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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Nudism is still my thing, but it was before I was a Neo-Pagan. I would love to attend a gathering of atheists that takes the best of Rainbow and Neo-Pagan gatherings, but dispenses with the mystical shit and woo.

You might want to try Burning Man.  The theme's a little bit Pagan, but it's edgier, and it's not a Pagan event.  Costuming and body painting and fire and art and clothing optional.  You can rough it in a tent like I always have, or pull in there with an RV, satellite phone and DirecTV.  It's an incredible event, spiritually moving, but perfectly compatible with Atheism as it is for Pagans or just the undeclared decadent.

I know exactly the sort of backsliding you mean, it would usually hit me about this time every Autumn, and it caused me trouble. I started to grasp my atheism several years before I abandoned neo-paganism, but kept turning back to neo-paganism as this unfinished project, or an idea I hadn't quite sorted out. I felt I had unfinished business, but I also hoped that in dealing with my unfinished business that something would magically reveal itself to me, saving me from a life of atheism. Of course, that didn't happen.

By trying to sort through exactly what my thoughts on neo-paganism were I learned a lot more about the history and organizations of the neo-pagan movement. I also learned a lot more about what it was like to be in a coven or other ritual group. I didn't like what I saw and realized I was more than just an atheist; I wasn't blatantly not neo-pagan. I cut through to the core of many neo-pagan philosophies and dogmas and found little to support.

I guess what I'm saying is there may be two components to rejecting faith; you have to have a logical basis for rejecting faith as insufficient, and you have to have a logical basis for accepting an alternative to faith (in our case, atheism). I could see no reason why I should practice neo-paganism, and no reason why I shouldn't until I learned more about neo-paganism and atheism. In my case, I found I was only comfortable with identifying myself as an atheist (and later, as a secular humanist) when I had satisfied these two cognitive needs I had.
Hi Allison:

I've e-mailed you separately with my story but thought I would reply to this on here as well. I think that socialization and community are major attractants of any religion, and by being atheist we feel "left out" of this fun stuff. The feelings that Wicca is designed to bring out are those of any cult; it is meant to make you feel elated, a part of a group, and generally happy that you are "home". You can find that "home" with friends, family and your loved ones. It is no accident that new Wiccan seekers are often coming from failing marriages or bad families; they are looking for community.

Feelings of happiness can come with any community involvement, including volunteering for a favourite charity or activist organization. If you are really missing the feeling of being Wiccan, which I totally sympathize with, I would highly recommend it. When I first left Wicca I volunteered for the federal political party that I voted for and got a great sense of enjoyment out of it.
Good points exwiccan. And few communities can do the fun-community thing quite like the neo-pagans.

I've long said that the cool thing about being Pagan is that every day is a holiday. "It's 3 nights before the 4th quarter moon! Let's PARTAY!!!!!"

I think one of the things that "really bugged me" when I was still a part of pagan scene, was while knowing my plant biology(botany-if you will) certain practitioners would go on this kick, (mistakenly thinking I fully supported their notions,) of attaching specific fairies and magickal(how I loathe the term now) properties to each and every plant. I personally didn't need fairies to augment my appreciation for nature, or my understanding of how nature operated. While I'm well aware of medicinal properties that nature provides, I really didn't want to go the route of pseudo-scientific(holistic) practitioner of questionable means. The holistic medicine practitioners I met, were less than qualified to diagnose and treat specific serious illnesses, and many of them were fairy magick practitioners. I don't intend to poke fun at them, but seriously? Unless it is based on sound scientific evidence or medical findings, I would caution anyone before consulting any of them. I would question first their credentials, and make sure they actually have real med/nursing school-type training.

Just for clarification: This is also not to say that there aren't qualified and reputable and credible alternative medicine practices, nor am I suggesting that there aren't those that meet certain criteria and professional standards. I just think it's "approach with caution" when it comes down to it. Fairy magick(blegh!) doesn't qualify one to medically treat illnesses.

You know, I completely understand how everyone feels here. I have been going back and forth between atheism and Wicca for a long time now. Years. I love the crystals, the runes, the feel of the happiness that everyone seems to share... It's really beautiful.
Since turning back to atheism and pantheism, I've felt this sort of internal revival. I don't want to say spiritual.. I've come to the conclusion that we are fully natural, functioning human beings in a natural world. Little by little, I know I'll come to let go of those old attachments.


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