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Interview: Robin of the Atheopagan Society Council

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The Library: https://theapsocietyorg.wordpress.com/library/

S4E7 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca.

Mark: and I mark.

Yucca: And today we have an interview with a member of the atheopagan Society Council, Robin.

Robin: Hello. Thanks for.

Yucca: So Robin, we were just saying right before hitting record, we realized you are the first interview that we ever had on the podcast. So way back in the early days, you came and joined us, and so we've got you back again. So welcome. So even before the atheopagan Society formed, I think.

Robin: I think so. I, I think it may have been pre pandemic or early pandemic, so, but wild, amazing times,

Yucca: Yeah, So welcome back. We're really excited to have.

Robin: Thank you.

Mark: Yeah. So, well, let's just dive right in. Why don't you tell us something about yourself and your journey to getting to atheopagan and within it. Just kind of what, what's your story been there, Robin?

Robin: Yeah. So I grew up, my family is kind of like nominally Catholic. But I realized pretty early on that that was just like not gonna be for me and decided. I was an atheist. But so like nature and going out into nature always played a really big role in my life. We were lucky enough to have this like little patch of woods at the back of our yard that it was technically our neighbors, but they didn't care that we played back there.

And so we just spent hours and hours playing in the woods. and my grandfather was really big into birding and he took us out looking for looking for birds. And then later on we got involved in like Boy Scouts, girl Scouts, me and my brother. And our parents decided to get involved too and volunteer with them.

So we just went camping a lot and spent a lot of time outside. And so I really just always had that connection to nature and. One day in high school I walked into homeroom and my best friend was reading this book about Wicca. It was Anne Mara's Green Witchcraft, and I was intrigued. And I think some of that was just like, you know, it's like the forbidden thing, , like I'm willing to admit that it was, part of, it was just that like, Ooh, witchcraft.

Mark: Great. When you're a teenager,

Robin: Exactly. Yeah. And. The other things that really appealed to me was that it was based in nature in the seasons and cycles of the seasons, and it was also very feminist, which coming from a Catholic background was just so refreshing. And so, I spent a couple years off and on kind of trying to be the stereotypical pagan.

ultimately, that didn't really work for me either. And so I kind of went back to being nothing or being atheist again. But occasionally I would feel this like desire to, you know, light a candle meaningful in, at a meaningful moment or I, I ended up just kind of feeling like, like I wasn't pagan, I wasn't fitting in.

But I also felt like a really bad atheist, so my, my cognitive dissonance was pretty high. So, and it finally just came to a head for me and I realized like I really wanted this sense of spirituality but one that would still balance with science. So I. For some reason decided the best way to figure this out was to start a blog and start blogging about it. And then I took a quiz on Beliefnet and they were like, Hey, you're a, you're a secular humanist.

And I said, cool. What is that? I had no idea what it was. What like secular, like I knew humanism from studying history, but I didn't know what a secular human witness was and didn't take very long. I started googling like humanist, pagan, and kind of stumbled onto this community, and it was, it was such a great moment.

Just like the sense of joy and relief, finding that like I wasn't the only person thinking like this.

Mark: Hmm.

Robin: So it was, it was incredible finding that. And another thing that has been really amazing being part of this community is you get to see people kind of having that experience again and again being like, oh my gosh, I'm not the only one.

So, yeah, that's, that's the slightly longer version.

Mark: Well that's wonderful. Yeah. We, we do have an awful lot of people who they, they find themselves in our community and they're like, oh, wow. I found my people. This is, this is cool. I thought I was gonna be all alone in this.

Robin: Yeah, and I think that was kind of why I was like, I guess I'll start a blog. Maybe other people will be interested, but realized pretty quickly like I didn't need to, so,

Mark: You know, the, the same thing happened to me. I. I went through this whole process and wrote a 40 page essay and did all this research and came to all these conclusions and threw it up on the internet, and, and, and I had been looking for stuff and my research skills were just apparently terrible. Because there were people already doing this, you know, the, the Humanistic Paganism blog and people like Anya Orga and Daniel Strain and John Cleveland, host and John Halsted.

They were all, you know, well along on the same thinking. And I just blew it.

Robin: Yeah, well we don't make it easy cuz it's, it's under all these different terms. Like you might find us. By going through like humanistic paganism or atheist and paganism or witchcraft. Like there's so many different terms. So,

Mark: Yeah, it's.

Robin: yeah.

So I think another thing that had a lot of influence on me was being able, growing up, even though we weren't religious, we were still part of these really tight-knit communities, and I. Really enjoyed that and kind of ended up pursu, like I found myself looking for communities like that to join.

And I think my parents set a really good example for me because they were always kind of involved with volunteering and different community projects. A lot of times through like scouts. I did a stint in AmeriCorps with the Student Conservation Association, where we, we basically lived in a commune doing for like a year, doing all these different community service projects.

And then my early career was in environmental education and that gave me a lot of opportunities to be in those kind of communities and roles. And then later I shifted to libraries, which is also a community service kind of role. So, yeah.

Yucca: And that's something that you have brought with you into the atheopagan community.

Robin: I, I hope so. Yeah. I very much want this to be not just. I want it to be a community not just like a group of people, but for people to really feel like they belong and they are a part of it. And that, you know, it's not just like these people on high deciding, deciding like, this is how we live and this is what our practices are.

It's, you know, I can contribute something to this. I can decide what is important to me and make that part of my practice. So I hope, I really hope to see that.

Mark: Well, you've been great. Identifying resource, and I'm sure that that's this library background. Identifying resources, bringing things forward. You know, Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, look at what these people over here are doing. Hey, look at these children's books that, you know, espouse our values.

And you know, all of us come from different backgrounds and people are in different situations. You know, Yucca has kids, for example. I don't have. So, you know, Yucca would be looking for resources for her kids books, right? And, you know, videos and whatever it is. And I think that that's what builds a community is when you have stuff that works for a lot of different kinds of people and they can all come together around.

Robin: Yeah, and I think especially talking about books like it, it's amazing. Like I started looking for, at one point I said like, Hey, let me see what kind of children's books I can find that. Reflect the values that somebody in this community might be interested in. And what amazed me was how many I found and how many there are out there.

And I think part of it is that we think about the things that little children are kind of learning and a lot of these books are focused on things like nature and learning about seasons, but they're also really focused on wonder. And that's something that Athe, paganism kind of has in common is that we kind of take this child like wonder at the world and a lot of children's books do the same thing.

And so like sometimes I feel like reading a really good children's book is kind of like doing a ritual. Like when I think of. I like, I love Bird Baylor her books. And so like, to me, like reading the community or the table where rich people sit is, it's like doing a ritual. So I think there's so many opportunities in children's books that I feel like they're this like un unsung resource for us.

Mark: Yeah, and there's all kinds of other things that are very contemporary that are coming out in children's books now. There's stuff around consent and body autonomy. There's stuff around gender. . There's, I mean, obviously, you know, probably the parents that most need to be providing those books to their kids are the ones who aren't, but at least they're out there.

At least those, those stories are being told.

Robin: Yeah, and the idea too is for them to be, you know, as a librarian.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: Is for them to be available. Like if somebody wants them, they are there for them. But nobody, nobody forces you to take a book home from the library. It's not like an assigned reading. So they're there for people who want it. Sometimes it's interesting because publishing ta a book takes so long as I'm sure you have learned writing a book right now.

Yeah. It takes so long. And so books, even children's book publishing, it tends to be like a year or two behind the trends. So we'll be talking about You know, about, maybe about five years ago there was this big trend of like, we need to see more people of color in children's books. There's hardly any. And now it's kind of catching up and, and there's a lot all at once. So, hopefully we'll see those trends continue. So

Mark: Yeah. I, I have a friend who published a children's book called I Did Something Good For the Earth Today.

Robin: Oh, cute. I'll check it out.

