Atheopaganism is a naturalistic Pagan religious path (for explanations of these terms, see the FAQ). Founded in 2009 with the publication of an essay by me, Mark Green*, it has grown to have thousands of practitioners who embrace its Four Sacred Pillars and 13 Principles, and its science-consistent understanding of the psychological and social value of rituals, holiday observances and rites of passage.
I am a lifelong atheist, and have never had reason to doubt that point of view, but I find that most outspoken atheists err seriously in their understanding of the function and value of religious and ritual practice in building community, inculcating values and gratitude, and otherwise enriching a human life.
For many years, I was active in celebrating the turning of the seasons with members of the Pagan community, the values of which resonated with my own. However, there came a point where I could no longer remain silent in the face of the credulity with which many in those circles approached their religion, believing their gods to exist in a literal sense rather than as meaningful metaphors. Even to the point of using “the will of the gods” to excuse dysfunctional and unethical behavior, in some cases.
So I left. But within a very short time, I found that my life was impoverished. Without the rituals, seasonal celebrations and observances, I felt disconnected from Nature, uninspired and dejected.
As a result, after a gap of some years in which I explored further how religious behavior serves the imperatives of various parts of the human brain, I began to develop a supernatural-free, godless tradition of celebrations, observances, meditations and other meaningful practices, the goals of which are to increase happiness both individually and in society, and to foster the development of a more sustainable, just and kind world.
Atheopaganism is a non-hierarchical religious path: we have no Pope, no guru, no layers of leadership with ascending status and power. Each practitioner tailors their practice to meet what works best for them. Even our clergy, the Atheopagan clerics, are self-selected and adopt this role in service to their communities, not as a status enhancement. Anyone can be a cleric: you can ordain yourself for free at the website of the nonprofit Atheopagan Society, where you will find much more information about the path, resources in support of it, and opportunities to connect in community.
Details on my journey to creating Atheopaganism, the science behind it and its principles are available here (somewhat outdated) or in the book Atheopaganism: an Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science. Those interested in learning more can also request to join the Atheopagan Facebook group, where thousands of us discuss and develop Atheopagan ideas, rituals, liturgy and culture, as well as announce events. We also have a growing community on Discord.
Posts to this blog are about not only the development, but the practice of this modern religious path. Here you will find resources for starting a practice, essays on each of the 13 Principles, and a lot more.
If Atheopaganism is not your thing, it’s a big Internet–keep searching and I hope you will find something that works for you. Ours is not a proselytizing path: if you don’t want to, no one is saying you should follow it.
We ask that visitors here extend to us the same courtesy. Please do not argue for the existence of your gods or the supernatural here. We don’t believe in them; until scientifically credible evidence for them appears, our position on that isn’t likely to change.
*Though I am by no means the first to wed naturalistic atheism with Neopagan ideas and practices. See, for example, the Naturalistic Paganism blog in the links.
All of the writing on this website except where otherwise noted is copyright Mark Green, and unauthorized publication of it constitutes theft of intellectual property. Opinions expressed are those of their authors, and not necessarily those of The Atheopagan Society. Note that I do not claim ownership of most of the images shown on this website. If you do, notify me and I will take the picture down immediately or credit the copyright holder, whichever the holder prefers. This is a non-commercial website for religious purposes.
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You might change our last par to say, you’ll either credit image copyright holders or remove the images, per your preference. Glad to know about your site.
Good idea, I’ll make that change. Thanks for visiting!
Great site, Mark! Appealing, easy to navigate, excellent content. I’m going to share some of your writing with the men in the “Wiccan circle” at San Quentin. Wiccan is the term the DOCR uses and understands, but in reality it’s pan-Pagan, and mostly comprised of minorities.
Wonderful! Thanks so much!
It sounds a bit like Unitarian Universalist?
Well, not really. This is a PAGAN practice, working in ritual circles instead of audience-and-performer congregations, celebrating holidays of the Wheel of the Year, and conducting personal rituals and rites of passage. UU is much more modeled on the Christian model of meeting in buildings, having sermons, singing hymns, etc.
