The Problem and the Promise of Paganism, and Why One Looks a Lot Like the Other

The Problem of Paganism

The question why I am “still” a Pagan implies that there might be reasons why I would not want to identify as Pagan any longer.  And there are.  I believe that Paganism has the potential to transform our relationship with the earth, with each other, and with our deeper selves—but a lot of the time, I cannot relate to other Pagans.

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… or maybe psychology.

Among other things, I have a problem with the common Pagan belief in practical or instrumental  magic—the idea that we can cause physical change at a distance without corresponding physical action.  To me, this kind of “magic” is just ritualized wishful thinking.  It is based on the false premise that thought or intention alone can change the material world.  Worse, I think it can become just another form of “technology” that contributes to the disenchantment of the world.

I also have a problem with belief in invisible beings, including gods, spirits of ancestors, fairies, and so on.  Not only do I find such beliefs to be irrational and unsophisticated, these belief also resemble too closely the belief in an invisible monotheistic God that I abandoned before I became Pagan.  I just don’t see any metaphysical difference between Yahweh and the Morrigan—and so I don’t believe in either.  Like Carl Sagan, I believe “the world is so exquisite with so much love and moral depth, that there is no reason to deceive ourselves with pretty stories for which there’s little good evidence.”

But it’s not just magic and gods.  Paganism unfortunately seems to be taken by many as a license to believe any fantasy we want want. “So, you were a priestess in Atlantis or you were burned as a witch in a former life? So you can see fairies? You collect pretty rocks with magical powers? You can control the weather with your mind? You can heal people far away by sending them positive energy? Well, it’s all good because you’re Pagan.” The one rule seems to be that no one is allowed to question another person’s beliefs.

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Seriously?

Paganism doesn’t have any commandments per se, but if we did, I think First Commandment of Paganism would be “Thou shalt not judge another’s experience”.  And that’s a problem.

If we really want to avoid orthodoxy, as we Pagans so often claim, then we need to have more discussion, not less–and some of that discussion needs to be constructively critical. We Pagans need to get comfortable with idea that criticism can be constructive.  So long as we avoid criticism, we are vulnerable to self-deceit and groupthink.  Sometimes that criticism can come from friends, but sometimes it takes an outsider to challenge us to ask the hardest questions about ourselves and our experiences.  When done in a spirit of openness and humility, critical questioning benefits both sides in the conversation, and the community as a whole.

Unlike many Pagans, I don’t have any qualms about telling people I think they are wrong to believe as they do.  While I’m not going to deny that anyone had an experience, I am entirely comfortable with criticizing other people’s interpretations of their experiences…and I invite people to do the same for me. There is, I think, a critical difference between judging other people’s experiences and judging their interpretations of their experiences.  I won’t tell another person that they didn’t feel what they felt, but I will question the meaning they have assigned to their experience.  Admittedly, this can often feel like the same thing to the person whose interpretations are under scrutiny—especially for those who don’t acknowledge the interpretive step.  But it is precisely those experiences which seem to come with ready-made interpretations that we most need to examine critically if we are to lead authentic religious lives.

Rather than “Thou shalt not judge another’s experience,” I would rather see the First Commandment of Paganism be, “Thou shalt keep an open mind.”  And this would be observed by both sides in any conversation.  On the one hand, it would protect against groupthink and unconscious orthodoxies. And on the other hand, it would protect against destructive forms of criticism which are born of a need to be right about everything.  I recognize that everyone needs safe spaces where they can talk about their experiences, and their tentative interpretations of those experiences, without fear of criticism, constructive or otherwise.  But if that’s where we choose to stay, then those “safe spaces” become intellectual ghettos.  And I am afraid that is what a lot of the Pagan community has turned into.

The Promise of Paganism

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Morris Berman’s “The Reenchantment of the World”

In spite of all of this, I still believe in Paganism.  More than any other contemporary religious movement I have encountered, I believe Paganism has the potential to reenchant the world.

