spirituality etc words

because oh right, i can ask y’all for input, sweet.

saw the phrase “atheist witch” for the first time today and it feels closer’n aught else so far. got me thinking again:

what would the word be, for someone who disbelieves in any kind of sentient god/s, but does believe in unconscious energies?

sure i’m a- -theist, but…uh…i believe in magical glue, and affecting the splitting of timelines. noooooot sciencey.

“spiritual” is abominably vague and has never conveyed what i’ve wanted. it’s too agnostic. i am definitely not agnostic.

and new age is so sharply derided without even the protection of Qualifying As Religion, plus it has particular tenets, sort of.

is there another word, not -theist but, i dunno, for not-god-but-still-supernatural? geez idk. “atheist witch” really is closer than anything else so far.


8 thoughts on “spirituality etc words

  1. queenieofaces says:

    *pops up at the mention of religion*
    SO I would say that, yeah, a lot of Western religion is pretty theism-focused, BUT the sort of thing you’re describing is…not particularly uncommon in non-Western religion? I mean, there are some schools of Daoism that are pretty eh on deities but believe in energy that flows around and causes stuff to happen. Same with certain schools of Buddhism.
    There was also the whole S/spiritualist movement in the US and Britain, some of which was tied to Christianity/a deity and some of which was atheist and “scientific.” There were definitely people who believed in the sorts of things you’re describing; I have book recommendations if you’d like. Same thing happened in Japan. Then there were all the new religious movements like Taireido and sitting methods that were influenced by spiritualism and were atheist but believed in a cosmic energy that could be manipulated (in Taireido it’s called something like “spirit particles” or “spirit atoms”). (I wrote my master’s thesis on dudes who got in fights with Taireido, so I have sources if you’d like them, but unfortunately other than my thesis I don’t know of anything in English! I would be happy to send you my thesis, but, uh, that may be a little intimidating maybe.)
    Also, if you haven’t already, you should talk to adventures-in-asexuality because she could definitely direct you toward some stuff on atheist witches that I probably don’t know about.


    • Ohhhh wow yes yes yes thank you Queenie!!! I would love books and sources — I can read a little bit of Japanese and French, dunno about on this subject matter, but your thesis sounds amazing!

      Hah — I plundered Wikipedia for keywords and movement names, and never saw Tairedo


      • queenieofaces says:

        ALSO I realized you might be interested in some of the NRMs whose founders came out of the spiritualism-influenced NRMs. The first one that comes to mind is Sekai Kyuuseikyou (and its million splinters, like Mahikari, etc.), mostly because I just finished doing a big research project on it, although there are a ton of others. SKK is coming out of the Omoto-lineage, which is theistic, but it’s a pluriform monotheism, so definitely a different sort of theism than Abrahamic traditions. There’s also the same sort of transmission of cosmic energy thing going on as in Taireido (although it’s TECHNICALLY coming out of Omoto’s miteshiro otoritsugi, which is itself an adaptation of chinkon kishin). A lot of early NRMs (arguably “first wave” NRMs, as differentiated from the “second wave” which started in the 1970s and includes stuff like Aum Shinrikyo and Happy Science) have a manipulation/transmission of energy component, partially because they tend to believe that the world is ultimately controllable by humans and that you can grasp your own fate. (Check out Hardacre’s Kurozumikyo and the New Religions of Japan for more on that world view and for a general introduction to first wave NRMs.)


        Liked by 1 person

    • *Taireido — whoops, hit the reply button, thanks mobile app. But!!! Excitement!!

      I haven’t cared for what I’ve seen of Buddhism or Taoism, the principles and focus on meditation? Contemplative dissociation, for me, meditation alllllways ends in bad bad triggered state. But you’re totally right, I’m sure there are different schools and I’d love to learn more!

      I will definitely go chat with a-in-a. Eeee thank you so much Queenie!


      • queenieofaces says:

        Meditation is generally not a focus in Daoism, especially if you’re getting into the more philosophical stuff. (Even in on-the-ground practiced stuff, it’s much more visualization and less mediation.) Also, there are meditation-focused and non-meditation-focused schools of Buddhism! The former is much more common in the States mostly due to the importation (and adaptation) of Zen starting in the 1920s.

