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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 #7 in the top15 Pagan podcasts for 2021! https://blog.feedspot.com/pagan_podcasts/

DIY Religion

January 9, 2022

SLOGG Holiday Episode: https://thewonderpodcast.podbean.com/e/holidays-1610325700/#more-16200342

 

Introduction to SLOGG: https://atheopaganism.wordpress.com/2018/01/03/introducing-slogg-the-winter-demi-sabbath/

 

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

 

S3E02 TRANSCRIPT:

Mark: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-based Paganism. I'm your host Mark. And today we are going to talk about do it yourself, religion, because that's really what our naturalistic science-based pagan paths are about. It's really about tailoring a set of practices and activities and observances to your own personal needs.

And we're going to unpack all that in this. 

Yucca: That's right. And a good place to start. Is talking about, what's the point? Why, why are we doing this? We're white humans, not just us, but why do humans do this religion thing in the first place? And what need is it filling? Because it certainly is. We're all doing it in some form or another.

Mark: Right. Or at least certainly many of us in the modern world, many of us are doing it. But when you look all over the world, you see that every culture historically has had religious traditions of one kind or another. And not all of those have been pointed at the same purpose. So we wanted to be really clear about what we see as the appropriate purposes for a naturalistic pagan.

This, for example, in Christianity, the goal is to reach salvation, right? Your stained by original sin and whatever sins you've accumulated. You have to get those all washed out of your soul and then you go on and hopefully you go to heaven, right? That's that's the whole end. You do that through the intercession of Jesus and so forth.

That is not at all, even remotely related to what our religious practices are about. So, another example is in most kinds of Buddhism the idea is that you want to balance your karma so that eventually you can step off of the wheel of time. Into something else. And I'm sure that there's a definition of what that is, but I don't know what it is, but the idea is to leave material reality, you keep coming back to it in reincarnated forms until you've balanced your karma and then you leave. right.

We don't want to do that either. We don't really believe that that's what's going on here on planet earth. 

Yucca: sure. Yeah. So that's not our goal, right? Our goal isn't enlightenment or. Going to heaven or things like that. And you know, we're saying our, but it is also very personal. So we can talk about in general paganism, we can talk about naturalistic paganism in general, but it really also comes down to the individual.

So although mark, you and I have a lot in common what each of our. Practices are going to be like, are going to be slightly different because we have different goals, different values, different experiences in the world. 

Mark: Sure. 

Yucca: And that's a starting place.

Mark: But I think that the commonality is what I would focus on in terms of the purpose of naturalistic paganism, which is to enhance happiness. 

Yucca: Agreed. Yeah.

Mark: And what makes a given person happy will vary from person to person. But what we want our practices to do is to contribute to the happiness of the practitioner and those around them, and to contribute to making a better world. And I mean, I think that we can say that in, in a general sense, right. 

Yucca: Think so. Yeah. And those second two are almost requirements for the first time.

Mark: It is. I mean, if you make everybody around you miserable, it's very to be happy. 

Yucca: Yeah. Right. And, and, you know, we do have a choice about how we respond to things, but it also is really hard to be happy if you're starving and everyone around you is starving and everything is, you know, burning and all of that. So, you know, we're, we're part of a larger system.

Mark: And part of what we acknowledge as science-based pagans is that we are social creatures. We fit within ecosystems. We have responsibilities beyond to ourselves, to the broader fabric of the context that we live in. And I think that what people find is that. As they move away from that individualistic idea of, you know, I've got this soul and I've got to take care of it.

And that's my only duty and job in life as they move away from that kind of idea. And they start to understand themselves in a reciprocal relationship with the world and their fellow humans. I think that enhances happiness a lot. But it also, of course, Provides more of a sense of responsibility to, to act well.

And in accordance with a better world, this more sustainable world, a kinder world, a more peaceful world, 

Yucca: Right. 

Mark: more just world. So when we talk about the, the goal. Those are, those are the general things that we're talking about in terms of our naturalistic paganism. Now, theoretically, I could imagine that there might be a naturalistic paganism that has some other entirely different goal, but I have a very hard time imagining what it would be because if you're really informed by science, You understand the predicament that humanity is in Right. now in relation to the ecosystem and you understand the majesty of the ecosystem.

