Non-Woo Paganism?

(33 Posts)

I can't be the only Pagan who thinks of myself as Pagan due to belief in nature being the greatest power and worth celebrating? I find it really difficult to find others who count themselves as Pagan and yet don't believe in "Woo" stuff like magic, fortune telling, fairies etc.

I have no supernatural beliefs at all. I don't feel I need them, nature is wonderful and amazing enough with needing to believe in something more.

I don't believe that magic/fortune telling exists at all, I believe it's all psychology. The human mind is an amazingly powerful and complex thing, I think that psychology alone is mindblowing.

In my mind Paganism sits far more comfortably alongside science rather than the supernatural. I mean how on earth can you celebrate the wonder of nature and yet not believe that is enough?

So is anyone already thinking ahead to Beltane (and hoping for good weather!) and making plans?

OhMyNoReally Mon 25-Feb-13 08:56:21

I think you can buy any book, no matter how woo and take from it what you feel is true to yourself and your family. We have lots of books and I just skim the woo stuff and take from them what I need.

This thread is really interesting.

I briefly started reading about wicca a few years ago but stopped as it was very woo. However, the pagan festivals really make sense to me. I am atheist, but I am undecided about the supernatural. Mainly because I cannot say it doesnt exist and be 100% sure.

Watching this with interest.

worldgonecrazy Mon 25-Feb-13 08:08:17

Ronald Hutton's books are about as far from non-woo paganism as you can get. His research is fascinating stuff. Philip Hesselton has also written some books on the history of Wicca in the UK, but his books aren't as academically rigorous as Hutton's. That isn't necessarily a bad thing, it just means that Hutton can't quote stuff without academically verifiable back up sources, where as Hesselton can.

Grockle I love that!

There's definitely a gap in the market for non-woo books!

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Sun 24-Feb-13 13:26:00

That does make sense Mostly!

I saw Satish Kumar speak last year, he was inspirational!

I'll give those books a go. Perhaps one of you could write the non-woo one I'm looking for?! grin

MostlyLovingLurchers Sun 24-Feb-13 12:16:23

I'm struggling to think of any books that are definitively Pagan and non-woo - beginning to see a gap in the market! Most neo-pagan authors seem quite heavy on ritual aspects. There is a book called Green Spirituality by Rosa Romani that outlines a way of connecting with nature in everyday life, though i wouldn't say it was entirely free from woo. If you are interested in what the 'old religion' was really about there is a book by Ronald Hutton called The Pagan Religions of the Ancient British Isles - it is quite acadamic though (not saying that is a bad thing, just not a quick read!). If you haven't read any of his books give him a go.

I would also recommend anything by Satish Kumar, a wonderful proponent of how to live a simple life connected to nature - have a look at Earth Pilgrim or No Destination. Tbh most of my spiritual inspiration is drawn from yoga, where the whole point is to make that connection with the greater spiritual conciousness all around us, of which of course we are part. One of the best books i've read explaining yoga philosophy (or at least one version of it) is Yoga Beyond Belief by Ganga White. It draws more on Hinduism than Paganism, but it takes you to the same place, if that makes sense.

Grockle Sun 24-Feb-13 09:22:45

We celebrate festivals, not always in an elaborate way but we usually mark them somehow. It might be planting pots & spring flowers, collecting holly & a yule log or a special meal or just lighting a candle & reflecting.

My DS(7) now says 'I don't believe in god, I believe in Earth/ nature' and if he's asked to pray (at school/ Beavers etc), apparently he changes the word God for Earth.

No idea about books but I'd be interested in some.

UnderwaterBasketWeaving Sun 24-Feb-13 07:58:24


I hope you don't mind if I ask here...
I've often wondered about paganism. I would identify as an atheist, but find myself marking the seasons anyway and would be interested in maybe wrapping this up in a non-woo (I.e. no belief/blind faith in an invisible being) structure, to overtly celebrate the natural world. Does that sound right?

And as DS grows up, I think it might be easier for him to have something definite to respond to the inevitable church stuff the will come from primary school.

So, can anyone recommend any books/websites for non-woo paganism? Perhaps with the "before we understood this people believed..." type stories.