        Unfortunately, most of my Chinese sources are back in the States, so I can’t offer much now, BUT you might also look into Confucian/neo-Confucian ideas of Heaven/spirits. Here are some places to start: http://www.iun.edu/~hisdcl/h425/zhuxi.htm and http://www2.kenyon.edu/Depts/Religion/Fac/Adler/Writings/Spirituality.htm If I’m remembering correctly, Zhu Xi has a whole essay on spirits and how all energy in the universe is essentially recycled so that we’re composed of the energy that composed our ancestors which is why we’re connected to them.

        Okay, other sources! For S/spiritualism in the US and England:

        Braude, Ann. Radical Spirits: Spiritualism and Women’s Rights in Nineteenth-Century America. Boston: Beacon Press, 1989.

        Owen, Alex. The Darkened Room: Women, Power, and Spiritualism in Late Nineteenth Century England. London: Virago Press, 1989.

        Both of these are specifically focused on gender and spiritualism, but should give you a bunch of other sources, including primary sources.

        For Japanese spiritualism/Taireido/others of that ilk:

        Hardacre, Helen. “Asano Wasaburō and Japanese Spiritualism in Early Twentieth-Century Japan.” In Japan’s Competing Modernities: Issues in Culture and Democracy 1900-1930, ed. Sharon A. Minichiello, 133-153. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1998.

        Ichiyanagi Hirotaka. “Kokkurisan” to “senrigan”: Nihon kindai to shinreigaku. Tokyo: Kōdansha, 1994. [Japanese; good, comprehensive overview of the spiritualist movement in Japan]

        Iyashi o ikita hitobito: kindai chi no orutanatibu, ed. Tanabe Shintarō, Shimazono Susumu, and Yumiyama Tatsuya. Tokyo: Senshū Daigaku Shuppankyoku, 1999. [Japanese; includes essays on a whole ton of spiritualism-influenced new religious movements including Taireido]

        Kurita Hidehiko. “Reidō o meguru poritikusu—Taishōki Nihon no rei gainen to shintai.” In Shintaiteki jissen toshite shamanizumu, ed. Kikuya Ryūta and Takizawa Katsuhiko, 1-29. Sendai: Tōhoku Daigaku Tōhoku Ajia Kenkyū Sentaa, 2013. [Japanese; I have an electronic copy of this I can share; talks specifically about the fights between several spiritualism-influenced groups, including Taireido]

        Yoshinaga Shin’ichi. “Taireidō to kokka: Taireidō ni okeru kokkakan no imi.” Jintai gakka 17.1 (2008), 35-51. [Japanese; I believe I have an electronic copy of this as well; specifically about Taireido]

        If you email me at queenieofaces@gmail.com I’ll be happy to send you a copy of my thesis and/or the above articles! The whole second chapter is about spiritualism/Japanese spiritualist movements (although it focuses on one group in particular getting into pissing contests with everyone in the universe).

        I’m not surprised you didn’t find anything on Taireido–as far as I know, I’m the first person to ever write about it in English! Even in Japan it’s EXTREMELY niche–to the extent that other people in my field have never heard of it.


  2. Ahh I can really relate to your feelings! I’ve found the word pantheist useful personally; to me it means that all of reality is divine and interconnected with energy… Or something like that. I’ve been pretty influenced by Daoism; the “Dao” is sort of that cosmic energy. See these quotations from the Tao te Ching:

    Ch. 1:
    “The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao
    The name that can be named is not the eternal name
    The nameless is the origin of Heaven and Earth
    The named is the mother of myriad things”

    Ch. 4:
    “The Tao is empty
    When utilized, it is not filled up
    So deep! It seems to be the source of all things”


  3. Perhaps you should not ask what you consider God, but what you consider holy, or sacred, or the core of reality? That’d be your -theism, e.g. pantheism… In which it does not mean something is God, but rather, god-like, what you follow or worship.

    And maybe a bit pragmatic, but… how about picking a synonym that fits you on http://www.thesaurus.com?

    Helps me when I’m writing 🙂

    Good luck searching for the right words!


  4. I don’t know if you’re interested in atheistic witchcraft or it just got you thinking? One of my best friends/occassional roommates is a (theistic pagan) witch so I’ve gotten to hear a fair amount about the pagan/witch community. She’s definitely come across a lot of different beliefs. And many people like her construct their own belief system. Well, if you’re interested maybe she might be able to point you to some resources or have some thoughts or something. ~blog link~


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