“… a beautifully-nuanced picture of today’s non-theistic Pagans. … At a time when many are being loudly vocal about what they call hard polytheism, Godless Paganism is refreshingly non-dogmatic. By telling their own stories, the writers show that just as in any religious/spiritual group, there are infinite shades of gray in both experience and practice.”
A version of this review was previously published in Witches & Pagans #35.
My seasonal allergies mean that at those times of the year I most want to be surrounded by nature, it is difficult, and sometimes impossible, to do so. This irony is a metaphor for an essential conflict at the core of my psyche, between the desire for communion with nature on the one hand and the desire to transcend nature on the other.
Hey, John, thanks for republishing Holli’s review of Godless Paganism; did she send it directly to you?
Because we published pretty much the same review in/Witches&Pagans /last year and would appreciate a “previously published in” and link if you republished it from us. I left a message for Holli to clarify, but am happy to hear from you as well to get your take on this.
Here’s the version that we published last year, in the “Natural Paganism” issue of W&P (#35)
“Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans John Halstead (editor), Lulu.com, 2016.
When we hear “atheist,“ “agnostic,” or “humanist,” many of us think of scientists like Stephen Hawking or militant activists like Richard Dawkins. Yet, in a crowd of recent years’ anthologies of Pagan writers on various subjects, /Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans/, stands out as a significant contribution to contemporary Pagan theology by painting a nuanced picture of non-theistic Pagans.
Over seventy essays are organized into sections including “Yes, We Exist!;” “Analyzing with Apollo: Rationality, Critical Thought, and Skepticism;” “Dancing with Dionysus: Emotion, Passion, and Mysticism;” “Who Are We Talking To Anyway?: Non-Theistic Paganism and God-Talk;” “Bringing It Down to Earth: Non-Theistic Paganism and Nature;” ”Origin Stories: Becoming a Non-Theistic Pagan;” “Looking Back: Non-Theistic Pagans in History;” and ”Looking Forward: Non-Theistic Pagan Community.”
The reader may be surprised to find familiar names among the contributors. That’s because their spiritual trajectory has often moved from beginnings in one modern Pagan tradition or another into a personal understanding of existence which has left theistic belief behind, even when the outer practice is maintained. In this, the contributors reflect the most common pattern for most of today’s Pagans, that of being raised in a more-or-less mainstream religion before embracing some path of Paganism.
/Godless Paganism/ is refreshingly non-dogmatic. Not once did I encounter a writer in this book that insisted that Pagans who believe in or otherwise honor a deity or pantheon are wrong. From philosophical, to poetic, to science- and environment-focused, the essays of /Godless Paganism /thoughtfully address many current Pagan topics: place-based practice, reciprocity, mystical experience, devotional practice, transcendence as a lateral phenomenon rather than horizontal, Jungian archetypes, the gods and the chthonic forces which underlie them.
I heartily recommend Godless Paganism as a complement to personal devotion and practice no matter what one’s beliefs, and a volume which will be useful to many who are pursuing Pagan academic studies.
HOLLI S. EMORE is Executive Director of Cherry Hill Seminary and serves on the Board of Directors of Interfaith Partners of South Carolina. She volunteers as a Disaster Spiritual Care responder for the American Red Cross and is the author of Pool of Lotus, available on Amazon.com or at Lulu.com.”
Thanks for all your good work!
Anne Newkirk Niven
That is neat that Holli wrote such a great review!