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Thread: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

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    Newbie battyrats's Avatar
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    Question Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Hello, everyone!
    I honestly do not know where to begin. I guess I can start by introducing myself vaguely, hopefully to create an easier picture for everyone.
    I'm a 20 years old, born and raised into an urban lifestyle, and raised by Catholic parents with no (organized) religion whatsoever. Continuously dubbed an INTJ since adolescence, with a troublesome natal chart (Sun in Virgo, Moon in Pisces, Rising in Aquarius, and a lot of Plutonian influences). I have always been in the troublesome, confusing position of not truly knowing my exact view on deep concepts, such as understanding the root of my emotions, or what to even label them as. These philosophies of life, existence, and direction have always filled my mind. I would consider myself a logical, analytical individual who is very passionate about advocating against ALL social justices and for ALL rights of life alike. But I have always experienced... an intense pull towards the unknown, for lack of a better word.
    The idea of a personified deity has never sat well with me. However, at a young age I was fascinated with Greek Gods and Goddess and studied them for months... not that I actually believed in their existence, but more so of what each deity stood for. The idea of a Goddess always had a nice ring to it, as well. But, I would say I have a problem with concentrating, almost like my body cannot keep up with the way my brain receives and processes information, and things I find interesting get lost in time and distractions. Over the years, I have gone back and forth with researching up on what some would call the supernatural; astrology, spirits, magick, crystals, etc. Skepticism and lack of guidance has always kept my interests at bay, however.
    Now, with the on and off research I have done over the pass four months, I would say I have already started, in some form or another, my own spiritual journey. At first, I thought Wicca was for me. I really enjoyed the idea of meditation, rituals, and the Wheel of the Year. But as I stated before, a personified deity and the idea of worshiping them, is not for me. I have always felt an awe towards the night sky, however. It's almost as if any empty feelings I may have vanishes when a clear sky is above me. Urban life doesn't allow you to see much, but it's just enough for one to get absorbed by it. I especially have always felt some sort of connection with the moon.
    Now, coming from an urban life, nature is hard to come by. From experiences, I have always loved nature and animals and as a child, I would always spend time at my elementary school's park. But as I got older, despite how much I loved being outside, I started to become overwhelmed and eventually restless. Actually, I feel overwhelmed and restless despite my surroundings, but that's not important now. A month or two ago, I took a stroll through a park, something I never do... And I never felt anything like it before. It was the same feeling I get when I look up at the night sky; awe and... peace, almost.
    For the past week, I got back on the bandwagon of researching up on other Pagan beliefs, and I think I found something that I am finally not questioning so much; Naturalistic Pantheistic Paganism. A naturalist because my logical side is still skeptical about the idea of spirituality at all. A pantheist because I believe that everything is connected by matter and by an explained energy that runs through everything that has every existed or will exist. A pagan because admiring this Earth and all things on it is something I believe in, whether spirituality is in the equation or not. The Wheel of the Year is something I wouldn't mind following either, and connecting with this energy through the properties of the many Gods and Goddesses doesn't sound so irrational for myself, either.

    Now, the real question is; where do I even begin? I have been gathering a lot of my information from various sites and from a Youtube channel of a woman who would also identify as a Pantheistic Pagan, and I haven't really found any other source that shares views that I would not mind really delving into. I bought two notebooks recently, one for home and one on the go, to write down my progress and my emotions as I try to go down this path. I also bought some white candles just to have around the house and I started a 20 day meditation challenge to ween myself into meditation. But, I'm still lost. I don't know what else to do. I hope I do not come off as being ignorant or offensive in anyway, but does anyone have any advice for a true beginner? 
    Last edited by battyrats; 30 Dec 2014 at 11:55. Reason: Format

  2. #2
    Head Above Water habbalah's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Welcome! I hope you enjoy it here!

    This is a great place for newcomers. There are threads about different paths, including Hellenic (Greek) pagans, reconstructionsist, etc. I would suggest you check out the board for information.

    Also, if you have questions or problems, please feel free to post and ask. We have a wide variety of knowledgeable people here who are willing to share their experiences.

    If the idea of a higher power doesn't appeal to you, don't feel like you have to work with any entities. You can be a pagan and an atheist.

    Finally, my advice is to read read read. Read widely and from different viewpoints. There are also great videos on youtube. I've only been on my own path for about four years (I think), and I'm continuously learning new things and tweaking my thinking (I'm an eclectic pagan; I take what resonates with me and leave the rest).

    I hope that helps!
    “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” -- Bruce Lee

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    Newbie battyrats's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Thank you! I'm very excited! I just feel like there is so much information out there and I am sort of a worry-wort and a perfectionist to some extent, I'm afraid to do something wrong or try something without all the information I could get.

    Quote Originally Posted by habbalah View Post

    If the idea of a higher power doesn't appeal to you, don't feel like you have to work with any entities. You can be a pagan and an atheist.
    The woman I've been watching uses deities of her choice to connect with Carl Jung's archetype through meditation, I believe. I don't know, I feel like I'm getting ahead of myself and I'm just so anxious to start.

    Do you have any reads to recommend? c:

  4. #4
    Head Above Water habbalah's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    There's a recommended reading list on the forum. I'm trying to find it for you.

