Being atheist in the pagan community: What to expect

It’s part of the human condition to want acceptance among our peers, and that is no different when it comes to pagans, atheists, witches or any combination of the three. If you’re an atheist witch looking to mingle in the pagan community, there are definitely some things for which you should be prepared. It’s very possible to find your place in the pagan community, if you take note of the following warnings and suggestions.

We’re widely misunderstood
Atheists and witches separately — on their own — tend to ruffle feathers outside of the pagan community. When you combine the two, we tend to confuse people on the inside as well. Most pagans worship multiple deities, and some very devoutly believe in the existence of these gods and goddesses. It should come as no shock to know that heavily religious pagans may react to atheists in the same way that heavily religious Christians do. These types simply do not, can not, and will not understand how someone — especially a fellow pagan — can reject the gods.

While some pagans in the overall community may react with shock (sometimes angrily) many do try to be tolerant and try to learn about what they do not understand — which is commendable. They may ask you lots of questions about your path — some of which you may not know how to answer. Just do your best, if you do choose to participate in such a discussion, but don’t let anyone bully you!

We’re hard to peg down — people don’t like that
Much like the confusion our lack of belief causes, people find atheist witches hard to “predict” or “size-up.” Some in the pagan community don’t like what appears to be chaos, and some do. In general, humans are a bit weary of what they can’t figure-out. That means you might find some people are a bit standoffish regarding your path. Yes, even satanists! It’s up to you if you want to be an open book to help put others at ease, and it’s up to you to ignore people like that.

We get tons of ignorant remarks and questions from people
Whether you’re “in real life” or on social media, you’re going to get bombarded with questions if you come out as an atheist witch. Many of the questions people ask are ignorant, and some are insulting. Some may test your social patience, and others may test your ability to stop yourself from hitting someone with a stack of reference books. Some of those questions include:

“How can you be an atheist witch if atheists dont believe in witchcraft?” 

“How can you be an atheist witch if all witches believe in the goddess!?”

“Do you pray to science?”

Any educated person knows that atheists can (and some do) believe in witchcraft, as we’re more than familiar with the definitions of both terms. And any educated pagan knows that not all pagans worship “the goddess.” So it gets old to hear those questions from people within our own community. As with most situations, it’s up to you how you choose to handle these kinds of questions.

Rude remarks are nothing new either. If I post an invitation to my atheist witch group in any pagan group on Facebook, at least one person will always comment something about how “atheist witchcraft is an oxymoron,” or something equally ignorant. Sometimes I ignore them, sometimes I engage, but at the end of the day, if someone doesn’t want to change their mind, they won’t.

People [erroneously] think we’re “new age”
The term “new age” gets flung around in some pagan circles as an insult — as a way to put their own paths on some sort of superior pedestal. While I see nothing wrong with anything new age, and don’t personally view the term as an insult, it should be said (again and again and again) that atheistic witchcraft is far from “new age.” Atheistic witchcraft has existed for centuries, and is as old as deity worship. It’s nothing new. Ironically, the people who have called this path “new age” to my face have more-often-than-not been Wiccan — and Wicca wasn’t founded until the 20th century.

Even though it may seem tough out there for an atheist witch, don’t be discouraged. You’ll definitely meet other people like you if you dig deep enough in the various pagan communities. You’d actually be surprised just how many of us there are out there…