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S3E19 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the wonder science-based paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca.

Mark: And I'm the other one, mark.

Yucca: And this week we're talking about reintegrating. With normal life after you've had some kind of experience like a retreat, which we're going to be talking about.

The one we were just on or a really impactful ritual or something like that.

Mark: There's a lot that happens in our brains when we go through these transformational peak experiences. And there are things that we can do to kind of smooth our transition back into the ordinary routines of our life and to make that emotional transition easier. So we're going to talk about that stuff today.

Yucca: And to be bringing some of that with us too, right. To not just be closing the door and saying that was one experience. Now, now I'm back to my other one, but being able to bring, bring the things with us that we want from that while still not living in that space all the time. Because as, as much as we want to.

That's not what every day life isn't. It probably wouldn't be very good for us if that was the case anyways, to be in that open and raw and kind of heightened of experience.

Mark: Yes. And I mean, it can be dangerous. One of the things that happens when we're really kind of blown open that way is that we tend to be really focused on our internal experience.

and we can make clumsy mistakes.

Yucca: Merging into a lane that has somebody in

Mark: has somebody in it. Exactly. So operating heavy machinery is not advisable immediately after going through some kind of impactful experience like that.

So we're going to talk about all that, but let's start with a little reporting about the century retreat that happened last weekend, that we were both at it.

was. A very powerful experience for me. The people were so kind and so open and so growth-oriented, and so no nonsense in the sense of critical thinking and science orientation.

It was really, I, I, I saw this group of people. Gathered. And it was exactly the same as the picture in my mind of the non theist paganism community that I have always hoped for.

Yucca: yeah. It was pretty amazing. It was it was just so interesting. All of the different types of people and yet the things that many of us had in common. I personally really appreciated being around other pagan parents. And talking about just the kind of, you know, the one that, just the connection, the human connection, but also having those same kinds of themes and talking about, you know, how these were the things that we were balancing or in our families and considerate and family considerations.

Because that's something that I don't find as much discussion of that in the online spaces, because there's so many different kinds of people, right. But the family orientation, isn't usually the main focus that I find in pagan spaces.

Mark: That's really true. And I think it's especially true in in physical in-person gathered spaces because pretends to be a lot of focus on adult activity And you know, just adults playing the way adults like to play.

Yucca: There's practical reasons for that, right? Yeah.

Mark: For sure. That said If this is going to be a multi-generational movement, you have to incorporate the next generations.

Right. And so there has to be a place for children and there has to be things for them to do. And the, the rituals, the symbolic activities need to be comprehensible. To children, there needs to be some reason why they would participate. So I was super glad that we had a, a workshop. Building a wheel of the year with your family.

For example, John Cleveland hosts workshop. And there were fun activities like body painting and things like that, that you know, face painting and all that good stuff that would make a lot of sense to a little kid.

Yucca: Yeah, well, and one of my kiddos was there and she was just delighted and is still, you know, it's still high off the experience of it. And everyone, I was just blown away at how incredible the whole community was just so welcoming with her. And I think she wanted to drop to adopt everyone.

Mark: Okay.

Yucca: So they were just amazing.

Mark: Well, she wasn't alone. I mean, I kind of feel like I want to do adopt everyone too. And that is, I mean, honestly, that is really what we're talking about in this podcast is that, that deep connected sense and this sort of longing and loss that happens when you separate and go your, your diverse ways. There's a reason why we feel that. And it's because when we have. That deep human contact. And we feel, we feel a kinship with other people. There's a hormone called oxytocin that gets released into our brains and oxytocin is about pair bonding and hyper-focus and it has. It has a number of different functions, but particularly it's the love hormone.

It's the thing that gets released a lot. When you feel a deep affinity with another person.

Yucca: Right. It's it's that mammalian connection.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: I think that the oxytocin is in non mammals as well, but it plays different roles in different kinds of creatures, but, and mammals, that's the, that's our bonding. Right. You know?

Mark: Yeah. And by the time century retreat ended and it was only three days I felt really bonded with the people in this group. You know?

we had shared common struggles. We had

Yucca: How old is the moon.

