An Atheopagan Path: Journeys in the Sacred World

Musings, values and practices in non-theistic Paganism

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Mark Green

Mark Green

Mark Green is an activist, writer and nonprofit professional with a background in environmental public policy and electoral campaigns. A Pagan since 1987, he presents at Pantheacon and has been published in Green Egg and the anthology "Godless Paganism" (for which he wrote the foreword). His Pagan writing appears here, at the Humanistic Paganism website (humanisticpaganism.com), at the Naturalist Pagan site (naturalpagans.com) and at the Atheopaganism blog.  

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Presenting Ourselves to the World

It is not a surprise that as it was being founded, Neopaganism looked to an imagined pastoral and pre-industrial way of life as an inspiration.

Modern Paganism's inaugural moment in the United States, about 50 years ago in the late 1960s into the mid-1970s, occurred at the same time that the Romantic idealizations of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Dungeons and Dragons and Renaissance Faires and the newly created fantasy genre and the rosy aspirations of the "back to the land" movement were taking over the aesthetic and emotional landscape of young people: particularly smart, geeky college students of the exact demographic which eventually became the Neopagan base.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    There is an interfaith organization in California called PICO-CA (the PICO used to be an acronym, but I can't find for what; proba
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Thanks for your comment. >Also here's an important advocacy question, for protection against religious discrimination do non-thei
  • Mariah Sheehy
    Mariah Sheehy says #
    To be honest, religion in general isn't covered much by the media, and when it is covered it tends to be framed in particular ways
  • Tyger
    Tyger says #
    You make some very good points. I also think, there might be more people considering paganism, if they didn't have this picture of
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Indeed! And we need more of us. More of the Earth-lovers. More of the justice-seekers. More of the kindness-dealers.

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Rites of Passage #1:  Naming Ceremonies

Some time ago, I wrote a piece about Atheopagan Rites of Passage. In it, I described life milestones that might be celebrated by an Atheopagan, and which we as Atheopagan “clergy” (we’re all clergy, since we have none—below, the ritual leader’s role is noted as “celebrant”) might be asked to officiate over.

On reflection, it occured to me that just talking about these rites of passage probably isn’t helpful enough: that having some guidelines for each such rite would be helpful to the community. So here goes the first installment in a new series: Rites of Passage.

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Naturalism, Monism, and the Philosophy of Atheopaganism

Atheopaganism is a naturalistic religion: that is, we believe that all that exists is a part of the natural, material Universe, and is subject to its laws. We revere this material Universe—the Cosmos—as Sacred and magnificent.

As naturalistic Pagans, we do not subscribe to the idea that there is an Otherworld within which reside magical and/or disembodied entities such as gods, spirits, ghosts or fairies. We expect scientifically credible evidence in order to support a proposed idea with our belief, and there simply is none for this Otherworld and its supposed residents.

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Innovation vs. Tradition in Paganism

The mainstream current of modern Paganism has made much of celebrating “Ancient Ways” and “Old Gods”. This creates an inherent tension between old (or putatively old) practices and beliefs and the innovations and achievements of modernity.

Elements of the broad Pagan umbrella range widely across this expanse. At one pole, you have Reconstructionists, for whom ancient ideas and practices are pretty much everything, and those of other paths who choose to continue to believe (despite much scholarship to the contrary) that today’s Paganism derives from an unbroken lineage of tradition stemming from medieval times or earlier.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Thank you, Lisa!
  • Lisa
    Lisa says #
    Thanks for the great blog! There's some great ideas for me to think about here. I especially like the way you framed the idea of h
  • Mark Green
    Mark Green says #
    Carol, thanks for your comment. Yes, hopefully we have learned a thing or two in the past thousands of years. We have a long way t
  • Carol P. Christ
    Carol P. Christ says #
    I could not agree with you more in calling attention to the fact that there is a danger in simply "following" any tradition, espec

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Summer's End

As I celebrate the Wheel of the Year, the midpoint between the summer solstice (Midsummer) and the autumnal equinox (Harvest) is Summer’s End. I call it that because this is the moment when Autumn first becomes detectable in my region: in the angle of the light, in the hard blue of the sky, in the sputtering of the fog cycle to bring searing hot days, and in the first turning of early leaves.

Summer’s End’s metaphorical meanings relate to work and craft, to technology and toolmaking and effort. It is the time when the harvests of hay and blackberries and early summer vegetables are at their height, so there is a lot of work to be done. Gardens are producing and gophers are marauding and the relaxed waiting of Midsummer is gone as the fruits of labor begin to come to ripeness. It is the beginning of Autumn: the time the labor of early harvesting begins in earnest.

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What Is There to Live For?

In an atheistic world, many ask: what’s the point? What is the purpose of living if there’s no judgment, no afterlife to be attained, no cosmic plan or purpose?

I can’t tell you what is meaningful in your life. Perhaps it’s your art, or your family: being the best parent (or grandparent, or aunt or uncle) you can be. Perhaps it’s the sacred calling of a career of service to the Earth, or to fellow humans. Perhaps it is simply to enjoy the pleasures of this abundant world.

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Hail, the Magnificent Sun!

Whose warm love flows across the land each day

Stirring Life, the world’s magic, arms yearning up,

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