Friday, February 27, 2015

New FB Pagan Occultism Group, ConVocation 2015, Where-The-Hell-is-Spring Update

See, this is why I'm bitchin. Not just a little cold for the season,
this is, like, moons of Uranus cold. And when you go out for the
paper in your jammies on some of these mornings you know
just how cold the moons of Uranus can get.
Let's start with the obvious first - where the hell is spring? Oh I know, I can't bitch until March - It may already be March when you read this. I'm bitching now! The forecast is for a cold first half of March. I've got important shoveling to do, and a May 1 deadline for some projects. Yes, I know what part of the world I live in... I'm still bitching!


WE're waiting reeeal hard to be able to get rolling on our plans for Tredara this year. In the meantime the weather leaves little to do but write; however we did get some travel in.

Just back from the ConVocation gathering over in greater Detroit. Hotel gatherings are a nice thing, and we were especially thankful for spaceship Hilton in the Martian-summer temperatures of the latest arctic blast. How can I get housekeeping service for my camps in the summer?


I want to praise the con staff and planners broadly. They run a tight ship, with program beginning on schedule, registration no more screwed-up than can’t be helped (I work festival organizing myself), and support for guests and presenters well-arranged. A fully-stocked hospitality suite was especially appreciated, and can’t have been a small budget-item for an event of over 1,100 people. My coffee-cup thanks you, my forebrain thanks you.

With over 140 programs, fun public spaces and a hoppin' dealer room (and nearly no drama) I can heartily recommend this event.

Pagan and Polytheist Occultism FB Group
This week I opened a new discussion group, Pagan and Polytheist Occultism, hoping to focus my own fun conversations on ancient magic in practical application.


It's new, but we've had some good chat already. I mention it here because readers will know the kind of topics I hope to dig into. If you enjoy FB chat, give it a look.
From the rules document:
"This group is dedicated to the discussion of traditional polytheist, tribal and Pagan techniques of esoteric spiritual practice – that is, of Pagan occultism, magic or sorcery. We will understand this to include divination, invocation and evocation of deities or spirits, spellcraft, natural magic of stones and herbs etc., trance-vision and seership, and the induction of transcendent or mystical experience.


In general the topic will focus on polytheistic cultures and systems. This begins with the remnants of Indo-European polytheism, but can include indigenous and traditional polytheisms.  It certainly includes ‘witchcraft’ both as folk magic and as heretical cult, but especially when practiced in a polytheistic context. We use ‘polytheism’ colloquially, to refer to systems in which many spirits or beings have places of important honor, regardless of whether the system contains a chief god or unitary principle. This may extend even as far as respectful traditional Christian orthodoxy. It may include Asian, African and New World systems, so long as posts focus on actual technique and magical practice in those systems. In all cases the group will support reference to sources, and can be expected to ask posters and commentators to source their ideas, even if the source is “my own opinion”."


The Book is coming along nicely. I'm probably twenty-thousand words in as I work may way through the third chapter. I'll begin posting excerpts here soon. Working title is now something like "Pagan Occultism; Spiritual Techniques for Polytheists".

Come on spring... I'm tapping my toes and drumming my fingers... but I'm not holding my breath.


Wednesday, February 11, 2015

New Audio Meditation Releases

So, I've been digging in my files, and discovered that I had a couple of solid products I could release. 


The second "Training the Mind" album is less of a coherent 'workshop' than the first. It contains 11 exercises from the Nine Moons training program, but I left out the expository and set-up material that I included in the first suite. A slightly more advanced set of exercises assumes that the student knows their uses. 

The texts are explicitly from the Book of Nine Moons. Included:
• Blood, Breath & Bone; basic entrancement exercise
• Exercises for basic, or 'open' meditation and for contemplation meditation
• The full Daily Shrine Work, with meditation
• The Caher Draoí - Druid's Fortress - an energy-working with the Two Powers.

• A contemplation meditation on the Druidic Cosmos.
• An introduction to "Rising in Vision" - standing out of the body for vision-travel and work.
• Two files of vision and invocation to the Earth Mother and Gate Keeper. The first gives the vision, and then recites the full invocation. Students can follow either in text, or hands-free, repeating the ritual words. The second removes the ritual text-voice, for those who prefer to work without it.
• The final file also supports the 'Audience with the Earth Mother and Gatekeeper' from the Nine Moons work. It is to be used after the Blessing has been drunk, as a final contemplation and attunement.

