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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/

The Final Four Principles

July 12, 2021

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

 

S2E26 TRANSCRIPT:

 

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca. 

Mark: And I'm the other one. Mark. 

Yucca: And today we are coming back to the Atheopagan principles. So we've done a few episodes before, and we're going to tackle the final four today, although it's not like they're the last ones or the end, it's kind of cyclical, like probably all things and cycles.

Mark: Yeah, these are principles. Just to remind listeners, or maybe you haven't heard the previous episodes about the atheopagan principles, these are the 13 core kind of operating how to live your life principles in the atheopagan path. And. So they are virtues they're things to be pursued and aspired to; adopting the atheopagan principles doesn't mean that you're perfect at them.

It just means that you think that they're important and that you want to live your life in accordance with them to the degree that you're in. So, we've done two previous episodes, one about the first four. What about the middle five? And now we're doing the final four and we just want to talk about what they mean to us and why we think they're important. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

And 

as always, this is not us saying you should believe what we believe, but we're talking about, we're talking about them because they are important to us and we think they're valid.

Mark: Yes. I think they provide they and the four pillars, the four sacred things of atheopagan is and provide a sort of roadmap for. How to proceed a good set of tests when you're in a situation and you don't know what to do. Well, here are some, here are some guideposts that can kind of help you to decide what the right thing to do might be.

So, we, we present them in that spirit, not in a vowel shelter sort of thing. There are no commandments in a non theist paganism and So I think we'll just get started. 

Yucca: Yeah. So the first one is one that I think many forms of paganism share, but it's something that definitely sets paganism apart from. Modern religions. And that is that we are pleasure positive.

Mark: Yes. There is a great deal of shame and doubt and self self harm associated with simply enjoying pleasurable things in the over culture. You know, and, and it manifests itself in many, many, many ways. In classic horror films, you can tell that the people that are going to get killed next are the ones who just had sex. Because they have to be punished. They did something pleasurable and now something bad has to happen to them. And in, 

Yucca: deserve bad things happening to them because they were indulging too much in life or any of those things.

Mark: right, right. You know, people this, the so-called victimless crimes where You know, we've we put people into prison for doing a mushroom trip, for example, which, you know, is a non-addictive substance that has zero record of people, you know, going crazy and killing people or doing anything harmful people generally just sit in one place and go wow for six hours.

And, and yet we put people in prison for it. Simply because it's something that's enjoyable and there's a deep. History of this, going back to Calvinism and the Protestant reformation, and it is certainly heavily sewn into American culture, which of course was brought over by puritanical Protestant, Christians. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So in the pagan world, we think pleasure is good for you. 

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: Obviously not at someone else's expense, obviously not without consent of any participating party. 

Yucca: right. That's 

big. That's huge. If it's, if there isn't consent, then, then that's something completely different.

Mark: that's right. It's not okay. That's that's violence in victim ization. That's not that's, that's not enjoying something. 

The the, the pagan community has generally been very laissez Faire around these so-called. Victimless crimes. Sex work for example, is something that is considered to be work.

There are dangers associated with it and especially at lower socioeconomic levels where people are doing it because they need to survive. Not because they choose it. That's its own form of societal, lack of consent. 

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: You know, economic. Leveraging of people to do things that they don't otherwise want to do.

That's not what we're talking about. We're talking about people, you know, enjoying that ice cream enjoying whatever it is that gets you off sexually, whether or not, you know, you think that there are like bad things about it. If you and whoever you're doing that with are enjoying it, then that's a great thing. 

Yucca: Yeah, 

or yourself too, right? 

Mark: Yes, 

Yucca: We don't see masturbation as like a Ooh icky, terrible thing.

Mark: right. Or a, or a, a poor substitute for partnered sex or any of that kind of stuff. Having a sexual relationship with yourself, normal and great. 

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: So do that, enjoy it. If that's something that you want to do. It's a, it's a simple concept to explain, but it's a life's work really to live in this manner because the over culture really does lean in on us.

Hard about apologizing when we had too much fun, you know, about well, I had this, I had this banana split, but well then I, then I went running. 

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: You know, this feeling of like, you have to compensate for something pleasurable with something that is a work and an arduous and, and unpleasant in some way.

We don't think so. We, you should just enjoy it. 

