plan our ritual for that night. It was great to share a collaborative process where the suggestions of each participant were incorporated into the overall structure we settled on.

Then: taco night!

The sun set, and we went to make our preparations for the ritual, dressing in ritual clothing and gathering what materials we needed. The air was warm and still; Jody sparked the fire with a flint and steel, and when darkness had fully gathered, we processed into the circle, each asperged as we entered with orange blossom water with a sprig of rosemary.

What followed was meaningful and joyous. I don’t like to describe what happens in a ritual, as it rarely sounds as powerful as it is, so I will leave off the details. But suffice to say we grounded, toned, sang, circled the fire, invoked our aspirations, spoke our gratitudes, did some deep work, and communed with the full moon rising silver through the trees. Hours later, we completed the ritual and then some of us remained at the fire, just enjoying one another’s company. Deep conversations then; real human connection, as we have around pit fires for hundreds of thousands of years.

Sunday, after another abundant breakfast, we joined for a conversation about the future of our community and of nontheist Paganism as a path. There was general agreement: let’s do more of this! So we’re planning some of that, including a spring gathering next year and another Moon Meet next August. We discussed how to get the word out to more of the Atheist community. And we talked about the kinds of offerings that we might present at Pantheacon 2018; more on that soon.

For those of you who weren’t there, I hope that the takeaway from this report is to start to create some of your own opportunities for this kind of community-building. They don’t have to be huge and elaborate; just an opportunity for people to come together, share meals and learning and ritual space, and grow closer.

Atheopaganism is about being happier and better people, and working for a better world. A powerful way to advance those goals is to build community and increase human connectedness. Moon Meet definitely fulfilled those goals for me, and I believe it did for the other attendees as well.

Success! A step forward. If you wanted to come but weren’t able to make it, I hope you will consider coming next year!

I would like to extend my deepest thanks to EVERYONE who helped make the first Moon Meet a success. THANK YOU!

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