Pagan Paths

The morning sun rising in the east calls to the Bright Youth in me, and the Bright Youth responds. The full moon calls to the Muse, and the waning and dark moon to the Dark Maiden who is a part of me. The earth I touch with my fingers calls to the Mother, in both her guises, Nurturing and Devouring. The bright green shoots rising from the earth and the green leaves on the trees on my street in the spring, these call to the Stag King, while the red leaves fallen to the earth in the autumn call to the Dying God. The spring storm that rises up suddenly in the west calls to the Storm King. The night sky, the dark space between the stars, calls to Mother Night, my death come to make peace. The gods-without call and the gods-within respond.

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A Conversation Between an Archetypalist and a Hard Polytheist, Part 2

Over at the blog Son of Hel, Lucius Svartwulf Helsen has written a 3-part response to my post, "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism".  Helsen's series is entitled "Let's Disenchant the World".  Here I will respond to Part 2 of Helsen's series.

Helsen argues that the gods are “objective, discrete, and separate beings”.  I’ve explained in Part 1 and in my original post about "The Disenchantment of Hard Polytheism", why the “separate and distinct” language is problematic.  More recently, I’ve written about how we confuse the question of the objective existence of the gods and the question of their subjective meaning — as if something must objectively exist for it to have subjective meaning. If you want to read more on those issues, follow the links above.  

Helsen then sarcastically refers the apparently incomprehensible idea that one could be Pagan and not believe in his gods.  Here he makes a common mistake of identifying the whole of Paganism with the particular kind of Paganism that he identifies with.  The problem with this is that Paganism has multiple centers: Nature, Deity, and Self.  These three centers are like tent poles that hold up the Big Tent of Paganism.  People may congregate around one of the poles or between two of them or in the center of all three.  I fall mostly between the Nature and Self centers.  Helsen apparently stands near the Deity pole.  But we are all Pagan.

Helsen takes issue with my statement that polytheists are trying to “prove” their gods are real.  I did not mean to imply that anyone was trying to "scientifically" prove the existence of the gods.  What I was referring to was how polytheists often react strongly to archetypalists by insisting on the “real”-ness of their gods.  It seems to me that this reaction is borne of the (mis-)perception that archetypes are somehow less “real” than the gods they experience.  

Finally, Helsen responds to my point about how we don’t really see people when we first meet them, and tend instead to project our own complexes onto them: “Actually, Halstead, I’m pretty sure that’s you and those like you. I always see everyone as a unique individual.”  I did not intend to make this response personal, but given the tone of all of Helsen’s posts and his sarcastic little memes, I really have to challenge him on this point.  I’m pretty sure he is not seeing me at all, and there is definitely some projection going on there.

In the next post, I will respond to part 3 of Helsen's series.

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John Halstead also writes at (Patheos),,,,, and The Huffington Post. He was the principal facilitator of “A Pagan Community Statement on the Environment” (, and the editor of the anthology, Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans. John is also a Shaper of the fledgling Earthseed community ( To speak with John, contact him on Facebook.


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