Yucca: And of course not saying that one, shouldn't be taking care of themselves, making choices about, oh, is this banana split going to make me feel good later or not, but letting go of the, the 

moral judgment around it. Right. And having it be. Purely a choice of, is this going to make me feel good or not? Or, you know, do I want to spend the money on it or not, but not I'm bad because I enjoyed and indulged in this delicious dessert that I really love.

Mark: Right. And this principle ties in with all kinds of stuff around food. 

We talked about food in a previous episode, in our relationship with food and I encourage it. To listen to that episode, but food is very pleasurable and we can get all twisted up with stuff around body shapes and body image and self relationship all around the simple fact that we take pleasure out of our food.

And some people suffered a great deal because of that. 

Yucca: And 

it creeps into our language and way of thinking about it. You've probably heard people talk about clean food and not clean food or cheating on food or things like that. And that's all tied back to this anti pleasure, anti things connected to the Earth's Antifa, the animal side of it.

Mark: Yes. Yes. And this is we, we talked about relationships a couple of episodes ago. This is why in March of the pagan community, you see alternative relationship structure. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Endorsed and supported and in, and and welcomed because we don't see anything wrong with relationships that involve more than two people.

We don't see anything wrong with relationships that are open to sexual encounters with people other than the people that are in the relationship. Fortunately, this is now becoming mainstream, but you know, even 30 years ago, we didn't see anything wrong with homosexual relationships. 

It's all about what works for people and what makes them happy.

The BDSM community is welcomed in the pagan community for exactly the reason that if consenting adults want to do something together, that makes them happy. We're all for happiness. So, Yeah,

That's really where a lot of that comes down. 

Yucca: exactly.

Mark: So that's pleasure, positivity. And it's the 10th atheopagan principal. And the next is 

Yucca: Curiosity.

Mark: right. 

Yucca: Yeah. And this one, like all of them really important, but this one is one of those ones that it's harder to talk about. It's more of a, just an experience, right? Being curious for the sake of just the sake of wanting to know.

Mark: right, right. I believe that it's an inherent human quality children are extremely curious. They're trying to figure out how the world works constantly. They're co you know, they're little scientists, constantly experimenting with different sorts of behaviors to see What happens. 

Right. In the, in the case of adults, there is a danger of settling into a doctrinal dogma about the nature of the world. And then you stop asking questions about it and start defending the dogma. And this is the fundamental difference between faith-based religion of any kind, whether it, I mean, whether it's faith-based paganism, faith-based Abrahamic, monotheism Any kind of faith-based approach to the world where you've decided, you know, how it works.

And now you're going to cherry pick the evidence in order to support that and ignore all the evidence that doesn't support it. That is. 

Yucca: ask. And that frame the questions in such a way that it continues to confirm your pre-existing idea or view on the subject.

Mark: Right. And that is exactly the opposite of a science-based approach. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Science is always asking new questions and I think it was Einstein who once said that the most exciting words in science are not, I found it or Eureka, but that's funny. 

Yucca: Yeah, 

Mark: Because a whole new range of questions have been opened, which if answered will reveal more to us about the nature of the universe.

And that's what the goal is. The goal is to be learning about this place that we live for the time that we're given. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So curiosity has a lesson for us and the lesson. You don't know everything. There's always more to be learned. And that ties in with the atheopagan principle of humility, because however much of an authority, you may be on a subject. You don't know everything about it.

Yucca: And 

you're probably wrong on most of what you know, and you don't know which part it is that you're wrong on. 

Mark: Right. 

Yucca: right. 

And that's just everybody, that's just what it is to exist. 

Mark: Right. So being curious is a very important functional role for us. 

And yes, well, it's fun.

some of the time, but other times, like in conflict, for example, if you conflict with someone and you're sure that you know exactly what their position is and what they're trying to do to you. Then you'll have one set of responses.

Right. But if you are curious to try to find out, well, what do they really mean by this? And what's their real goal. Then maybe you can take a different path towards some sort of reconciliation or, or finding of mutual common ground because you're inquiring rather than prosecuting an attack. Oh, the fenced 

Yucca: Well, I think that leads perfectly into the next one, actually, which is integrity.

Mark: also difficult to talk about because. I mean, it's very short, right? You should be true to your word and you should, you know, make agreements in good faith and have your, your discourse with other people be based in good faith approaches and not trying to manipulate or or, you know, maliciously devil's advocate as You know, some on the internet or want to do, 

Yucca: Yeah, 

Mark: but it's a really important one. it. The idea that someone is trustworthy is a very, very powerful component of our relationship with them. And if we conclude that they're not trustworthy, We won't get close to them. We just won't. And so the way to be close to people, the way to be able to work effectively with other people is to be seen as trustworthy. 

