09 May 2008

Isms and Schisms

I have recently come to the realization, as is obvious from my updated profile, that I am a hard polytheist and have been for some time. Now we all know that poly = many and theo = god. But there's more to it than that; there are hard and soft polytheists. Soft polytheists are of the opinion that all gods are either manifestations of each other or that all gods are different aspects of the same single god. Hard polytheists, like me, view the gods as unique, separate individuals. When I first began studying and reflecting upon the gods back in my teens I was only interested in the myths as fascinating stories with perhaps some wisdom to impart (and this is how I feel about the Holy Bible of the Abrahamic folks). When I moved further into neopaganism and Wicca I was a soft polytheist, feeling that all gods were one and all religions were one and we are all one and all is one and all that happy horseshit. Now, don't get me wrong. If you are a soft polytheist and it works for you and your magic then that's great. But I see all of that "all are one" stuff that I was bombarded with in my early studies as trite oversimplification that limited my perception and worship of the gods. For me, it was happy horseshit because it was easy; it was simple because if all gods are one then there's no need to study, meditate or worship as much. I've since moved on from those early days and now, more than 11 years after I first dedicated myself to the Lord and Lady of Wicca I've come to the opposite extreme. Now that I've got a few years of study and practice under my belt I see that my past soft polytheism was really a hangover from my knowledge and experience of monotheism. I think soft polytheism made the transition from Christianity to neopaganism easier: one god, to one goddess, to a goddess and a god and now to many distinct deities. I no longer call myself Wiccan, and haven't for years and no longer see all goddesses as aspects of one superior goddess nor do I see all gods as different aspects of the Horned God. And I'm actually pretty glad about that fact. I feel that I've grown and am no longer in need of what's easy and simple. I see all gods as unique and distinct beings who are each worthy of study, reflection and worship. Hard polytheism isn't easy for me like soft polytheism was; I have to work harder, study more and think more. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

10 comments:

Bo said...

many thanks for your comment on my blog! I like yours very much.
all best wishes,
Mark

Livia Indica said...

Thanks for visiting my little place on the blogosphere. I'm glad you like it.

Aquila ka Hecate said...

Got to agree.
Anyone calling Hecate a different version of Athene, for example, is asking for hard slaps fro both Goddesses.
At the same time, while I feel that each deity is a seperate entity, I look around and see that we consider ourselves seperate one for the other as well - when I know, in moments of greatest clarity, that we're all deeply involved in each other, all making and shaping and creating together. The Gods as well.

Love,
Terri in Joburg

Livia Indica said...

You are quite right, Terri. We aren't the same but we are all connected and joined together at our deepest core. And I imagine deities must be as well now that I think about it.

Yvonne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yvonne said...

I see the deities as distinct but not discrete (and I also see humans as distinct but not discrete, so I'm not discriminating against the discarnate). So I call myself a polymorphist these days (it saves a lot of tedious arguments with "hard" polytheists).

Livia Indica said...

Polymorphist, I like that.

deborah oak said...

lovely, just lovely. For me, the jewel of oneness shines brighter because of all the facets of the specific and individual gods. So...I'm hard and soft!!! Does that make sense? I like polymorphist, too!

Marion said...

Guess I must be polymorphist, as well.

I enjoyed this post, livia!

Livia Indica said...

Deborah, I don't know, I wonder if you should make a new term for something midway between hard and soft polytheism.

Marion, thanks! I'm glad I could write something that appeals to others.