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moon

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Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« on: December 01, 2015, 01:21:15 am »
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #1 on: December 01, 2015, 02:59:47 am »
Quote from: moon;183053
1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

Nope, it's just a distinction that a lot of people have found handy. It's not in a Big Book Of Sacred Canon Text that if you don't believe it the clergy will be fawning over you all worried, or excommunicate you or whatever. It's not like that. A lot of pagans and polytheists think it's a handy distinction, that's all. It's just become such a handy distinction that it's calcified, and that can be annoying. Also...squishy polytheism, I'd like that to be a thing. But it's not just a spectrum, it's a quantum kaleidescope with tesseracted axiseses.

Think one pantheon is real and the others aren't? Pan-atheism (that everybody's specifically atheistic to something). Think all mythology are different interpretations of a supreme divine? Probably an Archetypalist, not necessarily a soft polytheist but that can come up too. Reconstructing the "interpretatio romano"? Probably a Reconstructionist, but I'd try to call you an interpretatist. Smooshing gods together? Syncretist, not necessarily a soft polytheist but that can come up too.

Quote
2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

That becomes an interesting point for discussion:
http://ecauldron.com/forum/showthread.php?10391-Hard-polytheism-soft-polytheism-and-the-transmission-of-deities-across-cultures

Quote
3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

I don't, but it depends.
« Last Edit: December 01, 2015, 03:03:09 am by Faemon »
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StagTracker

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #2 on: December 01, 2015, 03:04:57 am »
Quote from: moon;183053
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

No, they are not.  There are many options.  Many in my grove are what we call "squishy polytheists."  That is, many of us kind of figure that many of the gods are separate, but others may be expressions or offshoots of the same original being.  So, we may agree that Osiris and Odin are not the same being, but that Odin and Wodan may be... or may not be... either way they're free to let us know if our ideas or off base.

One thing I will advise here is to abandon any notions of a "true pantheon."  Polytheism is not the same as the Abrahamic religions claiming to be a "true" interpretation of the divine.  There will be the pantheons that make sense to you, but that does not mean those are the "true" or "right" ones.  That only means that those are right for you.  So if you decide the Irish Celtic panthon works well for you then that doesn't mean the Gaulish, Nordic, Slavic, Baltic, Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian, or other pantheons are false, fake, or not right.

Even if you decide that the various pantheons are simply variations on or facets of beings from a common source, that doesn't mean one of them is true and the others are just imitations.  That means ALL of the pantheons have some truth to them but also some elements that are a product of how that particular culture attempted to conceptualize them.  In the end, all of the pantheons are still just humanity's attempt to wrap their little heads around beings, powers, and realms of existence that we just cannot conceive of without the help of bringing them down to our level in one way or another.  Even if a person has a personal pantheon that is completely unique to them, that doesn't mean they're wrong and you're right.  It means their experience of the divine forces has a bit more of their own personal flavor for them.

For example, I was once describing online an experience with a stag-headed being that I perceived to be Cernunnos.  One person who is a semi-prominent figure in some Pagan circles asserted that "Cernunnos has never nor would ever appear with a stag head."  I call bollocks on that.  HE may never have experienced Cernunnos that way, but that doesn't mean no one ever has or ever would.  He was mistaking his personal "truth".. or rather simply his views and experiences... as THE truth in a matter where there actually isn't necessarily an issue of truth.  Common experiences and concepts, yes.  Archaeological depictions of, yes.  Limitations on how a divine being may decide to present themselves, no.

Quote
2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

I can't speak for others, but this is how I've come to see it...  Basically all beings, both physical and noncorporeal, have some common essence within them.  So perhaps it's possible that this essence can "split" over and over into different expressions that are both autonomous but also owing to the same source.  Take a magnet.. if you break a magnet you don't have a north-pole magnet and a south-pole magnet.  You have two entirely complete magnets now.  Break them again and now you have four complete magnets.  Perhaps the gods can break into "complete magnets" but they don't diminish in size like the actual magnet.  

Just a thought.  Ultimately that's a question you'll have to answer for yourself as you learn and grow with your experiences.

Quote
3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

IMO, no.  It's not necessary to vocalize to the spirits.  Your subtle bodies, energy fields, vibrations, whatever you consider things to be can express a lot... and probably more than you could verbally anyway.  In fact, one source I've been learning from suggests that you ideally work to get to a point that, when you do a working, you're not even "speaking" mentally.  You're picturing what you want to happen rather than describing it by way of some internal narrator.  Kind of like telepathy... which would be most effective for conveying what an apple is to someone?  Describing it verbally?  Describing it with mental words?  Or perhaps projecting the image, feel, sound, taste, and smell of an apple into their mind?

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #3 on: December 01, 2015, 06:11:37 am »
Quote from: StagTracker;183058
No, they are not.  There are many options.  Many in my grove are what we call "squishy polytheists."  That is, many of us kind of figure that many of the gods are separate, but others may be expressions or offshoots of the same original being.  So, we may agree that Osiris and Odin are not the same being, but that Odin and Wodan may be... or may not be... either way they're free to let us know if our ideas or off base.