Mark: how, how old are they at the eclipsing

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And shared this experience together of doing these workshops, doing these rituals, sharing meals together.

The whole thing was really quite an adventure. And so now the challenge is how do you integrate. What you've learned and experienced from that into your daily life, but also really get your feet back on the ground in your daily life.

Yucca: Right. And there's, I mean, there's different approaches that I think are all important, but one of the first ones is remembering that we are our bodies and then. When we go through experiences like that, or again, maybe like a, just a really intense ritual or something like that, that we need to take care of ourselves on that really practical level.

Something like a longer experience like that I personally was quite sleep deprived. I think Marcie stayed up quite, quite a bit later than I did.

Mark: I did. I stayed up til about three o'clock in the morning on both Saturday and Sunday nights.

Yucca: and then. Breakfast at eight.

Mark: Breakfast at eight 30. Yeah. I didn't feel sleep deprived in the moment.

Yucca: And then,

Mark: I'm sure, because of all the sort of neuro-transmitter hormonal stuff going on. But once we started driving home, which was two and a half days for me and the,

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: guys that I drove home with I was dozing in the car and slept really hard the first night because I was so sleep deprived, but sleep deprivation is actually something that contributes to that vulnerable emotional state.

Yucca: Right. But once you come out on the other side, There may be some catching up to do, right. Really take a look at that sleep hygiene. All of those things that, that are important on an everyday basis, but especially when you're coming out of that vulnerable state, you're going to really want to. If you can try and protect that time.

Nope. This is the time for the sleeping and whatever it is that you do to help yourself with that, the sleep masks or dark rooms or the temperature, all of those, you know, turning off the screens and that sort of thing.

Mark: And at the same time, be aware that sleep deprivation can significantly impairs our response times, our eye, hand coordination, a lot of different physical attributes. So it's important, you know, maybe the day after you get back from something like this, maybe you don't get behind the wheel of a car

Yucca: If possible. Yeah.

Mark: And

Yucca: of those things we don't, we don't see it in ourselves. The studies are really clear that our self perception versus the outside objective. Perception of, of us is very different when it comes to sleep deprivation.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yes. So it's easy to tell yourself. Oh, I'm fine. You're not fine. And it's important to just, you know, go with your knowledge that you're not fine, even if it feels as though you're fine and take care of yourself do what you can to be safe. And, and I would say that that's true at two levels.

It's true at the level of your body is health, but it's also true of your heart of your, of your emotions because. When you come out of an experience like that, you can be very tender and very vulnerable and you can get hurt easily. And it takes a while to kind of put back up the ordinary callouses that we have to protect ourselves from little things that might affect us otherwise. It's, it's really a strange experience for me this week because I haven't had this kind of experience for quite a while. I mean, I've been to other sort of festivals where I had. Some of this experience, but I've never been to an event where I felt such complete kinship with the people. You know, that we're, we're self-selected to be people who are non theist pagans, and being surrounded by a big crowd of those folks was really profound to me.

And so I miss it now. Right. But I have to keep marching on in my life and doing light life things and it ebbs day by day. And so a part of the way that I have approached this is besides just trying to take care of my physical self is to be in touch over social media as best I can with the people who were there.

And I also wrote a blog post about reintegration to sort of walk through my own experience of this because I suspected that many of the rest of us were having the same kind of experience.

Yucca: Right. Yeah. So we'll put the link for that. If people want to check that out, the blog post cap.

Mark: Yeah. So, as, as Yucca said, this is, you know, it's, doesn't have to be a big multi-day festival that affects you this way. It can be a really heavy therapy session. You know, where something really shifts or you realize that something has been really stirred up. The same kinds of self-care activities are really important to do at this time.

Anything that really goes to your deep emotions and stirs up your limbic system in that, in that intense kind of way. These are the same things we need to do for ourselves. When we go through a breakup.

Yucca: Great.

Mark: If it's a breakup that we didn't want or a break up that still causes a lot of loss and regret for us, not the kind of breakup where you're like.

Thanks, bye. Just go away now.

