The gods are “like warm apple pie”: The hidden meanings behind our metaphors

I don’t know what is going on with all the apple metaphors. First, John Beckett compared gods to apples.  I made the case that, if the gods are apples, they are a softer kind of apple than John likes.  Tom Swiss, Pat Mosley, and Yvonne Aburrow have all extended the metaphor in unique and entertaining [Read More…]

The Awkward Adolescence of the Polytheist Movement: Defining Community at the Edges

The contemporary Polytheist movement is in its adolescence, and like every adolescence, it’s awkward and accompanied by a lot of exclamatory rhetoric … but it will be outgrown. Of course, just as there are adolescents who are wise beyond their years and more mature than their parents, there are also parts of the Polytheist movement which are like this. I suspect they are made up of people who are more concerned with cultivating a rich cultural center than with building walls at the boundaries. [Read more…]

Tell Me Again That Jungians Can’t Be Pagan (edited)

The claim that Jungians can’t be Pagan ignores the (at least) thousands of Pagans who hold an archetypalist view of the gods. What’s more, it ignores almost 50 years of contemporary Pagan history. I get the impression that some people think that I invented Jungian polytheism. In fact, Jungian interpretations of the gods of polytheism were popularized by many popular Pagan writers over a period of decades, long before I called myself Pagan. [Read more…]

American Gods and the Growth of Devotional Polytheism, Part 2: Dilution and Transcendence

American Gods reflected — and probably magnified — a dissatisfaction among many Pagans with popular forms of Paganism. And it offered one possible alternative: literal belief in the gods and devotional forms of worship. Popular Paganism was failing to produce the kind deep religious experiences that many of Pagans craved, and devotional polytheism promised to answer that craving. [Read more…]

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…]


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