Mark: yeah, it's, it's a sweet little book. It's the illustrations that take forever. I mean, To be honest, I think it's a lot easier to pound out a lot of words than it is to get, you know, all that artwork done page after page, after page for a children's book.

So

Robin: Yeah, and when you think about editing

Mark: time.

Robin: picture versus editing, a line of text takes a lot longer too.

Mark: Right, exactly.

Robin: Yeah. So now that I've gotten those completely off topic Yeah. But I, I, I will talk about children's books until I'm, until I'm blue in the face. Cause I love it. So, yeah. Oh, so another thing, then I just move on to history.

Mark: Sure.

Yucca: Yeah, absolutely.

Robin: So studying history in college was, had a really big impact on me too early on. And I think, like, I've always loved history and I think that was again, like another part of it that drew me into paganism.

But the community I grew up in wasn't super diverse. So when I went, I ended up going to school at the University of Toledo and it was so much more diverse than the community that I grew up in. And that was an amazing opportunity. But, and then at the same time, I was learning a lot more and focusing on the history and learning learning about the injustices that our society is built on.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: That really is what put me on this path to appreciating diversity and social justice and like, it's, it's just impossible to ignore when you study history long enough and deep enough. So that had a big impact on me. And another thing that I learned from all of this, so I. Became really fascinated by a field called public history.

And this is studying the way that history kind of plays out or gets fixed in popular culture. So we spent a lot of time studying. We started studied museums and sculptures and like, what does history look like in cinema and what does that have to say about like, what stories do we fixate to tell on about.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: And it, it just gave me this understanding that like history is not just this like fixed narrative, like this happened in the past and then this happened. It's the study of history is as much about the stories that we tell about what happened. And it's fascinating because the past becomes this, like, it's almost like this mythical thing and we will project our own. Fascinations and insecurities onto this to tell us like what this all meant and it's, I see this a lot in the Pagan community or in Paganism where, you know, you take something like the Druids, like we don't honestly historically know that much about the Druids. We don't have a lot of, we don't have any written records from dues themselves.

We just have accounts from outside. But because it's rich in, in symbolism, we just kind of project whatever we wanna see onto that based on the very little bit of evidence that we have. And so that always just kind of fascinated me and it, it really forced me to take a look at Paganism as a whole and really kind of made me skeptical about the community for a while cuz I would see so many people like spouting things about the burning time without fact checking it. And it, it made me more critical, which I was always kind of like leaning towards that.

But yeah.

Mark: Yeah. I, I really share that. I mean, you know, I, I spent so many years in the Pagan community. I spent like, You know, 27 years or something in the Pagan community kind of playing along and trying not to roll my eyes at certain stuff, like, you know, the, the, the deity stuff, but particularly the take on history, you know, with the, you know, the.

The sweet goddess worshiping rural agrarian who, you know, lived in perfect paradisical harmony with one another in nature. And then were trampled by the terrible bronze wielding, you know, horse riding kurgans. I mean, it was just, it was so obviously a fable and I mean, there are, there are bits of truth in it.

Like any good myth, you know, it's, Pieces of stuff that's accurate, but and where it's pointing is very positive. You know, the empowerment of women, yay. Good. But the story itself when it becomes an article of faith just really, really drove me crazy.

Robin: Yeah, and I'm slowly working my way through Ronald Hutton's triumph of the Moon and. Fascinating cuz he's a historian and he talks about sort of the roots of neo paganism. And one thing that fascinated me was that he talked about, you know, for a long time whenever people talked about classicism, it was always Jupiter or Zeus in the Greek pantheon that people focused on.

But it wasn't until like the romantics popped up and all of a sudden the focus was on pan. And that idea of like this divine feminism kind of like lost goddess kind of took hold too. And it's, it's fascinating the way those narratives about the past can constantly change based on. What's going on in the modern world?

In this case it was, you know, like the growth of industrialization kind of drove this shift to, well, we're not so much interested in, in, in Jupiter and Jov, we're more interested in like the wildness of Pan.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Yeah, I love that book. And there are pagans who hate it a lot. There are people that are very, very angry with Hutton for, for one thing, for really documenting that there was no unbroken lineage of witchcraft from down through the misty

Yucca: That grandmother gave to grandmother and yeah.

Mark: Which doesn't mean that there aren't family folklore traditions, I mean there clearly are.

But the idea that they go back to the paleolithic or something is just a little bit stretched.

Robin: Yeah. And I think if, if your, your belief system is so built on, you know, poking a few holes in a myth is suddenly gonna make the whole thing unravel. You need to re rethink it. Like the, it's good to rethink it. So,

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Yes, indeed. Well, why don't we change the subject a little bit. You serve on the atheopagan Society Council in fact, you were one of the founding members of the atheopagan Society Council. What do you see as your role there and what are you trying to accomplish For the community?

Robin: Yeah. So I hope I at least have been able to, I feel like I have drawn. A lot on my experience in communities and kind of building communities. I also really hope that I have brought a commit commitment to equity and inclusion. You know, I'm not by any measure a perfect ally. I come with a lot of privilege and it's. The work of a lifetime to really unravel and understand that privilege. But I hope that I'm at least making some progress there. And I've the other thing is like I do, I've done a lot of projects for the commu the community. I'm great at coming up with ideas. I'm less great at keeping those projects going all of the time.

But I hope that the projects that I've, I've done and, and the things that I've done are giving people chances not to just like, like I don't want them to just kind of be given like, here's, you know, here's our beliefs, here's what you need to do. I, I hope that I'm giving people opportunities to really consider what their beliefs are and what.

they want their practice to look like and then share with others what that looks like. So like, I'm trying to think of all the projects I've done. I did, I think the first thing I ever did was I did a weekly tarot share where it would just be like a random card and everybody say like, this is what I see.

This is how I interpret it. That one has actually managed, that's like the one project that's managed to keep going. It's changed cans a couple times, but still going. So, I don't think the person, I don't know if the person who's running it wants to be named, so I won't, I won't name them, but yeah.

Yeah. I did for a little while, I was doing a non theist pagan photo share, which is always a mouthful. We need to rebrand that, but, The idea was I wanted, It was focused a lot on Instagram, so I wanted other people who weren't necessarily identifying as atheopagan to maybe feel like they could participate, which is why it has such a weird name.

But yeah, the idea was we, I, I love the like witchy photo challenges on Instagram where they give you like a day. Usually they go for a month and every day you have a different theme. And so that was the idea. We had a different theme based around non theist, paganism and if anybody wants to take that up, it it was a lot of fun and it wasn't that hard to run.

So if you want to take that up and do that again, I'd be so excited.

Mark: I would be so excited if there were somebody in our community that. Wanted to be a point person for Instagram. I mean, we, we do have an account technically, but it hasn't been posted to in forever. It would, that would just be really cool.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah, there's, I mean, there's so much, there's a lot of fun things you can do with Instagram. So, I also Ryan or ran with Tom, the not, or we had an L G B T Q discussion group, which kind of took a hiatus and then we had an affinity group form, so we kind of put it into their, into their hands.

We have a, or had a book club. It's kind of on HI hiatus right now or try to figure out how to bring that back. And then I run the Ohio atheopagan group. So

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: yeah, there's. For me, I kind of have to like, like the thing is I'm great at coming up with ideas. I kind of have to pump the brakes a little bit because we are in some ways growing so fast that I don't wanna like throw too much out there without knowing that it can be sustained.

So,

Mark: that's a conversation we're really having a lot right now. You know, about getting some infrastructure up underneath all this stuff that's already grown. You know, rather than putting a huge focus on growth over the course of the next couple of years, you know, just sort of building all the scaffolding

Yucca: and making sure we don't get burnout because this is all volunteer. So, you know, making sure our attention isn't into too many places or too much all at once.

