Themes for Atheopagan “Welcoming” Gatherings

This past weekend, a handful of us threw a successful Atheopagan gathering for the Harvest Sabbath.

Not everyone there was an Atheopagan. Not everyone there had even heard of Atheopaganism. But we ate and drank and socialized and circled together, and a good time was had by all.

And isn’t that the point?

Where I’m going with this is that wherever you live, there may not be self-identified Atheopagans to gather with. Not right away, at least. But there are people: folks who might very well enjoy a seasonal gathering with a theme, socializing and food, and a short acknowledgement of the meanings of the season in ritual form. Those folks may find, in time, that doing these Atheopagan rituals—perhaps even helping to design or officiate them— is something that interests them, and they may want to learn more.

So think about it: who might you invite to something like that? The gathering doesn’t have to be huge; even 6-8 people can have a great time together. You can start to pull together a working Atheopagan community simply by being hospitable and offering experiences that are connecting, meaningful and memorable.

Here are some suggested themes and activities for Atheopagan gatherings at various Sabbaths around the year*:

Yule (winter solstice): family and community, the return of the light, the longest night

Slogg (3rd Saturday in January): “second Christmas” party, community, getting through winter

Imbolc/Brighid/Riverain (~Feb. 1) : early spring, making Rain Babies,

High Spring(vernal equinox): dyeing eggs, playing childhood games, candy and desserts

May Day (~May 1) : playfulness, arrival of summer, Maypole, May wine.

Midsummer (summer solstice): the peak of the light, the longest day, evening gathering, outdoor games

Summer’s End (~Aug. 1): picnic or beach/river day, go berry-gathering, bake bread

Harvest (autumnal equinox): harvest feast, celebrate the year’s “harvest”, gratitude for abundance

Hallows (~Oct. 31/Nov. 1): Halloween, spooky fun, costumes, ancestors and remembering those who have died in the past year.

One reason we practice Atheopaganism is to connect with our fellow humans. Wherever you are, I hope you will reach out and extend invitations to friends to join you in simple celebration of seasons, rites of passage and the fact that we are alive.

May your gatherings be well-attended, fun, and rich with meaning!


*These are for the Northern Hemisphere; reverse the dates for Southern.

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A Warm, Relaxed Gathering for Harvest

Due to the low turnout for Moon Meet 2018, those of us in attendance at that event had a discussion about how best to make local Atheopagan in-person events more accessible and attractive. Some of our conjectures were that it was asking too much to expect people to come for a multiple-day event for their first gathering with us, and that the site for Moon Meet was too remote for some of the prospective attendees.

I mention these concerns because we are a far-flung community, distributed across the globe. Any lessons we learn can be used in creating your own events and gatherings*.

Accordingly, three of us planned a Harvest gathering on the autumnal equinox which was only a few hours long, required little commitment (a potluck dish), and was closer to a population center of group members than to where I happen to live.

The result was lovely! There were somewhere between 15 and 20 of us, and we had a nice Harvest potluck feast followed by a ritual to celebrate the season. Very eclectic group, including several folks I’d never met before, and a couple of charming kids.

We declared our individual personal “harvests” for the season, and the things we are grateful for. We celebrated community. And we enjoyed each other’s company with song, food and drink.

Success! We’ll be doing more of these gatherings going forward and look forward to meeting more of our local Atheopagans and friends to celebrate the seasons.

Thanks particularly to Kaigi-Ron and Joe for their help in organizing this event.

 


*And I do encourage you to create your own events and gatherings! For longer and more complex events, an Event Planning Guide with budget and planning timeline spreadsheets are available on the Resources page.

 

Join Us for a Harvest Celebration!

If you’re in the San Francisco Bay Area in the United States, we welcome you to join us for a potluck Harvest celebration on Sept. 22! It will be held from 2 to 6 pm at the Orchard Picnic Area in Tilden Park, Berkeley. Bring a potluck dish to share and something to drink*, your own plates, cups and cutlery, and any items you would like to place on the group Focus to represent your harvested achievements for this year.

One of the lessons we learned from Moon Meet this year is to hold events that require less of a time and logistical commitment, so we’re doing Harvest this year in an area not far from where many of our Facebook group members live, and only lasting a few hours. Please RSVP in the comments if you are coming, so we can plan for numbers!

If you’re too far away to be able to attend this event, I hope you will hold your own! Harvest is a great time to introduce friends to Atheopaganism through a community feast and a simple celebration ritual, giving thanks for all the year has brought us, including our friends and community. Just holding hands and expressing our gratitudes can be a very powerful ritual for people who aren’t used to them.

Check out the linked articles on Harvest (link in the first paragraph) for ideas, and be sure to ask questions if you need help! I wish you the happiest and most abundant of Harvest celebrations with your friends and family.


*Beer, cider and wine are welcome, but no hard alcohol, please.