The Overculture

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Welcome to season three of The Wonder!

Remember, we welcome comments, questions and suggested topics at

S3E1 TRANSCRIPT:----more----

Yucca: Welcome back to the Wonder Science-Based Paganism. I'm one of your hosts Yucca.

Mark: And I'm Mark.

Yucca: And this week we are talking about the overculture. So this is a huge topic that we've touched on here and there that we thought really deserved an entire episode of its own and maybe a part two, even.

Mark: Yeah, we'll see how far we get with this one. This is a really important set of concepts to be able to wrap your head around. And it's squishy. It's tricky because the overculture is all around us all the time. It can be hard to see. What its messages are, what it's telling us to do, how it's influencing our behavior because it's what we're used to.

Yucca: Right. And so just a note on the word itself, the overculture is the main culture. It's the dominant culture. So the overculture is opposed to a subculture. So it's something that most of us, unless we came here from somewhere else that most of us grew up with.

Mark: Right? Right. And in the way of subcultures, what we talk about on this podcast is a pagan subculture in the United States because that's what we're familiar with.

but particularly naturalistic pagan culture, which is the culture of non-theist science consistent. But pagan valued practice, observances rituals, and so forth.

Yucca: Right. And so we're going to come back to that worldview to pagan worldviews, and specifically naturalistic pagan world views. But first we want it to start to explore and pull apart this, the overculture. And especially what we're going to be looking at today are some of the aspects that we find very problematic, because certainly as members of the overculture, or at least influenced by it, there are some things that we share.

And many of those things, those values we're not even aware of until we start really looking at them. But mark and I both have been doing some brainstorming. And before we started recording, We put together a list and went back and forth about, oh, what is this concept of what's that concept? And so I'm really excited to get into this.

Mark: Yeah.

me too. Because in many ways in, in the culture building work that we do a lot of what we are seeking to achieve is to transform or transcend many of these more negative aspects of the overculture. And so being able to see them and identify them and understand how our value system is radically different from them in some ways is really important.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So to start with, we should sort of define what goes into our current, overculture. And especially in the English speaking world which is all that I can really speak to. But many of these aspects are present in, you know, many other countries with different languages, basically.

Yucca: Europe.

Mark: Yeah. Much of Western Europe.


The overculture is capitalistic to start with it's white supremacist, it's patriarchal, it's heteronormative and it's cis-gendered. And in one way of understanding all that is that the capitalism is kind of like the white paint in when you're, when you're mixing up a color and you start with white, the capitalism is the white it's everything touches everything. it's base that

Yucca: it's the base or the primer. Yeah.

Mark: Right. The, the white supremacy, the patriarchy, the heteronormativity, the cis-gender, all that stuff is stirred in, in various amounts. Mostly to reinforce capitalistic agendas.

Yucca: Right. And we could start getting into the connection between each of those things. Like I would make the argument that the heteronormative is really a sub category of patriarchy and, and all of that, but we want it to make sure that we were including some of the really big themes. And we're of course going to miss some things, but, but this is, these are some of the big things that are all around us.

And as you're saying, it's just mixed into everything.

Mark: Right?

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So the first aspect that we identified is as a clear message that comes from the overculture to each of us is don't think obey.

Yucca: Right,

Mark: Just perform, do this, you know, perform this list of things that we're telling you is a value that will make you a val- a person of value and the trappings of your having done those things like acquisition of money and possessions will reflect your value.

Yucca: right. Being a productive member of society.

Mark: That's right. All of that. And what that does is it sets up an outside authority rather than yourself telling you what you're supposed to be doing and how to do it.

Yucca: All

Mark: And you're not supposed to think about that.

Yucca: Well, and there's just these roles that you fit into and those particular roles are assigned to you based on. What sex you are in gender and color and all of those things, age, all of those things class. Yeah. And you just fit into that and roll down this track and don't stop. Just keep going, keep going, keep going.

Mark: And Don't ask questions,

Yucca: ask questions, right?

Mark: Yeah. Why am I doing this is a question that is not encouraged in our society.

Yucca: Yes.

Mark: And bear in mind that what this does is it moves the center of decision-making about what the right thing to do is away from yourself and out to an external authority. And that external authority can be the state.

It can be God, it can be the law. It can be Your parents, any, any, it can be the school.

or the teacher, any institution that has been elevated in power over you. You look to them for the signals about how you're supposed to perform and what constitutes good performance.