Yucca: I mean, I know those exist. I've heard about them, but I have never experienced it that way.

Mark: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Yucca: but that's something that ritual can help with.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: If, well, it's really great if all the parties involved but even if it's just you and you want to have a ritual about that, that's something that, that can be very helpful.

Mark: Yeah, I have conducted a dissolution ritual and it was really pretty powerful, you know, the separate, the symbolic separation of the lives of the two people so that they could go off in opposite directions. It was, it was a powerful thing to do. And of course the trick there is to see whether all the participating parties will actually show up to do the thing.

And you know, in some cases, one or both of them are one or, or more of them are mad. And so they won't do what the other person wants them to do, even if it would be good for them. But it's, it's something, you know, if, if a disillusion is coming in your life, it is something to consider whether you do it for yourself or whether you do it with the, the people that you're splitting up with. So, Yeah.

the, this is re this really goes to kind of the care and feeding of the tender parts of ourselves and. You know, we live in a world that can be pretty harsh at times. I mean, certainly just turning on the news can be just like, oh, ouch. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And so it's very important, especially if we've done some significant emotional, psychological work to care for ourselves in all those different ways.

And that can also mean connecting with other people that are in our ordinary lives. You know, getting some of that, that bonding feeling with people that were already connected to.

Yucca: Right. And that's also for folks who have. Who live with non-human animals, like our cats and dogs and, and creatures like that, that we definitely share these really deep connections with you know, your, your good cuddle per session can definitely assist in kind of, you know, easing out of that experience.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. So it's, it's funny while I was gone, our cat was apparently extremely needy and, and cuddly with pneumonia. And now that I'm back, she's extremely needy and cuddly with both of us in a way that she wasn't before. But she. Her initial response. When I came back, was this sort of outreach, Meow, like where have you been? So that was, that was good.

Yucca: That's good. I'm glad you didn't get the the I'm mad at you. Snub cats do sometimes like, oh the, to you, I wasn't hurt or mad that you left.

Mark: Right,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: And the other thing you can do is you can, without being obsessive about it, you can, you know, create some reminders for yourself about that experience and what you loved about it. My desktop image Right.

now is the group photo that we took at the end of century retreat, just so that I can see those faces and remember.

You know, the many great interactions that I had over the course of that weekend, particularly the rites of passage section, which was just a really moving, moving set of rituals and ended with a wedding, which is always upbeat and happy. And that was good.

Yucca: Yeah.

that we, we took a few items. There were, you know, gifts that people had, but we also picked up, we just took a few pine cones

Mark: I took a pine cone to.

Yucca: and we live somewhere with a lot of pine cones, but these pine cones got to go in a special spot. And so, you know, there to. That's who experienced it. We know what those pine cones are.

Those specific ones have a important meaning to us. But if someone else was to walk into the house it's oh, there's there's pine cone over there and there's 20 more over there. But no, but these ones, you know, there's they still have that feeling right. When we look at them like, Ooh. Yeah, right. Okay.

That whole thing that's that's real right. That's part, that's part of us. Hmm.

Mark: And it's great to do that too, because that's a part of teaching your kids about ritual creation, Right. I mean, these, these pine cones became sacred objects because they're symbolic of a particular experience. And. That's a great thing to teach kids because then they can choose their own, make their own, start to develop a ritual practice.

Yucca: Right. So let's touch on a couple of other specific things that people might want to keep in mind. We talked about the sleep they're talking about also, maybe not just related to the sleep, but if you can avoid getting behind. Car the wheel of a car or heavy machinery, things like that. But you might also be a little bit more mindful with making sure that you're getting a meal that is going to be, you know, not be spiking, your blood sugar really high and making you super hyper and, you know, taking care of getting whatever the food is.

That really feels good and grounding to you, you know, be mindful about, okay, maybe that's going to be more appropriate than.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: Going through your fast food or whatever it is.

Mark: and the impulse may be because there's this sort of longing to get back to this high place. The impulse may be to go for sugar or caffeine or energy drinks or whatever those things are.

Yucca: try and fill it in.