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And that means behaving with integrity.

Yucca: And I think that applies not just with other people, but ourselves, 

Mark: Yeah. 

Yucca: right. That integrity that we can trust ourselves is really, really important.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, I agree. And some of that has to do with, you know, that, that critical voice that we talked about in an episode long ago that that's, self-destructive kind of voice that can arise in our own minds. We can ask ourselves. Does that voice have integrity? Does it, does it need me well,

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: or is it trying to hurt me if it's malicious 

Yucca: say 

whatever it needs to, to make its point? 

Mark: right, right. 

Yucca: Yeah. So integrity. It there's integrity, but we can apply that in so many different areas. We could talk about intellectual integrity or emotional integrity or on and on. Right. But an in each of those fields, however it is that we're dividing them.

It's that are you really. Being honest. Are you saying or believing doing to prove a point or to say what you think is true?

Mark: Right. And that doesn't mean you can't be wrong. You can see what you believe to be true?

and you can still be wrong about that. And that's, that's not being out of integrity. That's just being wrong. 

Yucca: Yeah 

Mark: and we all do that. That's, that's perfectly normal. 

Yucca: being able to come back afterwards, if you do figure out that you're wrong and say, Hey. I'm changing my position. I was wrong. 

Mark: yeah. 

Yucca: This is where do I go from here? Right. So tying back into the humility, curiosity, integrity. I mean, these are all just woven together.

Mark: Yes. Yes. And and the,

I don't know where I was going with that. I lost it. 

Yucca: Yeah, sorry, I cut you off on that. 

Mark: No, that's okay. Oh, yes. The, the fact of coming back to someone with a changed position, I mean, that is an act of integrity.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean, it's one thing, if you sort of guiltily realize that you were wrong, But.

you keep it quiet because you don't want to admit that you were wrong. That's not so cool. 

That's that's really not, that's not clean, but saying, you know, I was wrong.

And now, you know, we agree on this point and now where do we go? That's that's a position of integrity. 

Yucca: And it's rough, right? Sometimes it might be easy depending on what it is. And other times, you know, it can be a bit of an ego blow, 

Mark: Sure 

Yucca: but 

it's one of those things that is practice, right? The more you practice, the, you are setting up a pattern of intention.

Mark: right. It's super important to model this for children. I mean, I've, I've mentioned before that I had a pretty awful childhood. And one of the reasons that I had an awful childhood was that I knew that my parents were on drugs. 

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: They, they would lie and they would lie for different reasons. My father would, because being wrong was anathema as a narcissist. He just, he couldn't stand the idea of being wrong. And so he had that sort of Donald Trump quality of refusing to admit that he'd ever been wrong. Even though there were times when I just caught him out. I remember once he had mistakenly, he knew this, but he just said it backwards. He, he told me that the short end of the frequency spectrum of the rainbow was the the red. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And that the violet end was the long end. And I mentioned this later, when I learned that it was the other way around and he said, no, I never said that. I would never say that. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And I couldn't have been more than seven years old when that happened, but it went all the way and, you know, 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: here's somebody who will lie to me in order to protect his status. 

Yucca: Yeah.

This same idea is why we don't do Santa Claus or the Easter bunny or any of those things, 

Mark: Okay. 

Yucca: That, you know, and different, different people have different approaches to it. But the idea of lying to the kids and saying that there's this magical being who comes and does this and that You know, if you're good and all of that stuff connected in there as 

well. And then, and it's like this lie that everybody is in on, not just the parents, but all of society. And it's like this big mean taboo. If you're the older kid and you like tell the kids the younger one about the secret that, oh, Santa Claus is not real. And my father has a story about finding out that he'd been like, 

Mark: Yeah. 

Yucca: About Santa Claus.

And he was pretty young at that moment at being raised in a Catholic family. And that was the moment he also went, oh, they must be doing this with Jesus and God too. Right. When? Okay. But, but that, that law, that loss of trust I think is, is, is heartbreaking.

Mark: It is. And As I was saying before, trust is everything right? I mean, trust is the core of relationships. 

