Godless Paganism

"Godless Paganism" paperback copy. Image by me.

“Godless Paganism” paperback copy. Image by me.

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.

Megan Manson, who blogs at Pagan Tama, declares Godless Paganism to be her “read of the month” and says in her review:

“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.

Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theist Pagans, edited by John Halstead, is available on Amazon and Lulu in paper and e-book editions.


About Wrycrow

Queer nerdy Pagan librarian, training with Druid College UK.
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4 Responses to Godless Paganism

  1. Glad to learn this book exists. This is the first thing I’ve seen about it. I’m only just now starting to realize the amount of diversity within the broader group of non-believers. I’m definitely not a Pagan myself, but I think it’s good to learn more about things.

  2. tgedavis says:

    Commenting here, because I cant get back to the original post “The Slow Break” (and because I suppose I might be called a Godless Pagan). Apologies for the vague earlier comment, I was referring to the last lines of the Larkin poem you quoted at the beginning of your post. Very best wishes in all you do.

    • Ryan C. says:

      Thanks, that makes sense! I took the other post down because I don’t want this blog to be a place where I moan about my job. Thanks again for your good wishes, and it’s always nice to meet another Godless Pagan!

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