And given that, I think it would be very hard to have a very selfish kind of naturalistic pagan path. I mean the self is important. This is the only life we get. You know, we want to be happy. We want to thrive. We want to achieve the goals that we have, but at the same time, there's that other sense of of, you know, needing to lift those around us and needing to relate to nature in a way that's, that's appropriate.

And.

Yucca: Right. so given that, I think though that each individual is going to have a different way of going about meeting and achieving that.

Mark: Absolutely. And I think that the primary indicator of that. The atheopagan path and other naturalistic pagan paths is that we encourage people to develop their own rituals because different styles of rituals and different kinds of activities are going to be effective for different people. And so instead of going to mass and having, you know, communion, which is this thing that.

You know, it's like a machine, everybody goes through exactly the same process. Right. Instead we really encourage people to cultivate the art of ritual development and the ritual skills to be effective, going into a, a ritual state of mind, like drumming and singing and chanting and dancing and you know, all of those kinds of things. So I just to start with that is the very first thing that, that turns this into a DIY religion because we really do want you to do it yourself or do it with your fellow people in, you know, in a, a planning group rather than just. Taking a, a ritual out of a book or or cribbing it from some other culture, which of course is appropriation. 

Yucca: Choosing in the first place, what rituals and why you want to be doing, because what, there, there's definitely going to be some themes, right? Thinking about seasonal observances and types of rites of passage, that that is common to many humans. But what your going to feel the need for a ritual in your specific life and your specific practice is going to be different than someone else's and that's not only just okay, but that's good.

That makes complete sense because what's the point of going through a ritual that isn't going to serve you. 

Mark: Right. 

Yucca: the motion, right? Why go through the motion? If it's not going to do anything for you, if it's not going to bring you closer. To that goal that you have

Mark: Right. Right. And what that means though, is that ritual arts become part of your personal toolkit. You know, you don't have to wait around for. A Sabbath On, the wheel of the year or a or a particular cycle of the moon. I mean, you, you can wait for those things if you want to. I mean, you don't have to wait very long for a particular part of the moon.

I mean, the longest is 28 days. Right. But don't have to, if you feel really stuck in your life, for example, and it's weighing you down and it's depressing, you, you can pull those ritual skills out at any time to create a ritual, to help yourself get going and feel better. Kind of do some repair on your self esteem and, and set some clear, a clear path for where you're going to go.

And honestly, I really wish everybody had that toolkit with them. I feel that, you know, these ritual arts have been developed over tens of thousands of years by humans. And it's only very, very recently historically we've lost them. You know, it's, it's only in the last. Thousand years, 1500 years, something like that.

Really? Not very much time at all that maybe 2000 years when the ritual started being taken away by priests and no longer belonging to the people in, in the 

Yucca: where yeah, we're in the world.

Mark: Yeah.

Depending on where you are. So that said, one of the things about being a naturalistic pagan is you develop ritual skills, right?

You figure out what works for you, and you learn how to do rituals. That fi that feel meaningful and good and pleasurable for you. And that's a great thing because meaning and pleasure are good. We always say that meaning and pleasure are good. We are four. You're having those. 

Yucca: Yes. So those are some great tools, but there are other tools we're using this framework of your DIY religion that we have. So we can talk about ritual as a tool. But we can also talk about things like daily practice. That's something that we mentioned a lot on this podcast, right?

Mark: Yeah. I mean, I have my daily practices. I know you have your daily practices. And those can really vary depending on who you are. If you're a night owl, you know, maybe waking up to watch the sunrise every day is not a part of your daily practice. It's 

Yucca: Sure. 

Mark: you're just not going to do that. Right. 

Yucca: And depending on where you live too, if. 

Mark: right. 

Yucca: You're in the middle of Seattle, that might not be the most rewarding thing, right. Might not be possible. Maybe you're going to tune in with something else that fits your, your location in your, your rhythms and cycles better.

Mark: right. Rather than waking up to watch the fog slowly start to glow 

Yucca: He 

Mark: the morning. And just assuming that there's a sun back there 

Yucca: Yeah, not to say that that might not. Beautiful in its own. Right. But it might not be the same experience that somebody on the top of a clear mountain top is going to get 

Mark: exactly. 

