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THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism. Hosted by Mark Green (author of ATHEOPAGANISM: An Earth-Honoring Path Rooted in Science) and Yucca (formerly of The Pagan Perspective YouTube channel, now of the Magic and Mundane channel).

Named #4 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2022! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/

Celebration, Hope, and Uncertainty

January 18, 2021

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com



Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder: Science-Based Paganism. I am your host Yucca.

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: And this week we've got a bit of an interesting one. This is a year anniversary for us working on this project and there's a lot going on in the world right now. So we'll be talking a little bit about that and also about hope about its role, about the things to be hopeful for and our duty to be hopeful,

Mark: Right? Yeah. I'm excited for this show for a lot of reasons. It's, we're recording on the 10th, so it's a few days after the riot at the Capitol and things are very much up in the air. This won't actually go live until the 18th. So who knows what will happen over the next eight days?

But we do want to acknowledge how people have been feeling about this and somehow in there to carve out a little moment for some celebration, because this has been a really fun interesting project to work on with you Yucca. I feel that having pulled it off for a year is an amazing milestone.

Yucca: It is. Yeah, it's been great. It really has become truly one of the highlights of my week and something that I look forward to every time and just to have these conversations and also to see the response. All of your listenership is just beyond what, at least on my part, far beyond what I was even imagining or dreaming even daydreaming about. So it's amazing. I'm so very grateful for all of this.

Mark: Me too. And and particularly I'm grateful for the listeners who have discovered non theist paganism, or, have discovered a community of non theist pagans through the gateway of this podcast. There've been a number of people who have joined the Atheopagan Facebook group.

Who have said, yeah, I was listening to this podcast the wonder, and they mentioned this and I thought that I'd come by, and boy, this really seems like my kind of people. And that's just really exciting to me. I like building community in that way. People of common mind and values. So that's, that is really a cool thing.

Yucca: It really is. Yeah. And I should note that we are saying that it's a, for us, this is our, we started recording before we released the podcasts. We had this grand vision that we would be three or four episodes ahead before we published, which of course is not what ends up happening. We're usually recording the podcast the night before it goes live, or this week we're quite ahead a whole week ahead.

But we started working on it a little bit beforehand to see what are we doing? What is this podcasting thing? And then we didn't actually go live until the very beginning of March. But this was a year ago was probably about the second time Mark that we'd actually been talking. Face to face.

Mark: That's right. We hadn't actually met one another other than through. Messaging and that kind of stuff. And so the first time that we got together to talk about the idea of this podcast before, long before we were even considering recording was really the first time we met one another face to face. And so it's been a relationship building process as well as a creative podcast creation project. Yeah. And and I'm just so delighted. I'm really pleased.

Yucca: Yeah. I'd like to say that a year in, you’re one of my dearest friends.

Mark: I really feel that too. I do. And And it's remarkable to be able to say that when we've never been, I've been in the same room together.

Yucca: but different lives

Mark: Yeah. This technology really allows us to reach across not only miles, but all different kinds of divides and to meet one another. So that's really a great thing. Yeah. So we're excited. We our initial goal, I think was seven weeks. Yeah, the, I, the idea was that Yucca had read somewhere that that if you make seven weeks you're actually up and running as a podcast.

And so that was our initial goal. But here we are a year in.

Yucca: We were looking at some of the topics before hitting the record button and seeing that we've gone through a lot of different topics.

Mark: We really have. Yeah. And of course that always there's this push pull with the calendar because when you're a pagan and you're the kind of pagan who celebrates the wheel of the year. There's always another holiday coming up. And so there's a theme for a show there and there's ideas for rituals and practices and themes and all that kind of stuff. But then there's all the other stuff. They're all the other topics that don't fall neatly into those calendar buckets. And we've really explored quite a number of those Which doesn't mean that we can't go back to some of them. I'm knowing me, I probably have more to say.

Yucca: I think everyone does. Yeah.

But it's definitely been interesting with fitting in the, those evergreen topics and balancing between things that are going to be welcoming to people who are newer to.

Paganism. And then also being interesting to people who have been part of the community for years or their whole life. So we, of course, always really welcomed suggestions. If there's something that you want to hear about that you want us to dive into a little bit deeper, we've always welcomed those suggestions.