Morris Berman, the author of The Reenchantment of the World, writes that the story of the modern epoch is one of progressive disenchantment, a loss of the sense of our essential participation in the world.  To facilitate a scientific understanding and control of the natural world, humankind sought to separate itself from nature, to step “outside” and become observers of the world, to see the world as an object.  “Scientific consciousness is alienated consciousness,” writes Berman.  The problem is that this became not just a scientific method, but our ordinary, everyday consciousness. The result has been individual neurosis, social alienation, and environmental degradation.

A reenchantment of the world means the fostering of an expanded consciousness of the radically interconnected nature of our relationship to the world.  “Change the prevailing mode of consciousness and you change the world,” wrote Theodore Roszak, the father of ecopsychology.  A reenchanted consciousness runs counter to the social and spiritual alienation which is the inheritance of a positivistic science which reduces nature (including human beings) to mechanism and a consumeristic capitalism which reduces all of nature (including human beings) to resource and commodity.

These two forces—positivistic science and consumer capitalism—level life down to only those things which can be measured and bought and sold.  Nothing else is considered real or meaningful.  These two forces have such power over our minds, so deep rooted are their assumptions, that it becomes nearly impossible for us to imagine any other way of being.  And so many treacherous parodies of freedom and joy are manufactured by our culture, that the only name we can think of for our gnawing sense of unfulfillment is “mental illness”—and for such “illness” copious amounts of pills are available.

Paganism holds out the promise of restoring our awareness of a dimension of reality that eludes the grasp of the scientist and the salesman.  This is dimension of human experience which includes what might be called “magic”—not the disenchanted magic of the occultists for whom it is just another technology, another means of controlling nature, but magic as an expression of wonder and connection.  It is what the atheist Richard Dawkins calls “the magic of reality“.  This dimension also includes the sacred.  “Magic” and “sacred”—the first is a byword to the positivist, the second is meaningless to the consumer, but they are I think two of the most human of experiences.  There is nothing other-worldly about this dimension of experience.  To paraphrase the words of Paul Eluard: “There is another world, but it is this one.”

Years ago I came across a description of the “practical mysticism” of Emerson, which I think describes what I am looking for from Paganism:

“far from being fogged behind seven veils of Rosicrucian obscurity and centered in the inmost sphere of taboo and sanctity—is rather a hardy energy, met externally and internally, as rugged as the Andrew Jacksonite woodsman and pioneer, as common and yet as enigmatical as a dandelion, available to all, and as essential to the chemistry of the mind as the gases of the atmosphere – like life itself, dangerous and delicate, oftener below the consciousness than above it.”

This is what I seek in Pagan ritual—not fantasies and wishful thinking—but life, more life.

The Catch: One Looks A Lot Like the Other

But separating this promise of reenchantment from all the superstitiousness in Paganism is not simple.  In fact, the two often seem intertwined.

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Ken Wilber’s “Pre/Trans Fallacy”

Ken Wilber talks about what he calls the “pre/trans” fallacy.  I’m not going to do Wilber justice here, the idea is that human psychological development moves through stages from pre-rational magical thinking to the rationality of scientific thought to trans-rational consciousness.  The trans-rational stage transcends the limitations of positivistic rationality, with its egocentrism and logocentrism, but without loosing its insights and falling back into superstitious magical thinking.

The difficulty is that the pre-rational and the trans-rational sometimes look a lot alike, and it is easy to confuse them.  So a person who thinks they have transcended the the limitations of rationalistic consciousness may simply have reverted to a pre-rational mode of thought.  And this, according to Wilber is exactly what a lot of Pagans have done.  (Incidentally, some folks on the other end of the belief spectrum make the same mistake: failing to see any distinction between the pre- and trans-rational, they condemn it all as irrational.)

So how do we distinguish the pre-rational from the trans-rational in Paganism?  How do we regain the sense of “magic” and without resorting to superstition?  How do we incorporate the wisdom of pre-scientific cultures without loosing the rigor of the scientific method?  How do we restore a sense of life and even personhood to our experience of the world without projecting our own imaginings onto nature?  How do we awaken to other modes of consciousness without regressing into psychological infantalism?