Yucca: Right. And this is something we'll come back to in a little bit. But one of the things that non theist pagans often get asked is, well, how do you know what's right? How do you know what's right and wrong? If you don't have a God, and this is connected in with that, is this assumption from whatever religion someone might be within the overculture, because that does have people of many different religions, even though it is based quite strongly in the Abrahamic religions, is this, this authority right?

Mark: Right, right?

Yeah. There, it paints this picture of people that are godless as the, sort of like the cartoon Tasmanian devil, you know, just sort of this, this destructive machine whirling through the world And taking big bites out of everything.

Yucca: Possibly function that way?

Mark: Right. Well, you can't because individuals are able to decide what's right and wrong too.

They don't need to be told that. What goes along with externalizing that judging authority. And remember it is a judging authority under the overculture. It is rate, it is ranking you based on your behavior. And in some cases, even based on your thoughts, because you're not supposed to think bad thoughts.

Right. And this is very true under conservative Christianity. You can commit a thoughtful thought sin rather than even if you don't behave in any manner, that's consistent with that. Just thinking about it is sinful. Right.

Yucca: Or, or dealing with things like depression or anxiety. Right? Those are, those are deviant ways of being deviant thoughts, you know, don't just fall in line. You're not supposed that. Don't do that.

Mark: Just give

Yucca: Right. things, yeah. Give it to Jesus or, or, you know, something's wrong with you. But again, this is something that we find problematic in overculture and it's, it's fundamental.

It's one of the pillars of our overculture.

Mark: It is, it is. And the alternative of course, which is what we espouse is that the individual has inherent worth and dignity. It doesn't matter whether they can be productive or not. It doesn't matter whether they can fulfill a preestablished set of roles or not. They're still a person and they still have inherent rights, inherent dignity and inherent worth.

Yucca: Yes. And this ties in as well to our view and relationship with the rest of earth as well.

Mark: Yes. And we're going to be talking more about that later on in the podcast, but now let's hop down to. A really big, important set of interpenetrated issues around the overculture, which we call dualism,

Yucca: Yeah. So dualism duality to there being. Two separate opposite opposing things. And that incorporates that that holds everything that is

Mark: right? The, the idea that the universe can be separated into or that humanity can be separated into good and bad, or that that

Yucca: male and female.

Mark: and female black and white all these, these different polars polar opposites, first of all, without any recognition that there can be any shades of gray along those scales. Which is terribly problematic when you're judging people.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: But more than that, the dualism that extent is expressed in the mainstream religions, that, that posits that there is a separate soul from the body. And that is extremely problematic. And the reason that it's problematic is that in all those religions, they end up kind of voting for the soul at the expense of the body and the material, the body, and the material is tainted by original sin.

It's it's unable to go to heaven. It's unable to achieve Nirvana, all of those kinds of concepts. So the material is viewed as dirty and contaminated while this imaginary. The essence of a person this, this free standing personality without a body or a brain is considered to be the most important aspect of a person.

And that is a terrible, terrible idea.

Yucca: Yeah, and this is something we were talking about quite recently, this is built into our language and in English, just the way that we have to talk about these things enforces reinforces those ideas. We talk about the body and the mind, or we talk about, you know, getting to a higher vibration and things like that.

It's just so built in that. We don't really even have words to talk about these things as not separate.

Mark: Right. Consider the word dirty, right? Dirt gives us our food. Dirt is the most sacred stuff on the planet, right. But yes, dirt is earth, right? But the very word dirty is.

An insulting denigration of whatever it's applied to

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: the, the idea that everyone is tainted with this original sin and need salvation in order to attain some kind of an afterlife is another manifestation of this dualism idea.

And what it means is that can trash this planet because that's not really what matters anyway.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: I mean, we can see the results of that mentality. Can't we, you know, we're in the midst of the sixth mass extinction event and it's the Anthropocene, it's what we, as humans are causing. it is, it is directly bearing on the human relationship with nature and with the earth that we have this idea of this pristine angelical, special non-corporal soul or spirit or whatever you choose to call it.

And we focus our attention on it's it's cleansing through salvation it's redemption from whatever terrible things that may have done All of that. All of that wraps together under this heading of dualism.

Yucca: All right.

