We Naturalistic Pagans tend to be very “heady” folks. We talk a lot about ideas, and even when we talk about practice, we sometimes shy away from the subjective side of things.
In addition, when it comes to our practice, many Naturalistic Pagans tend to be more on the minimalist side of things. (Check out, for example, Brendan Myers’ description of his “Minimalist Religion”.) This may be due in part to a general suspicion of religious ritual among humanists.
And there’s nothing wrong with a minimalist practice, if you find it satisfying. But sometimes we want or need more. Sometimes, we need the evocative power that comes with the “trappings” of religion, the symbols and poetry and paraphernalia, the “smells and bells” as high churchers say — but still without the superstition. This can be challenging for Naturalistic Pagans who, even more than other Pagans, are making it up as we go along.
Recently, B .T. Newberg described his vision for the future of Naturalistic Paganism in the coming years and decades. One of the things I would like to see in the short term is more writing about our subjective religious experience. Encouraging deep religious experience requires crafting religious technologies to evoke those experiences.
There is a lot of great writing by and for Naturalistic Pagans about the Wheel of the Year, here at HP and elsewhere. One ritual every 6 1/2 weeks days may not be enough to sustain a personal religious practice, though.
This column was conceived by Rua Lupa, who proposed adding a tab above with links to resources. But in order to do that, I think we need to create some resources. In this column, I want to share ideas for religious technologies which we might use or adapt to deepen our Naturalistic Pagan practices. I will be sharing the ideas and experiences of others, as well some of my own, and I welcome you to send me your ideas for future posts. If you have discovered a ritual or meditative technique which works for you and that you would like to add to our Naturalistic Pagan Toolbox, click here to send me an email.
About the Author
John Halstead is Editor-At-Large and a contributor at HumanisticPaganism.com. He blogs about Paganism generally at AllergicPagan.com (which is hosted by Patheos) and about Jungian Neo-Paganism at “Dreaming the Myth Onward” (which is hosted by Witches & Pagans). He is also an occasional contributor to GodsandRadicals.org and The Huffington Post and the administrator of the site Neo-Paganism.com. John was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment,” which can be found at ecopagan.com. He is a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community, which is described at GodisChange.org. John is also the editor of the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans.
To speak with John, contact him on Facebook.
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Very excited about this column!
Great idea, John! I particularly like the idea of “crafting religious technologies” that work, but do so without having to buy-in to the supernatural beliefs that these things are usually bundled up with. Looking forward to seeing how this develops.
I think this is a fantastic idea! Really important and also practical. There’s a lot of thinking about stuff in the naturalistic paganism world, and not nearly enough doing stuff (at least for me!).
Hello John, I have been very busy lately and I like to stew on post a little bit as opposed to just posting just any old comment. With that said, I am excited about this new series of postings. When I saw that you used the word “technologies” that really took me back to my college years. Before I even started calling myself a Humanist / Pagan / Occultist, I studied the occult with a Sociology professor while working on my undergrad degree. He used the term “technologies” to describe various practices you are the only other person I have heard use that term besides those postmodern occultist who practice what is call Chaos Magic(k). As a naturalist, humanist, and occultist (terms I use in combination or singularly depending on my mood / situation), I feel that our various methods and modes of practice is what helps me to stay grounded. Most of us who come out of a religious background (theistic) have roots to ritual and liturgy of some sort… Even a person in the Amish community has their own ways of doing things in regards to their spiritual practice. I think that using such experience and taking that “technology” with us can better our own ritual practice. When I shared your post with a friend of mine whom I collaborate with on ritual design, his eyes brightened up. Paul (who asked that I not use his real name), was raised Pentecostal Christian in the Appalachian Mountains though in a different state than I. Though his own background was not ritual “high church” to use your terms, his own mountain culture, music, art work, and impromptu style of prayer has influenced my own practice. My own belief that everything is sacred and should be cherished uses that impromptu style along with the concept of genius loci makes my own ritual / practice feel genuine and rooted in the land and culture that I am apart of here in Central Kentucky. I look forward to reading more of your great post, and learning something new about others naturalistic pagan practices. Keep up the good work John!