Mark: I was surprised that you didn't mention the library for the Ethiopian Society website. That was a big project you

Robin: It was that is another one that's kind of on hiatus right now. Yeah. I'd love for me, and I work in a library, so keep in mind I'm biased here, but for me, libraries have always been this kind of like magical, almost sacred place, like these like halls of knowledge. I. Contractually obligated to now pour one out for the Library of Alexandria as I

Yucca: Right.

Robin: So, you know, to me, I would love to see I mean like a physical library is probably not gonna be an atheopagan. Pagan physical library's not gonna be in the cards for. A very long time, if ever, but that doesn't mean that we can't have resources in place to go if we want to learn something new.

And this the thing. Another remarkable thing about this community is that there's so many people who are so curious and creative that I'd love to have a place where they can just say like, I wanna learn about this. I wanna learn about meditation, or I wanna learn about you know, ancient history, or I wanna learn about evolution.

And sort of that like, tale of life coming into being. and then having a place where they can do that in different ways and as many formats as they want. So, yeah, the idea is to kind of, the idea at least initially was to build a library with resources that people submit and say like, Hey, this is something that I found interesting and helpful on my journey.

And then we'll kind of put it together in one place so people can find it. It's been a little bit humbling cuz I was like, I'm a librarian. I could figure out how to make a website that does that. And it turns out that's really much harder than than I, I thought initially going into it was gonna be so I am humbled

But yeah, it's something I'd still love to see happen. And I'm kind of waiting to again see like what, like this is something I think that the community needs because it's really special to me. I love and I'm kind of waiting, engaging as we do some strategic planning to figure out like, okay, does this actually fulfill a need that we have in this moment or is that ener energy best spent on something else?

So, yeah, bit of a hiatus, but hopefully someday it is my dream.

Mark: is some very cool stuff there though. So if you haven't gone to v ap society.org and clicked on library there's a long list. There's downloadable resources, there's There's like an ex Excel sheet that will point you in a lot of different directions. There's a link to our Good Reads shelf, that's this huge collection of books that have been submitted by the community.

There's community resources, there's ritual resources. So, there's a lot of stuff there, even though, I mean, it doesn't have the most wizbang interface in the world but it's still pretty.

Robin: you did a great job plugging that. Thank you.

Yucca: Well, speaking of the future what is your vision for atheopagan his future?

Robin: You know, right now I, I would love to see our in-person communities growing. I think especially after the pandemic, like so many people. , we ended up losing communities that we had just because we couldn't physically be there for a while. And you know, like sometimes in your life you leave communities or you know, little circles that you've been in, you have to leave them for some reason or other, but it just happened all at once for so many of us where, you know, now we wanna go back to these places or back to seeing the people we did before and they've all at once, like they've moved away or So, especially with that upheaval, I think I just feel like we're ready for like that in-person connection again.

I, I worry sometimes though that y because we have members who aren't necessarily able to mix that way. Like, I don't see Or sorry, we, we have members who, you know, for, they have disabilities or things that make them high risk so that they aren't able yet to go back to in person. But I, I hope that those who are ready and and willing to do that can have an opportunity to do so safely.

Yeah. And I think long-term, having more local groups is just gonna be more sustainable. Like I loved coming to Century to see all of you, but in some ways for sustainability of the Earth, it just makes sense to have more local communities so that you don't have to fly halfway across the country to be part of a community.

So I hope. Yeah, so I hope we see more in-person communities and I'm gonna do, we're gonna do a gathering at the, for the Ohio atheopagan soon in, in March. And yeah, I'm so excited. I didn't, we did one several months ago but I hope. I'm kind of hoping to like turn the ideas or Ohio Athe, pagans should know.

I'm probably gonna be like, try and turn them into Guinea pigs to see if, like I can create something fun to do that we could recreate someplace else. So,

Mark: Any. Resources like that that you have that would be useful to affinity groups, really welcome you to submit those and get those out into the community. I know that a lot of affinity groups are sort of, they're flailing a little bit about, you know, how do I do this? How do I find people what do we do, you know, if we do a get together, you know, well, what do we do during our get together?

Robin: Yeah. And three years ago it would've been like, oh, just go to, you know, go to Starbucks, go to Panera, hang out and talk. And we. Like, some of our members aren't ready for that yet. And so looking, I'm trying to find other options that isn't like, you know, hang out in a cafe and take your mask off. It's more like, so what we're we're doing in the March gathering is we're gonna make journals.

So, I'm just gonna bring stuff and we're, we'll make some journals. I went down this rabbit hole about book finding, so, yeah, hopefully something cool comes out of it.

Yucca: Is March warm enough in your part of the world to be outside or it'll be indoors with masks? Yeah.

Robin: we're, we're meeting at a library, which if you're looking for like a free place to meet, Check out your local library. Some libraries have meeting rooms that you can book. As long as the library's not using it for a program they're usually happy to to let you book them. So, check that out.

In community centers yeah, but March in Ohio, it may be 70 degrees out and it may be snowing. We have no snowing until approximately five minutes before the time. What, which one it will be.

Yucca: Right

Robin: Yeah, which I remember New Mexico being kind of like that in March too. So.

Yucca: Absolutely. Yes.

Mark: Comes in like a lion or comes in like a lamb, as they say.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, that's a, I mean, I, I think that's a particularly rich and fruitful vein for us to, to, to mine in, in developing the Ethiopia Pagan community because, I mean, ultimately, Paganism, the earth orientation of Paganism is very local, right?

It's really, really place based. And so, you know, developing your own traditions for your own local area that are about your own climate cycle, your own landmarks, your own biota that are there. I mean, I just, I have this very rosy sort of picture. Little knots of atheopagan all over the world, you know, kind of working up their own ritual cycles and traditions and it's, it's very heartwarming when I think about it.

Robin: Yeah, and I love that focus too. On, on. Ecosystems cuz like you, I can't help but notice you have a background. Your background is like mountains with lupus in it, which is a very spring-like thing in California. But here it's like, like we aren't gonna see those spring flowers until April if we're lucky

So

Mark: right.

Robin: yeah, I mean, I remember snowstorms on May 1st. Happy melting. Aren't you glad Springs here?

Mark: Yeah, it could be worse. Could be raining. I have danced a may pole in the pouring rain. people were just like, they're not taking our may pole away from us.

Yucca: Slosh, slosh,

Mark: Yeah, exactly. And I had a terrible cold afterwards and the whole thing was pretty miserable, but we danced the May pole that year,

Robin: That's great.

Mark: so, Robin, are there other topics you'd like to talk about? Things, important things for the community or you know, kind of suggestions of things we could do with a podcast or, you know, any of that kind of stuff. I don't mean to put you on the spot, but.

Robin: Number one, I would love to come on and talk about, I could do like six episodes on children's books. I wouldn't

Yucca: should definitely do that.

Robin: That's probably a lot. But I would love to come on and talk about children's books and some of my favorite children's books cuz like I said, I can talk, talk about 'em for a long time and there's just so much rich art and poetry in them that I think I think we need to appreciate some more.

So yeah, I'd love to talk about that. Maybe, hopefully we'll get to relaunch that library and I can come and talk about just library resources too. So, yeah, and yeah, like I said, like I, I have ideas. I don't wanna just like start spouting him off because I don't know how much is going to be realistic.

But yeah,

Mark: Yeah, there's a, oh, I'm sorry. Go

Robin: Oh, I, I just hope we have more good things to come.

Mark: Oh, I'm sure of it. I'm sure of it. The, I was gonna say, You know, I've worked in the nonprofit sector for a really long time, and there is a thing that happens with young organizations where they can actually die by opportunity. They just get stretched in so many different directions by all the opportunities and ideas that get tossed in the hopper, and they lose focus and they just kind of fall. And we, we really need to be careful about that because there is a lot of wonderful stuff we could be doing. I mean, at the Sun Retreat we had a suggestion to create resources for starting campus chapters, like on college campuses or even high schools. I think it's a fantastic idea and I definitely think it's on the back burner.