And so, you know, that that integrity becomes very important. I want to acknowledge that lots of parents do have lots of different ways of orienting to the whole Santa Claus phenomenon. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And there are some that I think are pretty charming. It's sort of invite the child at a certain point to kind of take on the role with younger children. And it's sort of an initiatory thing. I think that's a little cleaner than just, well, we were lying, but it was because it was fun. 

Yucca: Yeah. I think there there's definitely ways to handle it. We pretended. And of course not being a Christian family, but we still had Christmas and Santa Claus, but every for everyone, it was a wink, wink. Isn't this fun, right? Like there was everybody was in on the game of it. And then it was like a fun make believe sort of thing.

But there was never, ever a moment when it was where any of us thought that it was a literal person coming down, our chimney that was about. But, you know, 12 inches across. 

Mark: Okay. 

Yucca: So, so again, no judgment to other families for making whatever choice they do. Just that for us is why we don't do do it because I don't even want to go anywhere close to where it might, where my kids might feel like I lied to you.

Mark: Right.

And that brings us to the last of the atheopagan principles, the 13 principles, and by no means the least important, these are not in any kind of priority order. They, they are literally in the order that they occurred to me. 

Yucca: Okay.

Mark: I just, I wrote them down. And then when. After this one, there just didn't seem to be anything more.

And maybe I'm wrong about that. And there are more principles that should be added, but so far it just hasn't seemed like that to me. 

Yucca: Well, and 13 is just such a fun number, 

Mark: Yes, it is. 

Yucca: right? It's just, yeah. And then of course it, it worked out very nicely. I don't remember who it was in the Facebook group who suggested applying it to the moon.

Mark: Right. I don't remember who that was offhand either, but it's a brilliant idea. 

So for example, the full moon that we have coming up is the legacy. And so you just apply the principles to each of the full moons. And that gives a theme to each one of the full moons. And because there are 13 of them, they precess around the course of the year.

So it's a lot like the theme is the same in June, every year. No, next year it's going to be in July. 

Yucca: Yup. And then on and on and 

Mark: Right, right. 

Yucca: keeps rolling. So, but kindness and compassion. 

Mark: Right 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: because we're all human. We're all gonna make mistakes. We're all gonna have bad days when we're snarling and snapping. 

Yucca: Hm.

Mark: And we have to be understanding towards one another about this. We have to be kind to ourselves when we don't need. The standards of the principles that we embrace, we have to be kind to one another and compassionate for the plight of one another, because people's lives can be very, very different.

And we don't really know what all they're going through. 

One of the, one of the first moments that I realized that I was growing up. Was when I was 12 or so I think, and it's suddenly twigged to me that everybody around me was also having this internal dialogue. 

They were, you know, they weren't just characters in my, in my little drama that they were people and they had needs and motivations and injuries and all that kind of stuff.

And I think it's really incumbent on us to be aware of this and to be kind. 

Yucca: Yeah. Yes and This is one where, I mean, I think of it as I try and have it be my baseline that I returned. And the idea of, of having kindness and compassion doesn't mean that we can't have other emotions that there isn't a place that's appropriate to be angry towards someone. Or that being kind to somebody somehow means that we automatically agree with them.

Right. You can be kind to someone without agreeing with what they're saying. Without accepting their position, but you can still treat them kindly. You can still have treat them with respect, whether or not you think that the way that they're behaving is appropriate or not, 

but it doesn't mean that

I think that the kindness and compassion are so key and critical, whether you believe that the person is acting in a way worthy of, of that, it's not something that they earn. It's just how you behave. This is I'm struggling to find the words here, right?

Mark: Well, I think some of it is, it's not so much about them as it is about. 

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: The, there is a very, in the over culture, there is this very Protestant idea about, well, you know, people have to earn their kindness. They have to earn their compassion. And that's just not the case. Everybody has already earned it by dent of the fact that they're a human. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So it's all enough. To remember that and to act accordingly, even with people that are really difficult and maybe messed up and, you know, maybe striking out all over the place. And that doesn't mean to turn yourself into a punching bag. You have to, they have appropriate boundaries and, you know, be clear about what you're willing to tolerate and what you're not willing to tolerate.

But that doesn't mean that you can't be. Kind and respectful and compassionate towards the people that you engage in your life. 

Yucca: Yeah. And then tying back to what we were talking about with the integrity, when we mess up. Going back and acknowledging that, 

Mark: right. right. 