OhMyNoReally Sun 24-Feb-13 07:55:38

I see our family as pagan but not woo. I wanted to have a belief system for the dc that welcomed science and evolution; worshipping and giving thanks to the changing year fit how I felt about religion.

I talk about the god and goddess but in a way that teaches my youngsters that you need a male and a female for new life and we talk about nature spirits as the dc believe so strongly in them.

But we don't do full on rituals, for the holidays we focus on one aspect that we celebrate so Yule we would give each of the dc a small gift coloured red, orange or golden. Have bright coloured food and wake early to see the sun rising.

The children love the holidays and I think it puts them in touch with nature and gives them an understanding of how the seasons work.

In our home we also talk about other cultures stories, rituals and festivals as I think this gives the dc a larger understanding of the world and teaches them tolerance and acceptance for other people.

I love paganism.

Titchyboomboom Sun 24-Feb-13 07:34:17

Right there with you! Nature and science thrill me and I adore paganism which focuses on this.

Do you celebrate the festivals?

Ouroboros Fri 15-Feb-13 21:53:07

I mostly feel the same, I do like a bit of magic and mystery but hate the way everything is lumped together with angels etc. I blame magazines like Take A Break Fate and Fortune, and that people seem to equate being spiritual with believing in everything going and asking the angels to find your car keys.

MostlyLovingLurchers Tue 12-Feb-13 10:13:59

I think i've posted this link on another thread but it is a good summary of the rather vague origins of Eostre (from an Anglo Saxon perspective):

I've always been very drawn to the northern traditions. The norse myths are a very direct attempt to understand the natural world and it doesn't take much imagination to see the mountains as frost giants or to imagine Frigg spinning the clouds. While i don't believe that these elements of nature are literally supernatural entities they clearly served to make a connection with nature in the absense of scientific explanations.

Forgot to say before, that i always try to include meditation on each of the festival days, and like Grockle said, take some time to focus on what has been and what is to come.

Sailormercury Tue 12-Feb-13 09:48:31

I like a bit of woo! However I hate all the fluffy twee shit floating around the internet and bookshops grin

worldgonecrazy Tue 12-Feb-13 09:36:43

We're a bit more woo but this is what we do as a family.

Yule/Midwinter Solstice - we get up to watch the sunrise, share a beer with the new born sun, DD shared an orange. Were blessed with a stunning sunrise ...

Candlemas - keeping an eye out for snowdrops.

Spring Equinox - will be thankful for the warmer days. Eating chocolate, egg hunts, etc. We regard Eostre as a new age invention, there's not a huge amount of evidence for it.

Beltane - like much of England we will celebrate by going to a fair, making flower garlands, and hopefully will get some quality "adult time" to celebrate properly!

Summer Solstice - up to watch the sunrise, share a beer with the dying sun ...

Lammas - celebrate the harvest, do something with bread and beer.

Autumn Equinox - hunkering down for winter, will begin to focus inwards. Enjoy the beauty of Autumn. Mabon is another new age invention, I think it was invented sometime in the 1970s?

Hallows - thinking about those we have lost, lighting candles, carving pumpkins and having a special family meal.

Quite often I get asked to do an interview for radio/TV at Hallows or Yule, so I use Stations of the Sun by Ronald Hutton to review the historical basis for each of the celebrations.

Grockle Mon 11-Feb-13 23:37:46

I just like to mark it somehow, even if it's only looking at the moon. If we can do something that is productive & makes us feel good then so much the better. Hence planting spring flowers etc. Here's a little explanation for what we tend to do..I didn't put Samhain or Yule on it because I already talked about it.

Imbolc  (Candlemas)

Celebrate the earliest signs of Spring. A time for new beginnings as we move toward the growth and brightness of Spring. We do a We burn candles and make pledges for the rest of the year.

Ostara  (Spring Equinox), approx March 21/ 22

The first day of Spring & a fertility feast. We do typical Easter type things - egg hunts. Light candles to celebrate the renewal of life, the endless cycle of rebirth and eat chocolate eggs.