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: So once again, as we've said so many times as you start to figure out your daily practices, we come to the fact that ours is a religion of Place. right?

Yucca: Place. Yes.

Mark: It's a, it's a religion where you relate to the landscape of where you live and to the ecosystem of where you live and to the, the sky phenomena where you live, the clouds, the sunsets, the sunrises, the intermittent, the, the moon cycles, the intermittent things like meteor showers and comments and stuff like that.

Some of those will be universal. When there's a comment visible, it's visible for half of the world. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: when some of the, but moon cycles are the same, right. For everybody. 

Yucca: Yes. Although that does look different depending on which hemisphere you're in, 

Mark: Yes, it does. 

Yucca: which is quite well, which is quite fun. 

Mark: So it, it becomes it becomes a matter of first of all, building that relationship through greater understanding of what your context is, and then choosing those daily practices, both in relation to yourself and maybe in relation to your family. And in relation to the world that are fulfilling and give you a sense of of connection and meaning and contentment. 

Yucca: Right. Yeah. And, and, and spiraling it and seeing what those different units that you're a part of is part of developing your particular practice. Right. And seeing where. You know, maybe I could, I could think of a situation in which it might be self partnership, family extended family, neighborhood, community, you know, there's different ways or it might, you know, you might jump straight from self to family or not include family or whatever it is.

Right. And again, that's just going to be based on what your particular situation is.

Mark: Right. If you're a person who feels sort of pressed in on by the demands of your family quite frequently, maybe what you want is a personal practice. Maybe what you want is something where you are able to block out a little chunk of time and space every day and say, this is about. It's about my growth.

It's about my development. It's about my happiness. And so I'm going to do this thing, you know, and it can be very brief. My daily practice, I think I probably spend two minutes in the morning and maybe as much as three minutes in the evening, honestly, that little of course the candles are. In the evening. And so they continue to burn and I come back and contemplate them once in awhile. 

Yucca: But in terms of active time, it's sort of like when you're doing a, a recipe, there's your active cooking and then there's the, oh, it's in the oven or it's cooling. Like those are two different times. 

Mark: exactly. That's exactly. So, so a personal practice is. It's a really important way. I think, to do a number of things for one thing, a personal practice can just be very influential over your psychology. It can really help you to feel like, you know, I'm living a meaningful life here. I'm living a life where I'm acknowledging the relationships that I have and my responsibilities as well as the benefits that I have out of those relationships.

And I am. I am a person who is seeking to grow and become wiser over time. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: And that's really important, you know, that's that is. Core to living a fulfilling life. When you, I was referred a, an article recently about the, the five regrets that dying people often express. And typically they are around not having paid enough attention, not having sought to evolve.

Having spent too much time on work, not enough time on relationships. And a relationship with yourself and with the world is every bit as much a relationship as your relationship with your partner, your relationship with your ecosystem, any of those, you know, knowing who you are and having that evolve over time is really essential for human happiness.

Yucca: And that daily practice is a moment that you can take to check in with yourself and make sure you're not just on autopilot. Right to, to stop for a moment and evaluate what you're doing and if that's what you want to be doing and just do a little bit, of course, correction, because sometimes the things, those, those things that you were just talking about, those regrets, those are, those are big things.

Those are big life style. Habits. That's not just something that you decide one day like, oh, I'm, I'm just going to be more present. And then all of a sudden you are like, that's something that you practice and have to make adjustments for over and over again. And that what we've talked about so far ritual and daily practice, those two tools combined is one of the ways to allow that to happen, 

Mark: Huh, 

Yucca: whatever it is that you're working towards.

Mark: absolutely. Yeah.

So that's personal practice. And experimenting with different kinds of things that you might do with that. And that's, this is a really important point to make about experimentation. I think because if the point of this is to be happy and fulfilled and have a healthier relationship with the world around us, then expecting ourselves to do some huge pile of.

Observances and rituals and you know, all that kind of stuff. When we really don't want to do them, that's not helping. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And on the other hand, not doing anything isn't really helping either. So there's this point of experimentation in the middle where it's like, okay. Daily practice. Yeah.