It's something we shouldn't talk about for the next three years.

Robin: Yeah. Well, and, and that's not to say that we. At least make some movement towards that. Like, you know, I don't see cuz like I'm, I'm not a college student, I probably am not gonna be able to go out and create a campus chapter of atheopagan. But there are already existing lots of. Of colleges have Pagan student organizations.

Maybe the middle ground there is we say, Hey, well, you know, I volunteer. I will come out to your Pagan campus organization meeting and give you a presentation about atheopagan. So, like there's, there is like, there is a way to scale it back if that's something that we're interested in doing, but don't necessarily have the resources to do 100%.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah. We would need to create sort of a packet about how you set up your group and but then what I like about your suggestion is that most people live in an area where there are only a few colleges. So they would only be making a handful of presentations instead of managing a program, like a national program of college chapters.

Robin: Yeah. And, and I think it gives, you know, if there are people in those college groups that already exist, an opportunity just to know that atheopagan is an option. Like you don't have to be like deity based in order to be pagan and. And like, even if they don't go on to create their own atheopagan college organization they still have those resources and, and that knowledge and that can be really empowering.

Mark: Yeah, and it helps to build open-mindedness in the new, in an upcoming generation of Pagans too. You know, because one of the things that non theist pagans have experienced in some parts of paganism is real pushback from theistic pagans who are kind of threatened by the idea of people not believing in their gods.

And I think exposing people to these ideas can help them to become more comfortable with just as an option, as another, another possible way for people to be.

Robin: Yeah. Well, and I think you did were you the one who wrote a blog post saying that like, atheopagan, or I'm sorry, humanistic paganism was like the number three blog now, or

Mark: that was actually John c Cleland host over on the naturalistic paganism blog. Yeah. That it's kind of amazing. I don't know how they calculate this, but there it is.

Robin: Yeah. And it, I'm gonna make a bold prediction, and I, I might be wrong, but I do think that, and I, I experienced a little bit of that early on, but I, it's just become less and less common now. Like I started, I, I have like a TikTok where I occasionally talk about Ethiopia, paganism, and it's like, by no means like an official Ethiopia, pagan thing, but I was expecting like somebody to be like, you can't be this.

And I, I've gotten nothing but positive comments on it or people saying, oh my gosh, I didn't know this was a thing. This is great. So I, I'm just gonna make a bold prediction and say that I think I hope will be a problem in the past,

Yucca: Yeah.

Robin: I, it's a really actually interesting question to think about. What would, like, what will the Gen Z pagans be like? That could be , that could be a whole podcast episode,

Mark: Oh yeah. Yeah. Cause I mean, it's interesting. What I have seen is that an awful lot of the kind of boomer, gen X pagans, they have kids who are now grown who are not practicing. A lot of them are, are not continuing in paganism, and some of that may be because of experiences that they had as kids at Pagan festivals.

Either being ignored or uncomfortable, I don't know, but kind of a thing.

Robin: One thing that gives me so much hope about Gen Z and these young generations is they're so diverse. They're exposed way more to different ideas than I ever was as a kid and that older generations. So that is what gives me the most hope like they are. They are very much they have a lot of what's the word I'm looking for?

Cultural. They, they have a lot of cultural competency and they have a lot more perspectives and ask access to more perspectives than we did growing up. And so, and they care. Like they, they, they're very active and they gimme a lot of.

Mark: Me too. The, the amount of care that I see young people taking with making sure to properly gender one another and, you know, to, to try to draw diverse people into their circles of friends. It's, it's so different than it was when I was a kid. And it, it may very well be that what we're seeing is not that paganism is being abandoned, it's that the last generation's paganism is being abandoned.

And that's a very different thing because I mean, I do see a lot of spontaneous ritual creation going on. I mean, the. Which thing is very much alive and well. But maybe it's not, you know, descended from Gerald Gardner and, you know, traditional in that way, which is fine.

Robin: and there's, I mean, there's things, if we look back, Joe Gardner, I mean, there were things then that were problematic and

Mark: Oh yeah.

Robin: I, I hope that they're going to create a craft that That reflects more modern values

Mark: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Well, that's certainly what we're trying to do. You know, that's, that's why we have the principles and it's why we have ongoing conversations about to be the best people we can.

Yucca: I think it's exciting. It's, there's been so much change in just the last few years, so.

Mark: Yeah. And the inevitable backlash, of course,

Yucca: No, that's how it goes.

Mark: yeah. But backlashes don't last. They, and they generally don't win. So,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I mean, the only, the only one that I can think of that has won successfully, is now under siege for women who refuse to wear hijabs. So, in Iran

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean the, the Iranian revolution was definitely a backlash to western colonization of Iran.

But now they're having a backlash to the backlash, and hopefully they're gonna modernize. I would hope.

Robin: Yeah, it's just because like sometimes we look at these efforts as like, this is doomed. Like, you are not going to win this fight to resegregate the the us us. But to me, I mean, I worry though that just because something is doomed doesn't mean that it isn't going to cause harm as it happens.

Mark: Sure it's gonna hurt people. It is hurting people, and we have to be really aware of that and do what we can to minimize that.

Robin: Yeah.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Well, Robin, it has been wonderful talking with you and we are definitely gonna have you back to talk about children's books. I can envision a series now on atheopagan Parenting.

Robin: Yeah, I do not volunteer to talk about parenting because I do not have children. I love children. I do not have children. But I will happily always talk about literacy and books. So we should do it.

Yucca: and I, I think the books would be wonderful for parents, but as you were talking about, children's books aren't just for children. , right? There's so much, you know, I read a lot of children's books cuz I have kids, but I have my favorites that I'm like, don't you wanna read this one? I'll just put this one on the top of the pile.

And frankly, if I didn't have them, I'd probably still be wanting to read those, the kids books, even without kids, because there's, I mean, sometimes the art is amazing and you know, there's just so much. So I hope that that would be valuable too to our listeners who aren't parents or don't have. Younger people in their lives.

Robin: Yeah, and I will say as from a librarian perspec librarian's perspective, like just because a book is written more with the parents in mind doesn't like, just because it's a book that the parents love a lot and the kids are like, oh, whatever. Kids enjoy spending time with adults and they learn from having books read to them and they in, they like, the thing is they will laugh because you're laughing or they will think something's funny because you're la you're, you think it's funny and that quality time with your kid.

As long as the book's not completely going over their head it it, it's gonna benefit them. They are gonna learn from that and they're gonna learn to love reading and they're gonna learn to love books and learn to be curious about the world. So like, I give, like one of the books I give out a lot and recommend a lot.

I, I recommend it because the parents think it's funny. Like kids are like, yeah, it's cool. I like it. But the parents are the ones who are laughing at the inside jokes. And that's the book is mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins. So like, and it's to, it's about a, a grumpy bear who mostly likes to make recipes that he found on the internet.

And parents always laugh at that part. And then kids see them laugh and laugh.

Yucca: I'm gonna write that one down. I have not heard that mother Bruce.

Robin: short version. it's cute. And then there's, there's this like whole mistake and identity thing and it's hilarious. And it's hilarious to parents. Kids think it's funny, but parents think it's really funny.

So, short story. Don't feel like just because it's a book that you, that is kind of more aimed at you doesn't mean that your kids aren't getting something out of it. So,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Yep. Well, Robin, thank you so much.

Robin: You are welcome. Thank you for having me. Thank you for, I hope I didn't ramble too much,

Yucca: Oh, this was fantastic. I think a lot of great stuff. Yeah. Thank you.

Mark: Yeah.

Robin: thanks.

Yucca: All right, well, we'll see everybody next week. Thanks so much.

Robin: Have a good evening.

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S4E7 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm your host, Yucca.

Mark: and I mark.