I don’t have the answers.  For now I will say that, in spite of the tendency of many Pagans to confuse the pre-rational with the trans-rational, in spite of the uncritical attitudes and superstitious ideas that haunt a lot of Paganism, I still call myself a Pagan.  I am still a Pagan because I believe that Paganism is a door to the trans-rational.  I believe that Paganism has the potential to bring together the wisdom of our animistic forebearers and the discoveries of contemporary science in a way that has the power to reenchant the world.

If I may quote again from one of my favorite authors, Theodore Roszak: I think what he wrote about the Sixties Counterculture applies equally well to contemporary Paganism (which not coincidentally arose out of the Counterculture):

“… I am at a loss to know where, besides among these dissenting young [and old] people and their heirs of the next few generations, the radical discontent and innovation can be found that might transform this disoriented civilization of ours into something a human being can identify as home. They are the matrix in which an alternative, but still excessively fragile future is taking shape. Granted that alternative comes dressed in a garish motley, its costume borrowed from many and exotic sources—from depth psychiatry, from the mellowed remnants of left-wing ideology, from the oriental religions, from Romantic Weltschmerz, from anarchist social theory, from Dada and American Indian lore, and, I suppose, the perennial wisdom. Still it looks to me like all we have to hold against the final consolidation of a technocratic totalitarianism in which we shall find ourselves ingeniously adapted to an existence wholly estranged from everything that has ever made the life of man an interesting adventure.”


Sources

Berman, Morris. The Reenchantment of the World (1984)

Greenwood, Susan. The Nature of Magic (2005)

Frisk, Trudy. “Paganism, Magic, and the Control Of Nature,” Trumpeter, Vol. 14, No. 4 (1997)

Harryman, William. “Can Paganism Ever Be Post-Personal?” Integral Options Cafe (May 17, 2006)

Mondale, Lester. “The Practical Mysticism of Ralph Waldo Emerson” in Mysticism and the Modern Mind, ed. Alfred Stiernotte (1959)

Roszak, Theodore. The Making of a Counter Culture (1969)

Rowan, John. “Paganism and the Pre/Trans Fallacy,” Pagan Dawn, Imbolc-Spring Equinox No. 186 (2013)

Wilber, Ken. Up from Eden: A Transpersonal View of Human Evolution Paperback (1981)


About the Author

John Halstead is Editor-At-Large and a contributor at HumanisticPaganism.com. You can also find his writing at AllergicPagan.com (which was previously hosted by Patheos) and “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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22 Comments on “The Problem and the Promise of Paganism, and Why One Looks a Lot Like the Other

  1. Pingback: The Problem and the Promise of Paganism, and Why One Looks a Lot Like the Other – The Allergic Pagan

  2. Some of the ideas you introduced are a bit over my head, but I can agree that Paganism has become a way to escape the world rather than embrace it. Over the years, my spirituality has changed dramatically especially through college (I studied science). Now, I’m turning to witchcraft (again) as a way to form a relationship with the universe – but I still want try to see the world as it is as opposed to what I want it to be.

    Anyway, I felt compelled to comment because you wrote this, “Paganism holds out the promise of restoring our awareness of a dimension of reality that eludes the grasp of the scientist and the salesman. This is dimension of human experience which includes what might be called “magic”—not the disenchanted magic of the occultists for whom it is just another technology, another means of controlling nature, but magic as an expression of wonder and connection.”

    I love that. That’s exactly the reason I want to get back to witchcraft.

    • By “old ways”, I assume you mean superstition, tribalism, slavery, patriarchalism, parochialism, etc.

      Yeah, a big plop on that.

