What are your top three most-valued elements of Humanistic Paganism?

Thing on Thursday #2

Evolution happens.  This site began with a statement of principles called the Fourfold Path, but Humanistic Paganism has evolved quite a bit since then.  Now it’s high time to revisit the basics.

The goal here is not to decree what individuals should believe or do.  Far from it!  The idea is to find out what values we hold in common.

Think about what you, personally, value most about the Humanistic Pagan path.  Nevermind what’s already been put forward, this is about your vision.  What do you value most?

If you feel more than three are absolutely essential, please say so in the comments, perhaps ranking your choices in order if you like.  Furthermore, are there elements missing here?  Are some inappropriate?  Why or why not?

No doubt there will be a lot of “yes, but…” and “only if…” responses, so feel free to elaborate.

Please share your thoughts in the comments below!

About Thing on Thursday

Althing in Session, by W.G. Collingwood

This post is part of a series of councils on matters vital to the future.  The name represents both the generic term for, you know, a thingie, as well as the Old Norse term for a council of elders: a Thing.

Each week until the Winter Solstice, Thing on Thursday will explore a new controversy.  Participation is open to all – the more minds that come together, the better.  Those who have been vocal in the comments are as welcome as those quiet-but-devoted readers who have yet to venture a word.  We value all constructive opinions.

There are only a few rules:

  • be constructive – this is a council, so treat it as such
  • be respectful – no rants or flames

Comments will be taken into consideration as we determine the new direction of Humanistic Paganism.  This will also greatly shape the vision that unfolds in our upcoming ebook Our Ancient Future: Visions of Humanistic Paganism.

So please make your voice heard in the comments!

18 Comments on “What are your top three most-valued elements of Humanistic Paganism?

  1. >I also value connecting to ancient wisdom.

    Ah, okay. I guess I would have put that under relationship with mythology, but perhaps that’s not necessarily implied.


  2. So far it looks like Naturalism and Sense of Wonder are top values. And that Magic and Divination are not on the radar. But its a small sample size. I’d like to see what it looks like a dozen or more votes from now.

    I honestly like all of them with the exception of magic and divination. I feel like mythology has gone a bit stagnant as you don’t get really any new tales about heroes, the characteristics of nature, moralities, stories of perseverance and overcoming the odds, etc. that are in tune with what is happening in today’s world. That is something I’d like to see more of with mythology. Don’t get me wrong though. The tales of old are still of great value, just have different cultural influences and views than from today.

    I would like to see responsible action more defined, but could see that as something that would be refined over time by further posts from the community.

    Embrace of Nature is something that I think is important, but can drop out with further votes. If it gets the green light, I’d too like to see that more defined.

    Sense of wonder kind of comes with the package deal to me. If it were not for my awe of Nature and all that it has to offer, I wouldn’t be spiritual in the first place.

    Rituals and Meditations are definitely a part of the spiritual experience for me and I’d like to learn more about whats already out there and if there is a feeling that there are gaps to be filled. If there are any gaps, learn where and what they are, and figure out how to fill those gaps. As I sense that is something a lot of us feel – I could be of the marker though.

    • I like your comments, Rua! I totally agree with what you mentioned about the Sense of Wonder (and everything else for that matter).

      At first, I thought… the myths stagnant? No way! But what you said is right on. When applying them to the “outside” world, it can be very hard to find relevance. Looking inside is where the power of our ancient myths reside for me, (which you covered by stating that they still have value, I imagine).

      Something else you mentioned that I like are the potential gaps Humanistic Pagans may have concerning meditation/ritual. I’d be very interested in seeing more discussion on this. I don’t know that I personally have gaps, but extending and evolving spiritually as a naturalistic/humanistic pagan could benefit massively from discussions that might arise from that topic.