Mark: Whereas as an opposing view, the naturalistic pagan view of this is that we are not a machine and then a ghost within a machine.

We are a machine, the machine produces consciousness, the brain produces consciousness, and that is us.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: When the brain stops working, we aren't, we don't exist anymore.

Yucca: And that this machine that is us is also made out of pieces of this larger system and that those pieces are continuously coming in and moving out. And the pieces that are us right now eventually will, will disassemble themselves or be disassembled to become part of something else. And that it's part of this larger cycle, but there isn't a self that continues on to the afterlife.

Mark: Right. Right. And I would add on top of your very app description of all that Yucca, that, that is a sacred process that it's holy, the fifth, that whole system that we are a part of is not dirty, is not contaminated, is not sinful is not base. I mean, all we have all these words that basically mean of the earth, right.

Mundane means of the earth

Yucca: So it, it

is all those things, but those things we choose to view as wonderful, as amazing, as beautiful as awe inspiring yes. Holy Just to play wiwith words, wholy with a and holy with the H.

Mark: yes.

Yucca: So now these are, we're talking about our choice to step away from that, but I want to come back and recognize that.

Even though this dualism idea is stemming out of the Abrahamic religions. That even those of us who are not directly part of those religions are still influenced by this idea. Like we're talking about our whole culture, even people who like myself grew up pagan or people who grew up atheist or whatever other religion that this is still, this is in our stories.

These are in, these are in the nursery stories, entails that we read to our children that they're watching this isn't Sesame street. I mean, this is everywhere. And it's, it's something that we are making a conscious choice to, to not play along with.

Mark: Right, right. And as here's an example of how this, this unthinking obedience to the judging authority outside ourselves gets implemented in sexuality, first of all, sexuality is already really denigrated because it's of the body, right? So it's automatically dirty. It's automatically sinful.

Yucca: Animalistic,

Mark: Yes. All those

Yucca: dare we actually be animals spoilers. We are.

Mark: Yeah. Well, but you'll get an argument about that from a lot of people that subscribed to conservative versions of the Abrahamic religions. So sexuality is heavily impacted and then there are.

all these arbitrary rules that are placed on top of it in order to try to control it. But from the outside, from, from an external authority.

So pretty much everything about relationships is decreed about what a normal relationship is, is decreed by the overculture. That includes things like you have one partner at a time, right? You only have one partner at a time.

Yucca: oh, and don't have too many, if you're a woman,

Mark: Oh no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I mean, ideally you have one and that's it for your life. right? But certainly you don't have more than one at a time.

Yucca: Okay.

That's considered cheating. Right. And everybody knows what the supposed of rules of relationship is. And if your particular relationship has different rules, people still say you're cheating.

Mark: Right because you're breaking the capital T rules, capital R, decreed by the overculture. Another aspect of relationships is that we declare that they're forever. We know for a fact that about half relationships don't last forever. About half of, of married, committed relationships break up after a while.

Sometimes it's 20 years. Sometimes it's six months. People can discover that they're incompatible. They,

Yucca: change over

Mark: They can change over time.

and grow apart from one another. There are a lot of different circumstances under which people might decide to disentangle from one another and move on in the paths of their lives.

That's not the story that we tell ourselves, every pop music love song. You listened to every romance, novel, every romantic story. It's always, you know, I love you. I'm going to love you forever. There will never be another yadeedadeda it's indoctrination and we get it from the very earliest time in our lives.

Yucca: yeah, your one true love.

Mark: Yeah.

the soulmate.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Really pernicious idea that there's, there's 7 billion people on the planet and you're supposed to find this one person. What happens if you don't?

Yucca: Right. Yeah. What if there's somewhere else? What if they're yeah, they just happened to be the person that you had the lived next door or that you happen to meet at the right time, the coffee shop, right?

Mark: Yeah. I get, obviously I think it sounds pretty clear. I get a little exercised on this particular aspect of the overculture, because I think it's truly sick the way people. Decreed what their gender roles are, must be how their relationships must be, whether they're allowed to love who they really love or not.

All of these are these arbitrary rules set up by external authorities. And even though we've made a lot of advance from a legal standpoint in our culture, there is still a tremendous voice a loud insistent voice built into the overculture that still says, you know, men should be men and women should be women.

