Curated by Cat Gina Cole
The Green Egg Forum is a lively hotbed of thoughtful discourse, moderated by Cat Gina Cole. In this column, Cat shares some of the most interesting and interactive posts and threads from the forum. Want to get in on the conversation? We would love to have you! Go to: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1069823176940972/ to join.
Thank you all for your participation in the conversation about atheists. One comment was very skillfully laid out that I did not want to get lost in the shuffle the reply was…
Direct quotes are not edited for spelling or punctuation. ~~Editor
“Paganism is a term commonly referred to by followers of the Abrahamic religions as any religion that believes in gods/goddesses that aren’t Abrahamic. Pagans believe in any variation of one to several gods, outside of Christianity.
“Agnostics are people who don’t have sufficient knowledge to say whether or not gods exist.
“Agnosticism isn’t atheism light.
“Atheists don’t believe in God or lack belief in the existence of any god(s).
“Technically you can’t be atheist and pagan because paganism accepts belief in a god or gods (goddesses etc.)
“That said… It is true that there is a movement away from any kind of God by many people who identify as pagan, likely because the word pagan is used by Christian individuals to label people who don’t believe in their god as pagan. So, it has given a connotation of godlessness to the term that it doesn’t necessarily initially have. So, while it is true that you can’t technically be atheist and pagan, it’s becoming really common for atheists to consider themselves pagan or label themselves pagan because of their understanding of the term due to the way that it’s often used by followers of Abrahamic religions.”
From Cat: I would like to add that she is right, Atheism is a hard line of no deity at all. Also, that the word “Pagan” in its original context of the word meant anyone who was not Christian. It did not have any connotation of deity in it and referred only to those who were not Christian. Typically, those were the indigenous folk in the areas the Christians were moving into that had a wide variety of beliefs. The Christians assumed they worshiped a deity other than theirs in many cases and saw them as animalist. The Christians were incorrect on that as well. The indigenous were, in fact, animists believing that all things had a spirit and a soul. This was not something the Christians of the time could possibly conceive.
As I see the conversation unfold in the forum and other groups, I am seeing the theme of Godlessness arise more and more as people give definitions of their type of paganism. That is not exactly atheist but more agnostic and undefinable and much more like the animism of the original indigenous of the pre-Christian times.
Here are some of the comments from the group that highlight this trend.
“Some of them work with Nature only. They do what we do without calling in what they consider to be “supernatural” beings. Some still work the elements, just not the Elementals.”
“Hmm, I thought to be a true atheist meant to not believe in any spiritual or metaphysical power whatsoever…If an atheist pagan means to believe in the power of the universe, nature and the spirit realm but not particular gods and goddesses I may toe that line myself.
I don’t “work with the gods” in any traditional sense and I am not sure that I believe in them (in a traditional sense) either.”
“Magic can be done by someone of any religion or no religion at all. An atheist would not call on deity, but we don’t call on deity for every single little magical act anyway. Spirits can be of nature and the land, or spirits can be seen as not-human but not-deity.”
“Atheopagans are actually pretty dogmatic about it. They do call on the gods, but they call on them as symbols and made-up things by humans that are focusing on that particular area, the area of that particular god or goddess or other, to carry out the work. I mean, all of us are made up concepts.”
“Atheist Witches are often called Humanists. There is no need for belief in divinity for magic to exist, no more than electricity does..”
“As a pantheist witch my divinity is in Nature, not in some supernatural being outside of Nature. This divinity imbues all of Nature with Spirit. Spirit is Existence itself. Whatever exists is Spirit. As a pantheist witch I summon the spirits to aid my works. My “goddess” of choice is Essynia, the Moon, but she is no goddess calling on my worship; she is an Elder Spirit in the universe, 4.5 billion years old. I call on the spirits of the plants and stones I use. The world is filled with spirit beings like you and I; the world itself is a spirit being we call Gaea. Spirits neither desire nor require our devotion, but they will work with us when we have learned their unspoken elder tongue and earned their trust. That is the ancient wisdom of the wise ones.”
“Skeptical Pagan here. I don’t consider myself an atheist, but I do think it is possible all humans might be wrong and there is nothing before or after this life. But if I could choose, I would want our gods and goddesses. To each their own, I say. Have a good evening, all!”
Cat Gina Cole is a Herditary Witch and author of Psychic Skills for Magic and Witchcraft (Llewellyn, 2022). She is the founder of The Coven of the Rising Phoenix and Staff Coordinator for “Green Egg Magazine.” You can reach her at www.catginacole.com.