  3. At the end of the day we have to look at the actual definition of paganism:

    a religion other than one of the main world religions, specifically a non-Christian or pre-Christian religion.
    “converts from paganism to Christianity”
    a modern religious movement incorporating beliefs or practices from outside the main world religions, especially nature worship.
    “modern paganism includes a respect for mother earth”

    Your taking a religion and trying to change it into a form of atheism. What’s more offensive is that you catagorize this as paganism and seek to tell us it is wrong, which is not only backwards as an atheist but offensive to us who are pagan. Your the exact reason why we pagans (the one who are from the old traditions) are re-classifying what is truly paganism and what isn’t. What you are doing is destroying teachings, multiple cultures, and a way of life. If you wouldn’t go to a Native American reservation and change their ways (and then add it under their “umbrella” for their beliefs) then you don’t have any right to do it to us, legally or otherwise. Can I stop you from believing or making your examinations, no. But what I can do is stop you from classifying this as being a pagan school of thought or new “branch” of paganism. For too long we pagans have sat idly by why Christians try to change our beliefs and the re-insert them into ours, disrespecting what we consider sacred, and worse, destroying our way of life. Now an atheist is doing the same and we’ve never done anything to atheists to warrent such a blantantly offensive disrespect towards our teachings. We accept that what you know and believe (or practice or examine) to be different from us, we learn from all and respect everyone’s choices. That’s why we never proselytize or force people to accept what we believe (except in the cases of raising public awareness so people can understand us and not misrepresent us). Understand that we do this even if it means we will die out and there may never be another pagan practicing our ways in the future.

    We are a broken group of many beliefs and ways of life that much like the Native Americans are simply trying to pass on the ways as best as we can reconstruct them. I am asking from one reasonable person to another to at least stop trying to catagorize this as paganism and as a form of atheism so that our culture and way of life will at least continue on even if there are none of us left one day to pass it on. If you choose to continue to teach this as a valid form of paganism you are no better than the christians who drove you to atheism.

    Last but not least, the Pagan Gods are not invisible beings in the sky who demand worship (except in a few cases but that is an entirely different discussion). The Pagan Gods had physical bodies and existed, leading ancient tribes of humans or primitive civilizations. We as their followers honor them as teachers, role models, leaders, guides, and most importantly equals. The ancient druids were lawmakers, nobles, warriors, generals and poets. The ancient Pagan Greeks were early Doctors, Mathmaticians, and Scientists. To follow some invisible being who never existed is not our way. We strive to fulfill our fullest potential as the best humans we can be by following the example of the ancient Pagan Gods, mentally, spiritually, and physically. Your form of atheism which takes away from the Pagan Gods takes away the best part of being Pagan. You may only see a ritual as a prayer to some unknowable being with “powers” that don’t exist. I see an act that empowers an individual to be more, learn more, and guide them towards whatever goals they seek. Sure, one could easily do the same from a philosophical perspective with leadership development and proper time management with the appropriate goal setting. But for us, we embrace both paths utilizing an ancient means with hard work and modern methods to work towards and accomplish our goals. We acknowledge even if only on a subconscious level that the being human means accepting that some form of spirituality is needed to live a complete life. Learning to see truths found in nature, the ways of our ancestors, and in the lives of the Pagan Gods isn’t something that should be dismissed as irrational or illogical so easily. This is not to make you believe because that is irrational and illogical on our part. It is only to demonstrate that our Gods and ancestors as a form of religion and way of life have their own merits even if you don’t agree with them.

    So, please reclassify this as New Age or Atheism or whatever else suits you but don’t destroy what little we have left of our old ways and ancient teachings by saying this is a valid form of paganism or that this isn’t offensive or highly disrespectful from a religion that doesn’t offend or disrespect you, you way of life, or your choices (unless your intentionally harming others, then of course we won’t like you and we will probably make than known. I was going to finish with I know your probably thinking of ways to say how if we were truly reasonable we wouldn’t mind accepting a different viewpoint into our “umbrella” but we are currently working to change our classification to exclude many new branches like christo-paganism and Christian Wicca. These are also going to be reclassified under their respective religions i.e.: Christianity or moved to a different catagory like New Age.

    • The was filled with typos which I will clarify. And one other point, you wouldn’t have caught any negative reactions from pagans (or most) if you classified this as a form of atheism instead of paganism.

      “I am asking from one reasonable person to another to at least stop trying to catagorize this as paganism and TO a form of atheism so that our culture and way of life will at least continue on even if there are none of us left one day to pass it on. ”

      “You may only see a ritual as a prayer to some unknowable being with “powers” that DOES NOT exist.”