This suite of exercises is aimed at students who are familiar with achieving basic trance and focused attention. Students just beginning meditation or trance practice should work the first collection first.



The second offering presents a full ADF-style simple Rite of Offering, with full trance-guidance in the "Inner Work" components of that rite. The trance-guidance takes the student from mental preparation in the opening prayers, through awareness of the Worlds and Hallows, to the Opening of the Gate.  Visions are suggested for the Kindreds Offerings, and a full guidance is given for receiving a good blessing.

The same script is presented twice, once with a second voice giving the actual ritual speech, and once with the ritual-speech sections left silent. The first allows students to work the rite 'hands-free' as they learn.

For students of Our Druidry this offers a level of explanation and deepening of the rite that  is hard to come by in printed instruction.

Both of these, as well as the first Training the Mind collection, are available at my Bandcamp shop, here.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Pontifices - A Note on Pagan Priesthood


Stored from a Facebook discussion


One of my favorite terms for "priest" comes from the Latin. "Pontifex" means 'bridge-builder'. In a time when Pagans work toward defining what priesthood consists of in our ways, I think this is a
valuable idea.

Neopagan culture often displays a gut objection to 'priesthood' based on the orthodox Christian default, in which the priest is the 'mediator between God and man'. In parts of Christian tradition this has allowed priests to develop social and spiritual authority that is often perceived to be misused. Pagans often reject the idea of formal priesthood, some in reaction directly to a Christian upbringing, and some from an upbringing in Reformed Christianity in which formal, ritual priesthood has been replaced by "ministry'. Even in such places, where formal hierarchy has been rejected, the 'Pastor' or "Preacher' still has considerable social authority. Many Pagans hope to avoid creating any such institutions in our time.

However I think there is a place - a job-description - for skilled spiritual and ritual operatives who can help untrained and unpracticed people remember their center, remake their connections with the spirits and gain the blessings that improve our lives. Just like any other craft this requires skill and practice and focus, to a degree that is difficult to achieve while working full-time at more common work. To me that is a primary argument for developing a way to allow some people to live as full-time Pagan priests. Let's leave aside the economic and organizing hurdles along that path for now, and focus on theology.

So the priest as pontifex; we build bridges, span the gap between common awareness and spiritual attention. We are not 'mediators' but 'facilitators'. Most notably the ‘power’ of connection between mortals and the spirits lies not in the priest herself, but in the lasting result of her work. Let me labor at the metaphor a moment.

Religion is the work of re-linking (re-ligio) the island of mortal existence with the mainland of the divine world. A 'mediator' builds himself a boat and ferries the goods and words of the divine world to the mortals, sometimes charging a fee. A facilitator - a Pontifex - builds a bridge, opening the way for all who can make the walk. We might imagine multiple 'private' bridges built by many builders.


The point, to me, is that there is work to be done and a skilled builder of spiritual bridges is a useful artisan.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Holy Magic - next book project prospectus...

I have been dithering for some while, but I think I have chosen the subject of my next book, and made a start. I just can't bring myself to begin doing 'journalistic' titles - choosing a subject, researching it and writing to the audience. However I do feel a need to attempt to 'popularize' some of the ideas and methods of my work. My focus on a Gaelic context has led me down some lightly-populated pathways, and I feel as if the work I have been doing could be of benefit to a larger section of the Neopagan scene.

So me plan is to compose yet another iteration of basic Pagan Spirit-arte skills. This outline will be more synthetic and direct than the lengthy method given in the Book of Summoning. It will be focused directly on training and empowering a magician, with less concern for Druidic theology. The Druidic (and ADF) context will be folded into a general Indo-European model that I intend to be usable by any modern Euro-Pagan practitioner.

If it sounds like I'm re-treading old material, there will be a degree of that. However I will be writing new instruction and perspectives for most of the material. I will be re-orienting the material to a more general IE Pagan, polytheist-and-animist perspective, less dependent on the specifics of ADF practice. Where the Nine Moons system, for instance might be more complete and well-mapped to ADF mythography, this model will be streamlined and direct, focusing even more directly on magical empowerment.


My presumption is that I can write a manual in core magical practice adaptable by and to much of the current 'reconstructionist' Pagan movement. We'll see; not, perhaps, an easy job. Of course being magic it doesn't have to be widely accepted to have influence...

I don't have a real working title yet... "Pagan Occultism; Esoteric Spiritual Skills for Polytheists" has all the ring of a tupperware bowl, though it gets the point across. I keep thinking about "Holy Magic" with that subtitle...
In any case, here's an excerpt from the draft of the Preface and Introduction.