    If someone else knows where it is offhand, would you mind helping me out?
    “You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.” -- Bruce Lee

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  5. #5
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by battyrats View Post
    [SIZE=2][FONT=verdana]

    Do you have any reads to recommend? c:
    A good place to start for information would probably be Naturalistic Paganism's unofficiall site for info on this path can be found here) (and in the interest of full disclosure, I have occasionally contributed there, though I am not actually NP)

    Some books which might be of interest include Joseph Campbell's Myths to Live By and The Power of Myth, The Earth, The Gods and The Soul: A History of Pagan Philosophy from the Iron Age to the 21st Century by Brendan Myers, Ritual: A Druid’s Guide to Life, Love & Inspiration by Emma Restall Orr, The Way of Natural History by Thomas Lowe Fleischner, Landscape and Memory by Simon Schama, Reverence: Renewing a forgotten virtue by Paul Woodruff, Nature and the Human Soul by Bill Plotkin, Supernatural Selection by Matt Rosano, and How Philosophers Saved Myths by Luc Brisson. If you are also interested in Greek religion, try Walter Burkett's Greek Religion.

    Mostly though, you are going to have to build your own rituals and practices.
    “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

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

  6. #6
    sea witch thalassa's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Quote Originally Posted by habbalah View Post
    There's a recommended reading list on the forum. I'm trying to find it for you.

    If someone else knows where it is offhand, would you mind helping me out?
    yes! but I don't think it has much NP stuff on it...I'll find it and add my little paragraph...


    Its here: http://www.paganforum.com/showthread...ate-Book-List/
    “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

    “We still carry this primal relationship to the Earth within our consciousness, even if we have long forgotten it. It is a primal recognition of the wonder, beauty, and divine nature of the Earth. It is a felt reverence for all that exists. Once we bring this foundational quality into our consciousness, we will be able to respond to our present man-made crisis from a place of balance, in which our actions will be grounded in an attitude of respect for all of life. This is the nature of real sustainability.”
    ~~Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

    "We are the offspring of history, and must establish our own paths in this most diverse and interesting of conceivable universes--one indifferent to our suffering, and therefore offering us maximal freedom to thrive, or to fail, in our own chosen way."
    ~~Stephen Jay Gould, Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History

    "Humans are not rational creatures. Now, logic and rationality are very helpful tools, but there’s also a place for embracing our subjectivity and thinking symbolically. Sometimes what our so-called higher thinking can’t or won’t see, our older, more primitive intuition will." John Beckett

    Pagan Devotionals, because the wind and the rain is our Bible

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    Copper Member Aeran's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    I know it isn't strictly pagan in the sense you're discussing, but you should look into Taoism. A lot of what you said reflects Taoist principles - pantheism, reverence for nature, spirituality without personified deities, etc. There's also a focus on the practical side (meditation, qi gong, martial arts, traditional medicine) which focused on self improvement, cultivating internal balance and connection with the universe around you. Much like Buddhism, it can be more or less as religious or atheistic as you want it to be, except it lacks the (what I find to be) morbid focus on suffering and death found in many strands of Buddhism, instead focusing on self improvement so you can be the best version of yourself in this life.

    Just a thought.

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    Newbie battyrats's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    I appreciate everyone's input, thank you!
    Right now I'm actually looking up primordial Greek deities because of their basic connection to nature and such.
    Also, considering the full moon is coming up, I want to do somewhat of a beginner's ritual to start off, is there such a thing?
    The Wheel of the Year, Sabbats, and Esbats are something I would like to get into, but I feel like my interest in ritual
    has more of a Self-help/ nature appreciation goal rather than any kind of worship. Would trying a ritual so early on
    be considered jumping the gun? Is there any possible way anything can... go wrong? (sounds like the naturalist inside me is already calming down)

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    Copper Member Aeran's Avatar
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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Also, considering the full moon is coming up, I want to do somewhat of a beginner's ritual to start off, is there such a thing?
    The Wheel of the Year, Sabbats, and Esbats are something I would like to get into, but I feel like my interest in ritual
    has more of a Self-help/ nature appreciation goal rather than any kind of worship. Would trying a ritual so early on
    be considered jumping the gun? Is there any possible way anything can... go wrong?
    You're overthinking things a bit If you have a ritual on hand or want to compose one yourself, then I don't see what harm could be done unless it's a lot more than a standard full moon ritual. Even without a ritual, you could simply spend some time outdoors under the moonlight, looking up and meditating on the moon. What does it feel like being under the moonlight, compared to sunlight or artificial light? How does the world look different? What comes to mind when you look at the moon drifting across the sky?

    If you really want to go all out, you could try making it a long term thing - maybe go outside for 10 or 15 minutes every night, soak up some moonlight, and consider the different feelings and imagery it evokes as it wanes and then waxes again until the next full moon.

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    Re: Exploring Paganism from life long Atheism

    Welcome
    20 year old infp here c: Good to read you're gaining some sense of direction on your spiritual path. Of course everyone is different (and you intj's seem to never listen to me. This is a part joke comment because of what I said before the brackets) but here's a couple of cents I have;

    If it may be difficult for you to meditate but meditation can have many shapes or forms! Your mind does not have to get all quiet - you can also take a step back and 'observe' thoughts as they come and go. Or even pick a topic (actually, like was mentioned above about the moon) or "perseverence" or a project idea or so. You can also walk and meditate, work out and meditate, type a story and meditate, clean dust and do so. Keeping your body busy and blood flowing can help tons.

    Always have in the back of your mind that perfection can be the enemy of 'good'. Sometimes we end up planning and optimising a plan so much that we don't Begin doing it. Planning is good, perfectionism is good, but be aware that it may paralyse or discourage (and you might not notice that is the reason rather than that "you're incapable of getting up and getting anything done!")

    I really enjoy the cockiness the 2 intjs I know so far have displayed simultaneous with struggling to live up to their idea of how things "should" go.

    I try to avoid generalising/assuming what (recommendation) one needs (so apologies) but I was/am curious whether this was useful ^^

    Hope your day is going well.

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