      “We acknowledge even if only on a subconscious level that being human means accepting that some form of spirituality is needed to live a complete life.”

      “So, please reclassify this as New Age or Atheism or whatever else suits you but don’t destroy what little we have left of our old ways and ancient teachings by saying this is a valid form of paganism or that this isn’t offensive or highly disrespectful from a religion that doesn’t offend or disrespect you, YOUR way of life, or your choices (unless your intentionally harming others, then of course we won’t like you and we will probably make than known).

    • I would love to know how you plan to keep me from “classifying” myself and this path as Pagan. If you know how to do that, let me know, because there’s definitely some people I’d love to “declassify”.

      I’m know for a fact that your Euhemeristic rationalization of the gods is not common among polytheists, so you should stop pretending you speak for all polytheists.

      Finally, the most offensive thing here is your comparing yourself to indigenous peoples and the perceived persecution of your subculture to the real persecution of Native Americans. Identifying yourself with long dead ancient polytheists does not make you a persecuted class.

      • You’re an atheist.
        Stop pretending to be pagan.
        Just stop.
        You’re being dishonest with yourself and misleading those new to the community.

      • I read your history lesson and again it doesn’t prove that atheist paganism is a religion. A philosophy yes, something that wouldn’t prevent you from being involved in religious practices but ultimately they lack any definitive form of religion.

        As far as “declassification” goes it starts with how books and subjects are catagorized in libraries and stores. Next paganism does maintain a definition that details major traditions that fall under paganism. Major pagan groups like your previous mentioned pagan federation will hopefully have basic guidelines of what is definitively religious paganism.

        To say I speak for all polytheist is an assumption on your part. I only speak for the non-synchretic traditions that fall under religious paganism.

        To tell you a little more about my family history my family is from Mobile, the first colony outside of New England and they were brought here on the slave trade and later they moved to New Orleans and were later freed and eventually went back to Mobile where I was born. African-Americans are almost unanimously some form of Christian so to be pagan (and wear a pentacle) in a non-syncretic way even puts me at odds with Voodoun practitioners and my own race. I started practicing at the age of 13 and to say I don’t know what persecution feels like is an understatement. To give you an idea of how my own race views me, I’m still at best considered someone living on the “outskirts” of my own race, at worst I’ve been called a devil worshipper, evil, harassed, and all sorts of persecution. I just left a small town leaving my family behind 6 months ago after fully coming out the room closet because I was fired from two jobs for being openly pagan and working with a local Druid grove. My mother is a Christian woman who attends church twice a week and the week before I left they told my mother she spawned a demon from her womb and if she wasn’t as devoted as she was to the church they would’ve called her evil and forced her to leave to. Another guy who lived there who was Wiccan had protestors outside of his house for what he believed. Another girl I recently met said her mother tried to kill her and physically assaulted her because she thought she was evil. I had to sneak into the house were the Grove I was hoping to join for fear of protestors around his house because we didn’t believe in God. He even wanted me to move in but I couldn’t ask him to deal with protestors on my behalf. Local occult shops were forced to either sell christian merchandise or had protestors and if you shopped there they could put you out of a job or even have the police find reasons to arrest or harass you. It may not have been as bad as what the Native Americans went through but I’m also part Cherokee. When the trail of tears happened they traded with my ancestors and we gave them goats in exchange for marrying one of their daughters. My Grandmother even said when they told her the story of her own Grandmother’s mother she cried. She never saw her family again and they didn’t ask her much about her family or ways because she was always so heart broken over it and would always cry.

        So while I may not know what it’s like to be worried about being hanged or burned at the stake, I will say I have definitely taken my fair of shit and I do know what it’s like to have to hide for fear of an entire community hating you for what you are, ruining your job, your life, and even going after the people around you just for treating you like everyone else. Even right now I have no legal recourse against any of it because a town is at the mercy of one religions money and no one can help you or they’ll end up in the same boat and many of them have mouths to feed. So while you may think pagans in America have it easy you would be suprised at what we endure for what we believe. So when someone says we are wrong and we are in our religion and that we don’t know what persecution feels like, you can imagine there are some of us who might have stories to tell.