      • For the myths of old, what I had in mind was more specifically the humanity that they express. Our flaws and greatness and so much more are told in these tales. They make us question ourselves, about who we are, and where we are going. That is the very essence of these myths, that is their value. That is what I’ve always enjoyed them for when I started jumping into finding uncommon myths, usually African based. You begin to notice how some of them are a snapshot of the views and politics of the time, or have had different things tacked on over time as views and politics changed. You gain a whole new appreciation.

        As for the rituals and gaps. I just booted a forum on the Ehoah website that mentions some of the likely gaps and would love to hear what you folks think – http://silvacollo.hoop.la/forums

        • I understand what you meant now. I have definitely seen this in Teutonic mythology.

          I’ll try to swing by and check out your forum soon. My time has (unfortunately) been too limited lately to get involved in deep discussions, but hopefully that will change within the next week or so.

        • I look forward to see what you have to say on the forum. Hopefully you get more free time in the future. If you find that it may take a longer time than a week or so, no prob; as it is just new and hasn’t really started any conversations yet. I don’t want you to feel pressured when you don’t really have time. This is one of those things in life that can definitely wait 🙂

  3. Currently, naturalism has a narrow lead in the poll, followed closely by relationship with mythology, embrace of nature, responsible action, and sense of wonder. Rituals and meditations are slightly behind these, and magic and divination has been left behind in the dust. Connecting to ancient wisdom was also mentioned as another value worth noting.

    I’m not surprised to see magic and divination trailing. Personally I do think they have something to teach us about the mind, but I it doesn’t seem like an absolutely crucial element, more like one avenue to to get at our other values, like embrace of nature and sense of wonder.

    I’m glad to see so many voted for naturalism, as I do personally consider that a crucial defining element of what we’re doing here. There are many kinds of naturalism, though, so I think the next Thing on Thursday will seek refinement of that idea.

    Rua, thanks for your in-depth commentary on each of the important elements. You make a really good point that responsible action hasn’t been defined that well yet. I’d love to see more articles on that in the future (yes, this is a call for submissions!).

    Thanks everybody for voting and comments, and if you haven’t voted yet the poll will remain open!

  4. Here is something that Trent Fowler posted on The Rogue Priest Blog of Don’t Send Those Kids to Church:

    “Trent Fowler
    October 8th, 2011 at 1:02 am

    I couldn’t agree more. You know what I think would be a cool project? Writing scientific/philosophical epic poetry. All religions have their literature, their hymns, their stories. Science doesn’t. Can you imagine writing from the perspective of an electron immediately after the birth of the universe, or telling the story of evolution in iambic pentameter?”

    This is precisely what I’ve been trying to convey about modern myths and tellings. But he had phrased it better, although I could do without hymns.

    • Mind, that this part is the only part I’ve unintentionally left out of my previous comments in relation to myths. The part that science has been left out of the human stories.

    • Trent should read Lucretius. His Epicurean epic poem is one of the few in history to take on a scientific subject and actually succeed at making decent poetry.

      Michael Dowd’s writings on “big history”, telling the epic of evolution and the universe, isn’t set in poetry but it gets at the same idea in prose.

        • Sure, here are the titles I know:

          Lucretius work, his only surviving one, is called On the Nature of Things, or De Rarum Natura.

          Michael Dowd has a number of books. Right now I’m reading his Thank God For Evolution.

          Glenys Livingstone makes use of these big history ideas in a more explicitly Pagan way in her Pagaian Cosmology, which is available free from her website.

          Dowd and Livingstone are both picking up on currently begun by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme, which have also influenced Starhawk.

          Um.. okay I think that tops out my knowledge in that direction. 🙂

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  6. I vote on those four elements I have control over. A sense of wonder, while so important, is something that I experience outside of my control. I don’t choose to be filled with wonder. I just am. Appreciatively. The four valued elements I actively choose to practice to define myself as a humanist pagan would be meditation (to learn about myself), relationships with mythology (to learn about my past), responsible action (to better my present and future), and naturalism (as a reflection of my view and position in the cosmos).

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