Looking back, Looking forward, by John Halstead


John Halstead, Incoming Managing Editor, Humanistic Paganism

Officially, my job as managing editor does not start until next Sunday, but I’m very excited, and I wanted to give you a preview of what’s to come.

Looking back

But before I do, I want to look back briefly.   It’s hard to believe that just over two years ago, this site began as B. T.’s personal blog.  It is only through B. T.’s ambitious vision, peerless skill as an author and editor, and tireless hard work that HP has become what it is today: a community for hundreds of Naturalistic Pagans and friends.

Just recently, I came across these words in the introduction to HP’s first ebook, Year One: A Year of Humanistic Paganism: 

“Finally, I have a name! … your site more than anything else gives me hope that the term “Pagan” can be reconciled with humanistic values. … I was on the verge of abandoning the term Pagan altogether because of the associations with supernaturalism, until I found [this] site and this group. Thanks!”

Those were my words to B. T. two years ago, and they are more true today than ever before.  And I know many more people out there feel the same way.

I’m glad to know that B. T. will be staying on as advising editor and treasurer.  And I am also very grateful for the work done by NaturalPantheist as our social media coordinator.  I look forward to working with them both.

Looking Forward

Here are some of the exciting things you can look forward to here at HP.

Regular Columnists

This December we will start having regular columnists as some of our contributors.  I will be announcing who they are in November, so keep your eyes open for that.  It’s my hope that having columnists will provide some increased continuity to our content.  There will still be plenty of room for your submissions, so keep them coming!

Semi-Seasonal Themes

One thing you will notice right away is that we will have different themes which will change semi-seasonally (8 times a year).  The theme for the rest of this month will be “Finding Meaning”.  The theme for late fall will be “Death and Life”.  I will be sending out a call for submissions a month or so in advance so you can start thinking about what essays, articles, and art you would like to submit.  Eventually, I’m going to try pushing our boundaries a little with these themes.  For example, the theme for early spring 2014 will be “Intuition”, and I will be looking for visual art and poetry, as well as submissions on what role intuition might play in a Naturalistic Pagan practice.

Monthly Meditation

Once a month we will have a meditation post.  This will be a poem, book excerpt, or video designed, not convey information, but to stimulate an experience.  I would like to encourage our readers to take these posts as an opportunity to take a short break from everything else.  Rather than treating these posts the way you would any other post, set aside 10 minutes someplace quiet and semi-private to have an experience.  While we won’t all be doing this at the same time, many of us will still be doing it “together” in a sense.  And if you would like to send in submissions for these monthly meditations, they will be welcome.

HP Calendar

Right away you will notice that the regular humanistic holiday posts will be replaced by a single post on the first of each month which will tell you what to look forward to that month.  The first one will be posted tomorrow.  You can also find a complete Humanistic Paganism Calendar here, or under the Practices tab above.  Additional content will be added to the Calendar as the year goes on.  The information previously found on the Calendar page can be found on the Seasonal Celebrations page here, and also under the Practices tab above.  For those of you who follow Sagan’s Cosmic Calendar, we will have a Cosmic Calendar Special on December 31.  We hope this will free your inboxes and RSS feeds up a little.  This will also reduce the likelihood of receiving multiple posts from HP in one day.

Discussion Prompts

All the regular Sunday submissions will be followed by a poll or a series of questions designed to stimulate more discussion.  That is where our community really happens: in the comments to the posts.  So have fun with the polls, but remember to comment afterward.

Big Picture Stuff

On thing I would like to do is to reach out to the broader Pagan community and stimulate more interaction with our community.  While a vocal minority of Pagans may sometimes feel that our naturalistic community does not belong under the Pagan umbrella, it is my experience that the majority of Pagans welcome us and are sympathetic to our unique form of Paganism.  We have many friends and allies among Pagans who do not explicitly identify as Humanistic or Naturalistic.  We grow mutually through respectful interaction.  I welcome your suggestions as to how we can accomplish this.  At the same time, HP will continue to be a home and refuge for those who want a Paganism without supernaturalism.

I would like to see this interaction with the broader Pagan community extend to greater participation by Naturalistic Pagans in Pan-Pagan events like Pagan Pride Day, Pantheacon, Pagan Spirit Gathering, and Paganicon.  A couple of years ago, one of our contributors, Eli Effinger-Weintraub, participated in a panel discussion at Paganicon, humorously entitled, “Those Godless Pagans: Non-Deistic and Naturalistic Paganism”.  Eli reported that the discussion was very positive.  And a more public presence at these events could help us reach those Naturalistic Pagans who are not active on the Internet.

And while we’re talking about gatherings, I would like to start a discussion about a real live Naturalistic Paganism event, like an indoor conference or outdoor campout.  There are enough of us now that I think that we can make that happen in the next few years.

Join Our Staff

We’re looking for a few individuals to join the staff here at HP.  First of all, we’re looking for a Science News editor.  There is lots of exciting science being done, and we need someone who can help identify what would be of most interest to Naturalistic Pagans and include it in our content here.

We’re also looking for an HPedia editor who will move the project to a wiki format and then oversee it as it develops through open collaboration with other Naturalistic Pagans.

We’re also looking for an ebook editor who will bring together some of the work we have done here with some new content to produce a marketable product.

If you’re interested in any of these positions, email me at humanisticpaganism [at]  gmail.com.


Lastly, we need your submissions!  Only a fraction of the content here at HP comes from unsolicited submissions.  Ideally, the reverse would be true.  We’re hoping that the semi-seasonal themes and calls for articles will stimulate more submissions.  Send your submissions to humanisticpaganism [at] gmail.com.

As your editor, I will strive to provide the same professional and personal support that you are used to from B. T.  I welcome to your suggestions for further improvements.  Thank you for helping to make HumanisticPaganism what it is.  I look forward to an exciting future for this site and our community.

John Halstead
Incoming Managing Editor

5 Comments on “Looking back, Looking forward, by John Halstead

  1. Exciting stuff. I’m especially heartened to see meditation as a regular theme. And engaging the broader community. I also like the idea of a real live event.

    Many props to B.T. for developing the site to this point. I’ve been very impressed by his consistency and diligence. I know from personal experience that there comes a time in a project’s life cycle when fresh blood is needed. And there are few things more gratifying than seeing the torch carried forward by other willing hands.

  2. This all sounds great, John, I’m very excited! And I’ll definitely work on submissions for the semi-seasonal themes. I love the themes idea, particularly at this point when there’s already so much content on the site, and I’m sure finding or coming up with new material is a bit more challenging.

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