We are heretics in the sense that we follow our hearts, are intellectually independent and stand outside mainstream institutions, disagree with popular convictions and believe that there is an utter lack of available venues where original, risk-taking artists can freely, openly express their innermost creative visions. 

Heresy, the Greek hairesis, was from the outset an eager, living word. The taking of a city, its expugnatio, is a hairesis, the choosing of a lot in life or an opinion, is a hairesis; always in the word hairesis there is this reaching out … this studious, zealous pursuit—always something personal, even passionate…. Hairesis, what you choose for yourself, is opposed to tyche—[i.e.] the chance from without that befalls you by no will of your own. Only in an enemy’s mouth did heresy become a negative thing…. The gist of heresy is free personal choice in act, and [e]specially in thought—the rejection of traditional faiths and customs, qua traditional.

qtd. in Shanyn Fiske, Heretical Hellenism, 3

We are secular in much the same way we are heretical. One cannot codify the secular because secularism is about casting off repressive restrictions; it’s about being audacious enough to ask fundamental, sometimes unorthodox questions, daring enough to break rules and even taboos, arrogant enough to explore impossibilities and tough enough to weather ridicule or even persecution in order to bring true insight to any field of human endeavour. 

That said, we do not reject religious or mystical hearts and minds. Any true secularism is inclusive. As heretics, we reject institutionalized religion as much as we reject scientific institutions. Any programmatic, mechanized approach to life and to the pursuit of knowledge and understanding is ultimately limited, and though useful to some extent, tends to overreach. In short, we respect old and established knowledge and traditions, but we dare to test, interrogate, distort, revise, fuse and remix.

Asa Boxer is a founder of and editor at The Secular Heretic. His poetry has garnered several prizes and is included in various anthologies around the world. His books are The Mechanical Bird (Signal, 2007), Skullduggery (Signal, 2011), Friar Biard’s Primer to the New World (Frog Hollow Press, 2013), Etymologies (Anstruther Press, 2016), and Field Notes from the Undead (Interludes Press, 2018).

Marko Sijan co-founded and co-edits The Secular Heretic. His novel, Mongrel (Mansfield Press), was named one of the “Best First Books” of 2011 by the Globe and Mail. His fiction and non-fiction have appeared in journals including Canadian Notes and Queries, Maisonneuve, Geist, and This Magazine.