I'll take that. I'm going to do a little thing to start with in the day and maybe that'll grow from there.

Moon observances. Well, that sounds a little frequent to me. Not sure I want to do something every month. Maybe I'll put that aside wheel of the year observances. Well, those are important to me. That's every six weeks, so six and a half, seven weeks. And and I really want to acknowledge the passing of the seasons and all the metaphors that those mean to me.

So I am going to do those. So there's this. There's this sort of picking and choosing from a menu of options that I think each of us is empowered to do on our own. And that that's by definition, that's a DIY religion, right? It's do it yourself. Here's a, here's a big menu of options. You, you know, select as many as you like from columns, a, B and C. 

Yucca: Yes. And something to add onto with that, that I think is, is really important to bring up. But when we talk about choosing the things that worked for you and the things that don't work for you, that sometimes it's going to take, sometimes the things that are going to work for you might take practice to get to there.

And they might not be comfortable at first, if you're not used to doing a daily practice, making yourself do that every day. It might suck a little bit, but there's benefit from doing that. It's sometimes you've got to get past the uncomfortable part to get to the benefit. Like if you, for anyone who's learned to draw.

Think back to how uncomfortable it was to be behind the wheel the first time, just your heart racing, or if it wasn't driving, riding a bike or doing whatever it was that you did the thing about just how terrifying that was in the beginning. But now you don't even think about it. You just do it, but it's worth it because now you can drive yourself where you need to go or ride wherever you need to go or whatever it was.

Right. 

Mark: And not only that, but once, once you do fall into a groove with a daily practice, you'll find that if you miss it, it bugs you, it, it just, it, something feels a little off and you'll find yourself going back to it because it, it adds something positive in your life and you don't want to be without that positive. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So it's, it's kind of a funny thing. It's like first it may feel a little forced and you have to deal with the critic voice, of course, which we've done an episode about before. And we've talked about many times that critic voice inside you, that's saying, ah, this is stupid. Why are you doing this? You have to contend with that and push past it.

But there will come a time when that all calms down and it becomes very normal, very normative to to do these activities. And when you don't do them, you feel like there's kind of something missing from the day. I, I, I wish I had done that. And then you'd go back to it the next day. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And there's no, you know, we don't have like concepts of sin and, you know, Stuff like that.

So there's nothing wrong with missing a day. 

Yucca: We were joking before recording that there aren't any pagan police coming to get you because you forgot your full moon ritual or something like that. 

Mark: I promise I'm not going to give you a phone call. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So, you know, you select those pieces. Yucca, you mentioned before we were recording meditation is a great example. if you decide that you want to start a meditation practice, even if it's a very brief one, even if it's like five minutes, five minutes of meditation, for someone that hasn't done it, it can be very uncomfortable.

Your mind 

Yucca: haven't done it in a long time, he used to do it. And you dropped the practice for five years coming back. It's rough. Yeah.

Mark: is in your mind will spin all over the place and you'll find yourself sitting there thinking I'm not really meditating. This is not meditation. I'm not getting where I'm supposed to go. And the truth is you're going to have to push through that for a while. It's just like any other skill, if it's really rusty or if you never developed it, you're just going to have to do it badly for a while until you start doing it better. 

Yucca: Yeah. So there's, there's a balance to take a look at between looking at what's what's working for you. What's worth working to make it work for you. And, you know, what is it that you really want to be doing? 

Mark: right. 

Yucca: So, yeah. 

Mark: And that goes along very well with the overall goal, which is happiness. And growth, right? Because we are dynamic systems, we humans. And if we stagnate, we're not happy. If we're, if we're stuck in a, in a particular rut, generally we will not be happy for long. So growth becomes very important and the way that humans grow over time and as they become wiser and that teaches them to be kinder to themselves and to others and to be happy.

To find the happiness in life. So it's this, it's this trade-off early on between doing what's comfortable, which is the easy part and doing what forces growth, which is the lessee's T part. But it's worth it. 

Yucca: yeah.

So another thing that many pagans do is a seasonal practice. And of course, this looks different depending on where, where your place is. 

Mark: Right. If you have seasons, 

Yucca: If you have season, well, everyone has seasons, but it's what seasons do they have? Right. 

