Guest Post: Allyson says the Pagan debate is a matter of association

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I am a practicing Hellenic pagan. I use that term rather than polytheist for a number of reasons. First, my background is Wiccan (of the British ilk, traditional, stodgy, and quite hard polytheistic in its nature as
opposed to the more open, flowy, monistic Wicca of today) and while I myself am no longer Wiccan and haven’t been for a decade, I still honor those who took the time to teach and educate me. Second, because the term “polytheist” is akin to “monotheist” and so saying that I am a polytheist says only that I worship more than one god, and nothing else. Saying I am pagan opens it a bit more widely, but also narrows the field a bit at the same time.

I admit to chagrin at the way modern pagans (and especially those who call themselves Wiccan, with no training or elder leadership to speak of) sometimes act. I stopped associating with the Wiccan community
because of those actions; they no longer represented what I was. In looking at a tsunami approaching, I decided the better part of valor was retreat in this case. The word has been taken for their own; I use
others instead, now. I am, however, quick to point out that while Wicca is most definitely a modern religion, all claims of Gardner and Sanders aside, it did start out as hard polytheism. The very idea of “all gods are one” would have been anathema to Gardner. The God and Goddess of early Wicca are not all one, anymore than the Morrigan can be equated with Frig.

I *am* a polytheist, in that I worship many gods. I worship many in the Greek pantheon (foremost being Hecate and Dionysos), a smattering from other pantheons (in their own traditional setting, as closely as I can manage), and Jesus from the Abrahamic faiths. In each instance there has been a distinct call. In each instance, not responding to that call has resulted in being miserable as the point was brought home again and again. I honor many gods, but worship few, if that makes sense. But I believe in them all. I would not presume to tell a god he or she didn’t exist.

I avoid the term “Hellenismos” for much the same reason I avoid the term “Wicca;” it has been taken over largely by people who I find personally offensive and whose education and scholarship I cannot speak to. Terms… labels… mean very little to me. I am what I am, and the gods are happy with that. I don’t see much need to worry beyond it.

Allyson

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1476243832 Tess Dawson

    Hi
    Ally, I think you touch upon a larger issue here: “Paganism” as a term for a
    modern religious movement is notoriously difficult to define, while “polytheism”
    is much easier to define.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Is ease of definition always a good thing?

      “‘Paganism’ as a term for a modern religious movement is notoriously difficult to define” precisely because the diversity of the modern pagan movement makes it impossible to create as bounded definition.  The only way to create an easily defined term for the larger religious movement it to exclude much of the diversity that many of us value.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1476243832 Tess Dawson

    Hi
    Ally, I think you touch upon a larger issue here: “Paganism” as a term for a
    modern religious movement is notoriously difficult to define, while “polytheism”
    is much easier to define.

    • http://ianphanes.livejournal.com/ Ian Phanes

      Is ease of definition always a good thing?

      “‘Paganism’ as a term for a modern religious movement is notoriously difficult to define” precisely because the diversity of the modern pagan movement makes it impossible to create as bounded definition.  The only way to create an easily defined term for the larger religious movement it to exclude much of the diversity that many of us value.


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