  4. Pingback: Monday Maenad – Pretty Little Lying Liars | herlander-walking

  5. Bradon, (and Bele) I’m sorry that you don’t see Naturalistic forms of Paganism as forms of Paganism. This was discussed a bit back in 2015, and the various forms of Naturalistic, Humanistic, Naturalist, and Atheo-Paganism are Pagan spiritualities. Another example is seen in the definition from the Pagan federation, which states that Paganism is “A polytheistic or pantheistic nature-worshipping religion.” Pantheism is metaphysically the same as Atheism, coming down to word choice. In fact, there are plenty of ancient forms of Paganism which are not supernatural nor deity based. Recognizing both naturalistic and supernatural forms of Paganism respects us all. If interested, a hub for some of the many different Naturalistic Pagan blogs out there is at http://www.NaturalPagans.com. Blessed be -Jon Cleland Host

  6. You even clearly state: “…various forms of Naturalistic, Humanistic, Naturalist, and Atheo-Paganism are Pagan spiritualities.”

    “Definition of spirituality
    plural spiritualities
    1
    something that in ecclesiastical law belongs to the church or to a cleric as such
    2

    clergy
    3

    sensitivity or attachment to religious values
    4

    the quality or state of being spiritual”

    Your taking an atheist viewpoint on something that is clearly defined as being religious in nature.

    Your connection of paganism as being pantheistic only holds true if pagan gods didn’t have physical bodies, which history and science prove they were different “people” (if we are looking at the pagan gods from a scientific perspective of humans who were later deified), not a pantheistic god in that they are all the “same thing”, which again they clearly are not. Paganism does acknowledge all pagan gods can be valid or true within the framework of that tradition or within paganism as a whole but that DOES NOT mean the Pagan Gods are the same as the Judeo-Christian God, who by the sheer definition of being the “one true God” conflicts with the Pagan Gods.

    From an intellectual stand point which is what you seem to hold against religious paganism, paganism is polytheistic but it only pantheistic in the scope of its umbrella classification of pagan religions. This pantheistic definition clearly does not include Judeo-Christian, Abrahamic, or Islamic faiths. Even using word choice alone to connect paganism to pantheism to atheism your making claims that not only contradict paganism but also contradict rigorous science, historical fact, and rational/logical thought. Something you seem to hold against us as a “problem” yet we fully embrace science and rarely conflict with even from a religious perspective.

    The problem we keep having is that you think this is a valid form of our religion that should be classified under paganism. Do I have a problem with you using the title of pagan, yes. But objectively you can call yourself whatever you want. The problem is this clearly a form a philosophy, a movement, or a form of atheism. Continuing to say that atheist paganism is classified with us shows no respect for us or for rational thought. What is particularly disturbing is why you continue choose to say that “yes, what I am doing is clearly pagan and is just as pagan as the Norse or other traditions and more so because you ar willing to state that we are wrong and you are right” while you continue to endure negative feedback from the pagan community, and won’t even consider that this can be so easily and intelligently classified as atheism or philosophy yet you refuse stating it HAS to be classified as pagan. If you had as much self-proclaimed reason and intelligence that you look down upon the pagan community for not having this conversation would be over or never would have happened.

    It is clear that you only classify this as being pagan instead of atheist or a philosophy is because you know philosophers and atheists don’t help you make book sales or get your name out there or provide you with something you can only get from being classified as a religion. Your simply using the pagan title and classification under the pagan religion for ulterior and probably illegal or highly questionable ulterior motives.

    Your not the first, we deal with quite a bit thanks to syncretisicism. What’s worse is you say this is a humanist form of paganism yet you act so inhumanly by disrespecting the pagan religion when our Gods are we’re not always intangible archetypes or spirits in some other religion. Odin, Zeus, and Pan had real life counterparts and you continue to say “oh they aren’t actually real”. If you truly were a humanist you would respect our ways just as we respect yours. I don’t know what pagans did to make you think that we are all bad or that the Gods are terrible (in some ways they were) but holding a grudge against an entire religion and then continuing to stay “grouped in” with them is paradoxical and self-defeating. If this was humanist you would even see that even simple miscatagorization of any philosophy or religion would only create confusion and slow academic and scientific progress. Why then as a humanist would you want to slow down progress and create confusion.