And there isn't anything in between and relationships should be forever. And all the things that we've been talking about that's not a formula for happiness.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: The overculture wasn't built to make you happy the overculture was built to serve elites. It's no surprise that the major religions of the world are all religions that work very well in heavily authoritarian political structures, because if they hadn't been those authoritarian structures wouldn't have adopted.

Yucca: Yeah,

Mark: When Constantine made Christianity into the the official religion of the Roman empire, he got tremendous pushback, but he understood what Christianity could do for him as as the authoritarian power of the Roman empire. If everybody was forced to follow it,

Yucca: right. so a lot of these things, when we go back and look at them, the gender roles and sexuality relationships, our relationship to our body, all of those things are to keep us in line in that role that we have that function. And our value is in how well we play that. At least that's the perception.

Mark: right. And how will we play that role? And therefore, how will we produce? And by obeying, we keep authorities in their position of authorities. And by producing, we keep the wealthy accumulating wealth

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: because that's where power is. Right. So, I mean, this is All pretty grim. You know, stuff to talk about and I can understand how it can be very dispiriting for, you know, those of us who are listening to, to hear us talking about this stuff.

But it is so important that we be talking about it and thinking about it because I believe we are at a hinge point in human history where those authoritarian voices are breaking down and they're freaking out about it and, you know, really doubling down, but they're still breaking down. And what that means is that people are starting to make choices for themselves about how they want to live.

That don't necessarily serve the elites and they don't necessarily conform to these, this idea of dualism. And I want to put my hand up and say, I'm one of those. I am, I am Foursquare for the evolution of our. Humanity into a direction that celebrates and serves human, happiness and ecological sustainability over the accumulation of wealth and capital or the obedience to arbitrary rules that have very little relevance to us today anyway.

Yucca: And you know, one of the ironies of this is that it probably be a better life for the elites. Anyways, we didn't have elites, right. That it would just, you know, if we're actually working towards is the point is the joy and happiness and fulfillment for everybody and not just us humans, but everybody.

Right. Well then this is this positive feedback loop of it's, you know, it's better for them than it's better for us and on and on. And it could be a much better situation. And that's, that's one of the things that we are actively working towards in the choices that we make and in the, how we choose to view the world and behave in the world as pagans and especially as naturalistic pagans.

Mark: Yes. Yes. I wanted to give an example of the, one of the ways that you can tell that the overculture is, does not value your happiness is when it comes to abstract morality. Like so-called victimless crimes like sex work taking drugs things that are, that are associated with. Right. Anything that's associated with somebody getting pleasure in a manner that is not actually serving capital you know, creating productivity, adding to shareholder value.

Any of those kinds of things are automatically trashed by the overculture, even if they're not hurting anybody, but we're starting to see some of that change. And that's why once again, I feel like we are at this moment in human history where we can start to have a real conversation about whether this overculture that has dominated us for at least 2000 years is helping

Yucca: Right. I think that's one of the things that the antiwork movement is tapping into. Now there's a lot going on there, but, but the starting to question and go, wait a second. Wait,

Mark: right.

Yucca: Do we, do we really need this?

Mark: Yeah.

Did we really sign on for this? And you know, am I, am I willing to not actually spend any time with my children until they're in their teens? So that I can

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: buy a cookie cutter house And fill it with cookie cutter furniture all bought with debt, of course pay, pay for a college education that puts me $200,000 in debt and leaves me, you know, completely broken financially before I even get started.

There, there is so much about this that is about enslaving people. It's it's literal enslavement of people and it does not serve us as a species we can see in what's happening to the biosphere, how badly it does not serve us because we're trashing the biosphere to make meaningless chotskies that nobody needs no.


Yucca: exhausted to be able to stop and take a look

Mark: right.

Yucca: right. That's that, you know, just keep doing, just keep doing don't think you can't stop you're so you're on that track and you're getting pushed along and the way it works right now is if you do, then you're in. danger in terms of not having a home, not having food, not having your basic needs met.

Mark: right.

Yucca: And I mean, as you're saying that, that sounds like being enslaved to me.

Mark: Sure. Sure. Yeah. Not only is that an extortionary form of, you know, leverage over people to get them to continue following the path that they're, that's laid out before them. But as soon as they're no longer useful, then they're discarded again. When they're old, when they're no longer going to be, you know, producing, then once again, there's this general discarding factor.

