Welcome – especially if you’ve found you way here from the old address at http://www.paganmonastic.wordpress.com! As promised there, I will try to explain why I’ve chosen to continue posting under this address, and what it means in terms of self-identity.
Lately there has been much debate, and a little polemic, among the online pagan community, and also at some larger gatherings in the US, on the subject of what is being termed Wiccan (sometimes termed Wiccanate) Privilege. There is ample (and varied) explanation elsewhere of what this comparatively newly-coined term means, but for the sake of clarity I’ll state my own definition, necessarily condensed and therefore obviously in danger of not doing the subject justice, as a sort of ‘institutional prejudice’ whereby those of us who identify as polytheists, particularly hard polytheists, are encouraged to engage in the ‘pagan community’ but given the option of doing so only by participation in Wiccan-Druid style public ritual, programming of moots etc., and generally being politely received but then ignored so far as our specific beliefs are concerned. There is a real problem here for those of us who believe (as I do) that the Gods are real and many, which is for me the core definition and identifier of my polytheistic belief.
I do not believe the Gods to be psychological constructs (substitute ‘figments of the imagination’ if you wish, for it really makes no difference), Jungian or otherwise. I do not believe the Gods to be ‘energies’ or beings one picks and chooses to ‘work with’ as if they were stall holders at some cosmic bring and buy sale. Neither do I believe the Gods to be ‘aspects of the one’, or indeed ‘aspects of the two’ if you take on board the often-encountered and mystifying (to me) neo-Wiccan entities ‘the God’ and ‘the Goddess’. ‘The God’? Which god? This sort of cosmology is so spectacularly out of kilter and out of sync with the recorded beliefs of every civilisation of antiquity to which we have any kind of access that even the fact of its existence, let alone popularity, beggars belief.
I believe the Gods to be real, and I believe them to be many. This makes sense to me, and accords with my own experience. Mental and imaginative gymnastics I can do without.
There is no doubt that for many readers and potential readers, ‘Pagan’ will in almost every respect equal ‘Wiccan’, or at least ‘Wiccan-Druid’ in praxis, which poses impossible demands on devotional polytheists, despite the fact that by definition (and here I’m referring to the Pagan Federation’s definition) Paganism is an umbrella term which is meant to identify a wide variety of non-Christian belief systems rather than a homogenised Wiccan-Druid ‘soup’ boiled down to the lowest common denominator to enable a false inter-religious dialogue and ‘unity’ to emerge.
For this reason I have decided to stop identifying as Pagan, and instead to use the term ‘Devotional Polytheist’, which is in fact what I am – devotionally committed to the many Gods and Goddesses of the Greek pantheon, and respectful of the many Gods and Goddeses historically worshipped in various other parts of the world. What I am not is committed to any kind of nebulous ‘Great Spirit’, ‘the God and Goddess’ (Wiccan or otherwise, or any of the more woolly-headed notions of ‘gods’ as energies, psychological constructs’ or other inventions of the modern mind.
I’m convinced that what we need more than ever before is good and intelligent polytheologians to reassert the validity, value and place of polytheistic belief in a world that has too often offered only monotheism or atheism as available choices for religious consideration, when the large part of human history has been a history of polytheistic belief and worship. To that end I greatly recommend John Michael Greer’s excellent book, A World Full of Gods, and its bibliographical sources. Whether such polytheology becomes my calling or not, I remain a believer in the world of many Gods, and it is the worship of (some of) those Gods to which I am called.
Again, if you have made the journey from the old address, thank you. I hope and trust that you will continue to follow, continue to comment, to challenge and to encourage. I really do value your readership and your companionship as together we try to remake monastic life and principles for a polytheistic world.