Mark: Yeah.

And that's, you know, that is an impulse that honestly should be resisted. It's, it's much better to get something that's solid and wavy and grounding into you.

So that you can. Get get your head straight again in a way that balances the experience that you've had with the life theater in. And then there are creative things that you can do, like writing or songwriting or you know, even spoken word just into a tape recorder about what your experience was like, what you learned, how that.

Can impact your life going forward. I really feel that the people who went to this event were changed. I know I was, and now I'm exploring how was I changed?

Yucca: Right. Yeah. I certainly know that was the case for me coming home and, and, you know, greeted my, greeted my land coming back and, you know, went inside wherever. Partner and, and youngest child were, and, and cat who was very happy to see us. But I, you know, I remember sitting back down on, on the, the sitting down on the couch and just thinking about some of the things that had really come up for me and re and about the way that people treated each other was just so.

Amazing and refreshing and welcoming and, and kind right. And

Mark: kind.

Yucca: tenfold like, like they really paid attention. Right. And that was something I remember sitting down and going, okay. I, that felt good. That felt feeding. How do I make sure that that's something that I continue to have in my life because wow.

That was really. That helped. Right. I'm an introvert. I don't spend time around a lot of people, but, and so on one level, it was that that whole weekend was incredibly exhausting for me just to be around people. But it also was very interesting to go, wow, human interaction can be feeding. How do you know, how do I do this?

How do I make sure that this continues in my life? And so there's this whole period of, of, of. Evaluation and reflection after an experience like that.

Mark: Right. Right. And that's an essential part of the reintegration, honestly, because you don't want to lose the. The lesson content from the experience right? I mean, there's the whole emotional journey that happens with an event like this, but there's also stuff you learn about yourself and about what you want in life.

And. Humanity generally and how humans can be. One of the things that was really striking to me from the very beginning, like the first person that.

I saw, which was Rachel at the registration table actually it was before the registration table had been set up. It was Rachel and joy and joy I had met before, but everybody was on it about consent immediately.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: Everybody asked before hugging. Everybody asked before a handshake and we didn't have to make any kind of announcement about it. That's just what they were doing.

Yucca: Yeah. And that was so refreshing. From as an individual, but as a parent as well that no, buddy, it was so nice. Nobody touched my kid without asking her if that was okay. Right. And of course she was like, yeah. Right. But then also having her be around just seeing everybody do that and that isn't just like what mom is telling her to do.

That's just like what everybody is doing, you know, that was so. Wonderful that we weren't, you know, it wasn't like we were fighting to try and like make this the way that it should be. That's just the way it was.

Mark: Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, the implications of that to me have a lot to do with what humanity is capable, capable of. You know, it's, it's, it's so easy to be despairing about humanity right now because we've got some people that are really pretty lost and pretty damaged and you know, doing a lot of harm.

Yucca: Yeah, we've got a lot of trauma that we're working through.

Mark: we do.

And part of what was so powerful about this event was that people came with their trauma and they were unapologetic about it, and they were really open about it. The ritual that I did after my workshop the absolution ritual, which you were not involved with you, you weren't in that workshop.

Yucca: No that I so since I had my kiddo with me, we did need to step aside sometimes to do some naps and just do some breathing. Right. Because please for us, that being there was like being in the middle of the civilization. It's very strange how different people feelings were about it, but it was like being surrounded by people.

And we were like, whoa, lots of people let's go breathe for a minute. And that's the part that's also part of taking care of yourself is recognizing that like, You know, this is this an open raw, so there were some things that I've missed a lot of the rites of passage and those kinds of Brits rules, but the, from what I've heard, I mean, people were just so much to say about them.

Mark: Yeah.

The, there were just a number of times when. You know, given, given an inflection point, given a moment when they could either step forward in their human imperfect wounded glory, or step back and protect themselves and be defensive, they chose the first over and over and over again. And this ritual that I did at the end of my.

My workshop on how to create an atheopagan ritual is called the absolution. And I've done it several times before. And in a nutshell, what it's about is we have people imagined, just focus and think about the most cringe-worthy moment of their life. So the moment that they feel the most shame, the most embarrassment about, and just hold that in their mind, and then.

