Author note: I have mixed feeling about sharing this on here. But I think it might encourage some conversation. I’d really like hearing your views on the subject. Originally posted on my blog 31/July/2014.
I have been slowly catching up on fallout of PLC through blogs and via the Wyrd Radio show. A curious concept that stuck out to me from the radio show was the idea of that we (as people who identify as polytheists) suffer from a monotheists mind states.
For those outside, this is an idea that because we are raised in a monotheist culture it has affected our understanding of polytheist reality. We inadvertently compare basic concepts using “monotheist thought” even though these ideas are artificial in regards to “polytheist thought”. Confused?
Well in essence because we have been exposed to over two thousand years of monotheist culture we make an error in thinking about things in black and white terms. Good versus evil, etc.
For example: with the recent discussion of Miasma – some have made the mistake of thinking that it is wholly negative, therefore bad or evil, some relating to sin. But it is not evil or sinful, miasma can do terrible things to people, but that does not make it evil. It is something that we all have to be conscience of and deal with. It is similar to being conscience of basic hygiene, we clean up after ourselves because we are aware of bacteria – I hope that we don’t consider bacteria evil.
Another example this one related to myth. I’ve been working on the above Harpy picture. Many people tell me these creatures are devils or evil. In myth harpies did bad things but they are also the servants of Zeus, one of their epithets The Hounds of Zeus. So although they are creatures that torment people, like Phineus, they were also doing the bidding of the Chief of the Gods. Kinda like calling an executioner evil for killing the enemies of the nation, etc.
I initially rejected concept that my own thinking was monotheist, as I was raised by a secular family, my grandmother on my mother’s side had disdain for religion in general and did not expect her children to follow any faith, the tradition continued with my mother. I also live in a country that shares many similarities to the US, but has a large secular population. Certain religious groups with political power in the US are very small minorities in Australian politics. So in that regards Australians are culturally and politically different to the US.
(This is not to say that religion is not part of my country it just appears to me to be a lot different than the US.. Certain things like the Hobby Lobby case would be difficult to bring to court in Australia – also these augments are nonexistent because we have free health care.)
There were so many people in that wonderful radio show that I got lost of who was talking, I think it was Rev. Tamara Siuda, who mentioned that even atheists are monotheistic in their mind state. This is what really got me thinking and to the point I realised I was wrong in my first rejection of the concept. I realised that even though I was raised by a secular family it does not give me any higher authority than those raised as Christian. In recollection, I now think that not being indoctrinated into any faith has caused difficulties in ‘reconnecting’ to any divinity. Which is a subject for another post.
The importance of recognising that we are affected by monotheism is learning how to correct ourselves and come to terms of the multiple facets of our divinities. Again this is a fault with many ‘pagans’, I have witnessed, too often, that people only focus one side of a god. I know that in the Greek Pantheon all gods are complex beings and if not all, then most have multiple attributes that could be perceived as being positive and negative.
Some look at Apollo and see only the brilliance of his light, the beauty of his music. They forget the vengeful aspect of plagues and famine.
Dionysus is a god that pushed his way into my life. Many see him as the demonised Bacchus or the fat jolly Bacchus found in Fantasia. There are some “pagans” that disregard him as a god because he does not uphold their monotheistic views as an ideal divine.
You see *that* is the problem.
This is what we should be aware of as polytheists. Whether it is focusing completely on the ‘good’ side of a god or the ‘bad’ side of a god.
It is presumptuous and wrong to all involved, it is hubris.
Whenever we do that we fail as polytheists.
Harpies: own work, copyright: Wayne McMillan 2014.
Still from Fantasia: Disney: used for educational purposes.