Mark: Yes. It's very helpful to us to get feedback from the folks that listen to the podcast, what are the things that you like about it? What are the things that you would do differently? What are the subjects that you'd like to hear about? We we really encourage you to email us at TheWonderPodcastQs@gmail.com and let us know what you think.

Having celebrated a little bit and I'm sure that we can come back to that throughout the show. What else have we got in our grab bag of topics today?

Yucca: I did want to say looking at the list, so wrote out the list. Our fourth topic was” Love and the Time of Corona Virus.” That has been a, that's been huge for everyone over the past year.

It's been... I don't know anyone who has not been deeply impacted. And it's been the background for a lot of our conversations.

Mark: Yes. This obviously was not a normal year. By any stretch for anyone, in my case, it was more of a normal year then than for many others, because I've continued going to work as an essential worker.

But for so many, locked in place at home only going out to get food and prescriptions and things like that. Life has in many ways, ground to a halt or at least turned inward. And so that's the context within which this whole this whole podcasts so far has been produced. It'll be interesting to see what happens as the vaccines take hold, and we're able to come back out and do things together.

I know that I'm very excited to get back together with my ritual circle and do things with them and hug my friends and just all the simple human things that we love to do.

Yucca: Yeah, I know my kids are just waiting to get to see other children just to be around other people.

Mark: That's really hard too, because a year is so long in developmental time for little kids.

It's just, really profound space of time. They're just very different people at the end of that year than they were previously.

Yucca: And for adolescents too, it's a time is different for them, but so is a big chunk of the development in terms of sense of self that many of the teenagers are going through right now.

And the young adults who are just not that there's any sort of competition between generations, but as millennials, we thought it tough coming of age during the Great Recession. Imagine just having come out of college and you're looking for your first job and then everything's shut down.

At least you have an excuse for a big blank spot on the resume at that point.

Mark: Yes. I don't think anybody is frowning on people who are still living with mom and dad in 2020 and 2021. That's going to be pretty ordinary, I think. So you know, that, that's one thing that we really do need to call out is that Corona virus has loomed large in all of our conversations over the course of the last year. And I just, I imagine that there will be this whole new fertile landscape of things for us to talk about as the pandemic fades and we're able to return to in-person activities and in-person gatherings.

Yucca: While bringing some of the positives that have come out of this experience Oh, absolutely. To that, right? This is, this was our composting time and a lot of ways I'd like to think of it.

Mark: Yeah. Yes. Yeah. It's very interesting to me. I don't know. I could go off about this for a while, but I don't think it's entirely coincidental that the so called roaring twenties followed the 1918 pandemic and World War One.

There was a kind of devil may care quality to the culture then. And I think that some of it is because the culture had seen so much death, that there was this sense that you better get your living in now because you don't know how long it's going to last. And I wonder whether we're going to see something similar.

I really don't know. Obviously we're in the era of modern medicine now. There was never a vaccine for the so called Spanish flu. So it's a really different kind of situation, but I'm really curious to see what happens with culture worldwide over the course of the next 10 years or so.

Yucca: Yeah. I’d be amazing to watch and be part of an experience.

Mark: Yes. And we'll be talking about that later on in the show. So let's talk about the elephant in the room for a moment. There was a violent seditious riot at the United States Capitol this week. And that has never happened before. And it was encouraged by many elected officials, including the president of the United States.

And so people all over the world are feeling uncertain concerned, confused, worried. And we just felt that we needed to address that a little bit, because it is what's going on internationally right now. Even if you're not in the United States it's the largest economy in the world and the biggest military power in the world.

So if it goes crazy, there are serious repercussions. And I just hope that those of us that are sane and kind hearted and generous and have good values, don't feel that we need to pull into our shells in the face of this blast of hatred and hostility that has come out from the radical right. I feel that the time is now more than ever for us to be living our values and doing it visibly and standing for equality and standing for justice and standing for a reverence for the earth and for critical thinking and for the things in, for science and for all of those core understandings that drive a considered in conscientious and heartfelt love.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: If you who are like me really thrown by this, Wednesday, the sixth was a crazy day. The The Georgia senatorial elections gave control of the Senate to the Democrats, which means that Mitch McConnell will no longer be standing in the way of all things. Good. And just, and then came this riot

Yucca: Just a few hours later after that news.

