Hey, everyone, it’s the holiday giving season. So I’m asking: please consider making a tax-deductible gift to The Atheopagan Society(TAPS) this year.
The nonprofit Society is our community’s religious organization. TAPS produces events, creates learning opportunities and manages many of the details of coordinating a community so large and far-flung.
The Society is entirely volunteer operated. Funds raised go to expenses–we have no paid staff. Your gift of $25, $50 or even more is fully tax-deductible (in the United States).
Although I researched and wrote my initial essay describing the rationale, worldview, values and approach of Atheopaganism between 2005 and 2009, the path didn’t really start to take off as a movement until the Facebook group was created in 2012. Today is the ten-year anniversary of that launch, and I thought an update to the community about what we have achieved and what is happening now would be appropriate. So here goes!
The state of Atheopaganism is exciting and growing! We have so many things happening, and coming off the invigorating success of the Suntree Retreat in Colorado, there is a feeling of enthusiasm and can-do within the community. Volunteers are stepping up to help with various tasks and projects, and that means we can dream bigger, aim higher.
Here are some of the high points of what we have achieved in ten years, and what’s in process now:
We successfully registered TAPS as a non-profit religious corporation both federally and in California.
We have a terrific group of 9 members of the Atheopagan Society Council, whose skills and volunteer efforts are deeply appreciated! The Council oversees the business of the Society and carries the vision for the future of our community.
Launched the AFFINITY GROUP PROGRAM
We created a charter for affinity groups, and coordinated the development process for Community Conduct and Grievance policiesthat spell out our consent expectations, harassment policies, etc. for all online and in-person Atheopagan Society events.
There are now 31 registered affinity groups meeting on a variety of platforms and/or physically. The program appears to be a success, providing Atheopagans with more opportunities for ownership, involvement and relationships with community members who live near them or share an area of common interest.
It is also an important step in diversifying the community and maintaining a flat power structure in its management, in accordance with our values.
There are discussions among some of these groups about hosting in-person get togethers in 2023. At least two affinity groups are already having in-person gatherings for rituals and fellowship.
Coming: THE ATHEOPAGAN ACADEMY
This is a new platform for presentation of on-demand classes; “Atheopagan Academy” is the name of our new Teachable.com “school”.
The platform could be used by many of us to teach subjects of interest to Atheopagans.
I have proposed that such classes remit the bulk of course fees to the instructor, with a portion going to TAPS.
If you are interested in teaching a class online through the Academy, please contact me at email@example.com.
Published the ATHEOPAGAN VOICE monthly email newsletter
An issue of the Voiceis published each month, on or about the 21st. It is sent to both clerics and those who have signed up for it on the blog.
Generally, it includes resources for clerics, craft projects and recipes, and event announcements.
Recently, I recruited an experienced online publisher, Loring Slivinski, who has taken over the content gathering, layout and monthly publication of the Voice.Thank you, Loring!
The blog contains detailed explanations of each Atheopagan Principle, key ritual skills and techniques, and the philosophical and theological schema of Atheopaganism, as well as personal reflections, event announcements and reports, and much more.
I am making a new push for guest posts in addition to my own material and recently added a “submissions” page to invite more community guest posts.
Organized the FACEBOOK COMMUNITY and other SOCIAL MEDIA
The Facebook group, launched August 5, 2012, surpassed the 4,000-member threshold in May; the Discord is at just under 400.
Our incredible moderator team–James Morgenstern, Mel McArthur, Jaala Hemingway and Rachel Wallace–is doing an amazing job of keeping our communities safe and convivial. Thank you all, and to those who have served as moderators previously!
Allows those who affirm support for the Atheopagan Principles to legally self-ordain. There are currently about 300 Atheopagan clerics.
Ordained clerics are added to the distribution list for The Atheopagan Voice monthly email newsletter (as are attendees at events like the Suntree Retreat).
The site houses downloadable resources for Atheopagan clerics and basic information for those researching Atheopaganism.
Features the Library, a resource library for Atheopagan education and study.
Includes a Community page which imports the Google Sheet list of affinity groups with contact information into a scrollable window.
Held the SUNTREE RETREAT 2022
By any measure, this in-person gathering was an unqualified success, creating a powerful feeling of community, impactful rituals and wonderful socializing. Feedback has been wildly positive (thanks to Robin C. for organizing the feedback form!)
The event simply could not have happened without Joy Burton, Michael Halloran, and Rachel Wallace, and onsite facilitation by Robin Clancy. MANY thanks to all of you!