Yucca: And today we have an interview with a member of the atheopagan Society Council, Robin.

Robin: Hello. Thanks for.

Yucca: So Robin, we were just saying right before hitting record, we realized you are the first interview that we ever had on the podcast. So way back in the early days, you came and joined us, and so we've got you back again. So welcome. So even before the atheopagan Society formed, I think.

Robin: I think so. I, I think it may have been pre pandemic or early pandemic, so, but wild, amazing times,

Yucca: Yeah, So welcome back. We're really excited to have.

Robin: Thank you.

Mark: Yeah. So, well, let's just dive right in. Why don't you tell us something about yourself and your journey to getting to atheopagan and within it. Just kind of what, what's your story been there, Robin?

Robin: Yeah. So I grew up, my family is kind of like nominally Catholic. But I realized pretty early on that that was just like not gonna be for me and decided. I was an atheist. But so like nature and going out into nature always played a really big role in my life. We were lucky enough to have this like little patch of woods at the back of our yard that it was technically our neighbors, but they didn't care that we played back there.

And so we just spent hours and hours playing in the woods. and my grandfather was really big into birding and he took us out looking for looking for birds. And then later on we got involved in like Boy Scouts, girl Scouts, me and my brother. And our parents decided to get involved too and volunteer with them.

So we just went camping a lot and spent a lot of time outside. And so I really just always had that connection to nature and. One day in high school I walked into homeroom and my best friend was reading this book about Wicca. It was Anne Mara's Green Witchcraft, and I was intrigued. And I think some of that was just like, you know, it's like the forbidden thing, , like I'm willing to admit that it was, part of, it was just that like, Ooh, witchcraft.

Mark: Great. When you're a teenager,

Robin: Exactly. Yeah. And. The other things that really appealed to me was that it was based in nature in the seasons and cycles of the seasons, and it was also very feminist, which coming from a Catholic background was just so refreshing. And so, I spent a couple years off and on kind of trying to be the stereotypical pagan.

ultimately, that didn't really work for me either. And so I kind of went back to being nothing or being atheist again. But occasionally I would feel this like desire to, you know, light a candle meaningful in, at a meaningful moment or I, I ended up just kind of feeling like, like I wasn't pagan, I wasn't fitting in.

But I also felt like a really bad atheist, so my, my cognitive dissonance was pretty high. So, and it finally just came to a head for me and I realized like I really wanted this sense of spirituality but one that would still balance with science. So I. For some reason decided the best way to figure this out was to start a blog and start blogging about it. And then I took a quiz on Beliefnet and they were like, Hey, you're a, you're a secular humanist.

And I said, cool. What is that? I had no idea what it was. What like secular, like I knew humanism from studying history, but I didn't know what a secular human witness was and didn't take very long. I started googling like humanist, pagan, and kind of stumbled onto this community, and it was, it was such a great moment.

Just like the sense of joy and relief, finding that like I wasn't the only person thinking like this.

Mark: Hmm.

Robin: So it was, it was incredible finding that. And another thing that has been really amazing being part of this community is you get to see people kind of having that experience again and again being like, oh my gosh, I'm not the only one.

So, yeah, that's, that's the slightly longer version.

Mark: Well that's wonderful. Yeah. We, we do have an awful lot of people who they, they find themselves in our community and they're like, oh, wow. I found my people. This is, this is cool. I thought I was gonna be all alone in this.

Robin: Yeah, and I think that was kind of why I was like, I guess I'll start a blog. Maybe other people will be interested, but realized pretty quickly like I didn't need to, so,

Mark: You know, the, the same thing happened to me. I. I went through this whole process and wrote a 40 page essay and did all this research and came to all these conclusions and threw it up on the internet, and, and, and I had been looking for stuff and my research skills were just apparently terrible. Because there were people already doing this, you know, the, the Humanistic Paganism blog and people like Anya Orga and Daniel Strain and John Cleveland, host and John Halsted.

They were all, you know, well along on the same thinking. And I just blew it.

Robin: Yeah, well we don't make it easy cuz it's, it's under all these different terms. Like you might find us. By going through like humanistic paganism or atheist and paganism or witchcraft. Like there's so many different terms. So,

Mark: Yeah, it's.

Robin: yeah.

So I think another thing that had a lot of influence on me was being able, growing up, even though we weren't religious, we were still part of these really tight-knit communities, and I. Really enjoyed that and kind of ended up pursu, like I found myself looking for communities like that to join.

And I think my parents set a really good example for me because they were always kind of involved with volunteering and different community projects. A lot of times through like scouts. I did a stint in AmeriCorps with the Student Conservation Association, where we, we basically lived in a commune doing for like a year, doing all these different community service projects.

And then my early career was in environmental education and that gave me a lot of opportunities to be in those kind of communities and roles. And then later I shifted to libraries, which is also a community service kind of role. So, yeah.

Yucca: And that's something that you have brought with you into the atheopagan community.

Robin: I, I hope so. Yeah. I very much want this to be not just. I want it to be a community not just like a group of people, but for people to really feel like they belong and they are a part of it. And that, you know, it's not just like these people on high deciding, deciding like, this is how we live and this is what our practices are.

It's, you know, I can contribute something to this. I can decide what is important to me and make that part of my practice. So I hope, I really hope to see that.

Mark: Well, you've been great. Identifying resource, and I'm sure that that's this library background. Identifying resources, bringing things forward. You know, Hey, have you thought about this? Hey, look at what these people over here are doing. Hey, look at these children's books that, you know, espouse our values.

And you know, all of us come from different backgrounds and people are in different situations. You know, Yucca has kids, for example. I don't have. So, you know, Yucca would be looking for resources for her kids books, right? And, you know, videos and whatever it is. And I think that that's what builds a community is when you have stuff that works for a lot of different kinds of people and they can all come together around.

Robin: Yeah, and I think especially talking about books like it, it's amazing. Like I started looking for, at one point I said like, Hey, let me see what kind of children's books I can find that. Reflect the values that somebody in this community might be interested in. And what amazed me was how many I found and how many there are out there.

And I think part of it is that we think about the things that little children are kind of learning and a lot of these books are focused on things like nature and learning about seasons, but they're also really focused on wonder. And that's something that Athe, paganism kind of has in common is that we kind of take this child like wonder at the world and a lot of children's books do the same thing.

And so like sometimes I feel like reading a really good children's book is kind of like doing a ritual. Like when I think of. I like, I love Bird Baylor her books. And so like, to me, like reading the community or the table where rich people sit is, it's like doing a ritual. So I think there's so many opportunities in children's books that I feel like they're this like un unsung resource for us.

Mark: Yeah, and there's all kinds of other things that are very contemporary that are coming out in children's books now. There's stuff around consent and body autonomy. There's stuff around gender. . There's, I mean, obviously, you know, probably the parents that most need to be providing those books to their kids are the ones who aren't, but at least they're out there.

At least those, those stories are being told.

Robin: Yeah, and the idea too is for them to be, you know, as a librarian.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: Is for them to be available. Like if somebody wants them, they are there for them. But nobody, nobody forces you to take a book home from the library. It's not like an assigned reading. So they're there for people who want it. Sometimes it's interesting because publishing ta a book takes so long as I'm sure you have learned writing a book right now.

Yeah. It takes so long. And so books, even children's book publishing, it tends to be like a year or two behind the trends. So we'll be talking about You know, about, maybe about five years ago there was this big trend of like, we need to see more people of color in children's books. There's hardly any. And now it's kind of catching up and, and there's a lot all at once. So, hopefully we'll see those trends continue. So

Mark: Yeah. I, I have a friend who published a children's book called I Did Something Good For the Earth Today.

Robin: Oh, cute. I'll check it out.

Mark: yeah, it's, it's a sweet little book. It's the illustrations that take forever. I mean, To be honest, I think it's a lot easier to pound out a lot of words than it is to get, you know, all that artwork done page after page, after page for a children's book.

