Soft Polytheism

Soft Polytheism

Archetypes and Aspects

So, we've examined the problems with the ideology of hard polytheism. Now let's have a look at the problems with soft polytheism, which is probably a lot more common among modern neopagans. Soft polytheism isn't just one thing. One version of soft polytheism treats the gods as psychological archetypes existing solely within the mind. This is a type of paganism influenced by the views of Jung and Campbell.

Another version treats the gods as simply variants of the Wiccan god and goddess, so that the Egyptian goddess Isis is just another name for the same deity as the Hindu goddess Kali, and Cernunnos and Loki are equally interchangeable.


One claim you will often hear in neopagan circles is that pagans don't really “worship” the gods, because that implies a slavish devotion that is incompatible with pagan values. Instead, we “invoke” or “become” the gods, or the gods are our friends in some sense, or they represent our own highest potential.


This explains the otherwise rather odd alliance between some pagans and some atheists, who would surely otherwise have very little in common. Some neopagans see themselves as being science-oriented, “rational” and “free-thinking,” unlike (as they see it) conservative Christians. They see themselves as having much more in common with atheists than with Christians.


I would contend that they are right, at least as far as their version of paganism is concerned. If you “don't really worship” the gods, if you believe that they have no real power and exist only as symbols of your own potential, then you are an atheist in all but name. Genuinely religious paganism, however, does exist. In my next few blogs on this topic, I intend to show that it is just as incompatible with soft polytheism as it is with hard polytheism.