That goes along with our cult of youth and our, you know, all of our cultural celebration of trying to look young forever and, you know, have six pack abs and all the, all the nonsense. Honestly, just the, the simple nonsense that goes along with With that, that endless, never ending message of you're not good enough.

You don't have enough. You have to do this. You have to do more of this. You have to change. You have to be different. There's something wrong with you. There's this constant bombardment of there's something wrong with you. It's so something wrong with you because you don't buy this product. There's something wrong with you because you don't spend enough time with your kids.

There's something wrong with you because you do spend too much time with your kids. There's something wrong with you. Because I mean, the list just goes on because you because you don't like being bombarded with advertising that tells you that there's something wrong with you.

Yucca: Which literally designed. I mean, the, the, the ads make you feel insecure about something that offer you the solution to it.

Mark: Yep. That's what it's for. That's exactly what it's for. And so we are here to say, it's your life, it's your only life, as far as we know,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: to live it for any purpose, other than joy and service missing the boat, it really puts you in danger of a deathbed moment of feeling like, you know, what did I do?

Why did I do this? And that doesn't mean that you don't, you know, work to provide for your kids and all that kind of stuff. Everybody, you know, wants to do what's best for their progeny, but. you don't do it on your own terms, the system itself, the overculture is absolutely merciless in how it will exploit you.

Yucca: Yeah. So let's come back to that word. You said, because you said joy and service and the overculture That likes that service bit, but we're talking about the sevice that you choose, right? Who your community not, I mean, I guess it's up to you if you want to serve some billionaire somewhere. Right. But, but like who, what culture, what cultural values, what people, what community, what, you know, bioregion, there's choice involved in that?

Mark: Right. Right. And what, what we want to underscore is that you have agency, you know, you, you are a living human being with agency and you get to make decisions about that?

Now, many people are in positions where it's very hard to make those decisions. I mean, I'm, I am familiar with poverty and poverty is not a situation where you feel like you have many choices.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: That said being aware of yourself as someone who's making the choices, rather than just kind of rolling over and saying, well, this is what they're doing to me. So I'm just going to ride down the path. It's just essential. If you ever hope to have a life that reflects the life that you dream of.

Yucca: Yeah.

And you deserve it. You deserve that life. You don't, it doesn't even if, and probably you have, because you're a member of this culture too. Even if you've been told your whole life that you don't, that's not true,

Mark: No

Yucca: you are valuable and wonderful and beautiful. And your very existence is. Simply amazing.

Mark: miraculous.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Truly astronomically improbable that you ever arrived here. And, and it doesn't last that long. We're recording today on my 60th birthday. And so I've been I've been contemplating what happened between 60 years before I was born and my birth. And then since my birth. 60 years before I was born was 1902.

People were winding up their Gramaphones, the radio hadn't been invented yet, but before I was born, Sputnik was already in the sky. That's how much things change. We don't have that much time. A lot of stuff happens very quickly and it's important for us to seize the day, you know, carpe diem.

Yucca: The night.

Mark: and the night and and make, build the life that will feel most worthy to us. And everybody can make their own free choices about what that is. If the most worthy life for you really is, I have this job that I hate, but it pays very well. And I have these kids and I want to give them these opportunities and I'm going to do this. If that really is the life that you choose. Okay.

You choose it.

That's great. The difference is coasting on through that because you think you don't have any other choices. And the world is full of people who had thriving careers, unquote, and then pulled the plug and said actually I'm going to sail around the world with my family, or we're going to move to a small village and I'm going to open a clinic or whatever it is, whatever it is.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: One of the things that I think about when I think about the overculture is how violent it is.

Yucca: Oh,

Mark: that makes sense. When you consider that it's essentially an extortion airy system, it's a system that threatens you with punishment. If you don't do what it says you have to do. And those punishments are everything from social exclusion to literally being put to death.

It depends on where you are in the world and what your particular transgression is. But particularly more than anything else. When I look at the, the geopolitical jockeying around the world, most of what I see is Strategizing and, and tactical moves to get to resources. And those resources are the earth that capital wants to grind up into money, whether we need those products or not. If we can be made to want them, then there's a product to be sold. And I believe that if we transformed this culture from the overculture paradigm, the violence of the system will fall. Doesn't mean it'll be zero. You know, primates can be violent. They, they can. But generally in more of a self-defense kind of mode than anything else.

