100 episodes

THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism.

THE WONDER: Science-Based Paganism The Wonder Podcast

    • Religion & Spirituality
    • 5.0 • 3 Ratings

THE WONDER explores perspectives, rituals, and observances of modern, naturalistic, Earth-revering Neopagan religious paths. Naturalistic Pagans embrace the world as understood by science (that is, without gods, magic, or the supernatural), and enhance our lives with myth, ritual and activism.

    Am I in a Cult?

    Am I in a Cult?

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com





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

    Yucca: And I'm the other one, Yucca.

    Mark: And today we are going to talk about cults.

    Yucca: right.

    Mark: Of the things that when people choose an alternative spiritual path, one of the things that their friends and family will sometimes start to get really worried about is, oh dear, have they entered some kind of a cult? So we're gonna talk about what cults are and about what naturalistic paganism generally is.

    And atheopaganism specifically, and then talk about why, what we're doing does not really meet those, those criteria for what a cult is.

    Yucca: right.

    Mark: This, we, we were talking about this before the recording. If you have a family member that is really concerned that you've gone off the deep end into some terrible culty situation, you could consider having them listen to this episode.

    Yucca: Right. Yeah. And at the end, we're also gonna talk a little bit about recovering from some of those kind of religious traumas that, that can come along with having been in a cult situation or things that have happened in, in mainstream religions that we wouldn't necessarily think of as a cult, but still might have some of those really abusive behaviors.

    Mark: That's right. One thing that you'll notice when we go over the indicators that a group of any kind has attributes of a cult is that many of them apply squarely to various denominations of mainstream religions. So you know, the word cult gets Bandi about to U be used for little splinter groups or for new religious movements, but that's not really fair.

    The kinds of. The kinds of problematic behaviors and factors that go into Colt behavior really also include some very large institutions that have been around for a very long time.

    Yucca: Right. And these are things that can come along with groups that aren't necessarily just religious groups. Right? These are any time that you have. A structure in which you can have somebody who has power over dominating over somebody else. A lot of these, these risks come up. So,

    Mark: There are PTA associations that are dominated by, you know, one or a handful of people who cannot be questioned and run the show. And they're cult-like.

    Yucca: Yeah. Well, we're gonna get ahead of ourselves a little bit. Why don't we start off with, so, you know, what do we do? What is this? Atheopagan what's naturalistic, paganism or paganism in general,

    Mark: Sure. Sure. Well, naturalistic paganism is the big category, right? And athe paganism is a single denomination within that big category. So if you think about it, like there's Christianity, which is a whole big, huge thing. And then down underneath that there's Catholicism and Mormonism and all the various Protestant religions and so forth.

    So that's kind of a similar sort of, you know, taxonomic relationship between naturalistic, paganism and Ethiopia paganism. So that leads us to ask the question. All right, then. Well, what is naturalism? What is naturalistic paganism? So we'll start with naturalism. Naturalism is a philosophical position.

    It is the position that all things in the universe are made of matter and energy and that they follow physical laws. And there is nothing supernatural.

    Yucca: right. Everything is natural.

    Mark: Yes,

    Yucca: This is all nature,

    Mark: all nature. And it all follows physical laws and nobody gets to break the physical laws. Now we may.

    Yucca: of it.

    Mark: That's right. We may not understand all of the physical laws right now, but to our knowledge, nothing out there is able to break physical laws. And what that does is it excludes certain kinds of supernatural beliefs like beliefs in gods and ghosts, souls, and spirits, those kinds of things.

    They just really don't hold up in an evidential based evidentiary based critically think

    • 1 hr 1 min
    Engaging Autumn

    Engaging Autumn

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com


    S3E32 TRANSCRIPT:----more----


    Yucca: Welcome back to The Wonder: Science Based Paganism.

    I'm one of your host Yucca.

    Mark: And I'm the other one, Mark.

    Yucca: And today we are talking about transitioning into the autumn or the fall. That sort of nesting and collecting of your acorns, metaphoric and, and all of that.

