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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Polytheology

Posted by on in Studies Blogs
Perspectives on Deity

 

Perhaps central to Neo Pagan practices is the petition of Deity. The crudest of formulas for Neo Pagan ritual would be: create a sacred space, invoke deity, pay homage and/or petition, and dismiss. Though some petitions might be spontaneous and overlook some elements of space or decorum ( i.e. Penczack’s “instant magic”), the desires and force of will are almost always necessarily in conjunction with some form of request to a higher power. Linguistically, one could simply put it as; “to petition”, a subject must have an object to call upon.  Even in the instance of petitioning the self, drawing forth some sort of believed, hidden energy from the depths of the practitioners psyche, the petitioner is calling upon an “other” to change or work with the “self”.

 

What must be maintained through all of this is the concept of petitioning an “outside” identity, but just who do we call upon when we admit there is something beyond our scope of capability? The primary idea of this outside force is that of Deity or God. Familiar attributes we assign Deity are the three “omni” qualities: Omnipresent, Omniscient, and Omnibenevolent. Abrahamic overtones aside, when one sets out to define Deity, the curious habit of assigning human characteristics also follows suit after our triformula of Deity. However, in our attempt to humanize Deity, what is often overlooked in favor of a more favorable god, is that to include human characteristics to an inherently transcendent idea is anathema to a logical definition of Deity. Put colloquially, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. This problem arises due to the limitations of human qualities; If we maintain Deity is all knowing, why do certain pagan deities have areas of expertise or realms of import? If the God in question is truly a God, would not specific realms of importance be superfluous?

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Devotional Q&A #1

 

Last week, I promised my readers that if you sent me questions about devotional work or polytheism I would answer them to the best of my ability. Well, you haven't disappointed and I have at least a dozen or so questions (maybe more---I haven't actually counted) sitting in my inbox. They're' all good questions and thought-provoking so over the next few weeks I am going to take them one by one in the order in which they were received and answer them here (or maybe on my other blog depending on my mood). 

Today, my first question comes from V.M. who asks:

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

House Sankofa is a mixed House. I think from what I've already shared about our House that it's pretty clear what that might mean, but to be fair I'll explain. In the founding of the House, our goal was to create a sanctuary, a welcoming devotional space where all the Gods and ancestors were welcome, and where They would each be venerated and honored according to the customs and protocols They preferred. To date, we have very strong Norse, African, and Mediterranean lines. What that means in actual practice is that slowly but surely we're all growing fluent and, i hope, fluid in moving from one religious language and set of protocols to another. I am purposely avoiding the use of the word 'eclectic.' It's come to have such a pejorative sense in the various Pagan communities that I do not think it furthers dialogue and, as we've already established in previous debates, words and their meanings are important. Rather, let's call this polytheism as our ancestors would have done it. 

Were I living several centuries before Christianity was a blip on the timeline of religious history, I would have naturally been polytheistic. I would have lived in a society, a community, a culture that was also polytheistic. It would have been the default setting for how we all viewed, engaged with, and processed our world. I would have honored my ancestors in whatever way was customary in my native culture; I would have honored my ancestral Gods, the Gods of my forefathers and foremothers.  I would also very likely have honored other Gods, possibly foreign ones, whose cultus were popular in my city. Were I to visit neighboring tribes, villages, or cities, it is not inconceivable that I would participate in foreign religious rites as well, honoring the Gods of the land in which i lived and moved. Then of course, there were whatever mystery cultus I may have initiated into. All in all, my personal practices and devotions may very well have been a diverse patchwork based on a number of factors. Ancient polytheisms were, in many ways, defined by their diversity. 

Now I don't mean that they lacked protocol and even some measure of exclusivity. Certainly one would not honor say Sekhmet in a temple of Vesta. There were civic and cultural constructs and protocols that were respectfully maintained within the individual temples. Preserving the cultus of that country's Gods was essential to preserving the country. Within the bounds of one's own personal practice, however, there was fluidity and a remarkable blending of practices. Polytheism meant and means 'many Gods' and that's exactly what people had. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Great article!
  • Galina Krasskova
    Galina Krasskova says #
    I would definitely like that.
  • P. Sufenas Virius Lupus
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus says #
    I hope one day to do Communalia with House Sankofa on behalf of the Ekklesía Antínoou.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
All About Mani: the Norse Moon God

I love the Norse Moon God. There isn't very much information on Him in the surviving lore, and yet slowly but surely over the past decade His cultus has been restoring and rebuilding itself. This is a joy to see and it's an equal joy to be a part of such growing devotion. I've found He is a very hard God not to love. His Presence evokes longing and brings with it aching beauty twinned with the hint of ancient power. He touches the heart like no other Deity, and it often seems He moves with an exquisitely calculated sensuality throughout our world. Mani is mystery and in like fashion evokes the hunger for mystery. 

