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…]

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…]

Want To Be A Pagan?: “Climb a Fucking Tree!”

“If you want to worship nature, you don’t need a sunwheel, pentacle, or a goddess to do so – go out and climb a fucking tree, sit in its branches, learn ecology, listen to the wind rustling the leaves through the branches, watch the squirrels, strip naked and swim in the river as the sun sets. Then do whatever it takes to stop those fuckers who wanna cut that tree cause all they see is dollar signs. You don’t need a European god or goddess to tell you life is sacred.” [Read more…]

“Less Christian Than Thou”: Neo-Paganism and Polytheism Beyond the Christian Divide

Neo-Pagans and Polytheists — have fundamentally different issues. Polytheism and Neo-Paganism don’t just represent different answers to the same question, they represent different answers to different questions. I think much of the conflict between our two communities might arise from the failure to appreciate that each group is trying to be the answer to a different question. It’s become platitudinous to say that none of us have all the answers. But it is equally true that none of us have all the questions. If we can’t appreciate one another’s answers, perhaps we should begin by trying to appreciate each other’s questions. [Read more…]


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