Preface 
Greetings, readers. By what blessing shall I greet you? By Wisdom, surely; may you grow in understanding. This small book is an effort to synthesize and schematize my understanding of a Pagan spirit-arte and its application in practical magic. Of course such a subject is vast and complex, ranging from stars to stones. It is not my plan to create a new compendium of today’s occult knowledge. Rather I mean to offer a simple and direct method by which a student may accomplish the basic work of self-initiation into the mystery and power of the art.

The arts on which I mean to draw for this method are ancient and noble. They began at the sacrificial fires of the ancient Magi and Brahmins and were carried on through the Wise Ones of pre-Christian Europe. The work of this book is especially influenced by the ways of the Celtic peoples of Gaul, Britain and Ireland, and by the lore that is thought of as Druidic. Secondarily Scandinavian and Germanic influence plays a role. On the edge of the world of the great traditions of classical magic, Celtic ways bring a wave of mist, Norse ways the depth of green forests, magic tongues and signs neither Latin nor Greek. They reveal a mythic cosmos separate from that of the Gnosis, or of Trismegistus.

In this manual we will address magic primarily as the art of dealing with spirits, though we will refer to neither demons nor angels. We will teach the basics of the invocation of a god, and the means to call to the Dead and the Spirits of the Land. We will take some time to teach the basics – Home-Shrine work, creating sacred space and basic invocation. We will teach simple exercises to help ritualists open the Inner Eye and experience the presence of the spirits. While any of this work could be accomplished in micro-groups of two or three, it is written for a solitary practitioner at a personal altar. Also, while your author cannot avoid a strong Celtic and Northern influence, my intention is to make the forms and symbols of the work easily accessible and adaptable by any Euro-ethnic Paganism.

The core of the work is the empowerment of the magician for and through the making of core personal alliances with the Gods, the Dead and the Landspirits. We will discuss what kind of personal cult is useful for the working sorcerer. We will give a method for procuring a primary personal ally-spirit from among the non-deity beings – a ‘familiar’. Basic patterns learned in that work can be applied for the conjuring of the Dead and the genii Loci of any region. The making and maintaining of such relationships is the basic skill of traditional magic.

This book is meant to be accessible to new students, but it is really an intermediate text. The well-prepared student will already have an established set of opening and closing rites, know the basics of meditation and trance, and be acquainted with the deities and spirits of their chosen Euro-Pagan pantheon. While there will be discussion of practical magic, the work is intended especially for those who seek a personal spiritual relationship with the gods and spirits. The sort that opens the spirits to a modern heart, and that helps shape the magician into being of wisdom, love and power.


Introduction
The Cult of Sorcery – Magic and Pagan Religion

A Little History
The revival of the direct and conscious worship of the old gods of Europe and the Middle East has reached a minimum of seventy years of work. If we count even our most obvious history we can begin with Gerald Gardner’s first initiations circa 1950. By the mid-1970s, when your author began Pagan work, the idea of Pagan Witchcraft was firmly entrenched, and ten years later the developing Lord-and-Lady, quartered-circle ritual style of Gardner’s witchcraft had been made public in the “Eclectic Wicca” style of Pagan worship. Pagan festivals created a blending and ‘culturalization’ of Pagan chants, rhythms and ritual actions. This set of forms remains highly popular and influential at this writing.

            However there had always been counter-currents in the Pagan revival, as early as the mid-70s. The Gardnerian rites were a combination of material from Freemasonry and the western ‘grimoires’ – magical instruction-books – mixed with bits of folklore. Other groups had attempted to create ritual and mythic forms based more directly on what we know of ancient religion. Both Hellenic and Khemetic (Egyptian) efforts were well-known even in the early days of the revival.

            The impulse to reconstruct a more authentic style of ancient ritual worship manifested in the mid-80s in both Norse (or ‘Viking’) and Celtic forms. Asatru (veneration of the Scandinavian gods) had been recognized in Iceland in 1972 and was making inroads in the Neopagan community in the 1980s. Ar nDraíocht Féin (ADF) was founded as an Indo-European Pagan religious organization in 1983, and CelticReconstructionism becomes formally visible a few years later. Hellenic, Baltic and Slavic groups have also arisen.