Mark: Yeah. Yes. So it was a whiplash event. It was entirely impossible for me, at least as somebody who follows and cares about the public affairs of my country and of the world. I just felt pulled all over the place and I couldn't sleep well and felt very unsettled. And it's still not all calmed down and I am under no illusions that there isn't going to be more of this before the 20th, when Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Yucca: Yeah. It's a, I feel almost like in this limbo place right now of just waiting. Waiting for the other shoe to drop what's going on. By the time our listeners are listening to this, maybe things have maybe more things have changed. Maybe they haven't, maybe we're still in this what's happening place.

And that feels that's characterizing right now in a huge way. But I think that's happening on a larger scale as well, not just these particular events that are happening with the country, but just how is the world? Where's the world going, how is it going to respond to these many challenges from so many directions?

Mark: Yes. Yes. And even though I don't agree with them at all, and I have no patience or tolerance for the kind of hatred and bigotry that characterizes the Trumpist. I do have some compassion for people who are so overwhelmed by modernity that they just retreat into this sort of knee jerk opposition to it.

Because let's face it, there are vectors of good happening in the world. Now, despite all efforts to the contrary tolerance. And inclusion and equality as values are on the rise. They've got a long way to go. But they are on the rise and there is increasing recognition of all the ways in which people who are disadvantaged are held down and especially the younger generation doesn't approve of that does not feel like that is a way for a society to conduct itself.

This is part of why the white supremacists particularly have come unglued because they can see that the societies that they live in are becoming increasingly multicultural and that there's nothing they can do about it. It's demographics and it's the mobility of humans around the globe. Both of which are impossible to stop.

Having said that, having said I'm. I'm sympathetic when the world that you grew up in is gone and there's something new coming. But to my mind, we, as curious people, as interested people, as people who are thoughtful and analytical, We can welcome the new, we're able to to open ourselves to the new possibilities of the changes that are happening in our societies.

And all of that is to the good I look at those trends that That white supremacists are upset about. And I cheer because I just think it's fantastic. I am not in the least bit invested in white supremacy or in the idea that there are only two genders or in heteronormativity or any of those things.

I say, bring it on.

Yucca: I think it makes it a much more interesting place to be, frankly.

Mark: It does. And it's not only that it makes it interesting to be because there's just more different kinds of people. It's that people as individuals can live in the fullness of themselves and for many people in this world, historically, they've never been able to do that.

They've always had to pretend to be straight or pretend to be male or female or pretend, or, suffer under the boot of bigotry,

Yucca: Or not get to do the, not get to pursue whatever their particular passion or genius was in.

Mark: Yes, exactly. And that, that has to end, it has to end in the cultural direction, slow and halting and stuttering as it is. Is in the direction of improved conditions that way. I really believe that. And I know that there's a long way to go, but I do believe that there are movements in the direction of people being more mutually tolerant and inclusive. And to me, that matters a lot.

Yucca: One of the themes that we are talking about today is the theme of hope.

And to me, it's incredibly hopeful that these struggles and issues are being talked about. So it's an intense period. There's a lot happening when we talk about things like racial justice and the environmental issues, but the fact that they are on the public's mind that it's something that we can have a cultural wide discussion about means that we can actually admit that it's happening because these things are happening.

Whether we admit it or not. But now that we admit that they're happening, we can start to do something. Yes. Where so many of these challenges we were just talking about have been under, have been pushed down and hidden and you couldn’t talk about them, but now at least we can start that process.

Mark: Right.

And it may seem very daunting when you look at. The huge body of work that has to be done in order to make things just in order to make them equitable and in order to make them sustainable. And it's easy to look at that and just say, Oh it's impossible. Or things will never change. But we look at history and things have changed.

Things have changed a lot. The whole idea of the value of the individual really only arose in the enlightenment, which was in the 18th century. That's 300 years ago. It's very little time. Honestly. It's only nine generations. And we've seen such transformation along so many axes. We know now that the petrochemical industry deliberately suppressed information about climate change for more than 20 years, but the cat's out of the bag, most people understand and know that human caused carbon emissions are causing climate change. And that is having a seriously harmful effect. On the planet.

