I sure hope so since this is how I identify myself. At the risk of getting kicked out of the Atheist club, let me elaborate.

While my attempts as a child to believe in God like a good little citizen failed, my exposure to living science, quantum physics, seeing the universe and all that is in it as a whole lot of life-in-action, stuck with me. As I grew up and began to explore my world from the angle of all things being made up of the same 'stuff,' the known and even greater unknown interconnectedness and energy within this 'stuff' and thusly the interconnectedness and common DNA between you, me, my cat, my snake, a tree, a rock, the wind, an asteroid, a star, carried with it a lot more reason and beauty than “God did it.”

At the same time, I have learned indirectly on my own and directly from other sources a fair amount of meditation and self-control-through-the-mind techniques. Dealing with chronic pain, dealing with a weird but needed-to-be-dealt-with phobia, finding my own greater strength in martial arts. All of this involves a degree of grasping control in our own selves over things we and even the scientific community have yet to fully understand or define. An athlete mentally prepares and gets in the zone before the big game; visualizes the goal line, visualizes him/herself in top physical form. Is that supernatural hoodoo?

Likewise, while quantum physics, atomic energy and Unified Field Theory make perfect sense to me, they make for boring visuals when I'm trying to 'get in the zone.' I don't know what atomic particles look like. But, the image of Halle Berry in the first X-Men, vanquishing my inner demons much like she vanquished Toad, makes for a cool visual that my brain can definitely latch onto.

This is where practices of Paganism and even methods of Witchcraft come in handy for me. E.g.; I really need to be able to go to Dad's funeral without my sister driving me to insanity. So I find some quiet time, burn some sage or incense, create my sacred space, and envision a psychic shield around myself which my sister can not penetrate with her well-meaning but insanity-provoking behavior.

Do I literally think the sage/incense have mystical powers in and of themselves? Not really. They are pleasant aromas and ones both my conscious and subconscious mind have come to associate with relaxation and getting rid of the worries of the day. Plus, they carry a historical, traditional role in getting rid of the worries of the day, a fact which stimulates other parts of the psyche. Do I literally think I have created a magical, sacred space around me that looks like a light show out of a Disney cartoon? Not really. But what I have done is found a quiet place and filled it with pleasant light and smells; an act psychologically proven to enhance focus and concentration. Do I literally think I have created a physical, psychic force field? Not so much in the literal sense but what I am doing psychologically is tapping in to parts of the brain that I and modern science have yet to fully understand in order to try and make myself less-driven-insane by my sister when the time comes.

In other words, yes – there are bona-fide crystal crunching new agers out there who have replaced 'Jesus' with 'Goddess,' but otherwise little has changed. They literally believe in fairies and tree spirits and angels and that they are Princess-whomever reincarnated into the saps they are now.

But then there are some of the practices themselves: Respect for nature. Envisioning the tree as a living organism. Picturing the planet in terms of a collective, living organism. Wrapping one's mind around the concept that both I and the rock I'm sitting on are ultimately made up of the same 'stuff' (protons, neutrons, electrons). Envisioning the Unified Field and interconnectedness of the cosmos, attempting to tap into the coolness of that interconnectedness to somehow improve my own state of mind, awareness of the space around me, or athletic performance so I can win the game today. I've met many a Pagan/Wiccan who holds this point of view; that they don't believe in most of it literally, but rather as a psychological exercise that works well for them scientifically.

So, does that get me kicked out of the Atheist club? Or can one dance naked under the Full Moon or welcome the Summer Solstice from a purely beauty-in-science point of view?

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The only qualification to be an atheist is not believing in gods. All other concerns are secondary.
i totally agree. when did we atheists become some sort of organization with this set of rules for being a 'true atheist'? it makes me very uncomfortable the more i read through the boards and i see all this business about what one should and shouldn't believe to qualify as an atheist.
Emily, I do hope you'll stick around. There are plenty of us who agree with you and Orson.
Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.

However, I'm not going to call myself a Neo-Pagan even though I take great delight in the natural world. The next-to-the last stop of my belief train before I got off at the atheism station was Neo-Paganism. I met plenty Neo-Pagans/Wiccans/Neo-Druids who believed in gods, goddesses, fairies, etc... quite literally. Some were lovely people. A couple are still friends. Many stopped talking to me once I started asking probing questions, and when I took issue with those who had little compassion and even less grasp of psychology deciding they should become Neo-Pagan clergy and "counsel" others.

I've cruised through a lot of US sub-cultures in my search for community. I'm hoping to find it among fellow atheists, which is the main reason I signed-up for Atheist Nexus.

All of this involves a degree of grasping control in our own selves over things we and even the scientific community have yet to fully understand or define.

Understanding of the human brain is advancing at an amazing rate. Scientific inquiry is still taking baby steps when compared to the existence of human beings, anywhere from 250,000 years to 90,000 years, depending on whether you decide anatomy or culture is the dividing line. I dig why people believe a lot of what they believe; all their senses, as a result of evolutionary biology, enculturation, etc... make it easy.

an athlete mentally prepares and gets in the zone before the big game; visualizes the goal line, visualizes him/herself in top physical form. Is that supernatural hoodoo?

Nah, that's just "psyche!"-ology.

the image of Halle Berry in the first X-Men, vanquishing my inner demons much like she vanquished Toad, makes for a cool visual that my brain can definitely latch onto.