So

Robin: Yeah, and when you think about editing

Mark: time.

Robin: picture versus editing, a line of text takes a lot longer too.

Mark: Right, exactly.

Robin: Yeah. So now that I've gotten those completely off topic Yeah. But I, I, I will talk about children's books until I'm, until I'm blue in the face. Cause I love it. So, yeah. Oh, so another thing, then I just move on to history.

Mark: Sure.

Yucca: Yeah, absolutely.

Robin: So studying history in college was, had a really big impact on me too early on. And I think, like, I've always loved history and I think that was again, like another part of it that drew me into paganism.

But the community I grew up in wasn't super diverse. So when I went, I ended up going to school at the University of Toledo and it was so much more diverse than the community that I grew up in. And that was an amazing opportunity. But, and then at the same time, I was learning a lot more and focusing on the history and learning learning about the injustices that our society is built on.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: That really is what put me on this path to appreciating diversity and social justice and like, it's, it's just impossible to ignore when you study history long enough and deep enough. So that had a big impact on me. And another thing that I learned from all of this, so I. Became really fascinated by a field called public history.

And this is studying the way that history kind of plays out or gets fixed in popular culture. So we spent a lot of time studying. We started studied museums and sculptures and like, what does history look like in cinema and what does that have to say about like, what stories do we fixate to tell on about.

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: And it, it just gave me this understanding that like history is not just this like fixed narrative, like this happened in the past and then this happened. It's the study of history is as much about the stories that we tell about what happened. And it's fascinating because the past becomes this, like, it's almost like this mythical thing and we will project our own. Fascinations and insecurities onto this to tell us like what this all meant and it's, I see this a lot in the Pagan community or in Paganism where, you know, you take something like the Druids, like we don't honestly historically know that much about the Druids. We don't have a lot of, we don't have any written records from dues themselves.

We just have accounts from outside. But because it's rich in, in symbolism, we just kind of project whatever we wanna see onto that based on the very little bit of evidence that we have. And so that always just kind of fascinated me and it, it really forced me to take a look at Paganism as a whole and really kind of made me skeptical about the community for a while cuz I would see so many people like spouting things about the burning time without fact checking it. And it, it made me more critical, which I was always kind of like leaning towards that.

But yeah.

Mark: Yeah. I, I really share that. I mean, you know, I, I spent so many years in the Pagan community. I spent like, You know, 27 years or something in the Pagan community kind of playing along and trying not to roll my eyes at certain stuff, like, you know, the, the, the deity stuff, but particularly the take on history, you know, with the, you know, the.

The sweet goddess worshiping rural agrarian who, you know, lived in perfect paradisical harmony with one another in nature. And then were trampled by the terrible bronze wielding, you know, horse riding kurgans. I mean, it was just, it was so obviously a fable and I mean, there are, there are bits of truth in it.

Like any good myth, you know, it's, Pieces of stuff that's accurate, but and where it's pointing is very positive. You know, the empowerment of women, yay. Good. But the story itself when it becomes an article of faith just really, really drove me crazy.

Robin: Yeah, and I'm slowly working my way through Ronald Hutton's triumph of the Moon and. Fascinating cuz he's a historian and he talks about sort of the roots of neo paganism. And one thing that fascinated me was that he talked about, you know, for a long time whenever people talked about classicism, it was always Jupiter or Zeus in the Greek pantheon that people focused on.

But it wasn't until like the romantics popped up and all of a sudden the focus was on pan. And that idea of like this divine feminism kind of like lost goddess kind of took hold too. And it's, it's fascinating the way those narratives about the past can constantly change based on. What's going on in the modern world?

In this case it was, you know, like the growth of industrialization kind of drove this shift to, well, we're not so much interested in, in, in Jupiter and Jov, we're more interested in like the wildness of Pan.

Mark: Right. Yeah. Yeah, I love that book. And there are pagans who hate it a lot. There are people that are very, very angry with Hutton for, for one thing, for really documenting that there was no unbroken lineage of witchcraft from down through the misty

Yucca: That grandmother gave to grandmother and yeah.

Mark: Which doesn't mean that there aren't family folklore traditions, I mean there clearly are.

But the idea that they go back to the paleolithic or something is just a little bit stretched.

Robin: Yeah. And I think if, if your, your belief system is so built on, you know, poking a few holes in a myth is suddenly gonna make the whole thing unravel. You need to re rethink it. Like the, it's good to rethink it. So,

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. Yes, indeed. Well, why don't we change the subject a little bit. You serve on the atheopagan Society Council in fact, you were one of the founding members of the atheopagan Society Council. What do you see as your role there and what are you trying to accomplish For the community?

Robin: Yeah. So I hope I at least have been able to, I feel like I have drawn. A lot on my experience in communities and kind of building communities. I also really hope that I have brought a commit commitment to equity and inclusion. You know, I'm not by any measure a perfect ally. I come with a lot of privilege and it's. The work of a lifetime to really unravel and understand that privilege. But I hope that I'm at least making some progress there. And I've the other thing is like I do, I've done a lot of projects for the commu the community. I'm great at coming up with ideas. I'm less great at keeping those projects going all of the time.

But I hope that the projects that I've, I've done and, and the things that I've done are giving people chances not to just like, like I don't want them to just kind of be given like, here's, you know, here's our beliefs, here's what you need to do. I, I hope that I'm giving people opportunities to really consider what their beliefs are and what.

they want their practice to look like and then share with others what that looks like. So like, I'm trying to think of all the projects I've done. I did, I think the first thing I ever did was I did a weekly tarot share where it would just be like a random card and everybody say like, this is what I see.

This is how I interpret it. That one has actually managed, that's like the one project that's managed to keep going. It's changed cans a couple times, but still going. So, I don't think the person, I don't know if the person who's running it wants to be named, so I won't, I won't name them, but yeah.

Yeah. I did for a little while, I was doing a non theist pagan photo share, which is always a mouthful. We need to rebrand that, but, The idea was I wanted, It was focused a lot on Instagram, so I wanted other people who weren't necessarily identifying as atheopagan to maybe feel like they could participate, which is why it has such a weird name.

But yeah, the idea was we, I, I love the like witchy photo challenges on Instagram where they give you like a day. Usually they go for a month and every day you have a different theme. And so that was the idea. We had a different theme based around non theist, paganism and if anybody wants to take that up, it it was a lot of fun and it wasn't that hard to run.

So if you want to take that up and do that again, I'd be so excited.

Mark: I would be so excited if there were somebody in our community that. Wanted to be a point person for Instagram. I mean, we, we do have an account technically, but it hasn't been posted to in forever. It would, that would just be really cool.

Robin: Yeah. Yeah, there's, I mean, there's so much, there's a lot of fun things you can do with Instagram. So, I also Ryan or ran with Tom, the not, or we had an L G B T Q discussion group, which kind of took a hiatus and then we had an affinity group form, so we kind of put it into their, into their hands.

We have a, or had a book club. It's kind of on HI hiatus right now or try to figure out how to bring that back. And then I run the Ohio atheopagan group. So

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Robin: yeah, there's. For me, I kind of have to like, like the thing is I'm great at coming up with ideas. I kind of have to pump the brakes a little bit because we are in some ways growing so fast that I don't wanna like throw too much out there without knowing that it can be sustained.

So,

Mark: that's a conversation we're really having a lot right now. You know, about getting some infrastructure up underneath all this stuff that's already grown. You know, rather than putting a huge focus on growth over the course of the next couple of years, you know, just sort of building all the scaffolding

Yucca: and making sure we don't get burnout because this is all volunteer. So, you know, making sure our attention isn't into too many places or too much all at once.