We have reserved the La Foret retreat center for a second retreat on Sept. 6-9, 2024.
Regular ZOOM GATHERINGS
Originally brought about by the pandemic, Zoom mixers are conducted weekly on Saturdays. These are generally free-form social gatherings, though we conduct online rituals for the Sabbaths of the Wheel of the Year.
The monthly Adult/Sex Salon is conducted monthly on the first Saturday. This is a confidential, safe and 18+ space for discussion of adult topics such as sexuality, psychedelic drugs, and kink.
Community members have convened a Book Club, an After Hours gathering on Thursdays and a monthly support session for those recovering from religious trauma as well.
Through a community nomination and election process, we selected the Suntreeas our community symbol.
Over the past ten years, I have done about 40 radio and podcast interviews and presentations about Atheopaganism to Pagan conferences, UU and atheist congregations.
Presentations on Atheopaganism attracted standing-room-only audiences at Pantheacon.
It’s been a tremendously productive decade for Atheopaganism, and for non-theistic Paganism in general! I’m excited at the prospect of more gatherings, more connection in community, more opportunities for learning and publication of more resources on creation of rituals, Atheopagan thought and values.
More than anything, I am grateful to all of you who have come together to form this community, share yourselves and your gifts, and be a part of what we are building.
Ours is an engaged spirituality: engaged in society, engaged in the world. Atheopagans care not only about our own growth, joy in living, discovery and wonder, but the well-being of our fellow humans and the biosphere of which we are each a part.
Our Atheopagan values, enshrined in the Four Sacred Pillarsand the 13 Principles, are modern, progressive, inclusive, and in some cases have radical implications for improving conditions in our world. We understand the destructive and unsustainably rapacious nature of industrial capitalism, and know the values that dominate the world must change for justice, biodiversity, kindness and happiness to prevail.
This is not just abstract. Activism is a part of our movement and we see engagement in social change as not supplemental, but essential to the practice of Atheopaganism, whether it is as little as simply to vote, or as much as to organize a mass movement or run for office.
But statements of general values can sometimes be too unspecific to serve as actual policy guidance. Accordingly, the nonprofit Atheopagan Society, after review, input and edits to a draft by many members of our community, has approved a Statement of Policy Values.
These statements, thirteen in number, reflect the world we hope to see: a world of thriving life, justice, liberty, equality and happiness. They will serve as a guiding star for Atheopagan activist efforts over time and hopefully around the world.
The Society, of which I am a member of the directing Council, is deeply grateful to everyone who participated in the crafting and perfecting of the Statement. It is an expression of positions of which we can rightly all be proud.
Recently, the Atheopagan Society launched a new program for the community: affinity groups. These are small groups organized around topics of common interest or geographical areas, where Atheopagans can interact, learn, support and get to know one another better. They meet on whatever platforms they choose (or in real life, when safe), and are not moderated by the Society or by the community’s Facebook or Discord moderators. While we have provided forums for asking questions and seeking support, the groups are generally self-managed.
I have been careful since the time that Atheopaganism started to catch on with other people to stipulate that I may be the originator of this path and a leader within it, but I’m not the “Atheopagan pope”. By the very nature of our religious values, we don’t have one of those, and never will. I have seen what happens when people start accumulating power and lording over others in the Pagan community, and it is not pretty. It is a formula for corruption and abuse. If I have anything to say about it, it will never happen to us.
Still, I do speak up for the tenets that define Atheopaganism. There are beliefs and perspectives that fall within the definition of what constitutes Atheopaganism, and there are those which do not. If, for example, you don’t subscribe to a naturalistic cosmology, to the Four Pillars and the Atheopagan Principles, you’re not following the path of Atheopaganism. You may be some other variety of nontheist Pagan, but you’re not an Atheopagan.
And that is fine: people should follow the paths that work for them.
The point in making this distinction, though, is to ensure that the core vision of this path isn’t watered down until it comes to have no meaning. We have therefore asked that the founders of affinity groups affirm a charter which states that the group embraces the Four Pillars and 13 Principles of Atheopaganism, and our community conduct standards, as they launch their groups. Inviting the founding of affinity groups in this manner is a way for us to remain true to our vision of human agency and decentralized power, and also true to the values of the path itself.
We see leadership as a path of service, not authority or status, and so we celebrate the organizers of these affinity groups just as we celebrate Atheopagan clerics ordained at the Society website for their good works in the world.
Thank you, to each of you.
You can’t have a real community if you don’t trust and empower its members. I’m excited about the two affinity groups I have joined and wish the very best for the many groups that have formed thus far.