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Thread: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

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    Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    I ask this mostly with those who follow the Norse and Celtic traditions in mind, but the opinions of those who follow other Pagan paths are welcome as well.

    I should probably clarify what I mean by "atheist" here: one who rejects the existence of any literal Gods - conscious, living, acting, supernatural beings. In this context, I wouldn't include a conception of the Gods as manifestations of different fundamental aspects of human consciousness and/or nature. If I'm not making any sense here, I apologize.

    In addition, if you do believe in the existence of literal Gods - why so? What was it that drew you into that belief?

    Hoping to gain a better understanding of some of the different contemporary Pagan theological positions. Thank you.

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    Kick Ass Little Crow Corvus's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    Quite a few pagans view their deities as technically nonexistent. They may think the gods are metaphors or manifestations of their own mind or some other condition which makes the gods technically not exist. The gods might be ideas or embodiment of traditions also but not actual beings. It's fairly common and makes sense. For example I may believe that my god speaking to me is the action of my subconscious or that the gods are constructs made by my mind rather than a spiritual entity actually conversing with me. Personally I think the gods are as real as anything else in the world, though I entertain the thought that reality is a vast hallucination at least once a week so things fall where they may there.
    世の中に潜み落下した「アレ」はねえか? 誰が書き換える 世界の汚れは?
    Do you have 'that' which lies dormant within society? Who can overwrite it, the filth in the world?


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    Silver Member monsno_leedra's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    Many Shamanic type pathways can be pagan and atheist at the same time. Especially given that many first nation and aboriginal inspired pathways place the practitioner in a way of life action not a spiritual / religious pathway. The belief in a god / goddess is not demanded in the social / cultural content of the people / society the practitioner would be serving. Though it could be problematic when dealing with various spirit guides or allies that normally would assist or guide the practitioner in performing those cultural / social functions and aiding people.

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    Member Dahll Haus's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    That's the definition of Naturalistic Paganism. I was a Naturalistic Pagan for many years. I started believing in deities as literal beings when I jokingly called for one. . . and he showed up.

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    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    I've known an atheist Heathen or two, and quite a few atheist, agnostic, and naturalistic panthiest Druids and Celtic Pagans.

    Edit to add, I'm not an atheist, but I don't really believe that there are literal super-humanish entities either.
    Last edited by thalassa; 31 Mar 2014 at 08:00.
    “You have never answered but you did not need to. If I stand at the ocean I can hear you with your thousand voices. Sometimes you shout, hilarious laughter that taunts all questions. Other nights you are silent as death, a mirror in which the stars show themselves. Then I think you want to tell me something, but you never do. Of course I know I have written letters to no-one. But what if I find a trident tomorrow?" ~~Letters to Poseidon, Cees Nooteboom

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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    “The world is big and I want to have a good look at it before it gets dark.” – John Muir

    Mostly art.

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    Honorary Supporter Dez's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    I have no idea where I fit anymore, but increasingly see gods as being a language our brains can use to communicate to us (just like tarot, etc, can be remarkably astute). Whether they actually exist somewhere or not is immaterial when you have entire groups of people who can predict what x god would do in y situation. That gets into Jung collective consciousness territory in a big hurry.

    On the flip side, though, for being a part of the collective unconciousness, certain beings can be remarkably "loud and insistent" in my head sometimes. I can also horse, which is something some point to as "proof" of deities as spiritual beings, and in certain contexts would be taken for a hard pantheist.

    At that point, perhaps the only reason it matters is taking into account what, exactly, someone wants from their gods. Do you want someone to feel transformative devotion for? What about a friend, paternal or maternal influence, or mentor? Is the action of devotion as meditation the aspect that you find calming, whether there is a response or not? Your answers to why you find something fulfilling can have a dramatic impact on whether the reality of gods (and in what particular form) matters or not.

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    Sr. Member Ektor's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    In a more secular vision, deities are nothing but representations. Archetypal images our minds create to give us strength, this is why I associate with a Mother Goddess, cause it's an archetype that makes sense to me and allows me to use it when I don't have the strength to do something, it gives me stability and compassion, empathy and a stronger morality of sorts. I believe that this is basically what a deity is, that conjunction of feelings and ideas and paradigms we have that consolidate into the divine experience.

    It's because we can never be sure if there are actual deities out there. I myself accept the two interpretation, while I do believe honestly in the soul, in nature spirits, that reality is a macro-consciousness and the Goddess of Life is an emanation of this (kind of Shaktist Hinduism), that there are many evolved spirits that are deities in this reality; I also leave room to consider this is, in a way, all in my head to make the world a more magical, meaningful and better place to me, and maybe make me a better person. This is no way makes my beliefs weaker.

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    The Gaze of the Abyss B. de Corbin's Avatar
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    Re: Can someone simultaneously be an atheist and a pagan of your tradition?

    Quote Originally Posted by puggy View Post
    I should probably clarify what I mean by "atheist" here: one who rejects the existence of any literal Gods - conscious, living, acting, supernatural beings.
    Even if they exist, I refuse to believe in them as anything other than a nuisance.
    Those who have suffered understand suffering and therefore extend their hand.

    I can't do everything, but I can do something.

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