Mark: I was surprised that you didn't mention the library for the Ethiopian Society website. That was a big project you

Robin: It was that is another one that's kind of on hiatus right now. Yeah. I'd love for me, and I work in a library, so keep in mind I'm biased here, but for me, libraries have always been this kind of like magical, almost sacred place, like these like halls of knowledge. I. Contractually obligated to now pour one out for the Library of Alexandria as I

Yucca: Right.

Robin: So, you know, to me, I would love to see I mean like a physical library is probably not gonna be an atheopagan. Pagan physical library's not gonna be in the cards for. A very long time, if ever, but that doesn't mean that we can't have resources in place to go if we want to learn something new.

And this the thing. Another remarkable thing about this community is that there's so many people who are so curious and creative that I'd love to have a place where they can just say like, I wanna learn about this. I wanna learn about meditation, or I wanna learn about you know, ancient history, or I wanna learn about evolution.

And sort of that like, tale of life coming into being. and then having a place where they can do that in different ways and as many formats as they want. So, yeah, the idea is to kind of, the idea at least initially was to build a library with resources that people submit and say like, Hey, this is something that I found interesting and helpful on my journey.

And then we'll kind of put it together in one place so people can find it. It's been a little bit humbling cuz I was like, I'm a librarian. I could figure out how to make a website that does that. And it turns out that's really much harder than than I, I thought initially going into it was gonna be so I am humbled

But yeah, it's something I'd still love to see happen. And I'm kind of waiting to again see like what, like this is something I think that the community needs because it's really special to me. I love and I'm kind of waiting, engaging as we do some strategic planning to figure out like, okay, does this actually fulfill a need that we have in this moment or is that ener energy best spent on something else?

So, yeah, bit of a hiatus, but hopefully someday it is my dream.

Mark: is some very cool stuff there though. So if you haven't gone to v ap society.org and clicked on library there's a long list. There's downloadable resources, there's There's like an ex Excel sheet that will point you in a lot of different directions. There's a link to our Good Reads shelf, that's this huge collection of books that have been submitted by the community.

There's community resources, there's ritual resources. So, there's a lot of stuff there, even though, I mean, it doesn't have the most wizbang interface in the world but it's still pretty.

Robin: you did a great job plugging that. Thank you.

Yucca: Well, speaking of the future what is your vision for atheopagan his future?

Robin: You know, right now I, I would love to see our in-person communities growing. I think especially after the pandemic, like so many people. , we ended up losing communities that we had just because we couldn't physically be there for a while. And you know, like sometimes in your life you leave communities or you know, little circles that you've been in, you have to leave them for some reason or other, but it just happened all at once for so many of us where, you know, now we wanna go back to these places or back to seeing the people we did before and they've all at once, like they've moved away or So, especially with that upheaval, I think I just feel like we're ready for like that in-person connection again.

I, I worry sometimes though that y because we have members who aren't necessarily able to mix that way. Like, I don't see Or sorry, we, we have members who, you know, for, they have disabilities or things that make them high risk so that they aren't able yet to go back to in person. But I, I hope that those who are ready and and willing to do that can have an opportunity to do so safely.

Yeah. And I think long-term, having more local groups is just gonna be more sustainable. Like I loved coming to Century to see all of you, but in some ways for sustainability of the Earth, it just makes sense to have more local communities so that you don't have to fly halfway across the country to be part of a community.

So I hope. Yeah, so I hope we see more in-person communities and I'm gonna do, we're gonna do a gathering at the, for the Ohio atheopagan soon in, in March. And yeah, I'm so excited. I didn't, we did one several months ago but I hope. I'm kind of hoping to like turn the ideas or Ohio Athe, pagans should know.

I'm probably gonna be like, try and turn them into Guinea pigs to see if, like I can create something fun to do that we could recreate someplace else. So,

Mark: Any. Resources like that that you have that would be useful to affinity groups, really welcome you to submit those and get those out into the community. I know that a lot of affinity groups are sort of, they're flailing a little bit about, you know, how do I do this? How do I find people what do we do, you know, if we do a get together, you know, well, what do we do during our get together?

Robin: Yeah. And three years ago it would've been like, oh, just go to, you know, go to Starbucks, go to Panera, hang out and talk. And we. Like, some of our members aren't ready for that yet. And so looking, I'm trying to find other options that isn't like, you know, hang out in a cafe and take your mask off. It's more like, so what we're we're doing in the March gathering is we're gonna make journals.

So, I'm just gonna bring stuff and we're, we'll make some journals. I went down this rabbit hole about book finding, so, yeah, hopefully something cool comes out of it.

Yucca: Is March warm enough in your part of the world to be outside or it'll be indoors with masks? Yeah.

Robin: we're, we're meeting at a library, which if you're looking for like a free place to meet, Check out your local library. Some libraries have meeting rooms that you can book. As long as the library's not using it for a program they're usually happy to to let you book them. So, check that out.

In community centers yeah, but March in Ohio, it may be 70 degrees out and it may be snowing. We have no snowing until approximately five minutes before the time. What, which one it will be.

Yucca: Right

Robin: Yeah, which I remember New Mexico being kind of like that in March too. So.

Yucca: Absolutely. Yes.

Mark: Comes in like a lion or comes in like a lamb, as they say.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, that's a, I mean, I, I think that's a particularly rich and fruitful vein for us to, to, to mine in, in developing the Ethiopia Pagan community because, I mean, ultimately, Paganism, the earth orientation of Paganism is very local, right?

It's really, really place based. And so, you know, developing your own traditions for your own local area that are about your own climate cycle, your own landmarks, your own biota that are there. I mean, I just, I have this very rosy sort of picture. Little knots of atheopagan all over the world, you know, kind of working up their own ritual cycles and traditions and it's, it's very heartwarming when I think about it.

Robin: Yeah, and I love that focus too. On, on. Ecosystems cuz like you, I can't help but notice you have a background. Your background is like mountains with lupus in it, which is a very spring-like thing in California. But here it's like, like we aren't gonna see those spring flowers until April if we're lucky

So

Mark: right.

Robin: yeah, I mean, I remember snowstorms on May 1st. Happy melting. Aren't you glad Springs here?

Mark: Yeah, it could be worse. Could be raining. I have danced a may pole in the pouring rain. people were just like, they're not taking our may pole away from us.

Yucca: Slosh, slosh,

Mark: Yeah, exactly. And I had a terrible cold afterwards and the whole thing was pretty miserable, but we danced the May pole that year,

Robin: That's great.

Mark: so, Robin, are there other topics you'd like to talk about? Things, important things for the community or you know, kind of suggestions of things we could do with a podcast or, you know, any of that kind of stuff. I don't mean to put you on the spot, but.

Robin: Number one, I would love to come on and talk about, I could do like six episodes on children's books. I wouldn't

Yucca: should definitely do that.

Robin: That's probably a lot. But I would love to come on and talk about children's books and some of my favorite children's books cuz like I said, I can talk, talk about 'em for a long time and there's just so much rich art and poetry in them that I think I think we need to appreciate some more.

So yeah, I'd love to talk about that. Maybe, hopefully we'll get to relaunch that library and I can come and talk about just library resources too. So, yeah, and yeah, like I said, like I, I have ideas. I don't wanna just like start spouting him off because I don't know how much is going to be realistic.

But yeah,

Mark: Yeah, there's a, oh, I'm sorry. Go

Robin: Oh, I, I just hope we have more good things to come.

Mark: Oh, I'm sure of it. I'm sure of it. The, I was gonna say, You know, I've worked in the nonprofit sector for a really long time, and there is a thing that happens with young organizations where they can actually die by opportunity. They just get stretched in so many different directions by all the opportunities and ideas that get tossed in the hopper, and they lose focus and they just kind of fall. And we, we really need to be careful about that because there is a lot of wonderful stuff we could be doing. I mean, at the Sun Retreat we had a suggestion to create resources for starting campus chapters, like on college campuses or even high schools. I think it's a fantastic idea and I definitely think it's on the back burner.

