PaganSquare is a community blog space where Pagans can discuss topics relevant to the life and spiritual practice of all Pagans.
Specific paths such as Heathenism, blended traditions, polytheist reconstructionism, etc.
Every so often, the devotional polytheistic community comes up with a new way to try to distinguish gods from archetypes. In the past, terms like "real", "literal", or "separate" have been emphasized. Now it's "agents". The gods have agency while archetypes do not -- so the argument goes.
One of the most visible exponents of this idea has been Morpheus Ravenna. Morpheus has written two essays -- here and here -- about this issue, and more recently delivered the keynote speech at the Many Gods West polytheist conference: "Deep Polytheism: On the Agency and Sovereignty of the Gods" (which I urge you to read in its entirety). Morpheus argues that "if your Gods are real to you, treat Them like beings with agency." Agency, she says, is "the capacity of an entity to act ... something like will." This, she says, is what makes gods distinct from archetypes. And, on this point, I have to disagree with her....
This is the third in a series of posts in which I discuss four terms that polytheists use to distinguish gods from archetypes: "real", "literal", "separate", and "agents". In this post, I want to address the position the the polytheistic gods are separate from us in a way that archetypes are not....
You could say idolatry is in my blood.
I was raised Catholic, which included attending Catholic school from kindergarten through freshman year of high school, and mass every week (plus the high holy days). Which meant I spent a lot of time studying the art and architecture of the churches we attended – my grandparents' church in South Philadelphia, the incredibly ornate from floor to ceiling St. Mary Magdalen de Pazzi (the first Italian parish in the US) to our home base St. Charles Borromeo in South Jersey which was very mid-century modern, clean yet with very colorful, large stained glass windows.
Growing up in an environment where Catholicism was the majority, I wasn't exactly prepared at age when we moved to South Carolina (3% Catholic at the time), and discovered that Protestants considered Catholics idol-worshipers and not “true Christians.”