Hello all! As an ex-pagan of about 2.5 years, I am still very susceptible to backsliding. Like, I'll see a documentary (like I did tonight!) on wiccans and suddenly I'm all wistful for my good ol' pagan days. Sometimes all it takes is a whiff of sage or incense! I really miss some of the feelings that practicing wicca used to bring me but, in the end, it was not enough to keep me believing. I think I was an atheist all along, hoping I would see or experience something that would convince me to believe. Anyway, has anyone else had trouble with this?

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I felt the same, that I was an atheist all along. Almost like I went into it with a "prove it!" attitude. There are some things that I like b/c they are pretty or whatever. But mostly it took a traumatic experience to make me turn my back on it forever. Now I have negative association every time I see a pentagram. It was worth it though.
It's funny though, if you had asked me my "true" feelings at the time... I would usually say something along the lines of "maybe the gods are real, maybe they are not, but I have had experiences that have proved it to me..." Now I realize that those experiences were all in my head and happen to many people of many religions. I had a combo of trauma and very subtle things that led me out of paganism. Someone I trusted as a mentor and high priestess turned on me, obviously that is going to have an effect! But I also noticed that for all our spellwork, the people in my group were no better off than they had been before. So, it was as if I had approached magick as an experiment and the experiment failed.
thanks for the input,
I also remember seeing what I wanted to see. Especially with divination! I was also betrayed by the pagans in my life; are there any covens that aren't just drama-filled cults?? My reaction to "breakups" is sometimes to have an aversion to things that remind me of the person/s, and therefore I now have this allergy to paganism.

I still do like rocks and crystals, because they are beautiful. Meditation can make me feel nice sometimes. Incense can smell nice. Candles can be pretty. I just don't have any illusions about any other purposes for these things.
While I have not been wisked back into my pagan days I still find it easy to feel the same as I did then.

I have questioned religion since age 8, I am coming to find most atheist I know also did this. They were as you stated "always atheist" just switching religions to find the "truth." Never satisfied though they found atheism.

However this does not chance the experiences they felt in those religions. That is to say in each religion they "felt" something, and this feeling was real but not directly associated with the religions.

I still meditate, and still experience the same things I felt when I was "pagan," the same thing might be said for "prayer" if a person would to meditate instead of pray.
If you goto a concert, even a classical one, where you can "feel" the base inside you this can bring back feelings you once felt say in a evangelical church setting.

The same feelings of "nature," "awe," "or reverence toward nature etc" still exists but now is not associated to a religion. Most people of faith turning to atheism dont realize they can keep these things and still be an atheist.
I actually have trouble connecting with nature too! I mean, I love nature of course, that was one of the reasons I became pagan. But I don't feel the deep connection that I did before. That is one of the things I'm still grieving. I used to walk outside and feel that the spirits of the trees and the moon and the wind were with me, speaking to me in a way. Now, it's just trees, wind and a rock in the sky. The world feels devoid of magick because I've realized there is no "other side", no secret world that I am especially attuned to. Maybe with time, my sense of awe will return. That would be a relief!
I still like nature just as much; it's people's fault, not nature's. I realized I don't need a religion to tell me to love nature, and really when I look at the natural world it makes me think of how awesome science is.
Try realizing how awesome nature really is. This should help you respect and "connect" to nature.

Also remember your an animal as well :)
Just remember that you are a part of nature, in a very literal sense. Are you interested in Astronomy at all? It's one of the things that gives me that same sense of awe and connectedness with the planet.
In my journey out of faith, I took my husband's advice that maybe it was time I learned more about and thus developed an appreciation for the natural world. I started learning everything I could about science and was appalled at how little I knew. I started with biology; a good basic biology text book put me in awe of the elegance of nature the way neo-pagan books, spells, chants, meditations and ritual used to. Except this time it was tangible, provable, and logical. It's a significant step up in quality of life experience in my opinion.

The world is full of secret things than you can be "in tune" with--how much do you really know about that tree, or the wind, or the moon? As Carl Sagan put it, "Somewhere, something amazing is waiting to be discovered". You'll find that for all of neo-paganism's "nature" reverence, it has very little to say about what actually goes on in an ecosystem or a solar system (or history, anthropology and archaeology for that matter). Maybe it's time to discover that.

I also grieved the loss of my perceived "connection to nature", but the more I learned about the natural world I saw how I could never possibly not be connected with it.
There are those of us who find a balance of both. I still burn sage, meditate, even fiddle with my tarot cards now and then.

Sage smells good - one of my favorite forms of incense - and I know that psychologically I'm associating it with calmness, clearing my mind, clearing the 'demons' (whatever is bugging about my day and I really need to let go of). All psychological. All quite scientific and Atheistic.

Meditation I actually learned from a therapist before I started practicing paganism. I don't have to literally believe lights are emanating from my body congruent to the chakras for the visual image of that to be a neat way to ground myself.

Tarot: Even as a Pagan I think I was Atheist and just wasn't ready to call it that yet. I've never thought of Tarot as anything more than a creative way to reassess a situation. Like going for a walk, or playing with candle making, or absorbing myself in a piece of music. I look at the pictures, play with themes and questions like "What came before this, where is this headed, what stands in my way?" And sometimes, an idea will emerge.

While a lot of the Wiccans/Pagans/New Agers take it all way too literally, I've found there are a few out there who 'practice' purely from an Atheistic, scientific, psychological angle.

Just because I'm an Atheist doesn't mean it isn't still fun to dance naked on a full moon. }>
Thanks to you (and to everyone!) for replying :) it was kind of an important question and very relevant right now. I have attended PantheaCon in Santa Clara, CA every February for I think 5 or 6 years. it's always been a huge boost to my spirituality. the past 2 years have been difficult to say the least. I waffle between wanting to just enjoy myself and becoming sad that I can't fully believe any of it anymore. I was debating whether to go this year. Not to go would let down my 2 great friends who I was in a coven with. Also, I did have fun last year... despite my conflicted feelings. I guess maybe I was wondering if I had a right to go, thinking the way I do now! The input on here has helped a lot towards my decision and ultimately, how I will enjoy the Con.
I wonder if my naked-moon-dancing days are over. It used to be my goal to get naked at least once every summer. Now I don't go to those kind of places anymore and I don't know if nudism is my thing anymore.


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