New guy here.. you could definitely be an atheopagan unitatrian universalist, so says my partner who was raised UU. I will leave it to Mr. Green to decide if one can be a unitarian universalist atheopagan.
Yes, of course. UUism doesn’t require that you no longer identify as some other religious path as well. Many Atheopagans are also UUs.
I read the first part of your blog and i think i found the best or the righter definition of my religiosity out of traditional ideas of gods and trusting. I shall continue reading you. Greetingd from Italy, and good luck for all
Thanks for creating a term and a group for what I’ve always known as my truth.
You’re so welcome!
Hi Mark. I am so happy to have found your website.
Can you tell me if Atheo-Paganism is the same or similar to Humanistic Paganism? If not, how do they differ?
Thank you for sharing.
Hi, Elizabeth! Atheopaganism is a sort of subset of Humanistic Paganism: a particular path with a set of value Principles and conventions about rituals, the Wheel of the Year, etc. Many of my pieces have been published at Humanisticpaganism.com, and I am friends with John Halstead and Jon Cleland Host, the editors over there.
Hope this helps!
I’m still researching these paths and have a question for this. How would you compare an atheist pagan to Atheopaganism? Is there much of a difference? Because I lean towards both, I’m just unsure of specifics in them.
I’ve been enjoying reading your blog!
Thanks in advance!
Atheist paganism is a general category of religious paths. Atheopaganism is a specific atheistic Pagan path that i created, with the Four Pillars, 13 Principles, locally-defined wheel of the year, etc.
Thank you Mark for giving us name. Identity is so important for human beings. Regards from El Salvador
You are very welcome!
Feedback from a curious soul.
Sticking feathers on your butt doesn’t make you a chicken and using the term Pagan with a atheist slant doesn’t make one a pagan.
The Church of the All World’s, one of the first to use the term Pagan in the early 70s had a very scientific take on superstition, and a keen sense of keeping the community ritual more universal.
Denying the “realness” of another person’s view of deities is a very un-pagan thing.
Early Pagan groups had diverse and unique takes on spirituality from Egyptian to English High Magic options.
Your terminology seems pigeonhole something that was built from diversely unique intellectual beginnings rather than old fashioned ignorance.
I am mostly questioning the use of the term Pagan at all…which has a distinct purpose that already includes your perspective and the idea that community Ritual and Solstice celebration isn’t already a universal religious theme practiced across the world outside and within the pagan communities..
Find the Others and Join in together is a common theme for our age and I honor your attempts, but this whole Non-profit effort is clearly putting the Cart before the Horse.
Direct experience with community and then a building is a better route….unless of course this a philosophical debate..and you are the Philosopher in charge.
I suppose then I have questions.
I simply disagree with you. We have a large community already–more than 2000 participants.
I do not consider the Church of All Worlds–with which I have a great deal of experience–to be an admirable model in any way.
As for the term “Pagan”, there is only one thing that characterizes all members of that set: they call themselves Pagans. So do we, so we are. And as reverers of the Sacred Earth, we have as much claim to it as anyone else.
Amen, Brother Green!
As a fellow nature based traveler, I would also point out that the very definition , in the Vulgate bible anyway, of pagans as heathens or ‘ones not enrolled in the Army of Christ’. Feels like a walk on the sunny side to me. Hail and Well Met!
J’ai découvert votre site et j’ai été surprise de découvrir quelque chose qui m’aide à mettre des mots sur mon ressenti. Bien souvent voulant expliquer mon ressenti , je le décrivait comme athée et païenne sans pouvoir faire clairement de lien sur cette apparente contradiction. Merci pour votre approche, c’est très intéressant. Par contre j’utilise le traducteur de page Google pour avoir accès a l’information mais c’est pas trop mal. Guilaine France
Merci bien, Guilaine. (Ca fait plusieurs ans depuis que j’ai parlel francais, donc ma grammaire est probablement pauvre).