It's, it's pretty rare. There are examples, but it's pretty rare for a one pack of primates to go on a, an attack raid on another one and kill them.

Yucca: And even then it usually has to do with resources.

Mark: I'm sure.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: So how is the pagan worldview different? And in some ways, you know, how is it the same?

Mark: Right. Well, I think it's, it's probably best if we break that conversation into two pieces, which is paganism characterized generally as sort of an umbrella term for the, the whole constellation of pagan practices happening in, especially the English speaking world. Cause that's what we know about most.

And then. More specifically, how is a naturalistic pagan worldview, different? a nonthiest science-based naturalistic pig view. So why don't we take on the first one first? And to be honest, this is, this is a place where I really split with the, I mean, it's, it's sort of an oxymoron to say, but mainstream pagans because of the body and the soul or spirit, they subscribed to that because they believe in an afterlife.

Yucca: Dualism in many pagan traditions is a big theme, right? Yeah. The, the dualism and the theism. I see that theism is the, the authority.

Mark: Yes.

Yucca: But I think

Mark: I think to be fair, some pagans view their relationships with gods as less authoritarian and more like these are allied forces that I can work and build relationships with.

Yucca: that's true. And some see, I have certainly talked with the people who see, say the goddess as a metaphor for earth itself and life and nature. Yeah. And so there's certainly, there's, I guess there's a, there's a lot of different approaches there. Although there are some who talk about their faith and their gods and their deities and in a very sort of perinatal patriarchal way, even if it happens to have the, the face of the body of a, of a female.

Mark: Yes, that's true. I've certainly heard that myself. This, this question of the ghost in the machine is the one that really affects me the most. Because if, I mean you're, how do I say this? You're you're not fully embracing the mechanics of planet earth. If you're not acknowledging the part of the process where life gets dismantled and ended, and then reassembled into new things. If, because you can talk about that. I mean, we hear it in pagan chance all the time. The word rebirth shows up all the time. And I, my personal theory is that that's because it happens to rhyme with earth, but there is this idea that spring, for example, is a rebirth of life. Well, it's not what it is, is dormant things waking up and the next generation being born it's, it's not a rebirth of anything that's dead.

Once something dies, it's dead. And I just feel like when people talk about reincarnation or they talk about Vall holla or the summer lands, or the isle of apples, or, you know, whatever, whatever the story is, those can be beautiful stories. But they truly discount the implication that that has theologically the, what, what that kind of dualism means.

It moves away from the sacredness of the planet and starts being focused on this kind of ecology of spirits, of, of non-core pauriol beings. And in our opinion, based on available evidence that doesn't exist. It's a nice story and stories are cool, but if it distracts you from the very sacred earth that we put our feet down on every day, then it may not be a helpful story. That duelism piece is one that I really feel strongly about. And there are, there are other examples, like, there are some pagan traditions where exhibit exhibiting particular kinds of characteristics qualifies you for an afterlife, like courage and, you know, prowess in battle or whatever that is.

Right. What that means then is that you're living for the afterlife you're not living for now. And That once again, pulls away from, from the reality that's directly in front of us.

Yucca: That we're part of, Not just.

Mark: Yes. The, we are the reality that we have. And this once again, I mean, that sounds weird, but that's because our language is entirely defined by the assumptions that are made about the nature of our existence in the overculture.

Yucca: Right.

Mark: So, Yucca do you want to speak to how a naturalistic pagan worldview is different?

Yucca: So, I mean, a lot of the things that we identified in the beginning as being problematic, we identified to, because we are naturalistic pagans, and these are, these are places where there are differences between our views and values and the overculture. So I mean, the first we've been talking a lot about the dualism and our part being part of.

I think that's really key is the being our relationship to the earth is recognizing that we're part of this system. And that a lot of the systems that we've been talking about, the human systems, they are constructed, they're made up by us. We are cultural animals. And so that's part of what we do instinctually, but that, that isn't necessarily, that's not always truth, right?

That there, there are different cultures at different times, and there are different species that have different approaches and that what we sometimes see that is presented to us as the ultimate one truth within the overculture simply is one version of how things can be. And that's not that doesn't serve.

What many of us choose and would rather be

Mark: Right, right. Where I really see the big difference between the naturalistic pagan worldview and the overculture centers around values. The, I mean, the idea that we are we are subject to this external authority to tell us what's moral is just something that doesn't work for me at all because I don't believe it.

