Queer I Stand
Polytheism Is Not Relativism
And, perhaps there's a lesson in that in and of itself. Perhaps what modern proponents of polytheism need to understand, and have often failed to understand, is that every polytheist theological notion is particular, contextual, and individualized, and not only resists generalization, but is to some extent immune to it by its very nature.
The reason that Thor, Zeus, and Ba'al are different is because they developed in close connection to vastly different indigenous cultures; and while historical examples of inter-pantheonic (and generally metaphorical or translational) syncretism certainly exist, that doesn't mean that the deities involved fully merge or are really the same basic (or, to use the term some prefer, "archetypal") being with different masks. Considering them to be "ultimately one" rather than simply "connected" or even "related" is disrespectful to the diversities of the cultures involved, as well as to the beings themselves. If that is the case with deities and with the cultures from which they originate, how much more so will it be the case with individuals today, who do not come from united indigenous cultural traditions, and bring a diversity of background to their individual practices of polytheism with many different deities?
Thinking over my own circles of associates within polytheism, I do not know of anyone that I agree with fully on every single point regarding every deity whose worship we share; even the one person that I probably agree with more than anyone else I've yet encountered still has a number of differences with me on many issues -- some of them rather vital! Nonetheless we get along quite well in most circumstances. When this circle of associates discusses particular theological ideas in blog posts, e-mails, in person (though that happens rarely enough, sadly), and via other means of contact, there are always people who voice their agreement and who feel a certain amount of congruity with a given idea. There are others who don't agree entirely, and might go on to suss out where differences lie while being respectful of those differences, and doing so ends up being quite useful and productive (if for no other reason than better defining what each person's viewpoint actually does encompass). There are others who voice their alternate opinions in these forums, sometimes as a direct challenge to those earlier opinion-staters, and they sometimes do so in a separate venue or subject heading so as not to be confrontational (which generally works, but not always). There are others who don't agree, and think that the other person is "wrong" and needs to be convinced of such. And there are others who don't agree, and who do the prudent thing and simply do not comment, and perhaps do not offer alternatives aloud elsewhere either. I think we can all find ourselves at most of the different positions amongst this full range of options (and between or alongside them, too!) at various points over the years in online Pagan and polytheist discussions, if not more recently than that; I know I've been at all of them at various points in my online interactions over the last decade plus.
The difficulty in all of this, thus, comes with the notion that polytheism and its confederate pluralism must affirm and approve of every other option. Realistically, this could not be the case without all viewpoints becoming entirely relative, and thus all potential truths being equalized and therefore nullified as valid or permissible. While that may be the expectation and the actuality amongst some forms of mindless pseudo-liberalism and what gets praised and celebrated as "open-mindedness," it is not a very viable way to approach any matter in life without caring about any possible outcome and leaving everything to whim and chance, with no values or senses of meaning asserting themselves whatsoever. If anything, the truth of the matter comes out when particular self-proclaimed "open-minded" individuals end up making any decision with which they might be faced, and especially any decision that results in upholding whatever viewpoint they evidently prefer rather than something entirely new and unexpected. And, there's nothing wrong with making choices (and thus saying "no" to some things while affirming others), with liking what one likes, and with preferring what stirs one's own guts, heart, mind, or anything else.
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus is a metagender and a founding member of the Ekklesía Antínoou (a queer, Graeco-Roman-Egyptian syncretist reconstructionist polytheist religious group dedicated to Antinous, the deified lover of the Roman Emperor Hadrian and other related gods and divine figures). E is a contributing member of Neos Alexandria and a Celtic Reconstructionist pagan in the filidecht and gentlidecht traditions. Follow Lupus' work on the Aedicula Antinoi blog.