    Mark: Yeah, because. I mean, if you're like us, the autumn is a, a really lovely time. It's just, it's a time to be enjoyed for so many different reasons. And as pagans who like sort of the products of nature, right. There's a lot of stuff out there. There's leaves and there's. Pine cones and there's late flowers.

    And of course there's all the stuff pouring out of the gardens. so there's just, there's a lot of opportunity to decorate and celebrate and kind of button things up for winter around our homes. So that's what we're gonna talk about.

    Yucca: Right. Well, and there's also a lot of those practical things that we're doing that are a wonderful opportunity to invite more meaning and ritual into our lives as we're doing those things anyways. Right.

    Mark: Yes. Yes.

    Yucca: So

    Mark: Yeah. I mean all that food preparation stuff that, I mean, it's practical, right? Because it's food preparation, but it's, it's pretty witchy stuff. When, when you, when you get down to it, you know, the brewing and the pickling and the drying and all that stuff, it's all very witchy.

    Yucca: Yeah, well, and, and even things also like you're switching out, you're bringing your sweaters out, right. Bringing those out and, and going through and making sure the moths didn't get into them and putting the there's the heavier blankets on the bed and, and all of those sorts of things, you know, there's, there was an episode we did.

    Few years back at this point about the kind, bringing the magic into things we talked about. Like, you know, when you're putting the shampoo on your head, it's not just shampoo, but it's your, your magical potion of charisma or whatever it is. You know, there's so much of that, that this time of year, I think there's just a opportunity for,

    Mark: Yeah. There's at, at least in the temperate zone, there's so much of a sense of transition. There's kind of a magic in the air. The weather is changing. The character of the light is changing. It won't be long before. In most places. Daylight savings thing changes. So the whole sense of the length of the day changes and that's just a really ripe canvas for for doing our creative ritual activity around

    Yucca: Yeah. So last week we did talk about the Equinox. But there, are there any things that you have been doing? Since then in the, in the last week or so, or things that you will be doing that fit in with this transition theme that we're talking about?

    Mark: Well, one thing that I did was my Northern California atheopagan affinity group, which calls itself the live Oak circle went camping last weekend. And that was really cool to, you know, to do, to do an Equinox ritual in person with people. And we're still getting to know one another and still kind of feeling our way.

    So, you know, that, that will, that will mature over time, but it's really a lovely group of people. Very diverse, very interesting. And I just, I had a wonderful time And so that was something that I, I did for the Equinox season that I'm really happy about. Go ahead.

    Yucca: is, is camping during the winter a, a possibility, or is this really your last camp of the, the year?

    Mark: It's a possibility, but you're gonna get rained on

    Yucca: Okay.

    Mark: and I don't mind snow for camping very much because it's dryer.

    Yucca: Mm-hmm

    Mark: But rain can really be a pain. Yeah. I mean, it's, everything's all muddy and it, it can really be a pain. But that said the I've gone camping in say February, which is the wet month of the year for us.

    And it's been glorious. It's, I've gone out to the

    • 26 min
    Harvest/Fall Equinox

    Harvest/Fall Equinox

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com


    S3E31 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

    Mark: Welcome back to the wonder science based paganism. I'm your host mark.

    Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

    Mark: And today we are celebrating the autumnal Equinox, which goes by various other names. I like to call it harvest myself. And the. The holiday is one of the roughly equivalent length of the day and the night around the 20th of September.

    And so it's a time when we celebrate many metaphorical meanings of that. And we also observe a lot of what's going on in our natural environment. At this time, as in the Northern hemisphere, we moved from summer into. Into the autumn. So we're gonna be talking about that today and celebrating the holiday,

    Yucca: Right. And as always, it's just amazing that we're here already.

    Mark: right.

    Yucca: is just, just flown by. So,

    Mark: It really has. It's. Well, it's extraordinary. I mean, a as you know, Yucca, I've been unemployed now for almost 14 months.

    Yucca: wow.

