Hello, I have a question about paganism without gods. Is it possible? What does worshiping the triple goddess or the horned god achieve, if instead you’d prefer to appreciate the world around you. Are they simply figureheads, ritual shorthand, for the traits they represent? Would love some recommended reading and some helpful words. Thank you 🙂
While there are some NeoPagans who simply see Gods and Goddesses as archetypes, rather than actual beings, personally I think that the better choice would be to find a path that does not involve them at all. Not that there aren’t plenty who do make it work, but it seems strange to go through the motions of working with the Gods – even just for the symbolism, if one doesn’t actually believe in them. Especially when there are other options available that can be just as rewarding, and probably even more suited to one’s beliefs.
In terms of those other paths, particularly for someone who is more interested in appreciating the world in general, Pantheism would be a good place to start. Might want to check the following… Elements of Pantheism: A Spirituality of Nature and the Universe
Outside of that, the next step would be to ask yourself exactly what aspects of “Paganism” call to you? There are literally hundreds of different paths one can take, and other than Wicca and Wicca-inspired NeoPaganism, most do not involve a Triple Goddess or a Horned God. Along with that, I would venture to say as well, that if one does not believe in deity (in any sense of the word), then anything “Wicca” (Trad or otherwise) would probably not be the right fit
If it’s just the witchcraft and the “nature-based” parts, then again it may not be Wicca that you are seeking, as traditionally Wicca is fertility-based (focused on the continued cycles of birth-life-death-rebirth), rather than “nature” as a whole.
To the issue of deities though, Wicca (even in an Eclectic NeoPagan sense of the word) is about polarity between a God and Goddess, or (in a non-traditional sense) aspects of such. All rituals are centered around them – the Sabbats relate particularly to the God’s journey through the Wheel of the Year, and the Esbats are the Goddess’ journey. If one is not looking to incorporate that, then another path would be a better choice.
If one is looking more towards a witchcraft based spiritual tradition, then I’d focus on that, rather than trying fit what interests you into a NeoPagan mold. Paganism has a vast wealth of traditions to choose from (including the ability to create one’s own path), there’s bound to be something that is a much better fit. It’s just a matter of finding the right resources (which admittedly can be very difficult sometimes).
A few other resources that might be helpful…
- Rosa Romani’s Green Spirituality
- T. Thorn Coyle’s Crafting A Daily Practice or possibly even her Evolutionary Witchcraft though that might be somewhat deity centered as well, but there are probably some good things that can be taken away for a practice separate of them as well.
- Doreen Valiente’s Natural Magic or her An ABC of Witchcraft
- I would also suggest The Elements of Ritual: Air, Fire, Water & Earth in the Wiccan Circle by Deborah Lipp. While it is very much Wicca based, the information on the various elements and how to incorporate them into ritual is invaluable. So if you are planning on working with the elements, it’s well worth the read.
- Sorita d’Este and David Rankine’s Practical Elemental Magick – A guide to the four elements (Air, Fire, Water & Earth) in the Western Esoteric Tradition – also set somewhat within a Wicca framework, but also useful outside of that as well.
- Another that might be worth looking at, and though they do talk about about deity in the following, it’s also set up in a way that the word encompasses, not only God(s), but other entities, the Universe, etc… so it’s very open-ended in terms of creating a cohesive practice, that is somewhat Wicca-inspired (still based on the Wheel of the Year and similar concepts), but also more for those who are eclectic in nature – Katrina and Eric Rasbold’s CUSP: A New Way to Walk An Old Path
I have always said I prefer a non-theistic approach, but I can’t quite pull myself away from the sensation that someOnes/Things exist — but even in my attempts at monotheism in my youth I was a deist. I don’t think any potential “they” are interested much in our doings. So I think your suggestions are absolutely viable for questing neo-pagans. And it is certainly refreshing to see the topic discussed.
Of course, I fear some discussion points; some polytheists are getting rather intent on the whys and hows to a distressingly dogmatic degree. Luckily, they don’t REALLY get to define the spiritual life for all as some of them apparently wish they could.
fantastic reply, Thank you for all these resources. It looks like I have some reading to do!