Percy Jackson Can Lead To Paganism

Although in this case it’s definitely soft polytheism/psychological pantheism:

The Sydney problem, however, still needed solving. I approached her the other day and said, “Syd, you go to church on Sunday, right?”

“Yes.”

“Who do you pray to?”

“God,” she said.

“One God, right? Then how can you say you believe in all those Greek gods?”

She replied with her patented eye roll: “You don’t understand about God.” And she gave me understanding.

“When I am at the beach near the water, I feel close to Poseidon. When I am in a thunderstorm, I feel close to Zeus. When I see a beautiful person, I feel close to Aphrodite, and when I hear someone really smart or good with weapons, I feel close to Athena. It’s all God, just showing himself in all those ways.”

Spanish Moss describes the impact of Percy Jackson on his children:

These books have turned my son into a little polytheist. During our meal devotional, previously mentioned, everyone has a part. My wife lights the candles, I light incense, my daughter offers water, and my son a small dish with a portion of the evening meal. He has never really said anything at this part, mainly because we have never instructed him to; the rest of the small rites’ format handles all that. However, he has taken up the habit of saying, “And this is for all the Gods and Goddesses.” He has, without prompting, connected the myth of the stories with our ritual life. Ask him and he will tell you who his favorite God or Goddess is, Zeus by the way, and can carry on basic seven year old level conversation about them. All thanks to Percy Jackson.

Some people thought I was being silly when I said these pop culture references would lead people to our religions, but it happens. I even know a lovely woman who found Paganism trying to find help with a Zelda quest, and finding Epona was more than just Link’s horse.

I suddenly have a nostalgic urge to watch The Golden Voyage of Sinbad.

About Star Foster

Polytheistic Wiccan initiated into the Ravenwood tradition, she has many opinions. Some of them are actually useful.

  • Kaye MacArthur

    Not going to lie, I teared up a bit.  And your statements here: “Some people thought I was being silly when I said these pop culture
    references would lead people to our religions, but it happens. I even
    know a lovely woman who found Paganism trying to find help with a Zelda
    quest, and finding Epona was more than just Link’s horse.” really hit me. I’m glad that this is starting to become a more popular idea in the Pagan community. I’ve been seeing discussions cropping up here and there about finding Paganism through popular culture. Sure, it’s been around since movies like The Craft, but people who come to Paganism having been inspired by popular culture are normally frowned upon – at least in my experience.

    But as more movies like THOR and PERCY JACKSON come out, and with more book series steeped in ancient mythology become popular, it’s no wonder that more people are becoming interested in Paganism – they’ve finally been exposed to it, and for some, it will ring a little truer than other forays into spirituality. And who’s to say the gods aren’t themselves helping push such projects along? Modern tactics for modern times?

    So yes, I’m in the pro-popular culture camp and happy to be here. Just wanted to voice my pleasure at your article.

    • Gaddy

      As someone who was led directly into Paganism via “Dungeons and Dragons” in 1980 (about as pop culture as you could get back then,) I wholeheartedly agree!

  • http://twitter.com/thelettuceman Marc

    There’s also the issue of people being lead to the religion with the wrong assumptions and images in mind.  I can’t tell you how many people have a misrepresentation of Heathenry and Northern worship based on their exposure to heavy metal albums and the Viking Metal scene.  There are a lot of people who don’t ever leave that mentality. 

    But I definitely believe exposure to the content as it’s represented in popular culture has an impact.  How many of us watched Hercules and Xena growing up?  I know I did.  Granted, I was exposed to mythologies in 6th grade when we were forced to read Bullfinch.  But it really helped kindle more of a love for the mythology.  I wonder how many budding magicians will come about from seeing the Sorcerer’s Apprentice as kids?

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       Bedknobs and Broomsticks was one of my favorite films as a kid, and I’m not ashamed of it!

      Never got into Xena or Charmed or The Craft.

    • Lēoht Sceadusawol

      You have to admit, those bands make some good music.

      Just remember to point out that the lead band of the genre, Amon Amarth, are a bunch of atheists who happen to like the imagery.