            For simplicity we will quote the Hellenismos FAQ document preserved on “The Cauldron” internet Pagan forum:

“Reconstructionism, as used here, is a methodology for developing and practicing ancient religions in the modern world. Reconstructionists believe that the religious expressions of the ancients were valid and have remained so across time and space. We believe that it is both possible and desirable to practice ancient religions—albeit in modified form—in the modern world. “


Reconstructionist groups draw on the real scholarship of archaeology, anthropology and history for inspiration in crafting modern rituals and customs. They are far less likely to turn to the ‘occultism’ of the past hundred years for inspiration or technique than are post-Wiccan practitioners. In fact some streams of this return to traditional Paganism actively reject the religious validity of magic, as did some elements of ancient Pagan societies. Some cultures, and some segments of those cultures, found magic impious – a human effort to usurp rights and powers proper to the gods. This idea arose before Christianity by hundreds of years.

Magic For Pagan Religion
However no ancient polytheist society was without its magical component. When we look at the intentions of traditional magic art we find all the fears and delights of humankind. Love, hate, health, wealth, and luck can all be taken into the hands of the worshipper through skilled ritual interaction with the spirits, often  aided by a priestly or professional ‘magician’ – a ritual specialist. Those same specialists could support the personal spiritual work of a patron, becoming in effect a household teacher whose job included ritual work and technical spiritual support. 

...unorthodox.
In some cultures such specialists were one and the same with the ‘priesthood’ of the traditional polytheism. This is the case with Vedic Brahmins, it seems, and one whole volume of the Vedas is devoted to specific charms and spells. The pre-Zoroastrian Persian Magi seem to have had a similar custom, and many scholars suspect the same to be true of the mysterious Druids – the wizard-priests of the Celtic tribes. In such cultures rites intended to produce specific blessings for specific ‘clients’ were simply part of the job of religion in general and of the specialists in particular. In cultures that began to  make a distinction between legitimate religious devotionalism and civic cult, and the more technical practices magical specialists became non-clerical, or unorthodox clerics – i.e. sorcerers.

At no time in Euro-Pagan history can we see polytheist religion without a directly corollary occult practice. Whether performed and accepted by the elites or relegated to lower-class circles every age has seen magic available to the general public, both to learn and to purchase a la carte. Whether performed by accepted priesthood or market-square conjurers no ancient religion existed without a component of occult practice.

One hears occasional objections that the most ‘elevated’ or ‘refined’ of ancient philosophy rejected much of popular magic and was skeptical even of deliberately spiritual efforts such as theurgy. Magic is often considered part of “the irrational”, which many modern seekers of spiritual truth would like to exclude. Other modern critics repeat the ancient accusations of impiety and hubris. It is my opinion that neither of those concerns constitute a reason to avoid the cultivation of magic in our Paganism.

In my efforts to think my way into the mindset of a polytheist I have found it impossible to evaluate the meaning of religion without including the presence of magic. Whether or not it is approved of, I know that if I have the skill and courage I can go beyond the work of village and hearth devotion to the gods and ancestors. I can go to the crossroad, to the old battlefield, to the lone tree on the hill and make my own pacts with spirits. I can approach a god, and make myself an adopted child, gaining favor and power. I can employ that power as my will and wisdom inclines me, regardless of the opinions of philosophers.

This potential for personal empowerment is intrinsic in animist and polytheist religion, I think, and cannot be excised without cutting away the roots of ancient ways. Magic was part and parcel of traditional Paganism, whether integrated into ‘religion’ or not. The small spirits, daemons and ghosts of the goetic conjurer were every bit as much a part of ancient polytheism as the highest gods. For those of us who hope to restore the relations between mortals and the spirits, magic seems almost mandatory.

Religion for Sorcerers
Along with those who find magic improper for Pagan religion, there are those who find religion improper or unnecessary for magic. I find I must disagree with them as well. As I see it there is no significant traditional style or school of magic that is not based directly on and in a religious system. Magical practice is intimately bound-up with religious practice, often sharing symbols, gestures, liturgical language and implements with local temples. Of course the most likely people to practice technical spiritual arts are those with a special calling, and access to temples – the priesthood. Taken from the other direction we can say that any magician who develops the work fully will be a functional priest of his gods and spirits, whether or not he is of any recognized lineage.

The work in this system has been developed in and for modern Euro-traditional Neopaganism, especially in context of the Gaels. My own focus is strongly Celtic, but the basic principles of traditional magic can be applied across the spectrum of polytheist religion. In order to work within a traditional sphere there are a few traditional terms that I feel should be addressed.

