Living in a Sacred World, by Mark Green

Nature is magnificent.

Daily, we have sunsets and sunrises, trees and birds and all sorts of magnificent creatures. Frequently, we have new-burgeoning crescent Moons or full Moons or waning, deep-into-the-night Moons, casting their silver magic across the land.

Rarely, we have sundogs and auroras and eclipses and comets.

Experientially, we have mountaintops and forest walks. We have riversong. We have ocean waves and orgasms and the soft, warm glow of a hallucinogen coming on. We have the sweat of exertion and the exultation of dance, the thrill of skin on skin.

We have seasonal rituals and rich, alive moments of intimacy.

We have love and connection and deep conversation, and all the complicated joys they can bring us.

And of course, we have the works of humanity: art, culture, architecture, song, poetry.

We live in a Sacred world.

This is such a simple thing. And yet the overculture, obsessed with an imaginary World Beyond, completely misses this simple, essential point. We have not learned to embrace it. We have not learned to take the time to savor what it means simply to be alive.

We are blessed with the gift of Life on this beautiful, exquisite planet. We must respond with cherishing of all that it offers.

As Atheopagans, we walk the Earth with appreciation and caring. We know ourselves both as stewards and stewarded, both offspring and caretaker. We know we are magic, rich with our individual gifts and talents.

And we see that magic in one another. We know that other people are full of extraordinary and unique gifts. That even some of the most damaged and suffering people have beauty inside them.

Re-sacralizing the world can be challenging. Cities are sacred, too: they are often the least environmentally damaging way to accommodate millions of people. And they are hotbeds of culture, innovation, art and science.

We must learn to look at our world through a lens of love. A lens that only sees the profane when it sees cruelty, injustice, and unwarranted violence.

We pray to no listener, pray for ourselves to hear:

Praise to the wide spinning World. Praise to Space, and Time, and to all the wonders of the Cosmos. May all be honored, all be sung, all be loved.

So be it!

See the original post here.

Note: This essay was originally published in multiple posts at Atheopaganism and is copyrighted. It has been published here with the explicit permission of the author.

About the Author

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.

See all of Mark Green’s posts.

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Culture of life

In a culture of life:

We would cooperate with other nations to mitigate the effects of climate change, in order to protect our descendants from its consequences.

We would not factory farm other animals for food.

We would protect the integrity of Earth’s waterways, because water is life.

We would beg for forgiveness we clearly do not deserve, for the crimes of colonizers against indigenous peoples.

We would not separate migrant children from their parents, nor would migrant children die in government custody from undetected infections.

Law enforcement officers would serve and protect people of color, not kill them.

LGBTQ people would live openly and safely, without fear of discrimination.

Women would have the unquestioned right to make their own reproductive health care decisions.

 

Our capitalist culture of white male supremacy is no culture of life.

 

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Being an Atheist Druid, by Skeptical Seeker

It has been a while since my last post and I have a lot to update as far as my paganism goes. I have picked a path and started on the Bardic Grade course with The Order of Bards, Ovates, and Druids (OBOD). And I have joined a local grove, which has recently been recognized officially as an OBOD Seed Group. I have been attending wheel-of-the-year celebrations with them since Samhain last year, and officially joined via initiation at this year’s Ostara ritual.

I’ve found that in the broader pagan community — outside explicitly atheist or humanist circles — there is a common assumption that what defines someone as a ‘pagan’ is that they are polytheistic. This is one area in which I admit I have felt a bit out of place, and that is where members of the grove talk about their workings and experiences with their gods. I think the stories are interesting and the last thing I want to do is show disrespect or cast doubt for anyone else’s experiences. But what do I say when someone asks me what gods I work with? The question did come up during after-ritual socializing this year at Beltane, and my response was simply that I don’t work with gods. But the complete answer to that depends on what you mean by ‘work with.’ I don’t believe in the literal existence of gods, but I have a deep appreciation of myth and poetry and symbolism. I have invoked gods in my personal practice (though not often) and the group rituals with my grove pretty much always involve invoking gods. So how does that work?

I have a couple of approaches that I use. The first approach is seeing the gods as characters in myth — often very rich and meaningful characters with lessons to teach and qualities and virtues that they represent. When I am focused on those lessons and qualities and virtues, I’ve found it very helpful to imagine them as being embodied by these characters. My other approach, the one that I focus on most often lately, is that in the ritual space — in that very specific context — I relax my scientific analytical mind and just let myself experience what is without analyzing whether or not it is ‘real’ or just in my mind. Openness to experience in ritual — a type openness that I don’t usually hold in regular life — has become a key part of my personal ritual practice. Also for this reason, I don’t want to practice in an environment where there are people are constantly telling me ‘gods are not real’ or ‘magic’s not real’ or anything else. However skeptical I am in my ordinary life, in the context of the ritual space I let that go and open myself to experience.

My atheism has not been a problem in my practice. One of the things that drew me to OBOD is that they don’t try to tell you what you must believe or not about gods, but advise that you should tailor your practice to fit what beliefs feel right to you. And you don’t have to believe in literal deity to appreciate the story of Ceridwen and Taliesin, which is covered in the Bardic Grade studies. (I’m not supposed to reveal the content of the lessons, but this is not really a spoiler.) And you don’t have to believe in deity to participate and fully experience the guided meditations, or the workings with the directions or elements.

I love having a non-dogmatic spiritual practice.

Photo by Artem Sapegin on Unsplash

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