I sure hope so since this is how I identify myself. At the risk of getting kicked out of the Atheist club, let me elaborate.

While my attempts as a child to believe in God like a good little citizen failed, my exposure to living science, quantum physics, seeing the universe and all that is in it as a whole lot of life-in-action, stuck with me. As I grew up and began to explore my world from the angle of all things being made up of the same 'stuff,' the known and even greater unknown interconnectedness and energy within this 'stuff' and thusly the interconnectedness and common DNA between you, me, my cat, my snake, a tree, a rock, the wind, an asteroid, a star, carried with it a lot more reason and beauty than “God did it.”

At the same time, I have learned indirectly on my own and directly from other sources a fair amount of meditation and self-control-through-the-mind techniques. Dealing with chronic pain, dealing with a weird but needed-to-be-dealt-with phobia, finding my own greater strength in martial arts. All of this involves a degree of grasping control in our own selves over things we and even the scientific community have yet to fully understand or define. An athlete mentally prepares and gets in the zone before the big game; visualizes the goal line, visualizes him/herself in top physical form. Is that supernatural hoodoo?

Likewise, while quantum physics, atomic energy and Unified Field Theory make perfect sense to me, they make for boring visuals when I'm trying to 'get in the zone.' I don't know what atomic particles look like. But, the image of Halle Berry in the first X-Men, vanquishing my inner demons much like she vanquished Toad, makes for a cool visual that my brain can definitely latch onto.

This is where practices of Paganism and even methods of Witchcraft come in handy for me. E.g.; I really need to be able to go to Dad's funeral without my sister driving me to insanity. So I find some quiet time, burn some sage or incense, create my sacred space, and envision a psychic shield around myself which my sister can not penetrate with her well-meaning but insanity-provoking behavior.

Do I literally think the sage/incense have mystical powers in and of themselves? Not really. They are pleasant aromas and ones both my conscious and subconscious mind have come to associate with relaxation and getting rid of the worries of the day. Plus, they carry a historical, traditional role in getting rid of the worries of the day, a fact which stimulates other parts of the psyche. Do I literally think I have created a magical, sacred space around me that looks like a light show out of a Disney cartoon? Not really. But what I have done is found a quiet place and filled it with pleasant light and smells; an act psychologically proven to enhance focus and concentration. Do I literally think I have created a physical, psychic force field? Not so much in the literal sense but what I am doing psychologically is tapping in to parts of the brain that I and modern science have yet to fully understand in order to try and make myself less-driven-insane by my sister when the time comes.

In other words, yes – there are bona-fide crystal crunching new agers out there who have replaced 'Jesus' with 'Goddess,' but otherwise little has changed. They literally believe in fairies and tree spirits and angels and that they are Princess-whomever reincarnated into the saps they are now.

But then there are some of the practices themselves: Respect for nature. Envisioning the tree as a living organism. Picturing the planet in terms of a collective, living organism. Wrapping one's mind around the concept that both I and the rock I'm sitting on are ultimately made up of the same 'stuff' (protons, neutrons, electrons). Envisioning the Unified Field and interconnectedness of the cosmos, attempting to tap into the coolness of that interconnectedness to somehow improve my own state of mind, awareness of the space around me, or athletic performance so I can win the game today. I've met many a Pagan/Wiccan who holds this point of view; that they don't believe in most of it literally, but rather as a psychological exercise that works well for them scientifically.

So, does that get me kicked out of the Atheist club? Or can one dance naked under the Full Moon or welcome the Summer Solstice from a purely beauty-in-science point of view?

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Don't you mean Neo-Druidry? Actual Druids disappeared from the written record around the 2nd century, although they may have existed longer in Ireland.

Have you actually surveyed all Neo-Pagans? Many do feel that they are practicing and/or creating new religions. The hardcore woowoo will state that they are practicing Anciente Religions (e.g. The Olde Religione). Many will also state that their religion is also a way of life.
mthoreau: "How does Paganism affect ones day to day life?"

Speaking for myself and some of my personal observations:

- Thinking of the planet in terms of a living organism instead of just a dead rock in dead space instills in me (and I would think especially in children), an even greater feeling of responsibility towards treading lightly and care/repair of the environment.

- Feeling a connection to all matter and all things makes it more likely that I'll consider the consequences of my actions before I act. "How is this going to affect my environment? My coworkers? The next generation?"

- Feeling a connection to all matter and all things makes huge, complex areas of study like astrophysics seem a little less intimidating. That nebula might be billions of light years away, but once upon a time we probably shared a molecule. Awwww!

- Including people in that feeling of interconnectedness makes it a lot harder for me to conjure the necessary feelings of hate/loathing/you-are-subhuman it takes to discriminate against ethnic groups, declare war, torture another person, etc.

Finally ... On a much deeper understanding-myself level, I suffered a nerve injury at 16 which left me with 50% use of my dominant arm and racked with chronic pain. If you've ever hit your funny bone or gotten a mild electric shock, it's like that only every second of every minute of every day of every week of every month, of every year...