We will speak of gods and spirits. By ‘god’ I in no way refer to any omnipotent, ruling creator of the worlds. No such being exists in the mythic systems we will address. A ‘god’ refers to one of the Great elder powers of the culture, and to a variety of other spirits who rise to that position. My own working definition of a god is “A being that has the power to answer worship with blessings”.

We will speak of worship between the magician and the gods and spirits. By ‘worship’ I do not refer to servant-master relationship, nor to any attitude of groveling or personal disempowerment. Worship means ‘acknowledgement of worth’, and ritual worship is the recognition of the might and wonder of the gods and spirits, the giving of offerings, the praise of poetry, which brings a response from those beings. On the simplest level the blessing of the spirits may amount to direct aid in our spells and works. More generally the blessings received in worship ritual bring the magician into harmony with the order of things, making magic more effective. Many systems suggest that contact with the gods can awaken power and nobility in mortal hearts, to the betterment of the world. In many magical systems that awakening is the very center of magical initiation.

We will speak of cult. In this I do not refer to the usages of modern journalism, with implications of authoritarianism, coercion and dysfunction. I mean to use the term as religious studies use it: “A complex of belief and practice around a particular mythic image or being”. We will speak of the cults of the gods, of the dead, of the sorcerer’s ‘private cult’. Again, the working magician functionally becomes the working priestess of her own private cult temple, in pursuit of magic’s wisdom and power.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

An Imbolc Charm for the Beer


Readers know that the goddess Brigid is the chiefest god of our house. Such a thing is not easy to say, meaning no slight to the Dagda, her father, nor any other mighty one. Still, Brigid the Inspirer is close to both me and my wife, and Brigid the Hearth Mother has been kind to us over the years. In the ways of our Paganism, Imbolc is the special feast of Brigid, and we're working our Grove to work a big ol' sacrifice for Her this coming weekend.

Last night L and I kept our monthly Druid Monday work, which involves checking in with certain Inner contacts. I often spend a certain portion of that work asking for teaching, and the result is often a whirl of brain-contents and attempted clue-bricks, that sometimes knock together. Last night I was given most of this charm in a bag, and told to manifest it in the morning.

Like most of the Gaelic deities, we know of Brigid only by hints and reflections, especially in stories of her namesake St. Brigid of Kildare. This semi-historical figure is so surrounded by tales of magic and wonder that it is impossible not to suppose her a reflection of the earlier Celtic goddess. It is in stories of St Brigid that we hear of her connection with beer. 

It is not often that I link to Franciscans, but do have a look here for a marvelous 10th century poem about offering a lake of beer to god.
"St. Brigid also was a generous, beer-loving woman. She worked in a leper colony which found itself without beer, "For when the lepers she nursed implored her for beer, and there was none to be had, she changed the water, which was used for the bath, into an excellent beer, by the sheer strength of her blessing and dealt it out to the thirsty in plenty." Brigid is said to have changed her dirty bathwater into beer so that visiting clerics would have something to drink. Obviously this trait would endear her to many a beer lover. She also is reputed to have supplied beer out of one barrel to eighteen churches, which sufficed from Maundy Thursday to the end of paschal time."

This verse is especially meant for the brewing of beer, but I'm sure it could be used to bless any beer you might drink in celebration of the Power of Good Welcome, the Inspiration of Arts. Later today I mean to go brew beer for the coming season with fellow-Druid AJ. Perhaps he'll let me charm it with this verse:



Friday, January 23, 2015

Witches' Almanac 2016


I am pleased to announce that I'll be published later this year in the Witches' Almanac 2016.


Way back in the 1970s - like High School 70s for me - it was already my habit to comb every drug-store book-rack and paperback outlet I knew of. In the occult publishing boom of that time one could just never tell when something truly strange would appear. It was on such an afternoon expedition that I first saw The Witches' Almanac. Since I was buying everything that said 'witch' on it in those days (and one didn't go broke doing it) I snapped it up. 
Originally published in a chapbook,
"Old Farmers'" style

While it was in the form of a fairly standard almanac, with calendar pages, moon-phases and limited ephemeris, the 'filler' content was very different from the Old Farmer's Americana. There were spells, short lore articles, and actual Pagan material as well. The popularly-published item was obviously aimed at the new wave of Witches and Pagans.