Ritually one at a time, absolve them of that, make it go away. Have it, have it have its power and its weight. Fade away from their body. It's very simple, but I mean, people have tears streaming down their face and I was, you know, fighting not to cry because there was so much emotion in the room. It was, it was just remarkable.

And I mean, I know that for the people that went through that ritual, there was a, there was a real change in them. And to me, that's just like, okay, all of this stuff, all of this non theist, paganism, atheopagan ism, all this stuff that I'm doing is absolutely worth it for that moment. For the moment of realizing that you've, you've lightened the load for your fellow humans, it, it felt. Well, I wouldn't say this. It's not that it felt like a community. It was a community

Yucca: Is, Yeah.

Mark: Is, a community. Almost none of us had ever seen one another in person before, because we came from all over. We had people from Canada, we had someone from Mexico. We had people from all over the United States and,

Yucca: impressed how far some folks came. Yeah.

Mark: People were ready for this. They were, they were, you know, the people that, that came. to this event were like, Yeah.

this is, this is the direction I'm going. And I'm going to, I'm going to jump in with both feet.

Yucca: Yeah. And a few folks told me that, and this was just so heartwarming to hear that the podcast actually helped them like that. That was kind of the thing that got them to, to, you know, take the chance and, and come. And it was just. That was just so wonderful to hear.

Mark: Yes. Yes. I think we were talking about one person that you're going to get together with their kids and your kids.

Yucca: Oh yeah.

Mark: I'm pretty sure that person had first encountered you on YouTube and then heard about the podcast and from the podcast came into the atheopagan community.

Yucca: Yeah. I think I'll have to check with them, but I think that. That's the case. Yeah. And so that's something nice to a lot of a lot of us who are kind of close to each other. Now that person, I we're about six hours apart, but we figured three hours driving each way. Does it sound so bad? Right. But there's people in the, in the areas are already talking about, well, what we can do in the meantime, right?

Cause we're not going to do another full one until 20, 24. But we could still get together on, you know, smaller groups and that sort of thing.

Mark: Right. Well, we, you know, we have that affinity group program. Many of which are regional groups, and I know that the Colorado group is really focused on getting together and doing things together now. So,

that's, that's exciting. One thing that was the. There was a brainstorm in the car while we were driving home is the possibility that we could pick a weekend that would be kind of atheopagan affinity group gathering weekend.

Yucca: Oh, I see where you're going with this. I like this. Okay.

Mark: And I mean, we could have t-shirts made right. You know, all that kind of stuff. Yeah.

And so it would be the same weekend, but the groups would gather like, you know, my local affinity group, which is called the live Oak circle is the Northern California affinity group. We could gather on that weekend at a local park and do a ritual.

Yucca: And I'm sure folks from a little bit further away would be welcome as well if they didn't have. Right. So you might get your Oregon or Washington people who are like, well, this is the closest and I'd love to see. Yeah.

Mark: So there's, there's lots of ideas about what could be done in the off year. I speaking from the standpoint of having helped to organize this event, we can't do it every year. It's just too exhausting. I think it would be too much money for people if we ask them to come every year

Yucca: Well, I think every other is now my daughter disagrees, but I think it's a waste. But as an adult, our perception of time is a little bit different than, than when you're a kid. I mean, 20, 24 is for forever away.

Mark: that's right. Yeah. Well, think about it. That's a third of her life, right? I

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: that's, that's you know, for me that would be 20 years,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: so that's a long time. That's a really long time. What else do we have to say about this?

Yucca: Yeah. I think really the, the main thesis is thinking about how to care for yourself as you transition between these two kind of worlds that this, that Eve experienced. They're both real. Right. But. Just thinking about in your own life though, how to be mindful about that. And there might be some little rituals to bring in.

One thing we've talked about so much before is the idea of grounding that that's important in everyday life, but especially in points of transition.

Mark: Right,


there are, there are little ritual, symbolic things, as you say that we can do, I'm still wearing my registration. Century symbol from the event?

