6 Things That Neo-Pagans Could Learn from Polytheists

6 Things That Neo-Pagans Could Learn from Polytheists June 23, 2015

"Statue In The Park Of Peterhof" by Olga Konstantinova (public domain).  Courtesy of PublicDomainImages.net.
“Statue In The Park Of Peterhof” by Olga Konstantinova (public domain). Courtesy of PublicDomainImages.net.

Polytheism is hardly a new concept: indeed, next to Animism it’s probably the most ancient form of Paganism.  But recently there’s been a revival movement in the Pagan community and the Polytheists consider themselves a distinct (and often separate) group.

Because I’ve made a friend with a Hard Polytheist, I wanted to understand the movement better, so I joined a few of the blogs that my friend follows.  It’s a hard read for a Wiccan.  There’s a lot of venom out there against Wicca.  But I stubborned through it anyway in order to learn about why they felt the way that they did.  A lot of the hate is based in unfounded assumptions that originate from the plethora of Wicca 101 material out there, and if they read our blogs the way they read their own, they would know that.  So that rankles me a little, I admit.

But I kept reading anyway; because you know, the Polytheists are doing a lot of things that I think the rest of us could sit up and take note about.  I believe it would benefit us, our community and our worship if we adopted similar practices and ideas.  Here are my favourites:

6. Inclusivity

There’s a plethora of non gender-binary Polytheists out there. Like, A LOT.  As a result, that topic almost never comes up and people seem to be (mostly) happy to accept and respect whatever pronouns a person wishes to use.  It’s about time the rest of us stopped resisting this.

5. Solidarity

From the point of view of an outsider, it seems that even when they have personal disagreements, the Polytheists remain a united community.  They do not allow their personality conflicts to damage their movement or their goals.  They argue about the proper ways to worship their gods, the proper level of devotion required, and the nature of the beings they worship, among other things: but ultimately they view themselves as a community and they’ll band together against anyone perceived as threatening the community as a whole, regardless of whether they agree with their opinion or even whether or not they like each other.  I guess it’s kind of like the philosophy that “no one is allowed to pick on my siblings – except for me.”

4. Courage in Their Convictions

That being said, Polytheists are not afraid to tell each other exactly what they think, often with four-letter words.  They do not struggle with the Curse of Pagan Niceness and you never have to question where they stand, because you’ll know.

3. Deep Thinking

Polytheists read and think.  Even if you don’t agree with their beliefs and opinions, they have almost always read quite a bit about the subject of their interest and they’ve thought about those opinions.  If you ask, they’ll tell you their reasons.  It will probably require an essay.

2. Fiscal Responsibility

Unlike the rest of us, who seem to have a mental block when it comes to the matter of money, Polytheists support each other financially.  They shop at each others’ Etsy stores for their devotional items rather than distributors who sell cheap ritual gear Made in China, even when they’re broke.  They sponsor devotional art projects.  They fund each others’ Kickstarters and Indiegogos to do things like create a Dionysus ritual at a conference they may not even be going to, when I can’t get the cheap bastardspeople I practice with to bring $5 to the ritual to help pay for the hall rental.  It sure would be nice if other Pagans cared this much about each others’ financial well-being.

1. Personal Acts of Devotion

Polytheists pour themselves into their worship.  They make things to honour their deities.  They invent new magickal practices.  They write rituals and they write books; lots of books (most of which are self-published due to limited readerships; but watch! They’re growing.)  They offer material sacrifices, build shrines, and champion ideals that their deities support, even if those ideals are not popular.  We could learn a thing or two from their acts of devotion.

I’m sure as an outsider looking in I probably miss a lot of the nuances, background and subtle politics, but this is the way it looks to me.  And if this the case, I think Paganism as a whole could benefit if we incorporated some of these dynamics into the rest of our community.

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