Beltane (May Day), April 30 (beginning at sundown)

Traditionally was the time for blessing the fields and the animals to promote fertility and abundance. We celebrate love and union & take stock. We walk in the forest and light candles in the evening instead of leaping through the flames of a bonfire.

Midsummer (Summer Solstice)
We walk along the beach & watch the sun set, and celebrate summer.

Lammas/Lughnasadh, July 31 (beginning at sundown)

Lammas celebrates the first harvest. I often make jam to preserve the taste of summer. I think Lugh was an Irish God associated with skill & craft as well as the power of sun and light and so fires were burned & we light a candle and celebrate our own talents, achievements and skills. I like this because it makes us all feel good about ourselves.

Mabon (Autumnal Equinox), approx Sept. 21

The first day of Autumn & a time for thanksgiving. I need a corn dolly really. We take stock of our lives again, and give thanks for all things. It is also the eve of DS's birthday so I have much to be thankful for.

"For example, for Imbolc, we always tidy the drive & front of the house & plant our pots so they look pretty. We talk about new beginnings. I usually do a big spring clean too, not because I need to but because I just seem to find myself doing it."

That is a really good idea. I like that.

As DS gets older I want to make more of an event of the festivals, I think they are a perfect opportunity to teach him about nature etc.

Grockle Mon 11-Feb-13 22:51:04

I like hearing what other people do. I don't know anyone in RL who would call themselves pagan so everything we do is just our own idea.

Samhain and Yule are the easiest, I think. For Sahmain, we always carve pumpkins & have a special dinner, setting an extra place for our ancestors. We talk about the past & look forward to the coming months/ year.

Yule is pretty much the same as Christmas & another special meal.

For the others, generally, I do something small on my own or with DS. For example, for Imbolc, we always tidy the drive & front of the house & plant our pots so they look pretty. We talk about new beginnings. I usually do a big spring clean too, not because I need to but because I just seem to find myself doing it.

We often light a candle to mark the turning of the wheel and go for a walk along the beach & in the forest but it's pretty much a way of me stopping and counting my blessings.

Tbh I do little to mark the festivals, would like to do more, but DH doesn't share my beliefs and celebrations are kind of subdued on your own grin

Samhain and Yule are the only ones with any real celebration as I can include others in those a bit. Though I try to do some directed meditation on my own for them.

I'd like to do more really.

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 11-Feb-13 22:17:12

I mark the festivals, but without any rituals or invocations (although i did once upon a time). I like to have some greenery in the house relevant to the occasion and to get out into the countyside to feel the connection with the natural world. We have a special meal to celebrate, sometimes just us and sometimes with friends (some pagan, some not). I don't feel i have to mark the festivals because of any spiritual conviction, but because it helps keep you grounded in the turn of the wheel and the cycle of life. My immediate and wider family have always embraced it, and are more than happy to have an excuse to eat, drink and make merry! What do you do then Grockle?

Grockle Mon 11-Feb-13 20:54:55

I'm interested in how other non-woo pagans mark their special events/ holidays and what you name them? And also, what your family think?

MrsBeep Mon 11-Feb-13 20:43:58

Ear marking your thread know I'll want to respond. wink

MostlyLovingLurchers Mon 11-Feb-13 15:47:36

I don't believe in gods or goddesses, magic, angels, mediumship, etc, but i do believe that there is a universal energy or world soul that pervades and unites all living things. I guess that would still make me woo in some peoples eyes.

"Like you, I do get annoyed and frustrated at the image of paganism that these people portray. Unfortunately the more sensible pagans don't get picked up on by the media, and most of them keep a fairly low profile anyway. But we are out there."

Oh yes, we don't make good TV do we? What with being all sensible, logical and normal grin Can't have that!

worldgonecrazy Mon 11-Feb-13 14:38:15

I did specify a certain type of Wiccan though. There are plenty of people who call themselves Wiccan, who I wouldn't recognise as such, and they also tend to be into the unicorns and fairies thing too.

Like you, I do get annoyed and frustrated at the image of paganism that these people portray. Unfortunately the more sensible pagans don't get picked up on by the media, and most of them keep a fairly low profile anyway. But we are out there.

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