Many pagans acknowledge what is called the “wheel of the year,” which is a modern concept that mostly Wiccans and assorted neo-pagans use. The wheel is a sort of calendar that separates the different seasons into days of celebration. This mimics ancient pagan practice of observing solstices and equinoxes (and other days in between). Many — if not most — holidays associated with paganism involve deity-worship, so do atheists celebrate any holidays at all? In general, the answer to that question is going to vary depending on who you ask. What one atheist witch may celebrate at any given time, may contrast against what another may celebrate. The following article will attempt to address the issue of pagan holidays and practicing witchcraft as an atheist.
Honoring our heritage
Regardless of any belief (or lack of) in deities, some of us celebrate holidays that honor our heritages. An example holiday honoring heritage is the ancient Roman holiday of Parentalia. This holiday lasted nine days, beginning February 13th, and was celebrated for the very reason of honoring one’s ancestors. This ancient pagan holiday had very little to do with deity-worship.
Acknowledging the Wheel of the Year
Many atheist witches simply observe the wheel of the year like most pagans do, but we simply take the deity-worship out of it. Originally, our ancestors celebrated equinoxes and solstices, as they marked growing, harvesting and slaughtering times. Different times of the year offer different types of symbolism and different energies, which lend to spell crafting. So for these reasons, celebrating the holidays of the pagan calendar is fine, with or without belief in deities.
Observing the mainstream
Some atheist witches — like some modern pagans — simply celebrate whatever mainstream holidays everyone else in our society celebrates. Christmas, Easter — the dominantly Christian holidays — tend to be easier to celebrate, especially when a witch is in the broom closet. Some observe these mainstream holidays without thought of deities, due to the commercialization of said holidays. Christmas is more like “giftmas,” and Easter is as good of an excuse as any to eat a delicious ham dinner.
The point I’m trying to illustrate, and that I can’t stop emphasizing, is that all atheist witches differ in what they believe and what they observe. The same can be said about many other modern pagans. The only real difference is that we just don’t believe in gods.