Paganistan: Notes from the Secret Commonwealth
In Which One Midwest Man-in-Black Confers, Converses & Otherwise Hob-Nobs with his Fellow Hob-Men (& -Women) Concerning the Sundry Ways of the Famed but Ill-Starred Tribe of Witches.
The Wonderful World of the Many
We talk about “Christianity,” as if there actually were such a thing.
But of course there isn't.
You'd think that pagans, of all people, would know better.
A Wiccan, an Ásatrúar, and an Ecclectic walk into a bar. Question: what do they have in common with each other?
Answer: Not much. And yet, in some sense, they still perceive one another (even if under duress, in the case of the Ásatrúar) as sharing a common identity. But their religions are different. It really doesn't make any sense to talk about a single, monolithic “Paganism.” There simply isn't, never has been, and never will be such an animal. It's really much more accurate to talk about “paganisms.”
So: a Catholic, a Jehovah's Witness, and a Quaker walk into a bar. (Here it's probably the JW that's under duress.) Same deal. It really makes more sense to talk about “Christianities.” And “Judaisms.” And “Islams.”
Other religions are no more unified than ours, even monotheist ones. Like ours, they're really better described as families of related religions. In my glibber moments, I've occasionally quipped that the disunity of the monotheisms is proof of polytheism. That's just for laughs, though. I'd never seriously attempt to defend such a thesis. In a bar fight, say.
Nonetheless, Manyness is the nature of things. It's how the world is, was, and always will be.
And that's just as it should be. Nature abhors a monoculture.
Alain Daniélou once observed that “one of the great virtues of the old religions is that they deal with the world as it really is, and not as they wish it were.”
Welcome to the Wonderful World of the Many.
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