Yucca: Because again, we are going to mess up. Right. We're human. And I don't know of any other living thing that wouldn't mess up. No, we don't 

believe in angels or, you know, divine beings or anything like that mean even then most of the stories of those have the mess it up quite a bit.

Mark: they do actually. They're supposed to be perfect. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: Yeah.

I want to emphasize again, that this principle applies to your relationship with yourself. 

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: So, you know, when you mess up sure. You know, fess up, acknowledge that, having integrity in relationship to it, but also cut yourself a break. You know, we're human and we're there for imperfect and we're there for allowed to make mistakes. If we learn from them it's, this is not a get out of countability free card, 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: because it's still on us to learn from our mistakes and to have integrity in how we proceed from here. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: But but to simply to simply have that, that impulse of kindness towards yourself, I think is really important. 

Yucca: Yeah. Yeah, it's critical. And it's one of those things. I don't know how we could in a true way. Have it towards another without having it towards ourselves. I think 

Mark: That's true. 

That's true. I mean, people who have a very strong, critical test master running inside their own heads, they tend to be. pretty strong, critical test masters to other people 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: you may ending and punitive and. That sort of thing. 

And remember the, the atheopagan path specifically and non fee is paganism.

Generally. They're about being happy. 

Yucca: Yeah. 

Mark: They're about, you know, living a good life and enjoying this ride that we get through this amazing place. I, it, to be organized, self-aware little columns of molecules. So. You know, pursuing ways to, to get the richness out of life and to build strong relationships and to you know, cultivate respect and to find pleasure.

All of those are things that are really good for us and they'll help us to make a better world. They'll help us build they'll. Those qualities are contagious. They they spread so an important thing. 

Yucca: And that's really what these principles going back to circle into. All of them are really about.

Mark: Yeah.

So we're, you know, very interested to hear your perspectives on on these principles and any of the others that we went into in any of the previous episodes. Before we close for today, I would like to talk a little bit about the century retreat in 2022 which I've mentioned before, but this is really exciting.

We are holding an in-person. Gathering of non theist pagans in Colorado Springs, Colorado from May 13th through 16th next year at a retreat center, beautiful place. 

And what we're doing now is doing all of the organizing around it. But soon there will be, you know, more promotional materials and so forth.

You can find out more about the event at the atheopagan blog, which is atheopagan ism.org. There is a post that's pinned to the top of the blog where you can read about what's going to happen there, but it'll be rituals. It'll be fellowship. It'll be workshops. It'll be hopefully some kind of a nature excursion, although the place itself is in a beautiful forest with a view of Pike's peak and all that kind of stuff. 

Yucca: It's a primarily Ponderosa pine forest, right? 

Is that that's the right altitude where it's at. Okay.

Mark: So, I'm just really excited about this. I'm already about 30 people are signed up to go. We have slots for about 80 and of course it's, you know, almost a year until this is going to happen. But the sooner people sign up the. So the better, it will be. The event itself is going to cost about $300.

That's for lodging and food and the event. And the log that lodging is in bunkhouse years. So it's kind of collective sleeping. There are some opportunities for private rooms for families that need them or people who have disabilities, who need an ADA compliant set up, or just people that feel a need to have a door between them and the rest of the world.

Some of the time, those will be more expensive. But we want to make sure that people know that they are. So I'm frankly, at a hundred dollars a day for for this gathering it's really going to be a lot. The food is good. I understand. But trying to keep the event itself as inexpensive as possible, because a lot of people are going to fly, 

And their travel expenses and so forth.

We're also going to make information available about how people can buy carbon credits. 

Yucca: Wonderful. Yep.

Mark: The carbon impact of their travel. That's pretty inexpensive. It's about $10 per thousand miles of travel. 

Yucca: Oh, 

Mark: So, 

Yucca: That's that's good.

Mark: it is and it's, it's very doable. And we really encourage everyone who comes to do that because of course, you know, airline flight is it's impactful. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And driving is impactful as well. 

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: So if you have any questions about that or about the podcast or any comments for us 

Yucca: Any topics that you'd like us to dive into?

Mark: yes, we certainly welcome those. You can reach us at the wonder podcast queue. The wonder podcast, all one word Q s@gmail.com and we look forward to hearing from you and we are so grateful that you spend your time with us listening to our little podcast here. Yeah. So thanks.

Yucca: you. 

Mark: thank you. Okay. 

Yucca: Thanks Mark.