    Mark: And I mean, on the one hand, it seems like all the time in the world, but on the other hand, it's like, well, that's kind of flown by in a way it's involved a lot of struggle, but it's. leading to some good things. Now that I'll talk about later on. So I'm, I'm feeling like this is the harvesting season. It's the time when I'm, you know, reaping the benefits of stuff that I've had in the ground for a long time and have really been working to tend.

    Yucca: Hmm. That's exciting. Yeah. So for us, and we should mention being in the Northern hemisphere, this is the autumn for us. Although we do see that there are quite a few of you listening from the Southern hemisphere. So for everybody in the Southern hemisphere, it's the other side of the wheel,

    Mark: Happy

    Yucca: So happy spring.

    But for us to September. We're talking about how fast the year goes, but September seems to just really fly by for, with us starting September. It's still summer by the end of September, it's we're full in autumn. It's winter's right at our doorstep, right? It's a, we get a very kind of short autumn and it's says, Nope, here we are.

    It's fall. And this is actually one of my very favorite times of the. And I know a lot of people really, really love this time, but let's actually start with what is this holiday often represent in the broader pagan community. And then we can get into our individual practices and, and observances around it.

    Mark: Sure. That sounds great. Well, traditionally, this is viewed as the second harvest of the three harvest festivals. The first being the holiday at the beginning of August which is. The grain harvest and so beer and bread and all those kinds of things. Well, this is the second harvest and it it's often conceptualized as the overflowing corn utopia of vegetables, right?

    The vegetable gardens are pouring out all of the winter squash and the tomatoes are still really going. And there's all these

    Yucca: zucchini. So many zucchini

    Mark: so many zucchini, same numbers of zucchinis. You've got, you know, people door ditching zucchini to everyone else. And so it's a time of a great abundance of food.

    Much of which is perishable and is not really gonna last into the winter. And so traditionally it was a time when you ate a lot, right? You, you, you put as much, you stored as much of that stuff as you could, like the winter squashes and so forth, but what you couldn't, you ate, you put on your body as, as much as you could in order to kind of fatten up for the winter.

    Yucca: Right. This is also the, the time of year where they're the most babies born. So you would think that it would be pretty evenly distributed throughout the year, but we actually see in the August, September, right in this area, right before we're going into the, the season is really switching into that cold time when we see a lot more births.

    Mark: that kind of makes sense. Because if this is the time of year

    • 23 min
    Accommodating Different Abilities at Pagan Rituals and Events

    Accommodating Different Abilities at Pagan Rituals and Events

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com


    S3E30 TRANSCRIPT:----more----


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

    Mark: And I'm the other one, Mark.

    Yucca: And today. We're thinking about rituals and pagan gatherings and how we as organizers and participants can help make those more accessible to the many different people in our communities.

    Mark: Yeah, this is an important one and it, it kind of rears its head up every now and then when. Planning gatherings or designing rituals because it's so easy to slip into the, the. The comfortable accident of designing a ritual for somebody that's just like yourself.

    Yucca: Right.

    Mark: And we have people in our community that have all different kinds of levels of ability and have various different kinds of challenges.

    And we want to make them as welcoming as possible for everybody. So we're gonna kind of kick around different ways of approaching that and reasons for it. Today,

    Yucca: right. Yeah. And so I, I love that you talked about it as, as looking at. Designing the ritual just for ourselves or for everybody. Right. And the, the, I think as paganism is growing up a little bit, we are, we have a, a shift in the people and the life stages that are involved. So. A lot of times. I mean, thinking back to, when you talk about when you started in paganism there, it was a lot of mostly young people, right?

    Mark: It was a lot of people that were in their. Thirties. I, I think that the big pagan up swelling in the late sixties, early seventies, those were people who were kind of college age. They were, they were late teens, early twenties. And by the time I got involved, those same people were still participating, but they were now, they were now in their.

    Some of them into their forties and they, they were having their own kids and, and so forth. But what's happened now is certainly that first generation they're elderly now, right? I mean I'm 60 years old and I'm, I'm from a subsequent generation.

