PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
If I could zap one word from the pagan vocabulary, it would be “archetype.”
Don't ask me what it means. When I press people for a definition, they're mostly hard-put to provide one. So far as I can tell, archetypes seem to be something like Platonic Ideas.
If so, what does it mean to say that the gods are archetypes?
Me, I'm an Old Style Pagan. I worship (to name only some) the Sun, the Moon, the Storm, Earth, Sea, the Winds. Whatever it is that They may be (when asked “What is a god?” the poet Simonides replied, “I find that the more I think about the question, the more opaque it becomes”), it doesn't seem to me to be in any way meaningful to say that they're archetypes.
Whatever that may be.
Craft historian Michael Howard has contended that the reductionist tendency to regard the gods as archetypes—essentially, as parts of ourselves—has actually stood in the way of entering into any sort of real relationship with Them.
An old friend of mine recently asked that question. It's a deceptively tricky question, the longer one thinks about it, especially in the Copy Room of Revelations. It gets sticky of course, because everything does. The spiritual part gets dicey, because you could totally be a Witch and still identify as a Major Religion and go to a Major Religion Service regularly and still practice some version of Witchcraft. Hoodoo (Southern North-American folk magic) is literally built on this. There are no Hoodoo gods. You talk to the gods you came with, who are probably some kind of Christian. You might talk to saints and spirits. But Hoodoo does not have [Goddess Name], the goddess of [Action X]. It is an add on to your American-Christian Starter Pack, though people who don't identify as American-Christian use it too as we are all more shameless versions of The Borrowers in matters of the Craft.
Conversely, you can identify as a Witch and choose to worship only the (Wiccan) God & Goddess pair, the (Dianic WIccan) Goddess and/or a mish mosh pantheon of polytheistic goddesses from various places in the world, some of whom mostly went to sleep for a while (Greek pantheon, Roman patheon, Celtic pantheon, etc) and some of whom never went to sleep (the Hindu pantheon, some fae in Nordic/Celtic countries, the Buddhist pantheon)....
My daughter and I love watching BBC / PBS shows. Victoria is the most recent one we are watching. As I watched how people lived in the 1800s, I considered what it would be like to only have my life lighted by candles and sunlight. It would certainly make the dark part of the year different.
By 4:00 or so at night, flickering candlelight would be my only illumination. This reduces my scope of environment drastically. Right now, if it’s dark I flip a switch and illumination of my surroundings occurs. But what if I only had dripping smelly candles to light my way? What would it feel like to be surrounded by darkness? Would fear well? Would loneliness envelop?...
The new film Hidden Figures tells the story of three black women (among many) who helped to save the American Space Program. In segregated Virginia, these women battled both racism and misogyny, deftly fended off micro- and macro-aggressions against both race and sex, and figured out the very mathematics necessary to launch Americans into orbit and bring them back safely. Ultimately, their work helped to win the Cold War.
Their stories have been largely untold until now. Their lives were mostly unknown by the general population. Sadly, despite their incalculable service to their country, despite the fact that they fought against all odds and proved their value and their capabilities, the same fights are still being waged. Racism is alive and well; misogyny is on its way to taking power in the White House....
If some Da'ish thug put a gun to your temple and hissed in your ear, Convert or die: what would you do?
Pagans have faced this choice ever since non-pagan religions gained political power. In our own day, alas, some pagans still face this hideous choice.
Which is better, to be true and die, or to hide and live?
The martyrs get all the hero-tales, it's true.
And indeed, I praise the sacrifice of those who kept (and keep) faith at the cost of their lives.
But ever, they say, the Craft must survive.
So I also praise the sacrifice of those who wrap themselves in the cloak of the conqueror, but keep the Old Ways in secret.