Nature Mysticism, Atheists, and the Numinous

Little marrow type pumpkin and flower.

Little marrow type pumpkin and yellow flower.

Before I became a Polytheist, I was a Nature Mystic. I felt a oneness with the world, since I enjoyed all things in nature. From my experiences, I knew that the earth is sacred. Since I had close encounters of the numinous kind, I gradually moved from Atheism to Theism.

By their nature, mystical experiences are altered states of consciousness. They are the neurochemical responses of the brain to outside stimuli. What makes the neurochemical response a transcendent one is when someone gives it meaning. A person may place import on a “supersensory” response by seeing the earth as “the Holy Body that we are all a part of.”

The Atheists who are Pagans often confer meaning to the world by science. However, by calling themselves, Nature Mystics, they have elected to enter the metaphysical realm. Nature Mysticism is a non-theistic religion with a belief in the numinous. It is the spiritual underpinning of the deep ecology movement.

Therefore, I ponder how some Atheists who are Pagans reconcile their beliefs of only science can determine the Truth with that of Nature is holy. I wonder how someone who discounts the supernatural can have the transcendent experiences that they often write about. The human places meaning on to what is sacred and holy. Science cannot do that. How does a person reconcile the two?

As a Polytheist, I am outside the norm of Western society, which is a secular one that has humans at the center of things. This society places a high value on science and cultural progress. A belief in many Gods is considered a throwback to a primitive past. Perhaps, that is my answer – in the society that we both live in, Atheists who are Pagans as the norm. They can believe in both without worrying about being congruent.

God of the Month: Tiberinus and the Seven Hills

In December, two festivals – one for the Tiber River and one for the Seven Hills of Rome – were held. Both Tiberinus (the Tiber River) and the Seven Hills received sacrifices. In Roman polytheism, landscapes are divine as well since they are inhabited by numina. Every hill, mountain, river, valley, etc has an in-dwelling spirit – a numen.

Where I live, the Potomac River dominates the landscape. This river goes back 20 million years (in some form) on the North American continent. The ancient Potomac runs from the Piedmont by Mount Vernon (George Washington’s farm), by Washington D.C. and onto the Chesapeake Bay. When I go to Great Falls, I hear Potomac Pater as He thunders over the Fall Line.

I live on the boundary between the Tidewater and the Piedmont. This area is hilly and a challenge to walk. On my daily walks, I have come to know three hills well. I greet each one by the Names that They gave me. The Hills are Cluvius, the longest and highest, Plutonius, the steepest, and Hermanus, who lies between the two.

Salve Potomac Pater!

Ancient River,

Much wisdom you have

Roaring to Us

We stand in awe of You

Salve Potomac Pater!


Salve Cluvius!

You challenge all who climb You

We trudge up to the store, the bank, the bus, the school

A fraternity of hill walkers

A bane of drivers

A joy of skateboarders

You rule the neighborhood

Salve Cluvius!


Salve Plutonius!

Steep are You.

We grab the vertical railing, hauling ourselves up

You laugh at human curses.

You laugh at dogs peeing.

You laugh at everyone and everything.

Steep are You.

Salve Plutonius!


Salve Hermanus!



The snow comes

You wake in delight

Salve Hermanus!


Note: The Seven Hills are Aventine, Caelian, Capitoline, Esquiline, Palatine, Quirinal, and Viminal.