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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in polytheism

Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 Some Thoughts on a Pagan Catechism by Ezra Pound


“Think what god it may be.”

According to American poet and critic Ezra Pound (1885-1972), this is what you should do when encountering a god.

Published at the very end of the First World War, in 1918, Religio, or the Child's Guide to Knowledge is a curious work, a kind of pagan catechism: variously flippant, obtuse, and profound.

Do we know the number of the gods? he asks, and answers: It would be rash to say that we do. [One] should be content with a reasonable number.

Pagan for more than five decades now myself, I would still be hard put to come up with a better answer.

One phrase from Religio has haunted me for years.

How should one perceive a god, by his name?

It is better to perceive a god by form, or by the sense of knowledge, and after perceiving him thus, to consider his name or to “think what god it may be.”

“Think what god it may be.” For all its sense of playfulness, Pound here touches upon the warm, beating heart of polytheist experience. When encountering the divine, the monotheist has no need to wonder Who; but the pagan—the thinking pagan, at least—always must. Which god, among all the Many, might this one be?

“Think what god it may be.” Pound cites the phrase in quotation marks: is it really a quotation, or just meant to present as one? Certainly, it bears the hallmark of being the words of some venerable Greek or Roman author, wise in the ways of the gods: Cicero, perhaps, or Homer. Certainly it evinces a depth of understanding beyond what we would expect from irascible old Ezra Pound, Fascist sympathizer and anti-Semite that he was.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs


 Is Polytheism the “Highest Form of Evolved Theology”?


An Early 20th-Century Apologist for Polytheism

I'd heard of Viennese intellectual Franz Sättler (1884-?1942) and his overtly polytheist Adonismus (“Adonism”) before, but was pleased to renew the acquaintance recently in Stephen Flowers' The Fraternitas Saturni: History, Doctrine, and Rituals of the Magical Order of the Brotherhood of Saturn.

Let me quote from Flowers' appendix, “An Outline of Adonism”:

Adonistic doctrine advocates polytheism—as opposed to pantheism or monotheism—as the highest form of evolved theology. Pantheism views everything as divinity, and thus is impotent to see and act effectively for any sort of transformation or betterment of the world. Everything simply is. Monotheism, on the other hand, requires that evil be ascribed ultimately to the divinity itself, which is philosophically repugnant. But polytheism correctly ascribes the good to divinity and evil to other forces. All these forces participate in one way or another to the shaping of the world we live in now (Flowers 173).


 Kicking the Theological Can?

Well, now: heady stuff indeed. Personally, I would acknowledge the justice of Sättler's critiques of both pantheism and monotheism; notoriously, theogony—the problem of good and evil—has always been the rock on which the ship of monotheism (JCI-style monotheism, anyway) founders.

Several contemporary apologists for polytheism—notably Steven Dillon and Gus diZerega—have argued a greater philosophical coherence for a worldview based on many gods on precisely these grounds. Whether or not blaming evil on “other forces”—trolls and etins, say—rather than the gods themselves, does not ultimately constitute a mere kicking of the theological can down the alley, I leave you to decide for yourself.

(Personally, I can't help but wonder if the so-called “problem of evil” is not at heart largely semantic rather than ontological, but maybe that's just me.)


Not to Mention Distasteful

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

Hubble Beholds a Big, Beautiful Blue Galaxy | NASA 

Is an electron one, or many?

Is an atom one, or many?

Is a cell one, or many?

Is a body one, or many?

Is a flock one, or many?

Is a coven one, or many?

Is a tribe one, or many?

Is a people one, or many?

Is a land one, or many?

Is a planet one, or many?

Is a solar system one, or many?

Is a galaxy one, or many?

Is what is, one or many?

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs

 Best Hatchets For Camping And Survival in 2022


The disunity of the monotheisms is proof of polytheism.”

Bruner Soderberg


It's a Golden Age of polytheist theology, and I'm very much looking forward to reading Gus diZerega's God Is Dead, Long Live the Gods: A Case for Polytheism. If what I've seen of his work in the past is anything to go by, I'm expecting a crisply-expressed, thought-provoking argument.

But first I've got a question: In order to make a credible intellectual case for polytheism, do we really need to start with a deconstruction of monotheism? In order to prove polytheism coherent, must one first prove monotheism incoherent?

