Mark Green's Atheopaganism Blog

Living an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science

New Carols for an Atheopagan Solstice

One of the things that can be hard about moving away from the Christian Overculture is that there is a lot of beautiful art that can become meaningless to you. Architecture, painting, sculpture, music…so many centuries of accumulated human creativity and effort, all illustrating the myths of Christianity.

For many who deconvert from Christianity and other authoritarian religions, these artworks can be intensely triggering, and they don’t want anything to do with them. Others miss aspects of them, like the beauty of music that has…undesirable lyrics.

I was never a Christian, so I only know this from hearing the reports of others in the Atheopagan community. But I do find Christian art discomforting: so obsessed with suffering and death, so controlling.

But I love singing and listening to early (medieval and Renaissance) music, and most of that is Catholic and Anglican. Fortunately, it’s also nearly all in Latin, which I can pretend is a nonsense language and ignore while singing or listening to those beautiful harmonies.

It’s Midwinter, the winter solstice, and so, of course, it is also the season of the Christian Christmas.

I completely adore medieval and Renaissance Christmas music. So I listen to a lot of it at this time of year. But the contemporary stuff is hard to take.

So saccharine, and all the wrong myths.

So I rewrote two of the prettiest ones, Silent Night and O Holy Night. One for fun, and one for reverence. Here they are:

Axial Tilt (Tune: Silent Night)

Axial tilt
The way the world’s built:
Sun is north, then sun is south.
Axial precession makes seasons occur;
Sometimes bikinis and other times fur.
Insert metaphor here!
Insert metaphor here.

Evergreen tree
Holly berry
Stuff that stays alive, you see.
Meanwhile freezing and darkness reign
We’d much rather have fun than complain.
We are still alive!
We are still alive.

We’re so hoping
Soon will come Spring
Meanwhile let’s eat, drink, and sing!
Friends and family convene by the fire
Cold and darkness don’t seem quite so dire.
Pass the gravy please!
Pass the gravy please.

(repeat first verse)

O Darkest Night (Tune: O Holy Night)

O darkest night, the stars are brightly shining
It is the night of the dawning new year.
Here in the dark, for sun and warmth we’re pining
But we are cheered by our friends and family here.
The cold bright stars: a trillion worlds above us
As here on Earth we gather loved ones near.
Raise up your eyes, and see the Cosmos’ wonder
O Night sublime
O night, oh darkest night
O Night sublime
O night, oh night sublime.

7 Comments

  1. Cold is the morning and bleak is the day
    Warm are our hearts as the sunshine of May
    Sing, little children, sing in your gladness
    Let Solstice pleasures banish your sadness
    Love, peace and joy to you

    Peace and good will is our message to you
    Great be your joys, may your sorrows be few
    Sing, little children, sing in your gladness
    Let Solstice pleasures banish your sadness
    Love, peace and joy to you

    Only one word needs to change!

  2. Sing, little children, sing in your gladness
    Let Solstice pleasures banish your sadness
    Love, peace and joy to you

  3. Cold is the morning and bleak is the day
    Warm are our hearts as the sunshine of May
    Sing little children, sing in your gladness
    Let Solstice pleasures banish your sadness
    Love, peace and joy to you

    Peace and good will are our wishes to you
    May your pleasures be many and your sorrows be few
    Sing little children, sing in your gladness
    Let Solstice pleasures banish your sadness
    Love, peace and joy to you

    Only one word needs to change

  4. Sorry about the dups. Also, Deck the Hall works as does Here we come a wassailing, if you change the word “God” to “We”

  5. Great, Mark!
    IDK on the triggering issue. I’m sure that’s an individual thing.
    Having been raised Catholic, I do relate to the departure from/loss of the overculture idea. Years ago I went with a Mormon girlfriend to a couple of her services. Parts are similar to the Catholic mass, but the most shocking part for me was that the officiants wear business suits! What??? I was raised on priests who wore (essentially) Versace and Dolce & Gabanna! Business suits??? Where’s the ritual??? Then, instead of those cool, host wafers with their unique taste and texture, the Mormon officiants literally tore up slices of Wonder Bread.

    None of this had an impact on my belief or non-belief of anything. But seeing such a pedestrian Mormon mass made me realize that there was something “special” “elaborate” “art-architecture-cultural” about all the gooey garments, stained glass windows, and other elements I’d grown up with. At least if you grew up without Gianni Versace as an uncle.

    Recently, I’ve been thinking about the opposite issue. Atheopaganism encourages a wonderful use of ritual. As does Sasha Sagan in her book “For Small Creatures Such As We.” Sedna Woo is a “Skeptical Witch” who practices “Placebo Witchcraft.” I love all these things.

    In spite of believing in the value of all these practices, I sometimes have my doubts. When people of faith practice their rituals, regardless of what a skeptic might think, for them, they’re manifesting the divine according to god’s will. In many cases, the omnipotent god seems awfully picky about how the little humans worship “him”. Still, it justifies everything. Elaborate rituals, Dolce & Gabanna fashions that you thought only Mick Jagger could get away with, and so on.

    When Sedna Woo practices “Placebo Witchcraft”, well, what is a “placebo”? One way of thinking about a placebo is that it’s a way of harnessing the power of your mind to do that which, if you were in full self control, would require no “pill” at all. Yes, the ritual and accoutrements are ways of getting to that space, but now they aren’t because a burning bush asked Moses to do it this way a few thousand years ago. Now it’s because I’m a “weak” human who needs a “crutch” to get to a useful headspace. I’m not sure the words “weak” and “crutch” are fair. If someone goes to therapy to talk about life issues, I wouldn’t call that “weak” or a “crutch”, I’d simply call that working for solutions and paths forward. I believe in Atheopagan ritual, mostly, but my inner skeptic still has doubt.

    1. Hi, Glenn! I really push back against the “crutch” idea. These are mental TOOLS. They are techniques which rightfully belong to all of us and should be taught to children so they know how to get out of a bad mood, or build up confidence, or handle sadness.

      The so-called “open-label placebo effect” is quite well documented. We don’t know why it works, but it does. People wouldn’t create and gravitate to ritual all over the world if it wasn’t something baked in and beneficial.

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