Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Naturalistic Pagan is an Oxymoron

I tend to avoid the Pathos Pagan blog because it feels like worthless ramblings so much of the time but recently a blog entry there crossed my news-feed titled “Thou Shalt Not Judge” (and why this is a problem)" written by John Halstead, who styles himself the Allergic Pagan and includes this definition of naturalistic Pagan in his article:

"As the term is used here, Naturalistic Pagans includes Humanistic Pagans, Atheistic Pagans, Atheopagans, and other non-theistic Pagans."

The article is all about questioning the validity of the experiences of other Pagans.  The problem he fails to grasp is that a non-theistic Pagan is not a Pagan at all but an atheist, a perfectly good word that does not attempt to appropriate an umbrella term for various RELIGIONS and fits him to a "T".

Frankly, as a life long practising Pagan in her mid sixties (meaning I have been a Pagan almost as long as Wicca has been a religion)  I am fed up with those who are clearly self declared atheists claiming membership as Pagans when they are nothing of the sort.  Words matter, their definitions matter.  Halstead bemoans trouble communicating with Pagans while failing to see he isn't even using the same damn language making actual communication impossible.

It's bad enough that John and Jane Q. Public confuses Wicca and Paganism as being the same when Wicca is a mere subset of Paganism and a Gardner come lately one at that, but trying to include atheism under the same umbrella stretches the cloth way the hell past the breaking point.  You want to hang with Pagans because we can be a fun free-wheeling group, fine but if you are an atheist, you are NOT a Pagan yourself.  If your motive is playing with religious trappings without actually believing, go join the UUs, they actually have a place for you to do that.

Lately a lot of so called Pagans have tried to define Paganism.  They need to consult historians.  Pagan used to mean country dwellers until the rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire.  It was Emperor Julian who redefined the word to capital P Pagan to mean those devotees of the non Abrahamic religions, the operative word here being religions.  Julian was an initiate of the Cybeline religion who also wrote several important works on Cybele, Magna Mater, the Great Mother.  We Cybelines thus have a greater claim to title "Pagan" than most neo-Pagans can claim.

And we modern Cybelines call foul and say enough is enough.  Stop appropriating our identity.

Postscript:  John apparently has momma issues he is trying to work out through me.  He mined my mostly friends only Facebook account, spammed the hell out of this entry with nonsense and in general is displaying what I call Mysogynistic Deranged Male Syndrome which you normally only see in 18-24 year old males living in their momma's basement  Nice job giving this lunatic a blog Patheos.   His fear of an empowered Crone is beyond evident.

I had to place comments on this blog on full moderation.


  1. "When I use a word," Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, "it means just what I choose it to mean -- neither more nor less."
    "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
    "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master - - that's all."

    Which sums up why I deleted John's comments......
    Without common language, no meaningful debate is possible. You cannot have a discussion with someone who changes the meanings of words to suit themselves.

  2. My issue with Mr. Halstead's original post is this: what he is asking for is for other atheists like himself to be given the right to tear down the experiences and beliefs of other Pagans. I had a conversation with my atheist husband about that this morning and we are both in agreement that when you see an atheist going on a tear about how if you can't prove that your deity exists, then they don't exist and you're a fool to believe in them, then they are trying to get you to see the error of your ways and become an enlightened atheist like them. In other words, they're proselytizing. We Pagans do not put up with Christians or members of any other faith coming to our circles and events with the intention of converting us, so just why is it that we are supposed to put up with it from atheists? Do they really think calling themselves "atheo-pagans" or whatever makes it okay? I think that is what this is all about.

  3. Mr. Halstead, his army of sock puppets and minions are doing a great job of sidestepping the primary issue, I have no problem with them existing, what they believe. My sole issue is cultural appropriation of the term Pagan which has been defined by no less an authority than the last Pagan Emperor of Rome. That is every bit as offensive as the Washington
    Redskins is to Native Americans especially when they use ad hominen attacks rather than debate to claim I am poly theistic, anti intellectual, against the scientific method and incapable of critical thinking and then expect me to debate them.

  4. I absolutely love this post. As a practicing Pagan of more than a decade now, I've been saying the same thing about the term Atheist Pagan for some time now. I'm a polytheist, but I am all for discussions about the gods and their nature in relation to us. But once gods become 'just symbols' or something of the sort, then how is that any different than worshipping Batman or Spiderman? Thanks again for the blog.

  5. Not all pagans worship gods, some revere nature and hold it sacred, nontheists could be buddhist Hindus and daoists, pagan is non abrahamic.

    1. did you read anything else on this blog?....... Do you know what atheist actually means?

  6. IMHO - Naturalistic Pagans should call themselves Pantheists if they don't want the "atheist" label.

    The pagans that don't worship gods, but nature Herself, in most instances are called Animists.

    Some Hindus take offense to being called "pagan". Taoists are not pagans, but animists.

    My two bits. Thanks for the post Rev. It comes up as one of the top 10 posts when I google "naturalistic paganism". :D

  7. I'm going to agree with Primigenia on this one. I think "atheist pagan" is a bit weird. I'm a naturalist pagan, but I prefer to refer to myself as a pantheist. I also don't relate to the word "pagan" as a religious term, but instead as a lifestyle. I don't use the capital "P" Pagan term to define myself.