I was in Ohio in those High School days, and the Almanac was produced by Elizabeth Pepper (of Rhode Island and Manhattan) from 1971 until 1979. Just after that I would find myself in Providence working on my Witchcraft initiations. An eleven-year hiatus was followed by the revival of the publication by the Peppers and a well-known Providence occultist "Theitic" (who happens to be an initatory cousin of mine through our Wiccan heritage.) Elizabeth passed from the mortal world in 2005, and the new generation has continued the publication. The same publishing house has produced several volumes important to modern witchcraft scholarship, especially Leland's "Dame Darrel" material and the full scholastic study of the origins of both the "long Rede and of a specific New England tradition of the craft in "The Rede of the Wiccae"

I am proud and pleased to have been asked to contribute to this venerable publication. I'll have two articles, one on the Sacred Fire, from Sacrifice to Summoning and the other on the Celtic Nine Elements and the Spirits. The Almanacs are dated from Spring to Spring, so the current issue runs into March of 2016. The 2016 - 2017 issue will be on sale sometime midsummer of this year. Watch this space.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Atheism and Paganism.


This topic keeps coming up.   In general the Atheopagans are more sinned against than sinning in this last round, but this article raised some hackles

A certain segment of the Pagan population has decided to adopt in large part the ideology of modern atheism and philosophical materialism. They often consider themselves to be within the strain of modern thought called ‘humanism’, and have labelled themselves as ‘Naturalist’ Pagans. I have no objection to any of this (except the latter, see below). Paganism does not require any fixed set of opinions to be Paganism, and this lot seems reasonably focused on ritual, meditation, and service, which *are* Paganism-indicators, to me. However they are not just Pagans who happen to be atheists, they also seem to act like atheists who happen to be Pagan. Where I find myself objecting is when members of this school present their ideas as Truth of some sort, or as “more true” or “more in touch with reality” than those of more mythic perspectives.


Modern atheism suffers from imitation of Christianity in its evangelical desire to assert its ideas as “the truth”. I’m not interested in doing hard philosophy here; we’ll be vernacular about “truth”. I am entirely unwilling to accept that materialist, scientistic worldviews more accurately describe the reality of religious phenomena than those of tribal mythic systems. In fact I find atheism and materialism in every way inadequate to describe religious phenomena, though they have developed some complex rationales to attempt to do so. Thus I dismiss them as useful “truth”.

On the other hand, I (and many spiritist Pagans) reject the term ‘supernatural’ for the realm or category in which non-material intelligence abides. I view the spirits, in their uncounted species, as being as natural as chipmunks or chairs. They simply haven’t been subsumed into the ‘scientific worldview’ that started quantifying what it could reach a few hundred years ago. One of my favorite teachers said “There can only be one Order of Nature”, an aphorism that makes sense to me. Thus I simply don’t use the idea of ‘supernatural’ at all. For that reason I do resent the attempt to co-opt “Naturalist” for the materialist position - it simply fails to describe the spectrum of modern Pagan ideas accurately. Most Theistic (an inadequate term for polytheism and spiritism) Pagans, I’ll hazard, are not ‘supernaturalists’.

To be clear, in my local Pagan culture such discussions are relegated to the beer-hall. They play no role in the practice of our religion. The truth or falsity of any given world-view, from traditionalist to materialist, is irrelevant to practice. My own experience has been that when educated materialists are exposed to well-crafted spirit and deity work for a few years a good percentage will find themselves… let’s say “less atheist” than previously. Several in my experience have become devotionalists.


Atheism arises naturally in certain minds, and enters others by conviction. I associate it with other human specifics such as tone-deafness. Even tone-deaf people can participate in music by well-planned charts and by experience. Thus I’m willing to assume that folks who simply don’t perceive the spiritual intelligences of nature (or who have rationalized that perception away) can participate in religion to their own benefit. However I’m unwilling to accept assertions that a&m are true in some sense greater than the assumptions of a Voudun priest or Shakta tantric. Some atheists want to be participants in the Pagan movement. I would heartily suggest they note the community aversion to proselytization. This is not *merely* philosophical laziness, but a real awareness – a skepticism - of how unlikely any specific model of ‘truth’ is to be the truth in fact. In general “proclaimers” and “revealers” are viewed as pests.

I would suggest that Atheopagans will find themselves welcome to the degree that they refrain from suggesting that the belief systems of other Pagans are false. After all we all agree (at least I agree with the atheists) that personal philosophical biases are unimportant as definers of Paganism (or polytheism). No matter how convinced one is of their ‘truth’.