Mark: And, and the, the transition of seasons care can be very subtle. We have some folks in the community who live in Florida and Louisiana, and yes, they have seasons. They don't have extreme seasons really? They, they kind of go from hot and humid to warm and a little less humid. And then back to hot in here. 

Yucca: And then in that case, Again, looking at whatever your place is, the, what you focus on for your observations of the year might shift somewhat. You might have a little bit more of a night focus than a day focus, or it might be focused more on the types of creatures who are migrating through at the time and all of that.

I mean, there's just so much you certainly don't have to be in. You know, Britain or somewhere that has the sort of stereotypical seasons to people to have a practice of paying attention to the world around you, because that's what it's really about is paying attention to those cycles in the world, around you.

Mark: That's right. That's right. And then of course there are also layers of metaphorical meaning which can be placed over those as well. And we have episodes about creating your own wheel of the year and about cellar and episodes about each one of the seasonal. The solstices equinoxes and the points between those.

So you can go back into the archive and listened to episodes that did go into more detail about 

Yucca: this'll be our third year going through the the holidays. Yeah. 

Mark: that's right. 

Yucca: So. 

So you can check us, see if we said the same thing each year or we're totally different.

Mark: Well, hopefully we've said somethings that are different. Cause I like to think that my practice is growing and deepening and I'm discovering new things. So, hopefully it's not all exactly the same. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So yes, seasonal observances are things that we can do. And and that is often a big focus of a pagan practice.

Speaking of focuses, another thing we can do is we can create altars, which in the atheopagan tradition and we call focuses because we associate the word altar with sacrifice and

Yucca: And worship. Yeah. 

Mark: and we're not really doing those things. 

Yucca: But a focus. It brings your focus in that's what you're choosing to focus on in your life. 

Mark: Yes. And we've done episodes about that as well, but it bears saying that's one of the things that's on that big menu. Some people don't want to build a focus. For many of us having one or more focuses in our home. Really helps us to remember, oh Yeah.

I'm living a spiritual path here. I'm a, this, and it's this time of year.

And these are the meanings that, that means for me. And there's a shell that I picked up on the beach when walking with my lover and I, that was a beautiful day. All the. All these stories that the objects on the focus tell to you because of your memories that are associated with them. So it's, it's a concrete way of having a presence of your practice in your home all the time. whether you're feeling it or not, 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you know, that that's part of what's helpful about it. 

Yucca: And it can help create that physical structure. Right? That's if you're, if you've got a daily practice and you go to your focus or altar everyday for that. And during, during your seasonal observances, you're changing it out. You know, it creates a little bit of that structure that is just helpful to have something that.

That doesn't just have to have you remembering in your brain all the time that there's something built into your environment that just leads you into doing the thing that you want to be doing.

Mark: Yes. I mean, for me personally, having a focus is really important. I've had one for 30 years, even during the time when I left paganism, I didn't take my old altered down. I just let it collect dust for about five years, but I couldn't quite bring myself to take it apart. It was just too meaningful to me. So. So that's another piece, another, another option that you have as you develop your DIY religion. Right? And then there are other kinds of observances other than seasonal observances, like moon observances, we just mentioned. Right. And people. Often associate the, the new moon or the first little Crescent of the moon as being a time for new beginnings for for starting new projects for brainstorming and maybe doing divination around new.

Directions for themselves. And in many cases they see the fullness of the moon, the full of the moon as the fulfillment of those things. And then as it wanes the departure of those things. So you can pick the time of the moon that you want to celebrate a particular thing going on in your life. According to that map, 

Yucca: Sure. Yeah. Or. Yeah, meaning you find with it 

Mark: And the kick, you know, that can be as simple as just going out and watching the moon for a while. Maybe leaving some like a, a pretty bottle of water in the Moonlight to quote, capture the Moonlight unquote so that you can use that water on your altar later on. And it feels like special water. Or I mean, they can be complicated, you know, complex rituals could be as little as just going out for a walk under the moon or singing a song to the moon.

Really depends on you. But the good thing about having some kind of a lunar practice is it gets you out under the sky. 

