It’s like every gods-ridden fool is writing at once….

And it’s awfully exciting.

I really want to compile them all at once.  But I’ll miss a bunch.  But it’s like everyone has decided that polytheism requires a framework and we really all ought to be talking about it and maybe we don’t have to apologise for talking about the “invisible friends” outside of our heads.

The latest–Julian Betkowski (who, may I point out, in case you haven’t noticed, has a luscious beard and a mind like a war-hammer), with his Polytheist Manifesto (I recommended “Why We’re Right” but he rejected this)

Under Polytheism, spirituality and religion extends across the realm of being to unite all individuals in a complex network. Each spiritual experience has at least two interlocking components, the experience from the self, and the experience from the other, and we must be willing to acknowledge how our experiences, practices, and beliefs impact those around us. Polytheism tells us that we are not alone, and that in itself carries profound lessons.

And very mild-mannered John Beckett‘s Patheos post, Wrestling With the Gods:

But I am concerned with two things.  I’m concerned with Pagans who fail to wrestle with the questions and thus adopt a view of the gods that is weak and unhelpful.  I want Paganism to be a robust religion (or if you prefer, religions) on its own, not just an environmentally friendly version of the mainstream.  And I’m concerned with Pagans who profess to be polytheists but who tap out of the wrestling match and fail to consider the implications of multiple deities of limited power and scope.

Which links to Morpheus Ravenna‘s recent-ish post (if you haven’t read it, you ought to).

If I had to boil it down to a core concept, it would be this: if your Gods are real to you, treat Them like beings with agency. Agency: the capacity of an entity to act. In magical terms, agency is something like will.

If our Gods are real, They have agency. We don’t get to order Them around. We don’t command Them; instead we invite. We don’t dismiss Them when we’re ready to move on; instead we say thank you and goodbye.

And Sannion (who is always not shutting up about the gods) wrote this, a sort of beautiful fire-side story and not enough beautiful things are written in second-person:

At some point in your life you would probably travel abroad (if only to the next city over) and encounter people worshiping an entirely different group of divinities, often in ways vastly different from what you were familiar with. And when they did call them by the same names they often told stories about the gods you had never heard before. Though not the same, you respected it for it was their traditions and tradition is the lifeblood of the community. Sometimes you even worshiped them too, because one can never have enough of the divine.

And someone who kinda terrifies me because he’s actually not scary at all, pointed this piece out, by Tess Dawson

I am no doctor, so I cannot answer the question of clinical psychological delusions; if you think that this is going on, seek qualified care, and better yet try to find a professional who is open to polytheistic religion. However, I can help something in the matter of discerning divine communication from everyday healthy mental chatter. It can be a deeply shattering experience when the gods contact us. It can shake us to the foundations which make us question even our own identities. When a person does not believe in gods prior to the experience, and when a person has no context for such an experience, the feeling can extend from shattering to pulverizing. So what do you do if this happens?

which is a much better attempt, I think, than what I wrote 5 months ago, “You Are (Most Likely) Not Crazy”

In some of the monotheistic religions, a mystic or a devotee with visions may enter a cloister or a monastery where they can study and experience their insights away from the chaos and difficulties of daily life and be surrounded by others experiencing something similar  We’ve mostly abolished both the monasteries and the concept of their function in our modern and advanced society with the exception, maybe, of the university.  So when someone has shamanic or deific visions, sees their ancestors or faeries or land-spirits, they still have to find a way to pay their rent, hold down their job, take care of their children, and have pretty much only the internet, psychic phone-lines, or mental-health professionals to turn to.

And I’ve got another big essay coming on Pagan Identity tomorrow hopefully.

By the way, I love you all.  Oh, and I think we should maybe start (per Anomalous Thracian’s suggestion) maybe compiling anthologies.   So, you know, we don’t always feel like we have to fill a massive epic theological and practical gap and can actually maybe go play once in awhile.  I’m actually taking a day from writing to go to St. Augustine to go see one of my favorite writers who just ran into another one of my favorite writers in Powell’s in Portland.  So I guess it’s not really a day off from writing.

Be well.  All of you.

