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Paganism: supernatural or naturalistic?
People who identify as pagans don’t all believe the same things. Some believe literally that gods or spirits exists, that elaborate ritual is critically important, or that magick can achieve real effects outside of the user’s natural reach. Most books on pagan beliefs and practices belong in this “supernatural pagan” category. This approach is accompanied by a whole panoply of products and paraphernalia, from crystals and cauldrons to chalices, daggers and tarot cards.
But there are others – let’s call them naturalistic pagans, pantheist pagans or atheist pagans - who don’t believe in any supernatural beings, forces or realms. For naturalistic paganism, the pagan gods and rituals are not taken literally but as symbolic expressions of a reverential attitude to Nature, while magick is a kind of therapy or "soul-work" rather than a supernatural way of controlling natural events.
If you clicked on World Pantheism’s ads, you are probably a naturalistic pagan. You love Nature and you may be looking for a form of spirituality that focuses on Nature. But you probably have doubts about some aspects of mainstream paganism – especially the beliefs in magick, gods and spirits – and you may feel uncomfortable in meets where these are taken quite literally.
An earth-centered spirituality
If you are naturalistic, and celebrate Nature, then you will probably find the World Pantheist Movement a congenial community of like-minded folk.
Nature is the center of our spiritual approach. We revere Nature and the wider Universe. We have different ways of expressing those sentiments. Going out into nature is the most common practice, but many of us may add some celebratory or meditative practice. We do so all the while remaining completely naturalistic. We don't believe in heavens or hells, gods or ghosts, spells or miracles. Instead we focus on our present lives, in our real bodies, on this beautiful planet.
Care and concern for Earth and saving Nature are among our central ethical values. As our belief statement says:
We are an integral part of Nature, which we cherish, revere and preserve in all its magnificent beauty and diversity. We strive to live in harmony with Nature locally and globally. We acknowledge the inherent value of all life, human and non-human, and treat all living beings with compassion and respect.
Saving Nature together
We express these values as a community in several ways. Our active click group at EcologyFund has saved more wildlife habitat than any other religious or environmental group. We also from time to time sponsor ads in EcologyFund which pay for the land to be preserved. And we have a Wildlife Habitat Scheme where people undertake to manage all our part of their garden or land in the interests of native wildlife.
We have numerous mailing lists about nature-centered ways of living and naturalistic ideas, as well as topical lists and local area lists.
We don’t have fixed rituals as such but we encourage celebration of earth’s seasons and personal life events.
If you have a personal liking for pagan ceremony, symbol or dress, then there's no problem. We recognize that celebration is always a matter of personal preference. In surveys, we have found that our friends and members' attitudes to ceremony range widely, from distaste or disinterest, right across to active enthusiasm, with everything in between.
From a naturalistic point of view, celebration is an expression and embodiment of one’s own feelings, rather than a magical means of getting around natural laws.
We recognize the freedom of all pantheists to express and celebrate their beliefs, as individuals or in groups, in any non-harmful ritual, symbol or vocabulary that is meaningful to them.