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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in polytheism

Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Handling Henothism

In this post-Enlightenment world of science and rationality, we’re used to being able to label things cleanly and clearly, to separate them into distinct levels and groups and individual pigeonholes. And we tend to become uncomfortable when we can’t do that with any given subject. But the mindset in the ancient world wasn’t always so clear-cut. Both/and thinking was common, as opposed to the either/or thinking that dominates modern society. Sometimes it’s helpful to be able to hold several different ideas in your head at the same time, to accept the complexity of a situation as a positive rather than a negative. That’s the case with the ancient Minoan pantheon, thanks to the fact that the Minoans were henotheistic rather than cleanly polytheistic.

So what on earth does henotheism mean? It’s not a word you hear very often, even among the kinds of Pagans who like to get into academic discussions. The term was coined by the German philosopher Friedrich Wilhelm Joseph von Schelling in the late 18th or early 19th century as a criticism of the versions of monotheism that included both a supreme deity and lesser forms of divinity such as saints or lower gods. His idea was that ‘pure’ monotheism, the kind that denies the existence of the divine except for the single focal deity, is superior to other types of religious belief. He criticized the Vedic religions (Hindu and its variants) for professing that all the lower gods emanated from The One (Atman) and were reflections of that original unity.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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I have heard hard polytheists come up with all sorts of words to distinguish their gods from Jungian archetypes.  The gods, they say, are "real", "literal", "individual", "distinct", and "separate"; they are "persons", "beings", "entities", or "agents".  The archetypes, it is implied, are none of these things. 

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Recent comment in this post - Show all comments
  • Lizann Bassham
    Lizann Bassham says #
    Thank you!

Some time ago, I was asked by a devotional polytheist what "Jungian polytheism" is.  In this post, I'm going to try to answer that question without all the psychological jargon and Jung quotes that I usually fall back on.

For me, being Pagan means that I find the divine (1) in myself and (2) in the world around me. These are two aspects of my Paganism that I struggle to bring together: the Self-centric Paganism and the earth-centric Paganism. Anyway, "Jungian polytheism" is (mostly) part of the former, the part of my religion that locates the divine in myself. 

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Is there a genuine problem in calling Pagan religions polytheistic?

 

Polytheism, the belief in many Gods, has long been associated with Pagan religion. Some deities speak to us, some speak through us.  Some take our bodies over for a while and some bring us to our knees in awe.  Deities manifest differently in some traditions than others, but all appear part of an animate inspirited world bigger than we are, and Pagans find it appropriate to honor, invoke, learn from, and even love these entities.Often personal altars can be syncretistic, as is this one focused on healing entities and energies.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    We are on exactly the same page I think!
  • Birch
    Birch says #
    Well, that Quote is merely Gardner's. I get torn honestly. Part of me feels as though One is a disco ball and each deity a singula
  • Gus diZerega
    Gus diZerega says #
    I think there is much truth here Birch. But it becomes paradoxical if read as if we are in some way more fundamental than the God
  • Birch
    Birch says #
    This Monist approach can be summed up here: the Gods are real, not as persons, but as vehicles of power. Much food for thought upo
Pagan News Beagle: Watery Wednesday, June 3

Part of forming a community is defining what that community means. What do we stand for? What are our values? Who is or isn't a member of that community? And what are our goals? Today's stories for Watery Wednesday take a look at the ways in which the Pagan community is defining itself. All this and more for the Pagan News Beagle!

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
The Kalends at Three

Tomorrow marks the Kalends of April, the first day of the month. In Ancient Rome, this was the day that state-sanctioned sacrifices were made to Juno, Janus, and the Lares. The date of the Nones, the day all other monthly festivals were publicly announced, was given. While a few syncretic Roman Revivalists follow the lunar cycle of marking the Kalends, which would be when the first sliver of a new moon could be seen in the sky or (not quite as accurately) the new moon, most of us observe the first of the month as the Kalends. That was how it was marked for the majority of Rome's history.

Most months, I work extra hard to make sure that I cook a modest but well-balanced meal for my family from scratch on this day. We offer at the lararium, or shrine to the Lares and household Gods, that sits in the middle of our dining room table. In my home, we bring the Gods to the table with us when we eat. We offer the first bites of food from our plate to the Lares, giving Them what They are due, along with all food that might happen to fall onto the floor. With a toddler in our house, the Lares get fed well with all the food that falls.

The rest of the religious duties of the day fall on me, though, and that's because I'm technically the only person in the house of this religion.

Except this is going to change this month. It was agreed upon many years ago that any child I had would be raised within my religion, since my husband is an agnostic humanist who loves Christmas. Now at 3-years-old, I feel like my daughter has hit that magical age where she's ready to start really learning about the Gods (though she continues to insist there are only 2 Gods) and participate in her mother's religion.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

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Title: Walking the Worlds

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