Gods Within/Gods Without: At the Intersection of Archetypal Polytheism and Naturalistic Animism

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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John Halstead

John Halstead

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

Posted by on in Paths Blogs

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This post was inspired by the MyPolytheism project.

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Gods Within / Gods Without: A New Name and a New Focus

 

I began this blog -- originally called Dreaming the Myth Onward -- with the intent of exploring what Jungian psychology had to offer to Pagan theology.  Neo-Paganism has been thoroughly permeated by an overly-simplicitic understanding of Jungian psychology -- what I have called the "de-godding of the archetypes" -- transcendent agencies reduced to mere symbols and metaphors.  And this has led to a disenchantment of the gods for many Pagans.  The growth of devotional polytheism in the last 15 years has been largely in response to this disenchantment of the gods.  I began this blog with the intent of "re-godding the archetypes" or, rather, re-enchanting the Jungian conception of gods.  

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Over at AllergicPagan.com, I've been playing with the idea of Pagans reclaiming the word "God".  I won't go into all the details -- but I got major pushback.  It seems that some words have just been ruined for Pagans.

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Recent Comments - Show all comments
  • Virginia Carper
    Virginia Carper says #
    I am, I suppose a "literal polytheist,. I do have a problem with the idea that somehow we are taking over Paganism, because we ha
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    When I look at Jung's Red Book I am in awe of how individualistic his encounter with the gods seemed to me. And yet, he described
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    Yes, Jung's is a very individualistic approach. I think we have shared archetypes (although we may call them by different names);
  • Scott
    Scott says #
    Oh BTW...I do believe that those of us who think the gods are part of psyche but also transcend us are an offshoot of the contempo
  • John Halstead
    John Halstead says #
    I agree that Jungian psychology lends itself to a kind of post-theism. It is a new religion, but one which is familiar to many Ne

From the back cover:

“Those godless pagans!” Even in pagan antiquity, there were individuals and groups who, while participating in the community’s religious life, did not believe in literal gods. In the centuries that followed the Christian domination of the West, the epithet “godless pagan” was leveled at a wide variety of people, from polytheists and indigenous peoples to heretics and atheists.
In the 1960s, though, there emerged a community of people who sought to reclaim the name “pagan” from its history of opprobrium. These Neo-Pagans were interested in nature spirituality and polytheism, and identified with the misunderstood and persecuted pagans of antiquity. Over the following decades, a stunning variety of spiritualities blossomed under the umbrella of contemporary Paganism.
While many Pagans today believe in literal gods, there are a growing number of Pagans who are “godless.” Today, the diverse assemblage of spiritual paths known as Paganism includes atheist Pagans or Atheopagans, Humanistic and Naturalistic Pagans, Buddho-Pagans, animists, pantheists, Gaians, and other non-theistic Pagans. Here for the first time, their voices are gathered together to share what it means to be Pagan and godless.

I am very pleased to announce that Godless Paganism: Voices of Non-Theistic Pagans is now available for purchase at lulu.com. (It will be available at Amazon and other sites soon, as well.)  The anthology gathers together the voices of 40 atheistic, humanistic, and naturalistic Pagans, pantheists, Gaians, animists, and other non-theistic Pagans.

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Captain Flint from Black Sails

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs

b2ap3_thumbnail_Drake_in_Oregon-e1298834954465.jpgWhen I was at the Parliament of the World's Religions in October, I had the pleasure of hearing Drake Spaeth speak briefly.  Drake is a clinical psychologist and professor at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  His professional interests include existential and humanistic psychology, transpersonal psychology, Jungian psychology, and shamanism.  Drake is a also an ordained Pagan minister and ritual facilitator of the Sacred Hunt, an ecstatic ritual of consciousness transformation, which has become a fixture at Pagan Spirit Gathering and other festivals.  

At the Parliament, Drake caught my attention when he said that "Carl Jung was not entirely kidding when he called himself a polytheist." Drake was responding to the notion that seeing the gods as expressions of Jungian archetypes diminishes the gods, an idea which he said results from a misunderstanding of what Jung wrote.  When I got home, I listened to some of Drake's earlier interviews.  This one, with T. Thorn Coyle, was interesting, as Drake discusses gods and archetypes -- a frequent topic on this blog.  A portion of the interview is excerpted here.  (You can listen to the entire interview by following this link.)  My own understanding of gods and archetypes parallel's Drake's.

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