Noble Ancestors

We have our real ancestors–blood relations, going all the way back to single-celled organisms if we go back far enough. 

But there are also those now dead whom we admire for their exemplary qualities: their courage, their intelligence, their wisdom. While they won’t have followed an Atheopagan path (as we’re just getting started), they still loom large in our memories.

I think of these “Noble Ancestors” as the equivalent of Atheopagan “saints”: they were once real people, and they exemplify various qualities we admire. In fact, I have been known to refer to “Saint Carl (Sagan)”, “Saint Galileo”, “Saint Nelson (Mandela)”, “Saint Stephen (Hawking)”, “Saint Charles (Darwin)” etc., with tongue firmly planted in cheek, but serious about the respect I feel for these historical figures.

Of course, who these figures are varies from person to person. We are certainly not going to have an Atheopagan pantheon of “saints”–you have to choose your own, if you so choose! But I know of a number of Atheopagans who honor such figures on their Focuses, and contemplate their examples as a part of their practices.

Reflecting on these “saints” helps us to understand: we CAN live exemplary lives. We can be brave, and kind, and honest, and curious, and joyous, and critically thinking, and committed to the truth. These extraordinary humans were, nonetheless, just human. Their examples reveal the extent of the possible, and illumine the way forward to a better world.

So think about it. If this concept resonates for you, consider putting an image of your Noble Ancestor(s) on your Focus. In fact, you can even buy Saints of Science Prayer Candles! (There are several sources for these, so shop around).

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Ave Fortuna!

A guest post by Kaigi-Ron


Ave is the principle of gratitude.

Of recognizing, in each moment, how incredibly lucky you are…because it could’ve gone another way.  It could be so very much worse…but, fortunately, it isn’t.

Ave Fortuna!

It all started with the Focus to Fortuna.  In this world ruled by chaos, she rolls the dice.  They cannot be unrolled.  So it goes.

I added miniature decks (both standard playing card and tarot), a pewter ship (the winds of change), plus a full set of D&D dice.

May the Odds Be Ever in Your Favor…

…and I’m reminded of a passage from Leonard Mladinow’s book The Drunkard’s Walk – all about how we perceive randomness.  Think for a moment about rolling dice.

Is that process truly random?

Can you practice rolling dice and improve your game?

Can external factors “throw you off”?

(answers: yes, no, and no)

But even when I’ve asked my colleagues with science degrees, they often struggle against this illusion:  That external factors can somehow alter randomness.

That you can appeal to Fortuna – kiss her ass, give her what she wants, and she’ll reward you.  Hey, it works on people, so of course it works on Gods, right?

Sometimes the mere illusion of control is enough.  Thus I complete my ritual before my Atheopagan Focus.

Ave Fortuna!

In a Dream of Incense and Candlelight

My Focus is densely populated, because I like it that way. It is rich with meaning and history: places I have been, things I associate with important principles.

In its candlelight, illustrations of cave drawings from 35,000 years ago flicker. A Homo Erectus stone tool rests for a tiny percentage of its existence. Images of the Earth, of the Hubble Deep Field image, of rivers I’ve run and canyons I’ve hiked, and precious, beautiful things from Nature; symbols of my chosen family and of this community; A chalice of rain water; a bouquet of wheat; a quartz crystal and one of tourmaline; a slate engraved with a triple spiral; a bowl of acorns. My sacred rattle, which I’ve used in so many rituals. The program of the first Moon Meet. My Atheopagan rosary.

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On the shelf below, in the Underworld, reside the Honored Dead. Images of the interior of the Newgrange passage burial, of owls. A deer skull, a mummified bat, a dessicated pomegranate. Bones. A sugar skull for Dia de Los Muertos. A human femur. A blown glass bottle of rose water which I used to anoint the body of my goddess-daughter’s five-year-old brother when we buried him, and have used to anoint the foreheads of celebrants in Hallows rituals since. A bough of yew gathered from a cemetery on Halloween, and with which I will light the Hallows fire this year.

An hourglass.

And pictures of those who are now gone.

Beneath those, in the bottom shelves of the bookcase, all the tools: the incense and censor, the oils and Tarot decks and water from sacred wells and books of sacred poetry.

This…construction, this illustration, this expression lives in my room. It is where the heart of my spirituality finds material expression in my home.

On nights like tonight, when my heart softens and I ease into the way of being that is wonder, is awe, is delight, I think of all of you out there who are interested in this path, in this way of being. Yours will not be mine, and that’s fine.

But we share something, wherever in the world you are. We are Atheopagans together.

Tonight the Moon swells. Tomorrow the long day of the mighty Sun dawns.

And we are paying attention.

I’ve been sad, lately. The world, my personal life. Not going so well.

But there it is, that Moon. Here they are, those stars.

Here it comes, that blazing Sun.

The world turns as it turns, and the waves at the coast go in and out, and Robinson Jeffers is right:

The beauty of things was born before eyes and sufficient to itself; the heartbreaking beauty

Will remain when there is no heart to break for it.

There is awe and gratitude to be found even in the darkest of times.

I am grateful for you, reading this. I call to your deepest heart to breathe, to open, to see what the Sacred world pours out for you.

To know that you are blessed.