It's something we shouldn't talk about for the next three years.

Robin: Yeah. Well, and, and that's not to say that we. At least make some movement towards that. Like, you know, I don't see cuz like I'm, I'm not a college student, I probably am not gonna be able to go out and create a campus chapter of atheopagan. But there are already existing lots of. Of colleges have Pagan student organizations.

Maybe the middle ground there is we say, Hey, well, you know, I volunteer. I will come out to your Pagan campus organization meeting and give you a presentation about atheopagan. So, like there's, there is like, there is a way to scale it back if that's something that we're interested in doing, but don't necessarily have the resources to do 100%.

Mark: Right, right. Yeah. We would need to create sort of a packet about how you set up your group and but then what I like about your suggestion is that most people live in an area where there are only a few colleges. So they would only be making a handful of presentations instead of managing a program, like a national program of college chapters.

Robin: Yeah. And, and I think it gives, you know, if there are people in those college groups that already exist, an opportunity just to know that atheopagan is an option. Like you don't have to be like deity based in order to be pagan and. And like, even if they don't go on to create their own atheopagan college organization they still have those resources and, and that knowledge and that can be really empowering.

Mark: Yeah, and it helps to build open-mindedness in the new, in an upcoming generation of Pagans too. You know, because one of the things that non theist pagans have experienced in some parts of paganism is real pushback from theistic pagans who are kind of threatened by the idea of people not believing in their gods.

And I think exposing people to these ideas can help them to become more comfortable with just as an option, as another, another possible way for people to be.

Robin: Yeah. Well, and I think you did were you the one who wrote a blog post saying that like, atheopagan, or I'm sorry, humanistic paganism was like the number three blog now, or

Mark: that was actually John c Cleland host over on the naturalistic paganism blog. Yeah. That it's kind of amazing. I don't know how they calculate this, but there it is.

Robin: Yeah. And it, I'm gonna make a bold prediction, and I, I might be wrong, but I do think that, and I, I experienced a little bit of that early on, but I, it's just become less and less common now. Like I started, I, I have like a TikTok where I occasionally talk about Ethiopia, paganism, and it's like, by no means like an official Ethiopia, pagan thing, but I was expecting like somebody to be like, you can't be this.

And I, I've gotten nothing but positive comments on it or people saying, oh my gosh, I didn't know this was a thing. This is great. So I, I'm just gonna make a bold prediction and say that I think I hope will be a problem in the past,

Yucca: Yeah.

Robin: I, it's a really actually interesting question to think about. What would, like, what will the Gen Z pagans be like? That could be , that could be a whole podcast episode,

Mark: Oh yeah. Yeah. Cause I mean, it's interesting. What I have seen is that an awful lot of the kind of boomer, gen X pagans, they have kids who are now grown who are not practicing. A lot of them are, are not continuing in paganism, and some of that may be because of experiences that they had as kids at Pagan festivals.

Either being ignored or uncomfortable, I don't know, but kind of a thing.

Robin: One thing that gives me so much hope about Gen Z and these young generations is they're so diverse. They're exposed way more to different ideas than I ever was as a kid and that older generations. So that is what gives me the most hope like they are. They are very much they have a lot of what's the word I'm looking for?

Cultural. They, they have a lot of cultural competency and they have a lot more perspectives and ask access to more perspectives than we did growing up. And so, and they care. Like they, they, they're very active and they gimme a lot of.

Mark: Me too. The, the amount of care that I see young people taking with making sure to properly gender one another and, you know, to, to try to draw diverse people into their circles of friends. It's, it's so different than it was when I was a kid. And it, it may very well be that what we're seeing is not that paganism is being abandoned, it's that the last generation's paganism is being abandoned.

And that's a very different thing because I mean, I do see a lot of spontaneous ritual creation going on. I mean, the. Which thing is very much alive and well. But maybe it's not, you know, descended from Gerald Gardner and, you know, traditional in that way, which is fine.

Robin: and there's, I mean, there's things, if we look back, Joe Gardner, I mean, there were things then that were problematic and

Mark: Oh yeah.

Robin: I, I hope that they're going to create a craft that That reflects more modern values

Mark: Mm-hmm. . Yeah. Well, that's certainly what we're trying to do. You know, that's, that's why we have the principles and it's why we have ongoing conversations about to be the best people we can.

Yucca: I think it's exciting. It's, there's been so much change in just the last few years, so.

Mark: Yeah. And the inevitable backlash, of course,

Yucca: No, that's how it goes.

Mark: yeah. But backlashes don't last. They, and they generally don't win. So,

Yucca: Mm-hmm.

Mark: I mean, the only, the only one that I can think of that has won successfully, is now under siege for women who refuse to wear hijabs. So, in Iran

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I mean the, the Iranian revolution was definitely a backlash to western colonization of Iran.

But now they're having a backlash to the backlash, and hopefully they're gonna modernize. I would hope.

Robin: Yeah, it's just because like sometimes we look at these efforts as like, this is doomed. Like, you are not going to win this fight to resegregate the the us us. But to me, I mean, I worry though that just because something is doomed doesn't mean that it isn't going to cause harm as it happens.

Mark: Sure it's gonna hurt people. It is hurting people, and we have to be really aware of that and do what we can to minimize that.

Robin: Yeah.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: Well, Robin, it has been wonderful talking with you and we are definitely gonna have you back to talk about children's books. I can envision a series now on atheopagan Parenting.

Robin: Yeah, I do not volunteer to talk about parenting because I do not have children. I love children. I do not have children. But I will happily always talk about literacy and books. So we should do it.

Yucca: and I, I think the books would be wonderful for parents, but as you were talking about, children's books aren't just for children. , right? There's so much, you know, I read a lot of children's books cuz I have kids, but I have my favorites that I'm like, don't you wanna read this one? I'll just put this one on the top of the pile.

And frankly, if I didn't have them, I'd probably still be wanting to read those, the kids books, even without kids, because there's, I mean, sometimes the art is amazing and you know, there's just so much. So I hope that that would be valuable too to our listeners who aren't parents or don't have. Younger people in their lives.

Robin: Yeah, and I will say as from a librarian perspec librarian's perspective, like just because a book is written more with the parents in mind doesn't like, just because it's a book that the parents love a lot and the kids are like, oh, whatever. Kids enjoy spending time with adults and they learn from having books read to them and they in, they like, the thing is they will laugh because you're laughing or they will think something's funny because you're la you're, you think it's funny and that quality time with your kid.

As long as the book's not completely going over their head it it, it's gonna benefit them. They are gonna learn from that and they're gonna learn to love reading and they're gonna learn to love books and learn to be curious about the world. So like, I give, like one of the books I give out a lot and recommend a lot.

I, I recommend it because the parents think it's funny. Like kids are like, yeah, it's cool. I like it. But the parents are the ones who are laughing at the inside jokes. And that's the book is mother Bruce by Ryan Higgins. So like, and it's to, it's about a, a grumpy bear who mostly likes to make recipes that he found on the internet.

And parents always laugh at that part. And then kids see them laugh and laugh.

Yucca: I'm gonna write that one down. I have not heard that mother Bruce.

Robin: short version. it's cute. And then there's, there's this like whole mistake and identity thing and it's hilarious. And it's hilarious to parents. Kids think it's funny, but parents think it's really funny.

So, short story. Don't feel like just because it's a book that you, that is kind of more aimed at you doesn't mean that your kids aren't getting something out of it. So,

Mark: Mm-hmm.

Yucca: Yep. Well, Robin, thank you so much.

Robin: You are welcome. Thank you for having me. Thank you for, I hope I didn't ramble too much,

Yucca: Oh, this was fantastic. I think a lot of great stuff. Yeah. Thank you.

Mark: Yeah.

Robin: thanks.

Yucca: All right, well, we'll see everybody next week. Thanks so much.

Robin: Have a good evening.

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