Look what arrived today! My very own copy of Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans edited by John Halstead. I am very proud to be able to say that I have made my own small contribution to this book, in the form of an essay called “Myth and Meaning: a non-literal Pagan view of Deity”, and I can’t wait to read the other essays in this collection, which include some pretty impressive authors, with whom I am honoured to share print space.
This book comes at an auspicious time, as the endless online debates between some non-theist Pagans and some polytheist Pagans continue to rage on, and some corners of the blogosphere seem bent on creating a polytheist orthodoxy. In his introduction, John recounts an email from a non-theist Pagan who was told flatly that they cannot be a Pagan and an atheist at the same time and so felt unwelcome at Pagan events and spaces. I’ve been told similar things myself in the past, and have seriously questioned my own Paganism and Druidry as a result.
This book shows that yes, you can be an atheist, agnostic or non-theist and a Pagan. And to do so does not make you “less” of a Pagan (or for that matter less of an atheist) than anyone else. The diversity of writers John has brought together, including Atheopagans, agnostic Druids, Humanistic Pagans, Gaians, Naturalistic Pantheists, Unitarian Universalists, and at least one “Zen Pagan Taoist Atheist Discordian” (!) shows that there are many, many ways to be Pagan and live your Paganism that do not depend on literal belief in gods.
“Because non-theistic Paganism can be seen as rejecting Pagan deities on the surface, the idea of godless Pagans is controversial for some. Is it appropriate for atheists to define themselves as Pagan? Or are they misappropriating the term? The essays in Godless Paganism all reach the same conclusion: Rather than rejecting the idea of deities outright, atheist Pagans are re-defining what “deity” means within the Pagan context. Quite simply, they are Pagans who take great meaning and fulfilment from the nature-based and mystical aspects of Paganism, but want to reconcile this with 21st century rational, scientific outlooks on life.”
I’m really looking forward to reading my way through this book, and will post a proper review when I’m done.