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: It, it connects you into that cycle. You always know what time of. What's part of the cycle the moon is in, right. And it's just healthy. It's healthy to get out under the nighttime sky and observe what's going on. Feel that incredible sense of smallness in relation to all those stars. 

Yucca: And don't, don't miss out on the new moon period because when the moon isn't. You can see the rest of the cosmos better. Right? So we make a point. We go out every single night for at least a little time. That's part of our daily practice is some Sun-Times and star time. But when there isn't the moon, that's when you can, if you live somewhere away from light pollution, that's when you see the Milky way, right.

That's when you see the stars that you don't normally see, that's when you might catch a meteor, that's when. It reveals more, the new moon it's the full moon is beautiful itself and it lets you see the ground better. It lets you see the little creatures moving around and the wind going through the plants and all of that.

But it's just both of those times of the month are just so, so different depending on whether the moon is there or not. 

Mark: Yes. Yeah. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So that's a lunar set of observances, and that can be something that you do every month or even more often than every month, if you want to celebrate different cycles or it can be something that you only do when you have some work that you want to do on a particular issue that's happening in your life or thing that you're struggling with, or it can be something that you just do once in a while, because you feel like celebrating. 

Yucca: Right. Or because it's warm enough to, 

Mark: Yeah, 

Yucca: yes. And if you perhaps live in Ontario, maybe you don't want to go out to look at the moment in January, 

Mark: but you might, 

Yucca: perhaps. Yes.

Mark: if it's clear and there's Moonlight on snow, that is some beautiful, 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: that's really beautiful. 

Yucca: Well, they do say there's no such thing as bad weather. Just bad clothing. 

Mark: Yes. I think that's a Swedish thing, which totally makes sense to me. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: I maybe Icelandic? 

Yucca: I don't know where it's from, but I, I hear I, I appreciate it when I hear it from different folks. That puts me to shame. Sometimes I go, well, I'm pretty good about getting outside, but sometimes, you know, I need to just say. Gets warmer clothes on and get myself out there instead of hiding inside, although hiding with the cat and some cocoa and a book is pretty wonderful too.

Just maybe not every single day. 

Mark: perfect segue. 

Yucca: That's right. Unintentional.

Mark: Yes. but a perfect segue because the next thing for us to talk about is invented holidays.

Yucca: Yes. Which is why we chose this topic. But this week you have one coming up, right? 

Mark: I do next weekend on the 15th, which is the third Saturday in January. I celebrate a holiday called slog all caps, S L O G G. And it is the winter Demi Sabbath of coziness and silly hats. So it's a time when you, you know, you put on your really good woolen socks and a silly hat, and you, you get yourself all nice and cozy indoors and you make mold wine or cocoa or hot cider and and enjoy reading poems and singing songs.

And Jeff's. Just have a really nice cozy sort of communal time of defying, the horrible weather that's outside. 

Yucca: That you've just been tapping to slog through. 

Mark: exactly. So, and we'll put I, I wrote a blog post about this a couple of years ago, and we'll put a link to that in the episode notes. But there are lots of other invented holidays and you can invent your own.

Some of them are based in historical events, like, Einstein's birthday, for example, which is March 14th, which is also PI day, because 3.14, right? And that is often celebrated by atheists as sort of a celebration of science and mathematics and critical thinking and skepticism and all that good kind of stuff.

I like it for the PI. 

Yucca: Yes along those same lines. There's URIs. And a little bit, little bit later on, we have may the fourth. 

Mark: Yes.

which is star wars day, may the fourth be with you? URIs diet is the, the night that the, the anniversary of the night, that URI Geiger, Irene first orbited the earth, 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: the entry of humans into space. 

Yucca: So it's kind of a celebration of just all that cool space science, nerdy, wonderfulness. 

Mark: Yeah,

a lot of planetariums and science museums have celebrations of Yuri's night, 

Yucca: yeah,

Mark: which can be really fun. I mean, they have, they have exhibits and they have dancing and it's just a lot of fun. 

Yucca: yeah.

Oh, what are some other ones? 

Mark: Wolf Inuit. 

Yucca: That was, yes. Oh, that one's too cute. That was, that's a pretty new one too.

Mark: Yes.

