December 2011

Late Pagan Theology

And Hard Polytheism

Continuing on with the the discussion about hard and soft polytheism, I'd like to take a look at the theology of late classical paganism. This theology was derived from Neoplatonist philosophy, and was briefly declared the official religion of the Roman Empire under Julian the Apostate. If Julian's plan for a revived paganism with an organized hierarchy had taken root, this would probably be the dominant religion of the Western world.

Microcosm and Macrocosm

More on Hard Polytheism

Continuing on with my discussion of hard polytheism and soft polytheism, I note that one of the slogans you see most often from hard polytheists is this: “the gods are not archetypes!”

 

They're referring to the psychological archetype theories of Jung and Campbell, which tend to treat mythological archetypes as existing purely within the human psyche and having no existence in the “real world.”

Hard Polytheism and Soft Polytheism

Which One Is Right- Or Are They Both Wrong?

This week I want to talk about a contentious issue in modern paganism- the divide between “hard polytheism” and “soft polytheism.”

 

Soft polytheism is any version of the idea that the gods are all just aspects of a greater transcendent unity, or that they are psychological archetypes within the unconscious rather than independent personalities with genuine power. Soft polytheism is typical of Wicca and of any version of neopaganism influenced by Jung or Campbell. The problem with soft polytheism is that it can reduce the power and mystery of the divine to a convenient internal game- when you want to be brave, you visualize Athena, only you don't actually believe in or worship her.

No, Christmas Isn’t Really About Christ

So Please Stop with the Whining and Outrage

What’s always been funny to me is how so many of the people who don’t trust the government—the very ones who are against socialistic healthcare (but seem to be okay with it for the military, Medicare, schools, etc., I guess, since they’re all socialist in our country), and who stockpile guns and live on conspiracy theories and want to live in caves to protect themselves from the New World Order—are the very same people who put so much trust into religious leaders. And the ones who don’t trust religious leaders, of course, want more government, generally speaking.

Patron Deities

An Unexpected Controversy

Hellenic Reconstructionist symbol

 

Patron deities are a surprising subject of controversy within modern paganism. A patron deity is a deity with whom one has a special or personal relationship, or a deity to whom one owes special devotion. The concept of patron deities could have come into Wicca by analogy with the concept of patron saints in Catholicism, but it seems to be a natural enough development. Most pagans are drawn to certain deities more than others.

 

The controversy stems from the fact that not everyone- particularly in the Pagan Reconstructionist communities- believes that ancient paganism ever had the concept of personal patron deities. Deities in the ancient world might patronize particular cities or crafts or types of situation, but not (or so the argument goes) individual worshipers.

Great Yule/Christmas Gifts for Pagans

Here are a few ideas for pagan gifts this Yule

If someone asked me what pagan-ish gifts I’d like this year—which nobody ever does, of course, since most believe that Christmas is really about Christ and that I am a heathen wild person—I would answer with a bunch of crystal quartz pendants. These are not very expensive, and they can be hung around the house—over your bed, your office desk, etc.—on nine-inch red cords for good luck. That would be a very welcome gift for many other pagans, I am sure—as would a horseshoe to hang over the front door, as we recently purchased.