I don't believe in those authorities. Even, even democratically elected authorities sometimes they get it right. Sometimes they don't get it right.

And I'm, I don't have a great deal of trust in the way that our systems are orient oriented now. So, but when I look at. At that original mix that we talked about, the, the capitalistic paint with the white supremacy and the patriarchy and all that stuff stirred into it.

What I most notice is that it is organized around a set of values that are not, they're not sustainable. They're not kind, they're not inclusive. They're not any of the things that I think are really important from a value standpoint. And we've, we've done shows before on the atheopagan four pillars and on the atheopagan principles.

And that'll go into details about what I believe is that's really a value, but the, the value of on accumulation of wealth and possessions, the value on Sort of strutting macho domination of women and LGBTQ people by men of value of of domination and humiliation of, of dark skinned people by white people. It's horrific to me. It's not just that I disagree a little bit. It's not just that. I think it's a little dated and maybe we need to update it that entire 10 commandments, all of that stuff. It needs to be tossed and revisited. We, we need a radically different set of values to underpin a successful culture oriented around happiness and kindness And, sustainability.

Yucca: Yes. and we need a new way to talk about it too,

Mark: Hmm.

Yucca: these things, many of the things that we really do value the body and pleasure and the sexuality and the animal side, the, you know, the so-called base side of things. Those are all judged as negative, bad things. And yet these are things that we, we believe are as we were talking about before sacred

Mark: Yes. Look at all the psychosis in our, in our media, around food, the, the ridiculous Hawking of terrible food. and then all of these messages about body shape and weight loss, and just, just terrible things to tell people. They're just, they're awful things to tell people you shouldn't be telling people that stuff.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: In a, in a society that had its head on straight. In my opinion, you know, if you ran a couple of those commercials, people would be up in

Yucca: Yeah.

And I think the food one is a really interesting one because that's one of those places where we're demonizing the ancient foods, we're demonizing the ancient and the traditional foods and, and holding up on these pillars, these new super processed industrialized things that that's really served to separate people more and more from, from their own ability to take care of themselves from their own heritage, from their own, from their relationship, with the rest of nature, it's all this packaged, fake beyond whatever stuff that just is just so far removed.

Mark: And a lot of that stuff, especially the snack foods are engineered to be addictive.

Yucca: Literally

Mark: They are literally engineered. So that every time you take a bite of that potato chip, you get a little burst of dopamine and you can't stop until you've emptied the package.

Yucca: Yeah.

And the greenwashing it, so think that there, you know, you're somehow saving the environment while you're consuming their products too

Mark: Right. Right. The whole

Yucca: plastic, but don't worry. You can recycle it. I said, you go down that no,

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: it ends up in the ocean, so,

Mark: So obviously we have a very dim view of what the overculture provides to us. Maybe there was a time when some of this stuff was useful.

Yucca: Hmm.

Mark: But it got calcified many, many centuries ago. And even though we have moved out of feudalism and into, well, we have a different kind of feudalism now we've, you know, now we've got corporatism and modern industrial capitalism and you know what they call post-industrial capitalism with the information economy.

But the end goal was always let's make as much surplus as possible and then grab as much of it for ourselves as we possibly can. And that's been going on since Sumeria,

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: It's time for us to revisit these, these values are not serving us. These Mo these ideas are not serving us.

Yucca: Quite the opposite. In fact, they're not, it's just not serving us. They're actively harming us, destroying our planet. Well, the biosphere that, the structure of the rock part's doing just fine, but the living part, you know? Yeah.

Mark: And so all of that is very grim, but what I would like to say to our listeners is resist figure you know, think for yourself, what do I want my life to be like, not what do I want my next job to be like, but literally, you know, blank sheet of paper. If I were living the life I really wanted to live, what would it be like?

Yucca: Yeah, what would, and that might be a huge question. So you might break it into some smaller chunks to start thinking about what do you want your daily experience to be like

Mark: right

Yucca: right now, right? Not, and thinking about your 5, 10, 20 year plan, all that. That's great. But right now, what, what do you want every day to be like,

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: and then how do you get there?

Mark: Yeah. How, how do you get to the life that you deserve? Not to say that, you know, you deserve to be fabulously wealthy and have people wait on you hand and foot. But my guess is that very, very few of us would actually choose that as the life that we want to live. Given the option of that big question, what do you want your life to be like?