    • Isadora Vega

      Dude, I loved Fantasia growing up! My favorite was the colorful one with all the pegasi and unicorns. Probably because of my My Little Pony obsession. My Little Ponys are totally a gateway to Witchcraft.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         That’d be Beethoven’s Pastoral Symphony. Beethoven made some brilliant music.

  • Thalia Imbolc

    I’ve been a Wiccan for 10 years and in the last year realized *who* my goddess was, that others knew of her. While reading The Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan, he pulls Birgette Silverbow as a hero from the legends–who just happens to bear striking (and intentional) resemblance to Brigid. A friend mentioned Brigid in passing and it clicked like a fierce bolt of lightning. I actually had to excuse myself to the restroom just to think through the implications. I think media can be an intense spark that we then have to sort through and chew up the meat and spit out the bones.

    By the way, I happen to be the lucky mama to those adorable kids that Spanish Moss mentioned ;)

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       *waves*

      The Wheel of Time is awesome. The way magic is described in that series is the closest I’ve come to a good description of energy-working in fiction.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

    I am conflicted on the whole ‘gateway’ fiction.

    I know at least one woman who is so enamoured with Chris Hemsworth that she now counts herself as having a serious interest in Viking Mythology.

    But will not accept anything about it that contradicts with the movies.

    This offends me twice – once as someone with an interest in Historical Germanic society, culture, traditions and mythology and again as a comic geek.

    • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

       *snicker*

      I’ve had people ask me for information on “Manon.” Which is the fictional deity from The Craft.

      • Lēoht Sceadusawol

         Did you respond with ‘fuck off and die!’, or were you less blunt than me?

        • http://www.patheos.com/ Star Foster

           Less blunt, but I think I ended up blocking them.

          • Lēoht Sceadusawol

             I lack tolerance. Possibly my biggest fault.

      • kenneth

        I still come across “spiritual warfare” fools who regurgitate the old Jack Chick nonsense about pagans offering human sacrifice to a god named Samhain on the night of that festival! 

        • Lēoht Sceadusawol

           Maybe we should, just to further the interfaith work.

          We could do a recreation of the famous human sacrifice scene from Genesis 22. ;)

  • http://www.facebook.com/JediCass Daniel Castaneda

    It would be a lie if I said pop culture did not have an effect on me, but I think it was more of a push in that direction. I listen to a lot of heavy metal,  especially Amon Amarth, and while most of these bands are atheist the imagery they paint is vivid and helped push me to really explore being a Heathen. That being said my earliest exposure to polytheism and pagan religion in general occurred when I was kid with a tattered old copy of D’Aulaires Book of Greek Myths. I’ve always been a pretty vorocious reader, so for the last few months I have been reading a lot of Heathen material from the Eddas to Our Troth. I think that may be important for people who come in from pop culture to read  good material from actual members of the faith, and to keep an open mind as it may not be what you think.

  • Isadora Vega

    One of the first books I remember reading that had Pagan themes was Indian Captive by Lois Lenski. It’s about a white girl that gets adopted into a Native American tribe. Not that anything about my practice is all that Native Americany, but it left an impression on me. I read that one to death. I still have it, the cover is barely on.

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

     I like the raspy/growly stuff. It is also authentic, that way. ;)

  • Lēoht Sceadusawol

     I gave up reading the series after the fifth one, or so. I found them dull and monotonous with few likeable characters. Not to mention that each book seemed to be a basic retelling of the one before.

    I was genuinely disappointed, as I was hoping and expecting to really enjoy them.

    Prefer Robin Hobb’s Assassin books (although, they also suffer from bad characters.)

  • Ywendragoneye

    Well, I guess I’ll be the one to say it……”Mists of Avalon” had a huge influence on me. Not that I didn’t have a lot of interest in other-than-Catholic  spiritual ideas much earlier than the ’80′s, and even though I didn’t really consider myself Pagan until the early ’90′s, I’d have to say that “Mists” is what sat in my heart, speaking to me, and ultimately directing me to this path. Still my favorite book.

  • Jason Hatter

    My pagan gateway book?  Job:  A comedy of Justice by Robert Heinlein.  Pagan friendly, but more to the point,  it called my attention to many things that had been hitherto glossed over…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Job:_A_Comedy_of_Justice


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