A Solar Reflection

It’s the day after Midsummer—at least, here in the Northern Hemisphere—and it’s hot and sunny, as one would expect. Meanwhile, the chaos weather of global climate change goes on: Banff had 25 cm of snow last night.

I had a quiet Midsummer: set out my Sun Broom to soak up the sun and wove some additional lengths of wild rye into it; contemplated my Focus for awhile.  The day became very hot and we mostly lay about under a fan with our clothes off.

These are the longest days of the year, and those many hours of daylight bring a sense of possibility with them: so much time to do things, so much potential. And yet there is also a feeling of leisure, of relaxation: with so much time, why rush?

For myself, around now is when I feel the urgency of the world recede. It’s not that it isn’t there—witness the horrific concentration camps the Trump kakistocracy is jamming migrant children and families into, and the latest news on global warming—but for a moment, it seems with these warm and luxurious days, the oppressiveness of the news and the facts of our global situation recedes. And I feel almost…optimistic?

Yes, crashes are coming—or, rather, in progress: an economic crash as capitalism collapses under its own metastasized weight; an ecological crash as the planet warms, biological communities unravel and mass extinctions take place; and a human population crash as our ability to flog food out of the soil deteriorates with increasing climate chaos, rising oceans drive waves of climate refugees into areas that can’t support them, and idiot xenophobia keeps migrant agricultural workers away from the crops they would otherwise pick.

Yes, that’s happening.

Still, I look at what is happening in culture and I can’t help but to be encouraged. Awareness—and disapproval—of racism, sexism and homophobia are skyrocketing as older generations die off. People who embrace those ideas are kicking up dust right now, but they’re dying, and good riddance. And credulity in gods and the supernatural is plummeting. It’s going to take awhile, but people who believe in evidence and critical thinking and the social contract are on the ascendant.

And then, there’s us. We naturalistic, Earth-revering Pagans, including Atheopagans.

We are, I believe, collectively forming the embodied and implemented answer to the age-old conflict between science and religion: between loyalty to the factual truth and feeding the parts of ourselves that need stories, and rituals, and meaning.

And we’re doing so around values of kindness, inclusiveness, wonder and joy, both lived and advocated for.

I believe that counts for something in the world. I believe that the healthier we are as people, the louder our voices for those healthy and kind and Earth-loving values are, the more of an impact we have, even in the midst of the crashes.

People are tenacious. They are singularly difficult to extirpate, even in an ecological collapse. Inevitably, survivors migrate to somewhere more benign and set up shop, with their innovative minds and clever adaptations, and they make a go of it once again.

I intend and believe that our values and practices are informed by the lessons of history: that they are what we need to bring forward into the new cultures that will be born after capitalistic consumer culture can no longer be sustained.

So, as I said: optimistic. The long days leave me looking at Long Time, and understanding that a time of collapse and damage and ignorance isn’t the end of the story. Rather, it is an opportunity to begin writing the coming chapters.

Thank you for joining this journey with me—for helping to inform and develop Atheopagan culture and practice. Even here at the ends of many things, we are not powerless, and we are not defeated.

I’ll close with a chant I wrote for fire circle rituals, and sing pretty often (I’ll put up a YouTube video with the tune tomorrow, if anyone is interested):

We believe in a better world
We believe in justice
We believe in a better world
We believe in peace
We believe in a better world
We can heal our Planet

We won’t bow down.

We won’t bow down.

On a Foggy Summer Morning

It’s a soft, foggy morning: the kind we often have in coastal Northern California summers, where inland heat has pulled cool, moist air from the ocean over us like a gray flannel blanket. The fog will burn off in late morning. leaving a perfectly temperate, sunny day.

Great for gardens and humans, such weather fills me with a sense of blessing at where I live, the systems and flowings of the land, air and water. Soon I will drive to work past redwood forests and vineyards, a green balm for the eyes.

Wherever we are, the magic of Planet Earth is going on around us. Getting to know the processes, the creatures and their habits, the trees and plants is a way to become literate in our own landscapes–not because the names are important, but because distinguishing between the many characters in the stories going on around us helps us truly to be grounded in reality.

So if you don’t already have one, consider picking up a bird guide or a tree identifier. You don’t have to become a fanatic about it, but learn the common creatures and plants in your area. You may be surprised at the unique things you learn about them.

But that’s for later.

For right now, look around and see what brings you joy.

I am seated in bed with a laptop and a cup of coffee, my cat sleeping at the foot of the bed, with cool air falling in the open window behind me. Today I drew the Page of Wands from the Tarot deck on my Focus: The Inventor.

What will I create today, I wonder?

I wish you this sense of contentment, of curiosity, of abundance. May as simple a thing as cool air and a cup of coffee inspire in you the happiness I am feeling right now.

 

The Magic of a World Without Magic

Atheopagans are what is called in philosophical circles naturalists. That means that we believe that everything is a part of nature, is composed of natural material, and is subject to the laws of physics.

Everything.

Accordingly, barring the arrival of a substantial and compelling body of evidence in support of the idea that rituals and mental effort can and do affect physical events at a distance in time or space—i.e., “magic”—we don’t believe in that, either.

There are some in other Pagan paths who express pity for this position (not to mention resentment, but that’s another matter). As if living in a world without gods, without ghosts or demons or fairies or hocus-pocus is somehow a disappointment.

But here’s the thing: for those of us not looking for such things, there is so much in this world—this tangible, unarguably, physical material world—to knock us out with wonder and joy that we don’t need more.

Sunsets. Moonrises. Rain and snow and lightning. The morning mist rises and the dew bejewels everything. Clouds. Mountains and forests and deserts and rivers and lakes and oceans. And on, and on, into the infinitude and eternity of that starry sky.

As the great naturalist poet Robinson Jeffers has it:

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 so much more here on plain, mundane Planet Earth, on our precious bejeweled home than we can ever experience. There is so much more to love than our hearts can ever stretch to encompass.

And it unrolls before us daily. The sky is an endless wonder. Contemplation of a single tree blowing in the wind can bring a surge of recognition and joy to those who know how to look. The mountains rise on the horizon; the trees breathe oxygen and lift their broad arms in celebration. The mist kisses our faces.

And then there are the animals. Not the least of which is the confounding and magnificent hairless ape, homo sapiens.

Ours is a world so rich with wonders, so rife with gifts that no amount of travel and adventure can scratch the surface of its abundance. None of us, in the space of a lifetime, can truly know what a gift it is to have arrived in existence on the multiply blessed third planet from this Sun,  one of quadrillions in this, the only Universe we know to exist.

We need not gild the lily with imaginings. We need not kid ourselves that we have powers we do not have.

While we are reeling with the sheer WOW of being alive, others chase ghosts and gods.

They are welcome to them.

For us, this life is enough.

This Sacred Earth is so, so much more than enough.