Yucca: Right.

Mark: I think people are much more humble in their aspirations, I think. And I think that what most people want is love and creativity and enough so that they don't feel scared about food shelter, medical care.

Yucca: And often a sense of in, in that coming back to that word that we've used a few times in service. I think most people really, really do want to help.

Mark: Yes. My,

Yucca: deep in us.

Mark: my work both in my, in my paying career as a nonprofit professional, working for public interest missions and my work in helping to foster atheopagan ism and support that community and provide resources for it and organize events and all that kind of stuff. I find that tremendously fulfilling it's, you know, it's unthinkable to me that I would.

You know, go to work for a financial firm and, and shuffle other people's money around and make a bunch of money myself in the process, because I wouldn't find that meaningful. Now. I'm not saying that others couldn't find that meaningful. And I'm not saying that there's something wrong with that kind of work.

just that for me, that doesn't feel like service and being in service to something greater than myself is very meaningful to me.

Yucca: Yeah. And so that's, that's something that. Each person needs to do for themselves. Right. And that's, so that's a place where we're challenging the overculture and saying yes. Do think don't, don't just keep going with everything. Stop. Think that's one of the things that we've talked about with a gift of the darkness is that pausing in the dark, in the quiet and really, really reflecting and exploring, exploring the feelings around that.

And the, the thoughts that come up and, and just everything that's there for you. Because as we were talking about before, this is, this is it. This is what we get. This is life that we're not as far as we can tell. We're not going off to some eternal land in the clouds or under the ground or wherever.

Right now.

Mark: Yeah. It's not practice. This is the real, this is the game. This is the real thing. And what I'd like to put in a word for now is that that kind of reflection is perfectly suited for solo. Very well-suited to do your, your contemplation of yourself in a mirror with candles, maybe select some tarot cards that particularly resonate with you that give you a sense about what aspects you'd like to have in your life.

All of those kinds of things can be really great ways of getting underneath your conscious, your conscious mind into your subconscious mind, where you have, you may have more of a deep seated sense about what you find satisfying and what you find unsatisfying.

Yucca: And it might also take some, some experimentation, right? Because we've, we're surrounded by these values that are telling us, you know, what we should be valuing and thinking and feeling. And, and we might not have ever let ourselves explore in areas that are outside of that before.

Mark: Right.

Yucca: So I think there's there's room to, for that reflection and for that exploration as well, which is exciting.

Mark: It is, it is one of the words that I've liked to associate my life with a lot since I was in my twenties actually is adventure. And I think. Life can feel like an adventure, even, even if you're, you know, getting up and going to work every morning and coming home and, you know, kind of doing the same thing most of the time, you can still have your life feel like an adventure depending on where your growth edges are and what your, what new things you're trying.

Right. need to listen to what I just said myself. Now that I'm 60. I need to remind myself that there's still plenty of adventure to be found. So I'll make a note. So I know there is so much more that we could say about this. I think this is a pretty good first bite. I've really enjoyed kicking around these ideas with you Yucca. And I think that it's, I, I, I feel really proud of this episode. I'm glad that we're talking about.

Yucca: Yeah, likewise, there's a lot of.

Mark: Yeah.

Yucca: and, and before we wrap up, I just want to come back and say, you know, we aren't attacking any individuals. Right. And we're not saying judging any of us for being part of this. We're talking about values. We're talking about culture and yes, we're critiquing. We most certainly are critiquing it.

But it's not personal.

Mark: right, right, exactly. So

um, because all of us go along with the overculture to some degree, the it's it's everywhere and you can't fight on every. It's not possible. You have to kind of pick, all right, here are the ways that I'm going to be divergent, because those are the things that are going to bring me satisfaction and a sense of meaning and purpose.

And then on the other stuff, I'm okay. I'll, I'll work a job. That's okay. I'm going to do that. And so yeah.

what Yucca says is very true. The, this, this critique is of culture and systems and not of individuals.

Yucca: Yeah.

Mark: I imagine there will be a lot of thoughts in response, thoughts, questions, comments, in response to this podcast, we are available to you at That's the wonder podcast, all one word Q And we welcome your comments, your topic, suggestions, all that kind of thing, and happy new year.

Yucca: Thanks for hanging out with us.

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