    Yucca: Right. You're on the kind of younger. So the, the standing, the standing around in a circle and running around and all of that for 40 minutes is not going to be as possible for some of that generation. Now there's new generations have been entering in. So there still are plenty of people who, who that's a good fit for, but when we're designing, we just need to be aware of, well who's, who's at our ritual.


    Mark: And bear in mind. There are people of every age who have different levels of ability, right? I ha I happen to have foot issues. I beat my feet to death waiting tables on a concrete floor. While I was working my way through college. And so, although I finally discovered some insults that help a tremendous amount for years, I've really been in agony, standing around in pagan circles.

    Because it wasn't right to have a chair, right. There was, there was some idea that having a chair out there was disrupting the energy or whatever it was.

    Yucca: right. Or if you were in the chair, somebody doesn't necessarily know that about you and they look at you. Right that so we can be self-conscious about judgment from people. And then we can, we can, not purposely being unkind, but sometimes we can make those judgements ourselves without being really aware of whatever that person's situation is.

    Mark: Right, which is why I think we have to be overt about it. I, I think that in the welcoming remarks at a, at a circle, one of the things to do is to say, different people here are gonna have different physical conditions and different different challenges that they contend with. Do not feel that you can't pull up a chair and sit down if that's what you need, do, do not feel like you can't leave the circle because that will somehow break the magic bubble.

    You, if you need to go take care of yourself, then go take care of yourself. There's nothing wrong with that. And it d

    • 22 min
    Dealing With Non-Pagan Family and Friends

    Dealing With Non-Pagan Family and Friends

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com


    S3E29 TRANSCRIPT:----more----


    Mark: Welcome back to the wonder science based paganism. I'm Mark.

    Yucca: And I'm Yucca.

    Mark: And today we're here to talk about a situation that really. Affects many of us in the pagan community generally. And in the nontheist pagan community specifically, which is what do we do about longtime friends or members of our family who are hostile to.

    Our way of being they, they disapprove of, of atheism or they disapprove of paganism,

    Or they disapprove of both because as we were saying before we started recording, we kind of get it from both ends. So, This is something that many of us struggle with. And especially those who have left more authoritarian kinds of religious contexts.

    It's not uncommon for parents or relatives or friends to be to be caught up in this idea that you must be the way that they want you to be, or or there's something wrong with.

    Yucca: Right, right. Or just the, the programming that you know, in, in some beliefs that, you know, they love and care about you, but they're really worth, you're gonna go to hell. Right. And they truly believe that the stuff that you're doing is gonna make you suffer for eternity or, you know, something like that.

    Mark: right. Which is in theory, that's a. of generous and charitable thing to think about someone else, but when you really get down to it,

    Yucca: That's pretty patronizing.

    Mark: it, it, it is. And it's also I mean, it's something that. I would think, well, okay. I, I have the perspective of having been raised with no religion. So I can't really, I can't speak with any authority about this, but it seems to me that it it's an additive to the health of a person to get out from under that. Extortion right. To get out from under that, the threatening nature of the story of heaven and hell.

    And I think that there is a lot of resentment that happens on the part, particularly of parents who raised you a particular way. And then you say, well, I'm not that way. Some other way. And. They as, as people that are in an authoritarian framework because they practice an authoritarian religion, the fact that you've rebelled can lead to a lot of anger.

    It's, it's not just about wanting, what's good for you. It's about wanting them to be obeyed.

    Yucca: yeah, it's a commentary for them on, on their self worth and, and you know, how good a job they did and, and all of that.

    Mark: Right. Right. So it's a tangled web and in some cases, more reasonable parents can be talked with parents, siblings, relatives, whatever they are. In more reasonable cases. You, we can talk with them. We can explain that we are following a path that makes us happy and that we see as fulfilling and that we really just need them to let us do that.

    Yucca: Right.

    Mark: In other cases, things are so bad that you really need to distance yourself. And that I can speak with, with some authority because my parents were incredibly toxic people, both of them. And I they're both dead now, but my mother, I hadn't seen for 16 years before she died and my father for more than 20.

