The Idea Behind PostPaganry, Part 1: Introduction, by Glen Gordon

Back in March of 2014, I wrote an article for Humanistic Paganism about “Why I Am Not Pagan.” In this article I briefly mention my blog PostPagan but did not expand upon the idea of Postpaganry which spawned that project. Since writing for Humanistic Paganism and discovering Atheopaganism written about by fellow HP writer Mark Green, I feel it is time to revive and revise those ideas for HP’s beloved readers.

The term’s original intent was a humorous take on Neopaganism and postmodernism, reflecting my discomfort with the Pagan label. Where postmodernism is a skeptical critique of the values expressed in modern literature, art, and philosophy, likewise Postpaganry is a similar critique of Neopaganism. When I shared the idea with the BioRegional Animism community, it was popular enough that I inherited the now defunct BioRegional Animism Pagan blog project from the community’s founder Marcus McCoy (a.k.a. Little Lightning Bolt) and renamed it PostPagan. Over time, the blog expanded into my personal mind dump and explored themes within my personal life. Yet the core of PostPagan remained about building spiritual traditions from the ground up, from the very places where we lived, inspired by ecological analysis of ancient European mythology. I envisioned Postpagan as a label for those disillusioned by Neopaganism and seeking a land-centered form of spiritual naturalism.

There are four cornerstones of Postpaganry which I touched on briefly in my article mentioned at the beginning which I feel deserve further explanations to be shared here at HP. They are in no particular order.

  1. Religious / Spiritual Naturalism: a system for building modern spiritual traditions based upon modern understandings of the universe, life, and the human condition provided by science
  2. Bioregional Animism: a worldview exploring the intimate kinship and identification within our ecosystems and the other-than-human community we share the land with
  3. Sensitivity to Appropriation: being allies to disenfranchised cultures of other places, times, origins, through understanding of the negative effects appropriation can have on them and taking a hard stand against cultural misappropriation
  4. Renouncing Interpersonal Theology: Human-like deities with which one can have an interpersonal relationship are irrelevant to the spiritual experience; however, naturalistic interpretations of impersonal deities can be helpful metaphors.

Eventually I chose the suffix -ery over -ism for some specific reasons. They both have several meanings.  Within context, -ery is less associated with religion then -ism. I make this distinction because the primary meaning attached to -ism is an “adherence to a system or a class of principles” [1]. The connotative meaning is associated with belief in the religious context. This furthers the misunderstanding in western society that religion requires a strict adherence to a specific belief, yet religions like the liberal Quakers, Unitarian Universalism, forms of Neopaganism, and Engaged Buddhism (to name a few). The suffix -ery on the other hand denotes a state of collective qualities, a practice, a place where something is done or is happening, a condition, or state of being [2]; to me, the ideas of PostPagan encompassed all those definitions as was stated in its introduction:

“Postpaganry doesn’t belong to anybody and it belongs to everybody. Postpaganry is the moment when you are the most alive and aware of the world around you. Postpaganry is when that moment sweeps you away in to spontaneous ceremony and celebration of life within and all around you. Postpaganry is the place where you feel the most at home, where you connect to the natural living-world in deep and intimate ways. A Postpagan is someone who looks for the sacred everywhere they go. A Postpagan takes breath as sacrament. A Postpagan can be anybody at any time. A Postpagan is someone who feels with their whole being, and that scares them and elates them at the same time.”

I am inspired to revisit and revive the ideas I had previously written about and bring clarity to a concept which I had dedicated considerable time towards and give it new life here at Humanistic Paganism. I will continue to expand on the four cornerstones mentioned above and look forward to constructive criticism and new ideas that this community my provide.

[1] Merriam-Webster Online definition of -ism

[2] Merriam-Webster Online definition of -ery

The Author

Glen Gordon was introduced to Paganism by friends while living overseas in Europe during the late 90’s. He underwent both Wiccan and Neodruidic training during his formative years, but had not self-identified as a Pagan when his path diverged into land-centered spiritual naturalism ten years ago. His focus has been on cultivating beneficial relationships with the natural living world surrounding him wherever he lives. During this time, he discovered Unitarian Universalism and has been active in his local congregations for many years. Since 2007, he has worked on varied projects regarding BioRegional Animism, including this 5 minute video, the words of which came from a short UU sermon he gave. He has spoken on the topic of ecology and the land on a few occasions for his local congregation and facilitated a now-disbanded group of UU Pagans and spiritual naturalists. In the past, he maintained the blog, Postpagan, and is excited to share some of that material at HumanisticPaganism. Currently, you can find Glen writing occasionally for No Unsacred Places and helping achieve Green sanctuary status for his beloved UU community, where he helps create and lead ecological aware earth- and land- focused ceremonies for the solstices and equinoxes.

See Postpagan Ceremony & Ecology posts.

See all of Glen Gordon’s posts.

9 Comments on “The Idea Behind PostPaganry, Part 1: Introduction, by Glen Gordon

  1. I really love the ideas you articulate, Glen. The only disconnect for me is the label itself, stemming (as we’ve discussed elsewhere) from our different experiences with the larger community. I came across your term “PostPagan” just as I was becoming aware of the movement, and felt distinctly like I’d arrived at the party just as the cool people were leaving.

  2. I din’t know there was a party other then the one in my head. Life had a way of distracting me with otherthings these past few years. However, I do remember our conversations and was glad to see you had found the atheopagan group on facebook and see you writing on HP. The thing about the lable, is just that, its a label, one invented in jest at that, but it feels like a good time to revive and re-evaluate the ideas that label represented to me.

  3. Glen-

      Great post!  I've enjoyed your previous posts as well.  On your four points - I wonder if #4 is mostly covered by #1 already, and if #3 and #2 both fall under some kind of "promote the healthy growth of our world" umbrella.

    Best – Jon

    • you wonder if . . . . what? your message kind of just cut off right there.

      • Looks like Jon has run afoul of some kind of built-in formatting feature, probably related to that leading space before the word “Great.” Anyhow, I found I was able to copy and past Jon’s comments so I’m pasting them for the sake of convenience and hopefully legibility: “Great post! I’ve enjoyed your previous posts as well. On your four points – I wonder if #4 is mostly covered by #1 already, and if #3 and #2 both fall under some kind of “promote the healthy growth of our world” umbrella.”

    • These are good sugestions Jhon. However. With #1 and #2 am looking at how these two distinct current of thoughts have informed what I described as postpaganry. I did consider merging #4 and #1 but felt it would make for a lengthy post and would be easier to examine #4 or as a possibility of #1 but not a inevitable conclusion of it. #3 I felt needs its own space because it a subject that easily gets lost in the larger public discourse.

  4. Pingback: THIS WEEK IN WITCHCRAFT (1.23.2015) » BAD WITCHES

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