The first, it's been said many times the first step in solving any problem is admitting that you have one. And we're now at the point where most of us, maybe not the squeakiest wheels of us, but most of us are aware that we have a problem and that it's something that we're going to need to work to solve.

So all of that gives me hope. I see people working hard. I see people putting their lives on the line in movements like Black Lives Matter. And to me, that kind of heroism. Bodes, I think most decent minded people want fairness. They want to believe that they live in a society. that's fair. And as it becomes more and more visible to them that they're not in a society, that's fair. I believe most of them will move in a direction of wanting to correct that. And that gives me hope.

Yucca: Me too.

Mark: So I go back to the 13 principles of Atheopaganism, which is the particular path that I practice. And I look at some of those principles and they are about social responsibility and about curiosity and about critical thinking and about reverence for the Earth. All of those, are not only for me in my own personal conduct.

They're also about my agenda for societal transformation. They're about, what I hope to see in the world as history unfolds. And I believe that non theist paganism has a lot to offer people who want to see that happen. The kinds of work that we do with our psychologies, through ritual, with our relationship with life on Earth, through celebration of holidays.

All of those things that we do, they help to strengthen us to go through these hard times and to remain diligent about pursuing that vision of a better world. So if you're just starting to listen to the podcast, I really welcome you to look into what non theist paganism has to offer you and what it really means to carry that as your identity or your sets, your sense of values.

Yucca: Yeah. And I think this as many times throughout the year, but particularly as we stand in this really uncertain time and place in history, that self-reflection is so important and going in and saying, okay, what are my values and why? And are these things that I am, are they values to the point where I am really willing to work for these in the world?

Mark: Yes. Yes. And also bear in mind that this is a group effort. It can be really overwhelming to look at all of the problems and think I must do something about all of them. You may need to pick your battles. You may need to work on a particular thing that you feel very strongly about. I feel very strongly, for example.

Well, I feel strongly about a lot of things in terms of my activities. I'm involved with a diversity equity and inclusion initiative at work. That's one piece of what I really care about and I do work about, and I do a lot to reduce my carbon footprint. In fact, I am now driving an electric car that we least no.

Good. Yes. I'm excited about that. That happened over the holidays.

Yucca: Oh, congratulations. Yeah.

Mark: Thank you.

Yucca: That's wonderful.

Mark: It is, it's a great car actually. It's it's plugged into my garage right now.

Yucca: Wonderful. Yeah. But coming back, none of us are superhuman. None of us are. So choosing something that, or a group of things that you can really focus on, for us, it's that relationship with land and food production. That for us is the one that we've really focused in on and going, okay. Do we see this as something that all these other issues play into and connect with our fundamental relationship with the rest of Earth. So that's where we're focusing, but we also know to be gentle sometimes with ourselves, right?

We value these things. We work on them. But sometimes we need to step back and rest and not beat ourselves up when we aren't perfect. And recognizing that we are part of a society and a team. And that, that just because we do this thing is not going to solve the whole problem for everybody. And I don't say that in a discouraging way, but in a way of releasing some of that responsibility in the sense of that one person has this responsibility, that none of us are the chosen person, the chosen one from the story who's going to solve everything. It's the community, it's everybody. And we have a part to play. Which is empowering, but it's also empowering that we don't have the only part to play.

Mark: Yes. Yeah. Yes. And one of the things that is true, one of the larger. Larger forces that is beyond any one individual that is weighing in on this is that we are at a demographic tipping point. The the average age of a Trump supporting white supremacist type person is in their sixties and they're on their way out.

And The next generation is not in that same place. You can't say that universally. Of course

Yucca: there are individuals, but as a large group.

Mark: As a large group. That kind of mentality is on its way out. And that is part, I think, of the why they are so desperate right now to try to remake the world in the image that they see in their minds as being a value. So yes.

Yucca: that's another one of the things that gives me hope. Just looking at those general trends, not to say that we should not pay attention to the bad things that are happening and that we shouldn't respond to them. We very much should I believe and there's, that should word, but that's my belief that we really have a responsibility and a duty to to stand up for the values that we have and to really try and guide the world in that direction.