    So, I just didn't have anything to do with them.

    Yucca: Well, and, and you, you split or you cut that off. Long before the, the pagan part of your life began even right.

    Mark: Yes. Yes. But, and, and I don't know, I mean, going into the specifics of my particular situation, aren't important, but one of the ironies to me is that I was raised in this non. context. And then my father married, my stepmother, who was a devout Catholic, and suddenly he was a Catholic, even though he was a scientist.

    Yucca: mm-hmm.

    Mark: And I don't know, I could go on for some time about hypocrisy and my father, but rather than do that, because it won't be of interest to anyone but me. The, the disapproval of the pagan stuff definitely did creep in late. You know, when I made a couple of sporadic attempts to try to ge

    • 38 min
    Paganism is Different

    Paganism is Different

    Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at thewonderpodcastQs@gmail.com


    S3E28 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

    Yucca: Welcome back to the wonder science based paganism. I'm your host Yucca.

    Mark: and I'm mark.

    Yucca: And this week we have a really interesting topic. We're gonna be talking about. Religion in general, what is religion? What purpose does it have? And also looking at how naturalistic paganism differs from the, the big three in Western society.

    Mark: Yeah, I'm really looking forward to this conversation because these are questions that I've spent a lot of time researching and thinking about parti. When I was first pulling the threads together, that would become Ethiopia paganism. Obviously when you think about, well, why do people have religion, then you have to start asking yourself what is a religion, right.

    And everything sort of tumbles downhill from there. It's very interesting.

    Yucca: Yeah. And you'll certainly get different opinions on what a religion is. We were talking about before this, how there are some folks who will say that they'll define religion in such a narrow way that really only Christianity, Judaism and Islam fit into the category. And they'll kind of ignore the rest of the many, many different possibilities that humans have, you know, just today, not even thinking about what we've had in the past and may have in the future.

    But we're gonna be taking a little bit more of a, a broader perspective on that.

    Mark: Right. Yeah. I mean, for those religious scholars and anthropologists of religion who focus down on a very narrow, definition of religion that only slots to those. Kind of major movements throughout the world. To me, that's begging the question. I, I think what we ought to be looking for is what are the human needs that are being met and by what kinds of mechanisms and how can we generalize about that into a definition of all of those kinds of behaviors and needs.

    And crystallize that down into a definition for what a religion is that that's been my approach.

    Yucca: Right.

    Mark: So let's get into it.

    Yucca: Yeah, we should say before though, that we will be comparing a lot to those big three that we've been talking about and that's, you know, it's not to be picking on them or singling them out or anything. It's just that the societies that both mark and I come from are very steeped in these.

    These are the Christianity has really influenced and shaped so much of our cultures in ways that we're aware of it in ways that. often, you know, unaware of as well.

    Mark: Right because we are so. Inured to them. They're so normal to us that it doesn't even occur to us that it's possible to live any other way or to think any other way about the world. Particularly we're going to be talking a lot about Christianity because that's what the really dominant religion in the United States where both of us live, but.

    A lot of what we're saying could also be applied in areas that are dominated, say by Islam or by conservative brands of Judaism or other faiths that share these kind of general characteristics. So it's not to pick on Christianity particularly. It's it's more to say this is what we're most familiar with and what we see.

    Creating the subtext for the over culture of where we live.

    Yucca: Mm-hmm right.

    Mark: So let's get into it. Where, where should we start?

    Yucca: Well, I think with, you know, what a religion is and the purpose of a religion, right. And those two are kind of blurred together. Right?

    Mark: Right, right. And of course, depending on what religion you are, you'll have very different answers for that. Because if you ask a Christian, what the purpose of their religion is, it's salvation, right? You're, you're supposed to follow these rules and. Cate yourself to this God, and that will get you a ticket to heaven with various terms and conditions applying depending on what the faith specifics are.

    Yucca: The particular sect within there. Yeah.


    • 51 min

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