With Mom and Dad not believing (or not wanting to believe) that this pain existed or the loss of function was that bad, accusing me of faking it or being a sissy, I was left on my own to figure out how to deal. Not wanting to spend the rest of my life handicapped or doped up on painkillers, I wound up organically discovering many coping techniques I would later learn are very much associated with Paganism. Auto-hypnosis, deep meditation, lots of visualization. 'See' how my shoulder, arm, hand works and 'teach' my body to work right again. 'See' the pain as its own entity, both a part of me but also something I can expel when I need to. Give it a color, a shape, a sound. Focus on something outside myself to tune out the pain. On the really bad days, 'ask' my body what it needs. 'Listen' to my body as if it's a voice within my voice.

Years later, as I'm learning about Wicca and Paganism, chakras, out-of-body transcendence, and I'm thinking to myself, "Holy crap - strip away the woo-woo language and this is exactly what I've been doing all these years! Who knew it had a name?" Definitely a way Paganism is used in every day life.

Incidentally, it took 17 years and a lot of head-scratching on the part of Western medicine until I discovered my miracle treatment: Shiatsu massage. Even more improvement in function than I'd achieved on my own - probably at 90% now - and the only thing that has relieved the chronic pain. Shiatsu is something else often categorized as New Age and pseudo-science, while Modern Medicine is finally acknowledging its very real benefits.
This is the exact same concept my mind has been trying to grasp. This may seem weird to others but I feel the same when I am out for a walk with my binoculars. When I slowly crouch towards a bird call, and look through the eyepieces, I find something utterly spiritual about it.

Birdwatching for me must be like the paganism-influenced activities that some people here do. I guess this is the same for our individual passions. It does something to our psychology that the religious would say an intervention from a divine being. Because they've settled for the more easily comprehensible and widely accepted explanation: god and magic.
Ah! So that's what it's called, shapeshifting. Interesting! I have actually done this several times. I will look more into the topic. :D Thank you for the new information!
Another favorite Mary-the-Tour-Guide topic: Local Natives long ago, when coming across an unfamiliar plant, might camp out for a couple of days next to that plant. Go into a trance state, commune with the plant, get to know its spirit, sleep next to it and dream-walk with it.

The scientific explanation: When we have a problem or dilemma to work out what do people advise us to do? "Clear your mind. Sleep on it." What kind of environment does the plant live in? Does it look similar to other plants we know of? What other animals are eating the plant? What does it smell like? Alcohol? Ok, we know what alcohol does...

Plus, no one had to tell the baby bear or any other animal that it's ok to eat this plant but not that one. We too are animals and it's reasonable to assume that the same what-to-eat/what-not-to-eat instincts still reside deep in the caveman parts of our brains. It's just a matter of clearing the mind of distractions and tapping into it. Someone who lives off the land will find this easier to do than someone who lives off of Wal-Mart.
Ha! I didn't even see this group - sitting here thinking I should start one of my own!

Mostly, being new to the site, I started this thread to test the waters of the larger group so to speak.

Glad to see that Pagan-Atheism seems well accepted here. I really was afraid I'd start this thread only to be flamed out of existence.
Ummm, Syndi?

Where are you getting that I think Climate Change is a hoax? My line of thinking (I.e.; plain as day reality which is laughable to even try and refute) is that Climate Change is very, very real and we humans are very, very much a part of it today. I had this figured out from about age 3 or so long before "Climate Change" was an in-use phrase. I figured it out because I have eyes and a brain and a willingness not to ignore the 800 pound gorilla in the room.

What I've said here is that the extremists - which you agree exist in all groups - who know nothing of their subject matter, piss me off. They're the ones who grab right-wing headlines and make the real scientists/conservationists look bad by lumping us in their group.
- Yes, came back to correct the spelling of your name but you'd already replied. Sorry - it's early for me and my brain hadn't quite woke up yet!

- Also thinking about how I phrased my comment, I can see where it would be misleading. The implication was that extreme protests like chaining oneself to a tree doesn't help, it hurts the cause. The stereotypical view that if you're an environmentalist you must therefore also be a militant-vegan who throws buckets of pig blood on everyone coming out of the steakhouse.

Sorry for the misprints!
Gosh Mary, don' t you see that you can't possibly REALLY care about the environment unless you're a vegan or vegetarian????
... Or that if I say I care about the environment I'm about to suggest that everyone has to get rid of their cars and live as tree-people.

Interestingly, it was another Pagan learning experience that got me in touch with the little vegetarian in me. I was reading an interesting book about animal totems - particularly from a Native American point of view. That week, had an interesting encounter with a rabbit. Looking up rabbits, the bit that struck me is that they are very, very particular about their diets. Feeling my diet was pretty awful I decided to go vegetarian for a month. The end result:

- I learned some things about rabbits I didn't know before.

- I learned that the only vegetarian thing on the Taco Bell menu (at that time) was also the tastiest thing (7 layer burrito. Still the only meal I order from there).

- While going permanently vegetarian proved to be too difficult logistically I did learn a lot and improved my overall diet in the long run.
Wearing hemp clothing is one thing but to not eat veal?? That's quite another. McDonalds stopped using styrofoam packaging years ago, so there is nothing to worry about. Right?
In the US, they probably did. In my country and a couple of more countries, they still use polystyrene.

I wonder how hundreds of giant corporations can continue growing without conscience, and regard for the rest of humanity. Oh, but they love to publicize their fake concern, as if they've not done enough share in ruining the environment.

Social responsibility was a thing of the past, until the issue of climate change and global warming.




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