One thing most Pagan theists have that Atheopagans do not is a belief that their gods care about Earthly matters.
Necessarily, this means that gods are trying to achieve their goals through the unfolding of history. Theists try to divine the will of their gods and behave in accordance with it. They tell themselves that what they care about and their hopes for the future of humanity have Larger Forces helping them to manifest.
For Atheopagans, change is inevitable, but it is not necessarily positive change. It conforms to the will of no conscious being. It is simply the unfolding of the Universe, and if it involves the actions of humankind, it is up to us to bring it about.
We are now living in times which threaten the United States with becoming a white-supremacist, straight-male-supremacist police state without worker, consumer or environmental protections and with an education system designed to serve only the wealthy. This is not hyperbole. As the execrable Trump rolls out his Cabinet picks, it appears his criterion has been to find the worst possible person for each job in question.
And there are no gods to save us. There are no supernatural forces to weigh against this political and cultural disaster. Just as there were none in the 1930s in Europe, nor in the 1940s and 50s in the Soviet Union, nor in the 1970s in Cambodia and Chile.
We are on our own.
At times like these, it’s easy to ask, why bother? Why waste our time and energy on rituals and observances? Why go through such motions when the world is burning down?
It’s a good question. I’ve been mulling it a lot lately.
And I have concluded that our religious observances and practices are now more important than ever. Here’s why.
- Our rituals and observances bring us into our power as humans. They center us in the fierceness of our personal Will. They let us know that even though the forces arrayed against us are great, we, too, are mighty. Each of us is a force to be reckoned with.
- They keep us focused. They remind us what is most important to us, and what we must do to serve what is Sacred.
- Finally, they draw us together into community where we can be powerful together. Resisting the coming storm is going to take a group effort. Bonds of love and friendship will be what keep us from becoming demoralized. From contemplating surrender.
This is not the time for temperate words, platitudes about everything being okay, or burrowing under the covers in fear or depression. This is a crisis, and we must neither kid ourselves about that nor shirk our duty to stand up now and be counted. Being practicing Atheopagans is a way to energize ourselves, keep our eyes on what must be done, and share the burden of these times not only in grim determination, but with joy.
The world is still magnificent. Life is still miraculous. Love is still sublime. And the truth is that we face the greatest challenge of our lifetimes now. We need each other more than ever. We need our sense of spiritual connectedness more than ever.
Be of strong heart, and do a ritual today. Don’t let your Focus get dusty (unless you like it that way!) Remind yourself of why you follow this path, of what matters to you.
We are far from defeated. Remember that Atheopaganism is a path for happiness. While we have great challenges ahead of us, we have an advantage our opponents do not: we are not cold-hearted and remorseless. We aspire instead to be the best humanity can be.
Light a candle. Burn incense. Sing. Dance.
Keep on living in the fullness of who you are.
If we do that, we are indomitable.
Originally posted at Atheopaganism, here.
An Atheopagan Life is a monthly column about living an atheist, nature-honoring life.
Mark Green is a writer, thinker, poet, musician and costuming geek who works in the public interest sector, primarily in environmental policy and ecological conservation. He lives in Sonoma County on California’s North Coast with his wife Nemea and Miri, the Cat of Foulness. For more information on Atheopaganism, visit Atheopaganism.wordpress.com, or the Facebook group at facebook.com/groups/godlessheathens.21.
Thank you so much for these words. I needed to hear them. Blessed be.
My feelings echo Trish’s. Your article is hopeful and helpful, Mark. May we all find strength and peace in our practice to live boldly in these times.
Thank you. It’s easy to feel defeated these days. Your insightful words helped.