About Rhyd Wildermuth

An intractable tea-swilling punk, queer hooligan, and dream-soaked leftist bard, Rhyd Wildermuth has left bits of his heart(h) everywhere—in a satyr’s den in Berlin, hanging from an elder tree over a holy well in Bretagne, scattered in back alleys of Seattle, and lost somewhere in the bottom of his rucksack. He’s devoted to Welsh gods, breathes words, makes candles, plays recorder, fumbles with tech, and refuses ever to learn to drive. His main blog is: paganarch.com. View all posts by Rhyd Wildermuth

7 responses to “It’s like every gods-ridden fool is writing at once….

  • CBrachyrhynchos

    Nice collection of links. Thank you.

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      You’re welcome! Also, see my comment to Bearfairie as to why I’ve been harping on you to write out your beliefs for us, mate. : ) They’re fascinating and I think you’ve got lots to contribute to multiple sides of the discussion.
      Worse case scenario, you could just write an essay and maybe submit it to No Unsacred Place. I know Alison Lilly has expressed interest in your beliefs, she might have an idea of where it might get posted, too.

  • bearfairie

    It is so gods-damned refreshing to see folks en masse finally starting to write sensibly about the gods. I’m feeling really encouraged, the sea change the broader pagan community has been needing around how to do respecful polytheism is finally gathering enough steam to actualy start to be a sea change. Thank you for taking the time to gather together some great posts, your own included.

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      Isn’t it, though? I must admit–I suspect that the more Polytheistic theory is written, the less fights there will be. How many of the massive online conflicts have turned on misunderstandings of each other’s positions? And how much has everyone (on all sides) become on the defensive in response to those misunderstandings?

      I hate to admit it, but I think we’ve all had self-esteem problems. Reading the Humanistic Paganism site, or the Animist Blog Carnival sites, or any of the individual blogs written by polytheists or others, we all sound a little shrill, like we’re all trying to carve out a place for our beliefs against internal foes and are thus losing the larger picture of how oddly brilliant it is that we’re all believing in something not only fulfilling, but brutally true and important to the rest of the world. Those individual differences (and some of them are huge, of course) can be discussed more soberly when all sides have a flourishing theological and practical position from which to discuss those difference, methinks.

  • Aine

    I was actually writing in a (private) blog the other day that I still catch myself phrasing my relationships with my gods and spirits in terms that are intended to make ‘non-believers’ more comfortable. Which the spirits pushed/told me wasn’t going to cut it anymore, and I needed to be clearer and more honest about them telling me things rather than phrasing it as, “oh i realized [x]“. And I’ve also realized I dislike naming the relationships I have with my gods and spirits – I usually phrase it very loosely when the relationships are actually pretty well defined between the spirits and I.

    Anyway! What got that thought turning was your comment “maybe we don’t have to apologise for talking about the “invisible friends” outside of our heads.” and my remembering/realizing again that I definitely do apologize (without explicitly saying ‘sorry’, but with the words I use) for having experiences with spirits that are definitely outside of myself. And it’s taking a lot of work to un-learn those ingrained phrases and instincts, to stop hiding by default what my religious reality is. /end word vomit

    • Rhyd Wildermuth

      Hardly word vomit at all!

      Each person who talks more openly about what is happening opens the way for others to do the same thing. Even when our experiences are utterly different, if the gods and spirits are truly outside of ourselves, then they are something which others can also come to experience as well. Our collective reluctance comes from many sources, including the fear of being thought “crazy,” but our collective silence only isolates everyone else in similar situations (and isolates ourselves, as well). I think that’s why the default state of almost everyone is “solitary,” but I’m willing to bet a lot that most people are like I am, constantly wishing there were more people to talk to about this stuff and, eventually, hoping that those who don’t believe might also be able to understand.

      I get you on the being pushed/told that one needs to be more honest. And fortunately I’ve (so far) found that many of my non-Pagan friends and family are actually quite open to hearing these things…even some of my Atheist friends.

  • Some Thoughts on Polytheism

    […] Wildermuth posted up a great roundup/linkage of the many discussions going on about polytheism right now. I won’t be linking to all the […]

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