You could offer workshops, and make a lot of money. I don't think anyone has marketed meditation techniques to comic book geeks yet.

So I find some quiet time, burn some sage or incense, create my sacred space, and envision a psychic shield around myself which my sister can not penetrate with her well-meaning but insanity-provoking behavior.

Is it anything like the shield around the Starship Enterprise? Seriously, when I was younger, that protected me from assimilation by Borg-types.

They literally believe in fairies and tree spirits and angels and that they are Princess-whomever reincarnated into the saps they are now.

You haven't lived until you've seen two women both claiming to be the last High Priestess of Atlantis reincarnated fighting over by the punch bowl.

Someone I knew who was a regional coordinator for the World Wildlife Fund in India (who is also an atheist) said that certain beliefs (while irrational), can help protect the environment, such as people believing in sacred groves/trees. As I remember, this was one of the forces besides the obvious one of deforestation that drove the women of the Chipko Movement, the grandmothers of all modern tree-huggers (and I use that term with much admiration).

Envisioning the tree as a living organism.

Trees are living organisms. This is scientific fact.

No, as far as I'm concerned, it doesn't get you kicked out of the Atheist club. Yes, one can dance nekkid under the full moon or welcome the summer solstice from a purely beauty-in-science point of view. It's too bloody cold most of the year in Vermont to do much outdoor dancing au naturale, but during those three weeks of bad sledding we call "summer", I heartily encourage it... with mega-mosquito proofing.
Meabh Fitzpatrick (sorry, I don't know how to do the accent over the 'e') writes:
"You haven't lived until you've seen two women both claiming to be the last High Priestess of Atlantis reincarnated fighting over by the punch bowl.

You're right. Now that you've said it I can't die happy until I've grabbed some popcorn and a video camera and witnessed this with my own incredulous eyes and ears!

Visiting once with one of my more woo-woo Wiccan friends, she suddenly asked me if I have any Irish in me. "I'm looking into your past lives and I'm seeing a lot of Irish potato famine. Burlap dress, half-starved, struggling to feed the family, the whole works."

The major woo-wooness involving past-life readings not withstanding, and the fact that it doesn't take anyone even trained in cold reading to ask a White woman from East of the Mississippi if she has any Irish blood, I did find one element interesting: In past life readings, you're always Princess of Atlantis, or King of Middle Earth, or High Priest to the Pharaoh. No one was ever just the bar wench. My friend, to her credit, did tell me, "Oh trust me. You were the bar wench."

Cool. I just can't see myself as Princess of Atlantis.

Trees are living organisms. This is scientific fact.

Yes they are, and it is. In my original post, truly afraid that being Pagan-Atheist gets one kicked out of the club, I wanted to soften that language a lot. I feared saying "Trees are living organisms" would be tantamount to saying "I worship the Green Man gods and the Tree Spirits." Good to know that it's safe around here to acknowledge a living non-mammal thing and wish to treat it as such without setting off the woo alarm!

...those three weeks of bad sledding we call "summer",

This makes my day!!! All the one-liners from the Minnesota side of my family about Summer - or lack thereof - I never heard that one. Priceless!
Ooooh, both technically true and solidly mind-twisting all at once. I like it!
This is my favorite place to opine now, and I realize I cant touch some of you ( but I will keep trying. Bottom line for me as far as Paganism goes.....anything that may help convince more people to dance naked and fornicate around a May pole or what ever is a good thing. Especially if its all run by woman!!!

PS or gay men !!
PSS Who look like Brad Pitt in Troy!!
Trust me if I danced naked under a full moon I would be thrown out of any club or association ;-)

I think there is a difference between the wonder of the universe and spirit worship. There are many many things that are still unknown, while I am an atheist I still keep an open mind if evidence of something else was proven beyond doubt I would be more than happy to change my mind.

I do believe in the flying spaghetti monster !
RAmen Brother!

After all, with His Holy Noodliness appearing by the thousands on every lawn in America (short spaghetti-shaped grass), how can He make His Presence and Dominance over other deities any more clear?

I challenge the Xians to find as many Jesus-coffee-stains in their homes as there are blades of grass on their lawns.
This can be broken down rather simply: You can have a lovely and deep connection with nature and still be an atheist -- it's when you think nature can go out of its way to do things for you, you've crossed some lines.
Well, nature can definitely go out of its way at times. It just isn't for you and me personally.

;-)
What I don't appreciate about paganism is their disdain for the scientific method of understanding the world.

Some anyway. Those so called Pagans who have simply replaced 'Jesus' with 'Goddess' but retained all the us-versus-them and my-imaginary-friend-can-beat-up-your-imaginary-friend certainly do balk just as much at the idea of scientific explanations for this that or the other.

While methods like homeopathy, acupuncture and natural/herbal remedies can be grossly overhyped and misunderstood, these are not 'quack medicine' any more than, say, rittalin is a quack drug just because 90% of the kids on it probably don't need it.

I have a 25 year old nerve injury for which shiatsu massage is by far the most effective treatment. It's not the only treatment and would not do the job alone, but it is the primary treatment. Homeopathic allergy medicines have been by far the most effective for me, which doesn't mean I don't greatly benefit from a nightly dose of Benedryl now and then. I do indeed believe in my doctor's 'prescription' of using organic produce and a cup of green tea a day, but that doesn't mean my doctor and I abandon all other Western preventatives and treatments. It means we supplement and compliment one with the other.

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