American Gods and the Growth of Devotional Polytheism, Part 1: Fantasy and Inspiration

There has always been a close relationship between fantasy and contemporary Paganism, and for the most part, we Pagans are unashamed of it. A work of fiction may open a person up to having a very real experience to which they were not open before. For example, a person might read American Gods and develop an interest in devotional polytheism, from which they proceed to learn more and seek out a direct encounter with the gods. But saying that works of fiction played an important role in the Pagan revival does not deny that it was inspired by powers which transcend the minds of the authors of those works of fiction. [Read more…]

“How Do You Like Them Apples?” On Gods and Metaphors

I have noticed — especially recently — that rigidity of definitions tends to correspond to other forms of rigidity. As a result, hard polytheistic communities seem to be more prone to fracturing than other polytheistic communities. The gods we choose tend to be reflections of ourselves in some ways. If we see the gods as “separate” and “individual,” like billiard balls, then we may well find ourselves smashing against the hard edges of those around us. But if we see the gods as part of us and us as part of them, inseparable and interpenetrating, then we may find ourselves experiencing a deeper sense of communion with one another. [Read more…]

From a Flatland Metaphysics to the Ecology of the Gods

Let’s acknowledge that all of us are talking about gods, but we’re talking about them on different levels. That all of our gods are “real” on some level, and not “real” on other levels. And that all of us are poly/theists on some level, and none of us are poly/theists on other levels. And that none of the levels is better or more right than any of the others. Let’s abandon this one-dimensional flatland metaphysics, and embrace a tropical rainforest ontology. Let’s stop talking like there is only one level to reality or that there is any set of definitions can possibly encompass all of those levels at once. There’s room enough in the ecology of the gods for all of our beliefs and ways of honoring them. [Read more…]

The Dictionary Is Not A Holy Book

Language is a living thing — especially religious language. It is supple and flowing, and that can be exasperating, especially to those who carry a deep unconscious fear of life. I know that fear. I have to resist it all the time. But I also know that real meaning is not to be found between the covers of a book — especially not the dictionary. [Read more…]

In Religious Matters, Truth Is Overrated

There are things that matter as much as truth. Things like beauty and compassion, a sense of meaning and a feeling of connectedness. And I think concern for the truth needs to be balanced with these things or in order to live a fully human life. [Read more…]

I’ve forgotten why I cared: The irrelevance of (un)belief in the gods

Have you ever asked a question and then, in the course of the ensuring conversation, forgotten why you asked the question in the first place?
I’m feeling like that. I’ve forgotten why I cared whether gods are real. [Read more…]


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