Secular paganism or humanistic paganism upholds virtues and principles associated with paganism, such as respect for living creatures and the Earth itself, while rejecting belief in deities. Secular pagans may recognize goddesses/gods as useful metaphors for different cycles of life, or reframe magic as a purely psychological practice.
Classical paganism and Euhemerism
As Europe was Christianized, the Church Fathers regularly secularized pagan deities and myths through euhemerism, a practice where the deities are interpreted as historical figures who at some point had become worshiped as gods. Clement of Alexandria summarized the approach in Cohortatio ad gentes, addressing the pagans: "Those to whom you bow were once men like yourselves."
Some adherents of modern Paganism have developed atheistic, humanistic, or secular approaches, where important aspects of a pagan worldview are embraced, but deities are not revered as real or supernatural beings. These approaches take on a variety of different forms.
Some pagan revivalists are inspired by Carl Jung's theories about archetypes and the collective unconscious. Jung handled esoteric and mythological subjects in a secular and scientific, yet not dismissive manner.
The biologist Andreas Weber promotes what he calls "poetic ecology" and "poetic materialism". This has been a source of inspiration for people such as Henrik Hallgren of the Swedish Forn Sed Assembly.
- LaBianca, Vi Rose (2018-10-09). "Confessions of an Atheist Witch". Medium. Retrieved 2019-02-19.
- Euhemerism: A Mediaeval Interpretation of Classical Paganism, John Daniel Cooke, Speculum, Vol. 2, No. 4, Oct., 1927, p. 397.
- Quoted in Seznec (1995) The Survival of the Pagan Gods Princeton University Press pg 12, who observes (p. 13) of the numerous Christian examples he mentions, "Thus Euhemerism became a favorite weapon of the Christian polemicists, a weapon they made use of at every turn".
- Gardell, Mattias (2003). Gods of the Blood: The Pagan Revival and White Separatism. Duke UP. p. 210. ISBN 9780822330714.
- John Halstead, 2016, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-theistic Pagans ISBN 978-1-329-98849-1
- The forgotten history of atheist paganism
- Humanist common ground: Paganism
- Being atheist in the pagan community: What to expect
- “Atheist pagan” does not equal “secular pagan”
- LGBTQ Humanists