I wrote this on September 22 and meant to share it with you all then. Today is feeling distinctly fall like, so I thought 'd finally get around to posting it. You can also see it on my blog.

This is going to be all very off the cuff. I didn't even think this was something I would be writing about. I have eschewed careful copy editing in favor of actually trying to roughly sketch my thoughts on my old neo-paganism, my new secular humanism and what the Autumnal Equinox means to me in light of this fundamental change in worldview.

When I say I didn't think I'd be writing about this, I mean it. I had forgotten that today is the Autumnal Equinox; well, not today, but at 03:19 UTC. My husband wished me a happy one before he left for work this morning. A few years ago, I would have looked forward to this day for weeks. I love Autumn so naturally the sabbat for the equinox was my favorite. I once called this day Mabon and would have celebrated it by myself, probably looking at the moon or watching the rain from inside a candle lit room. I typically didn't do magic, preferring to commune with the mystical beings that I imagined to be all around me. And honestly, I was happy that way for a long time.

It was in activities like these that the seeds of my atheism were planted. Did I really think I was communing with spirits, or was I in an altered state of consciousness no more mystical than any other altered state of consciousness I had experienced? Why did I have to do enjoyable things for any reason other than that they were enjoyable? And why did I needlessly need to complicate things that I was being directed to do because I was meant to appreciate the simplicity of the task? 

In short, I didn't have good answers for why I did the things I did as a neo-pagan. I felt a compelling faith in that religion on one or two occasions. One experience in particular was a touchstone event in my life that I still appreciate, although viewing it in a naturalistic way. The best answers I could come up with were vanity, fear, social pressure, addiction, isolation... Nothing about being a neo-pagan was healthy for me. I'm still unraveling why things went the way they did for me; some of the factors were personal, others were serious problems faced by that community of believers as a whole. 

It is certainly something I want to examine in greater detail in the future but wanted to introduce here, while I was thinking about it, wanting to share something with any other ex-pagans out there, and appreciating this day for what it truly is--Wednesday.

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Replies to This Discussion

Hmm, I thought this looked familiar...I'd answer it here but I already wrote in your blog :P
*LOL* No worries. :)
Hi Sarah,

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this subject. It's a good topic and I'll bite.

In retrospect, I thought a lot of the same things of myself regarding my own involvement with paganism. I tried real hard to believe in all of it. I drifted between really wanting to believe in it and knowing it was mostly metaphor for what people in the past didn't have the science to explain. They did it with stories, such as the reborn god myth from so many cultures, to explain the movements of the sun, moon and stars. I was even convinced at a time or two that I could have long-distance spiritual connections with loved ones and could sense their feelings. Silly me. I basically found out that believing doesn't make anything real that isn't already so. I find it sad that so many people still think it does.

Your comment about the vanity, fear, social pressure and isolation strike a chord with me because it all applies. I think fear is a key ingredient of faith. Fear of this being it is a big motivator for a lot of people. There's a certain vanity to being apart from the "mainstream" faithful and having a history full of persecution and near-extinction of a historical culture's mythology to complain about. A minor benefit to being a male pagan in that women greatly outnumber men in pagan circles. I didn't want to go to church but I wanted to be a part of a social group.

Funny to realize how much time we spent "doing pagan stuff" and defending the pagan belief system and the ritualistic observation of the calendar in the form of the wheel of the year. I was drawn to paganism because I had already decided that xianity was BS or, at my worst, the enemy of paganism because the druids are among my ancestors(I have celtic heritage) and St. Patrick was a son of a bitch, there were never snakes in Ireland, etc... but that all means nothing to now. It took me a long time to know that.

Those are my first thoughts sparked by reading your post.
I'm curious how many pagans are just trying real hard to believe in all of it, either so they can be serious, or they can justify hanging around with other pagans. Among my pagan former friends, I think only 3 out of 9.

I was never Christian. Your talking about the Druids got me thinking of so many pagans getting somber about "the burning times". Sure it sucked, but I didn't think of it as a personal tragedy.


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