Here's the Table of Contents:

Introduction 1

Polytheistic “Monotheism” 9

How “Monotheism” Dissolved into Polytheism 31

The Incoherence of Monotheism 51

Science, Monotheism, and the Death of the World 75

Polytheistic Experiences 99

Science and the Spirit 123

The Living World: From the Many, One 147

The Living World: Mind and Culture 167

The Case for Polytheism 189

Bibliography 211

If my math is accurate (never a good assumption), to judge from what we see here, nearly half of the book—half!—is devoted to discussing monotheism, and—as I gather from the “See inside” extracts—Abrahamic monotheism in particular. (There are, of course, other kinds.)

OK, well. The sons (I use the term advisedly) of Abraham have been a major force in Western religion for the last 1500+ years or so, and most modern pagans (in the West, anyway) have grown up in an intellectual environment shaped by, in particular, the Christianities.

Still, it would seem to me that if polytheist modalities of thought have any validity, they should surely be able to stand on their own two (or however many) hooves. On current evidence (such as it is), polytheist worldviews would seem to have got along just fine on their own recognizance for oh, say about fifty thousand years or so. Historically speaking—for all their latter-day success—the Abraham religions are an aberration, a blip. Given this fact, do we really need to set about proving polytheism by first disproving monotheism? Why must monotheism be our point of departure? Aren't we tired of talking about monotheism yet? I, for one, sure am tired of hearing about it.

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Posted by on in Paths Blogs
Redoing Some Sacred Jewelry

I finished this project this week. The longest, lowest string (not pictured) of the jewelry for my gythia apron had had temporary repairs made too many times and the latest pics I saw of myself in it (from the Yuletide Heathen Visibility Project Photoshoot) convinced me to finally do something permanent with it. Because the repairs had gotten ratty and lopsided over the years, and I wanted it to look nicer. So, I took the pendants and big beads off, added more big beads, strung it on chenile yarn, and made it to be worn with other pendant necklaces, so the new version has no central pendant. The Thor's hammer in the photo is an independent pendant, hanging in the blank spot of the new necklace, as I planned. The small beads removed from the string are now displayed on a kintsukoroi plate near other special things.

This week I also got back in touch with the goddess Skadhi. I had been close to her in my early 20s when I lived in California and used to go snowshoeing and cross country skiing on Donner Summit, where I stayed with a Sierra Club group at their private lodge. It was back then that I wrote / was inspired by Odin to write my poem Skadhi: Water Cycle, which I still think is my best poem, even 30 years later.

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Posted by on in Culture Blogs



The e-mail came in at about 5 on Friday evening: "Covid-19 Community Vaccination Program—Appointments Available Today—Act Fast."

When you see a broom like that, of course you hop right on.

I'm still not sure which of the lists that I signed up for actually managed to get me in. When it comes to things like signing up for vaccination, I operate strictly on the polytheist principle: More is Better. When you see a list, sign up. The more people that you ask for help, the more likely you are to get the help that you ask for.

Though the Minneapolis Convention Center has only been a mass-vaccination site for a week now, I was impressed with how well-thought-through everything was, and how smoothly the whole operation ran. If it hadn't been for the requisite waiting period afterward to guard against allergic reactions to the vaccine, I could have been in and out in under 30 minutes.

Boy, was it ever weird to be under one roof along with a hundred other people. The past year has left its mark on us all.

Needless to say, way too many people were still being way too careless about distancing. One good reason to continue avoiding crowds for the time being is that, in any given crowd, there will always be at least a few careless people.

What I really wanted to say to the guy behind me in line: Dude, I really hope that you're wearing a condom, because otherwise I don't want you that close to my ass.

What I actually said: Mate, there's two of us in line here. Could you maybe back off some?

He gave me a look, but he did it.

Jab 2 on Friday, March 5. Barring nuclear holocaust or a howling mob with torches and pitchforks, chances are I'll still be around six months from now to write more blog posts like this one for you to read.

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  • Aline "Macha" O'Brien
    Aline "Macha" O'Brien says #
    I'd love to do this -- sign up -- but so far I have no option. There are several mass vaccination sites around the SF Bay Area, b

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