Chichester Humanists is a local branch of West Sussex Humanists and represents the interests of the non-religious residents in and around Chichester.

Each month we discuss issues concerning religion and belief, ethics, equality, human rights and science, including current events.

We liase with Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council on matters concerning equality of religion and belief, and monitor Council activities, including proposals for new "faith" schools.

We are keen to campaign on behalf of non-religious residents who feel disadvantaged because of their beliefs, e.g. access to a community school, discrimination at work or through the delivery of local services.

We organise events and displays, invite prominent speakers, and give talks to local organisations, including schools and colleges.

We meet once a month in Muchos Nachos140 Whyke Rd, Chichester PO19 8HT (tel: 01243 785 009)

Meetings are from 7.30pm on the fourth Tuesday of the month. Instead of membership subscriptions, there is a £3 entrance charge for meetings with speakers (usual concessions).

If you would like to meet some local freethinkers and have a chat, please come along and join us at the next meeting. Look out for the poster above.

For more details, email Julian.

Being freethinkers there are many things secular humanists will not agree on, but there are some matters on which we do take a firm and unanimous stand. We do not condone prejudice of any sort. Nor do we hate religious people. Such views are entirely contrary to any humanist philosophy and we reserve the right to exclude any person promoting them.

Paganism with Sadie Turner 19th November 2012


Our guest was Sadie Turner, Regional Coordinator of the South East Pagan Federation. After a barrage of questions, Sadie eventually managed to give us an overview of Paganism.

She firstly described what drew her to Paganism. Brought up by non-religious parents, she joined a Brighton coven at the age of 19. Being a feminist, she was attracted to the feminine side and light found in Paganism, preferring the goddess to the traditional male god of Christianity. After many years, she now emphasises balance and nature.

Paganism in Europe was handed down orally and so there are no written records. In the early 1900s Gerald Gardner reinvented Paganism and has been an enduring influence to this day.

Paganism was only legalised in 1951 in the UK, hence the secrecy surrounding it. The last conviction was in the 19th century. It is not a recognised religion in England but is in Scotland.

Paganism is a collective term for a wide range of practices, most of which celebrate earth and nature. The position of the sun determines the timing of the eight major celebrations, which include the summer solstice (midsummer), yuletide (midwinter) and ostara (Easter).

Most Pagan groups take part in various rituals, some of which are open to the public. Private rituals involve the saying of secret words. Meetings (moots) can take place in houses, pubs or outdoors. There are no Pagan churches. Sacred spaces can be created anywhere.

Spells (Pagan prayers) are said in order to summon healing energy. There are also dark forces in Paganism. Sadie rarely does spell work, as she thinks there can be ininteneded consequences.

One of our members asked if Satanism is Pagan. Of course, Satan is a product of Christianity and has nothing to do with Paganism, which is far older than Christianity.

Asked if she believed in a god or gods, Sadie explained that she believes in different kinds of energy rather than personalised gods, including spirits attached to places and trees.

Someone asked if there were atheist Pagans, to which one of our members declared that he has been a Pagan from early adulthood, describing himself as a Pagan of the countryside and one who sees the Earth as a living thing (Gaia theory).

Another member pointed to the growing interest in green issues, which could lead to an increase in Paganism as the main religions decline in the UK. Paganism may be more attractive to the main religions for several reasons: there is no dogma, groups can be created by anyone and it is not male dominated.

The wide variation of Pagan groups means that is is difficult to gain political recognition. Schools however invite Pagan representatives to talk about their beliefs, which are more popular than ever following the Harry Potter books.

Sadie is a professional gardener but has various other roles. She is a Pagan celebrant, conducting baby namings, weddings/partnerships (hand fasting), elder ceremonies (celebrating the third age) and funerals. She is also a hospital chaplain.

This was a fascinating discussion that we had to cut short at closing time. My feeling is that Paganism will continue to grow and provide a real alternative to those who are disillusioned with the major religions.


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Remembrance Sunday Campaign

The Chichester Observer made a video and wrote an article covering the laying of a Humanist wreath after the main religious ceremony. A transcript of the speech can be downloaded here.

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