We don't actually have very much concrete information on Him. He's the God of the moon and guides the moon across the night sky, always chased by the wolf Hati. His sisters are Sunna and Sinthgunt and He is of the House of Mundilfari, the Time Turner. He is sometimes said to travel with two children, a boy Hjuki and and girl Bil whom He rescued from neglectful parents. He is the nephew of Nott, or Night. That's what we know from lore. From direct experience of Him, not just by me, but by many of His devotees, we know that He is fascinated by humanity and the process of embodiment. He watches over abused children and notes every tear, every wound, every scar. He is a special protector of those affected by emotional pain and mental illness, and once, He was very fierce. 

It might seem odd, for folks coming from a Wiccan background, to approach the moon Deity as a God, rather than a Goddess but the Norse are not the only Indo-European cultures to have this particular division of divine power. You find the same in the indigenous religions of Lithuania, Sumer, Japan, and ancient Kemet to name but a few.  For this reason, and also because there's been so little written about Him, prior to my sabbatical, I asked folks to email me their questions about this magnificent Deity. It's one thing for me to wax poetic about Mani, which I can happily do, but i was interested in what my readers wanted to know about Him and you all did not disappoint. I received some really good questions and I'm going to do my best to answer them here. 

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  • Theresa Wymer
    Theresa Wymer says #
    Hail Máni! Thank you for this series. I'm really looking forward to it.

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Warrior Medicine

 

There is a desperation in how I fight the Filter now. I am aware of that. There didn't used to be. There was grit, determination, focus, but not vicious desperation. Over the past few months it changed, something in me changed and quite recently someone asked me what that was. It's simple really. My ancestors threw me into the direct experience of the sundering of our traditions. I stood in the flow of it and shared their experience and emotions. Then at the same time that was happening, the blogosphere erupted into a volcanic debate between polytheists and non-theistic pagans. why was this so significant to me personally? Why did it impact the place from which I fight the Filter? Because it showed me how bad off we truly are. It showed me the lay of the land and how deeply the damage went. It showed me how far we were from any coherent foundational roots. Until this past May and June, I had truly thought that more people were in ongoing devotional relationship with their Gods and dead, that more people were doing the work. My eyes have been opened.  I see well now why the Havamal warns that no man is happy who is over-wise. 

This epiphany hit me hard, harder than I care to admit. I came very close to seeing the restoration of our ancestral traditions as hopeless. So I did what I try always to do when I am in such a painful and demoralizing place: i took it to my ancestors, my Gods, and the Orisha. You see, it was becoming difficult for me to think of even the idea of 'community' with anything but contempt. Community? Really? I kept thinking "It's people like we have in our "community" who are the reason our traditions were destroyed in the first place and obviously not much has changed." Such bitter anger is not good for the work. It may be justified. It may be understandable but it prevents coherent strategizing and makes it hard to keep one's work clean, and it's so important that the Work be clean. Not to mention, it's difficult not to alienate allies and friends when one is in such bad headspace. So I stepped back and put it before my ancestors and Powers. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Betty Prat
    Betty Prat says #
    Loved this article and I honor and appreciate the work you do, Ashe!
  • gary c. e.
    gary c. e. says #
    Hi Galina just want to say i really and deeply appreciate your posts - i may not be where your at personally but nevertheless i'm
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Good to see you back. I had a small lesson today to cause me to realize the small daily devotions I make in the morning are more
We Don't Need No Stinkin' Theories

(or The Fundamentals of Polytheism: Principle #1)

Today i was reading a good article by John Halstead summing up various perspectives in the recent heroes vs. superheroes community wide debate. Now I don't agree with much of Halstead's theories mind you, and completely disagree in every possible way with the very idea of "Jungian Neo-Paganism",  but he's a thoughtful and engaged writer and I respect his willingness and ability to delve *critically* into an idea or controversy, which he did in this article. I was particularly taken with his idea that behind much of the polytheistic response here  is resistance to the de-sacralizing of our traditions and that is absolutely correct. We are fighting to keep the Gods and the numinous, the Powers, and mystery in contemporary traditions of the sacred and it's an uphill battle. 

As I was discussing this on Facebook,  noting that as a result of this debate, I intended to write a series of articles on what I think are the fundamentals of polytheism, Teo Bishop asked me if I would be expanding on the 'nature of real-ness' of the Gods in my upcoming articles, if I would be positing a theory, what he (and I believe Halstead also) termed a theory of the ontological nature of the Gods.'. 

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    Thank you, Tess, very well said. It can be a difficult transition even after years in the craft. As they say: This shit just go
  • Tess Dawson
    Tess Dawson says #
    I think what's needed is a paradigm shift more so than any theory right now. And I think that sometimes a person can mistake belie
  • Christine L Berger
    Christine L Berger says #
    It was worth reading all the comments just for this.

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