Because if we don't, then what's the point of having those values?

Mark: Exactly. They aren't meaningful if they're just theoretical. Yeah. The only thing that I see as a downside of. That generation fading away to a more tolerant and inclusive one is that I'm going to go with them which is disappointing.

But so it goes we'll see.

Yucca: Well, hang in there for a while, how about?

Mark: That's my plan. Yeah, my, my plan, I just entered my 60th year. I don't know if I mentioned this on the podcast before, but I turned 59, so I'm now in my 60th year and I honestly can't believe it. I just don't know where all the time went.

I can remember lots and lots of events, but how did it ever happen? That I'm 59. I, last time I turned around, I was 30.

Yucca: Happy birthday. Thank you.

Mark: Thank you.

I feel like one thing that we might want to talk about a little bit more is self care. In times like this, we actually did a whole episode on self care, especially in the context of the disasters of the pandemic and the disasters of 2020 generally a while back, but I do feel that now is a time when, while you're feeling the urgency to do something about these terrible things in the world, you also need to make sure that there's fuel in the tank.

And that means you need to rest. You need to eat, you need to just lie around and do nothing of any particular importance, you need to have social interactions, however that's possible for you, that feed your sense of self and your joy in living. You need to have creative time to do those things that feel expressive for you.

Because the, to, to use a terrible analogy because I don't like war analogies, but what you don't want to be as cannon fodder, what you want to be as a leader who can repeatedly make efforts in the direction of your values rather than just burning out and getting discouraged and then dropping out, because then there's one less voice for those positive values.

So really folks I'm feeling it too. We are we're right there with you. Take care of yourselves right now. Make sure you're getting enough sleep. Make sure you're drinking enough water. If you have, if any, your

Yucca: And let your self set boundaries too. Yes. It's important to know what's going on, but doom scrolling is not good for your health.

No. It's okay to say. No to, to being asked for things that you don't have the energy to give at the moment.

Mark: Yes. And this is something that we are not taught in English, speaking cultures, at least we're just not taught to take care of ourselves very well. In fact, we're taught that certain kinds of not very productive or healthy. Practices are what constitutes self-care like drinking, for example. Okay. I'm under a lot of stress.

I'm going to have a drink. On the one hand, that can work on the other hand, if that's your go-to strategy, not so much,

Yucca: it stops working after a certain point.

If you take the melatonin every night, then it's not going to work for you.

Mark: Yes, right? Yes.

Yucca: Yeah. And then we also have certain things that we've glorified that are very harmful.

Like never sleeping the, Oh, I'm too busy to sleep, I'm, the workaholic aspect and for women we're particularly taught to not take care of ourselves and that establishing some of those boundaries makes you a bad, makes you a bad wife or a bad mom, or a bad whatever you are. And I just don't think that's very helpful.

Mark: No. And that gets to the larger question of the ridiculous bar that women are expected to get over in terms of having a full life, which is this. Monstrous combination of career and family and creative outlets. And and you're expected to do all of these at this super high level that demands all this time.

Yucca: But if you do you get criticized because you're not doing the other things, you're being selfish. For what, whatever you're doing is selfish. And speaking of tough this year has been particularly tough on women. When you look at the numbers of the having to leave the workforce and the inequalities within the home, and yes, it's been there's, it's been a rough one, really hopes that it, that a light is being shined on these areas because of this year.

Mark: I certainly hope so. Yeah. Yeah. That's really what I wanted to say to folks. There is there's reason for hope and you can be a part of it, and I hope you will. You need to take care of yourself in the meantime, too. In order to be effective at that. And in order to have your life feel good, which, this is the life that you get.

If you're waiting around for your life to feel good until something else changes, it's time to make those changes now. And also finally, thank you. Thank you for listening to us over the course of the last year. Yes, it's. It's really an honor to know that we're, in people's cars, on their commute to work and in their headphones when they're going for walks and doing dishes and all that kind of stuff.

And I hope that we have that we continue to fulfill what you hope for from us. And once again, really we encourage you to provide us with feedback about what subjects you'd like us to talk about, how how you'd like the podcast to proceed all that. We really welcome it. And that once again, is that thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com.

Yucca: Thank you everyone.

Mark: Thank you. Be well.