    Your as bad as Christians who claim to be good yet are secretly pedophiles or who claim steadfast marriage yet cheat on their wives. To call yourself humanistic and say our ways are flat out wrong as you put in your blog is anything but. A true humanist would treat others with respect unless disrespected themselves. A true humanist would make it clear that while their beliefs or philosophy are strongly influenced by paganism and self identify as pagan, their beliefs are more accurately a form of atheism or philosophy and must be classified as so.

    So your up to something plain and simple and using our religion to hide it. But after that Wiccan Priest (who was not Wiccan) turned out to be a pedophile and all the Christians moving to paganism to slowly overtake us it’s clear with your evident disregard of rationality how evasive you are in not wanting to give up paganism as a religion when as a philosophy or branch of atheism you could still sell your books and all while claiming humanism. Unless you have a definitive answer that any reasonable and rational person would agree with I’m warning the religious pagans to not only watch out for you but to keep a very close eye on you.

      • a·the·ist
        ˈāTHēəst/Submit
        noun
        a person who disbelieves or lacks belief in the existence of God or gods.

        synonyms: nonbeliever, disbeliever, unbeliever, skeptic, doubter, doubting Thomas, agnostic; nihilist
        “why is it often assumed that a man of science is probably an atheist?”

        pa·gan
        ˈpāɡən/Submit
        noun
        1.
        a person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions.
        synonyms: heathen, infidel, idolater, idolatress; archaicpaynim
        “pagans worshiped the sun”
        adjective
        1.
        relating to pagans.
        “a pagan god”
        synonyms: heathen, ungodly, irreligious, infidel, idolatrous
        “the pagan festival”

        So which one of these best fits who you see yourself?

        According to your article, it’s the first.

      • It’s pretty simple for everyone, if we don’t like atheist paganism, we should stop being atheist. In your case since you don’t like paganism, then don’t be pagan.

        There’s also one fundamental undeniable truth of life: What you put into something you get out of it. You want to put 50% into paganism, you shouldn’t complain that your only getting 50% out of it. You ever decide to put 100% into it you will get 100% out of it.

        So don’t say we are wrong because we put more into paganism and we get more out of it. I will admit that I was wrong on one point, goal setting and time management are no substitute for the path. If it were, you wouldn’t even use paganism as a crutch.

        I’m legit because I made a choice and didn’t settle for being half in and half out. But if you like to settle, then enjoy that. But real pagans don’t settle when they don’t have to. That’s not who we are or are meant to be. As Frank Herbert said “Expend energy on those who make you strong, not those who make you weak.”

  7. It’s clear that you are using the Pagan movement because you are a failed Richard Dawkins and everyone knows it. Feel free to leave my religion at any time loser..

  8. Brandon, if Naturalistic Paganism doesn’t resonate with you, you are welcome to be something other than a Naturalistic Pagan. The fact is that Pagans have widely divergent beliefs. Many see their gods as non-literal beings. In fact, just today in a discussion like this one, one long time Pagan mentioned that most Pagans she knew didn’t see their gods as literal people, but ideas to channel the human emotions during ritual. In addition to that, some Pagans believe in their own gods (say Odin), and disbelieve in the other gods (say, Zeus, Yahweh, or Satan). In fact, since many of those gods require worship as a supreme god, to fail to worship them is to show that one doesn’t belief that. Which is fine. The point is that unless you have a problem with all those other Pagans who don’t fully believe in all the gods of all the patheons, you aren’t being consistent in being unhappy with Pagans like me.
    -Jon Cleland Host

  9. yes, Humanists respect all people. However, ideas aren’t people. People are people – ( so why should it be? You and I should get along…) People deserve respect, automatically. Ideas deserve to be discussed, tested, and decided upon individually. All ideas are not equally true. It is part of respecting people to test and discuss ideas.

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