It was invented by an eight year old apropos of pretty much nothing, I guess, just decided we should have this holiday and you celebrate it with a cake shaped like a moon, and it's a day to be nice to dogs. You give, you give presents to dogs. So it's a celebration of our relationship with the canine world. 

Yucca: And they've been with us for a while. 

Mark: They have 

Yucca: really have we've, we've changed each other in many ways.

Mark: we have there I just read recently about a new burial that had been found. And I think it was, I want to say 15,000 years old and it was a burial of both a person and a dog together. And there were some grave goods. So it was clear that there was really a you know, a recognition there of that relationship. 

Yucca: Then, of course there's ones that could be from one's cultural heritage. Right. So. You know, St. Patrick's day or St. David's, you know, even though they've got the St in there, but you know, their celebrations of UN's Irishness or one's Welshness or, you 

Mark: or, or Hogmanay on new year's Eve which is a Scottish celebration burns night. 

Yucca: And I'm sure that there are many other groups might have similar types of days. Just not being a member of them. I'm not sure what, what they would be, but

Mark: know that many atheists also celebrate Darwin's birthday because evolution is so pivotal in our understanding of the nature of life. 

Yucca: yeah. So there's going to be, there's lots to choose from and with like the eight year olds or like mark, if you see a need. Well, you can create one.

Mark: And you'll, you'll be, you probably won't be surprised, but you still may be very pleased by how. Responsive people around you will be to the suggestion of having a holiday for no apparent reason. People, people are always looking for an opportunity to have a good time and, you know, especially at this time of the year, when it can be so bitter I just felt like it was necessary to, you know, waiting around until the, the, the seventh or so of February.

Roughly the mid point between the winter solstice and the spring Equinox. It was just too long. I needed a holiday in the middle. 

Yucca: Yeah. Well, especially coming out of, just back to back holidays 

Mark: Right, 

Yucca: end of the previous year. Yeah.

Mark: right. So I think maybe what we can do now is just to loop back to. You know your initial question, Yaka. What's the point? We, we do this. Not because we're under some obligation too, which is how it is in many other religions. You know, that we are tasked with this work that we must do in order to fulfill the spiritual requirements of whatever the religion is.

That's not us. This is optional. Right. But. It'll make your life better. It will, it will help you to be happier. And in my experience, as a happier person, it helps other people around me to be happier which just makes for a more pleasant life generally. And if I'm looking for reasons to be happy like flowers, blooming, or the pattern of the clouds in the sky or any of those things 

Yucca: migrating or,

Mark: Yeah.

All the goldfinches at my bird feeder right now. It's really cool. Then I am, then I'm experiencing more of those happiness neuro-transmitters right. The dopamine and the serotonin that just help us to have a more pleasant experience of our lives. And it, and when we are happier, We're also more empowered.

Yucca: We're more effective 

Mark: We are. 

Yucca: We do a better job at whatever, whatever it is that we do, whether that's a traditional career or parenting or, you know, being a good partner or a good steward of the land, we're just better at it.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah.

because we're not burning our bandwidth on stress. Right. I mean, stress is incredibly consumptive of your internal resources. And if you are under stress as all of us are at, you know, at some level all the time and with COVID and so forth, we're all under, pretty severe stress right now. This is a way of counter contravening. Some of that. Of helping us to say yes, there are stressful things in my life. And yet look at that tree blowing in the wind. That's amazing. And getting that little sort of, ah, feeling that comes from those neuro-transmitters. So we invite you, especially if you're new to the practice.

To, you know, consider the options in the menu that we described in this podcast episode go and visit other podcast episodes as resources. And there's a lot of stuff on the atheopagan ism blog as well. Atheopagan ism.org. How to create rituals about occasions for creating rituals and daily practices and all that good kind of stuff.

There's no better time to start than now. Hey, it's Steven the new year. Yeah, So, you know, might as well, if you've been thinking about this, you might as well put a toe in and see how it feels. And even if it's a little awkward at first, you know, give it a chance, give it a chance 

Yucca: worrying. And just, just remember those times when you pushed through that 

Mark: yeah. 

Yucca: when it has worked out. 

Mark: Right. Okay. Well, this has been a great conversation as always Yucca. Thank you, so much,

Yucca: Thank you, mark. 

Mark: everybody have a great week.