Yucca: And that was a really lovely touch to everybody. Got one of the, the sun tree. It it's burned, right? We're at, yeah,

Mark: Yes, it's

Yucca: Yeah. A little

Mark: wood burned into a, a little wooden. Medallion. Yeah.

So we were all wearing those and it was, it was cool. So yes on the one hand, I would not want this. Podcasts to in any way, dissuade people from seeking these kinds of experiences because they enrich our lives so much and they help us to become wiser and kinder and more.

More whole, right. The heal, our wounds. So if we've in any way implied that it's a problem that you have this reintegration experience. I, I, I wanna make it clear. That's not what we're saying. It's it, the, the experience of going to this retreat for me was an unequivocal. Good.

Yucca: Right

Now on the, on the other hand, we're also not saying that you have to do something like this, right? That if this is something you do, it's can be amazing and wonderful. But you can still be an atheopagan. You can still be whatever you are, even if the. Even if being able to go to one of these things, just isn't where you're at right now.

Cause I know there were a lot of folks who really would have loved to come, but didn't have the means to travel or didn't know the schedule wasn't going to work or whatever. Right.

Mark: Right.

Which actually brings me to another idea, which we haven't really, this was a brainstormed idea in the car and we haven't really talked about this at all at the atheopagan council or anything, but a possible. Would be to have a virtual event maybe in January of 2024. I'm sorry, 20, 23. Yeah.

We could do workshops. We could have fellowship, all that kind of stuff over zoom. So it would be, you know, possible for people to attend and still get, you know, a little bit of that, that hit of the person that interaction.

Yucca: That's a really lovely idea. Yeah.

Mark: And it'd be a lot easier to organize.

Yucca: yes. A lot less expensive and could allow more people to possibly participate. But yeah, so basically like, a big you know, co conference or webinar kind of style through zoom.

Mark: Yeah, And we, you know, we could have some breakout rooms where people could fo could, could socialize, you know, we'd have big blocks of time available just for people to interact and say hi and introduce themselves and all that good kind of stuff. So I think that. An idea that has some real legs. And I'd like to talk about it at our next atheopagan society council meeting, which happens at the end of June. But we'll see, you know, we'll see what there is the capacity to create. I know the organizers of this event, myself included put in a lot of work and

Yucca: and did an amazing job.

Mark: well, thanks.

Yucca: you know, everything again, I just keep using the word blown away, but that really. That's that's the sense that I'm coming away with is just everything. I was just blown away by the people and the, how well it was organized and the welcomeness and experience and, and the location was an amazing location.

Mark: Yeah, with that beautiful view of Pike's peak Right. there.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: And the food and the kindness of the staff, you know, the accommodation to dietary considerations, they were just so great about all that.

Yucca: And it was, it was, it felt remote. And yet we were like 10 minutes from .

Mark: yeah.

Yucca: Right? Like, and there were a lots of there's so much life there. That was really fun. There were these swirls. I loved watching the squirrels with the really long ears and the Yeah. And just watching them run up these how tall those Ponderosa is worth.

Those were tall

Mark: they were.

Yucca: and down these, you know, we have, ponderosas where I am too, but not, not like those ones.

Mark: Yeah, it's pretty, pretty clear. They they get a little more water than where you are, I think.

Yucca: I think they got a lot more water

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: here. Yeah. And they did the, they did a lovely job. Maintaining the area and there was this huge labyrinth and it was just, yeah. Anyways, that we could, we could just keep going on about like all the wonderful things.

Mark: Yeah.

but shout out to love for a retreat center in Colorado Springs because they were wonderful. It's, it's actually owned by the United church of Christ, which is a very liberal Christian denomination and a part of their mission is that they're welcoming to everybody.

Yucca: And it certainly felt that way. Every, you know, every staff member that I had any interaction with or watched interacting with anyone else just, just seemed very kind and, and open and

Mark: Yeah, glad we were there.

Yucca: yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Yeah. And we were too. So I think that's it for this week's episode of the one.

Yucca: And we appreciate all of you being here with us and we'll see you next week.

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