Starting a Practice
So many of us joyfully found our home and community in Naturalistic Paganism – coming from many possible places, sometimes quite recently. Some have come from a dry, boring lack of any spiritual practice. For others, it’s after (or during!) escaping from a toxic, controlling religion, often one we were told to obey as children. Or a complicated path to here, which doesn’t fit any simple descriptions. However you got here, Welcome Home! Stretch out, relax, & exhale – you are not alone. Now we can start to build a few practices to give you some of the benefits of this path.
Ready? It’s easy. We don’t require any initiation or application process. The wide variety of Naturalistic Pagan practices means that you have many good choices to choose from – but that wide variety in itself can be scary. You might feel overwhelmed by it: “But where do I start ??”.
If you feel brave and sure of yourself, then by all means simply jump to the practices at the Hub and begin your practices without hesitation! However, most new Naturalistic Pagans want to wade slowing into the waters a bit before jumping in. How can you make that goal small, incremental, measurable, and carefully tracked? For instance, The goal of “I will do Pagan practices more often.” is very likely to fail, especially compared with the goal of “I will read this short Sun gratitude spell aloud nearly every Sunday night, and will track it”. So I recommend these four steps first. (Alternatively, similar invitations to start a Naturalistic Pagan practice can be found here and here).
- Choose and start (perhaps on a good starting day, such as the 1st of the month) a small regular practice, such as greeting the Sun outdoors at the start of every day or week, drawing a tarot card from the deck at every full moon, celebrating each Sabbat/holiday of the Wheel of the year, making and updating a home altar for each New Moon or sabbat, making a regular ritual, or such. It helps to write your new practice down, in clear view in a useful place.
- Find other Pagans to connect to a wider community. This can be online, such as the rapidly growing group at the Atheopagan facebook page, our Naturalistic Pagan facebook page, a local Pagan group, a CUUPS groups at UU churches, some or one of many online options for those in areas without a local Pagan group or Pagan store. Any of these groups provide others to provide support, bounce ideas off from, simply to listen, and, if possible experience group rituals. Maybe find someone who will agree to be your “check-in person” for your new practice. A community is helpful for most, but not all, people. If that is not a Naturalistic group, you may want to view the supernatural components as symbols of natural parts of the world.
- Continue to use many sources to learn about the natural world (including spending time outdoors, either new or familiar), and recognize this learning as a vital spiritual practice in itself.
Remember this on your journey: It’s OK for your path to feel unfamiliar. In time it will be as natural as breathing. You get closer to that familiarity (and help silence that inner critic) every time you do your practice. Don’t worry about doing it “wrong” – instead, know that we are here to help, and many of us felt the same way once. Rest assured that it’s OK if you miss a day or full Moon or such (very likely at some point) – just jump right back in. In fact, on the times that I missed a day, or whatever, I’ve “saved” that one, and when vacationing, say, suddenly I found myself at a magical place, I have simply done it then. Do whatever works for you.
Just like learning to ride a bike or ski, keep up the practice. When you feel comfortable, you can go deeper by adding to your spiritual practices. Here is a useful resource – our Naturalistic Pagan Practices Hub! The Hub has resources on practices including celebrations for each sabbat of the Wheel of the Year, Pilgrimages, Sacred Beads, resources for parents, rituals, Tarot, and much more!