Practices: Atheopaganism at Home
As suggested in Atheopagan Principle 6, religion is something we do, not just something we think and talk about. And as a new path we are developing, Atheopaganism, too, must have ways we can regularly observe and celebrate our beliefs—not only every 6-1/2 weeks on a Sabbath, but daily, or weekly, or monthly, depending on how much religious observance you want in your life.
If celebrating the Wheel of the Year is enough religious practice in your life, that’s great. But if not, here is a set of suggestions for practices that can be integrated into day-to-day living. You can do them either alone, or with your family.
I find that just a few minutes of quiet meditation, breathing deeply, contributes a lot to my equanimity and overall happiness. Breathing meditation is great practice for inducing Presence, which is so important to the Ritual State.
Some days, I also say my Atheopagan rosary.
Meal gratitude (blessing) can be a real challenge to get started as a habit, but once they’re established they lend ongoing awareness of the bounty we receive and gratitude for the many who had to work to bring it to our tables. Here’s a simple one from the Hymnal: “This food, swelling from the Earth by the breath of the Sun, is brought to us by many hands. May all be blessed.” (Group replies in unison): “We are grateful to eat today.”
I also try to keep a living Focus (altar), by which I mean that I change something on my Focus nearly every day–add something new, move items around, etc. And I burn a candle on it on most evenings. My Focus is an ongoing, curated sacred artwork describing my hopes, values, feelings, life condition and what I love, and it changes to reflect my moods, perspective, and aspirations.
Atheopaganism doesn’t have a holy day of the week, but whatever your “day of rest” happens to be, you can add reflection and richness to your life by doing some religious service that day: cleaning your Focus, perhaps, or reading something pertinent to your religious path and meditating on it for awhile.
Alternatively, you could declare a “sabbath day” on one night of the week and celebrate a short weekly ritual on that evening.
A full moon ritual (or hike, or “moonbathing”, or some combination of these) adds a special day to every month…plus an extra one every year. Being under the moon at night is a wonderful way to commune with nature and to feel vividly alive; moonlight can feel like a cool bath of cleansing light: a dimmed, magical sun. So cleansing and healing rituals are great for the full moon, as is “divination”—using such random pattern generators as Tarot cards to access your intuitive and subconscious mind about a problem, question or life situation. As the moon will wane after the night of the full moon, it is also a good time to ritually dispense with what you are ready to give up.
I like to leave bottles of water out in the moonlight to become “moon water”, which can be used in purification rituals, for ritual washing, etc.
I also have a smooth, translucent stone I keep in my pocket, which I leave out in the full moonlight sometimes–it is a stone that reminds me of my religious life and communities, so that even at work, sitting in my pocket, they are there with me. Putting it out in the moonlight to “catch the light” is another way to make the stone “special” and more effective in reminding me as I go through my day that the workaday world is not all there is in my life.
At the newly crescent moon is a good time to do rituals about beginnings and new hopes, if you prefer to celebrate then rather than at the full moon, or to do both.
What are some of your practices?