One thing I will advise here is to abandon any notions of a "true pantheon."  Polytheism is not the same as the Abrahamic religions claiming to be a "true" interpretation of the divine.  There will be the pantheons that make sense to you, but that does not mean those are the "true" or "right" ones.  That only means that those are right for you.  So if you decide the Irish Celtic panthon works well for you then that doesn't mean the Gaulish, Nordic, Slavic, Baltic, Chinese, Hindu, Egyptian, or other pantheons are false, fake, or not right.

Even if you decide that the various pantheons are simply variations on or facets of beings from a common source, that doesn't mean one of them is true and the others are just imitations.  That means ALL of the pantheons have some truth to them but also some elements that are a product of how that particular culture attempted to conceptualize them.  In the end, all of the pantheons are still just humanity's attempt to wrap their little heads around beings, powers, and realms of existence that we just cannot conceive of without the help of bringing them down to our level in one way or another.  Even if a person has a personal pantheon that is completely unique to them, that doesn't mean they're wrong and you're right.  It means their experience of the divine forces has a bit more of their own personal flavor for them.

For example, I was once describing online an experience with a stag-headed being that I perceived to be Cernunnos.  One person who is a semi-prominent figure in some Pagan circles asserted that "Cernunnos has never nor would ever appear with a stag head."  I call bollocks on that.  HE may never have experienced Cernunnos that way, but that doesn't mean no one ever has or ever would.  He was mistaking his personal "truth".. or rather simply his views and experiences... as THE truth in a matter where there actually isn't necessarily an issue of truth.  Common experiences and concepts, yes.  Archaeological depictions of, yes.  Limitations on how a divine being may decide to present themselves, no.


I can't speak for others, but this is how I've come to see it...  Basically all beings, both physical and noncorporeal, have some common essence within them.  So perhaps it's possible that this essence can "split" over and over into different expressions that are both autonomous but also owing to the same source.  Take a magnet.. if you break a magnet you don't have a north-pole magnet and a south-pole magnet.  You have two entirely complete magnets now.  Break them again and now you have four complete magnets.  Perhaps the gods can break into "complete magnets" but they don't diminish in size like the actual magnet.  

Just a thought.  Ultimately that's a question you'll have to answer for yourself as you learn and grow with your experiences.


IMO, no.  It's not necessary to vocalize to the spirits.  Your subtle bodies, energy fields, vibrations, whatever you consider things to be can express a lot... and probably more than you could verbally anyway.  In fact, one source I've been learning from suggests that you ideally work to get to a point that, when you do a working, you're not even "speaking" mentally.  You're picturing what you want to happen rather than describing it by way of some internal narrator.  Kind of like telepathy... which would be most effective for conveying what an apple is to someone?  Describing it verbally?  Describing it with mental words?  Or perhaps projecting the image, feel, sound, taste, and smell of an apple into their mind?

 
Cool. For the record, I didn't mean to assert specifically that there was "one true" pantheon; I was just confused by the seemingly binary set of opposing beliefs available, but you definitely set that concern straight. :) I hope I can one day do that kind of craft.

And thanks to Faemon too. Reconstructing the interpretationes romana and graeca actually does sound kind of fun, but probably not in a way I'd take on as my own religion.

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #4 on: December 01, 2015, 01:02:22 pm »
Quote from: moon;183053
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

 
You have a lot of good questions here that could perhaps be answered in the common questions FAQ or our large, informative document, the Teens and Paganism FAQ. Not just for teens!

I will say, though, that these things you're asking are up to you. You won't get struck by lightning if you decide that you're happier as a "squishy" polytheist or if you decide to be soft or hard. There are going to be consequences only because consequences are inherent in every action taken.

Ultimately, you decide what works and what doesn't in your belief system. Keep researching and reading; take notes if you want. But honestly, nobody knows the One True Answer to any of this. The lines are blurry, so they're up for independent interpretation.

Good luck to you!
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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #5 on: December 05, 2015, 02:26:02 pm »
Quote from: moon;183053
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

 
1/I think that pagan gods often - but not all - are the same. Venus like Afrodite, Zeus like Jupiter....  But, for example Egyptian gods was different.

3/By my opinion for comunication with gods and goddesses is the ebest meditation. Meditation about a name for example like it carried Ramakrishna about Kali. Or meditation about a appearance, temple... etc.
There can be used sleep too like it was  performed in ancient Egypt and Greece,  see translations a magical papyri.

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #6 on: December 05, 2015, 06:14:36 pm »
Quote from: moon;183053
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

 
You know, I've been a pagan/witch for 40+ years and this is the first time I've come up against "soft" vs "hard" polytheism. Maybe I don't get out enough! :)

When my patron presented herself to me, she gave me both a Welsh-Celtic and Greek name and said she was both of those. Twenty plus years of research, study and exploration has turned up many interesting parallels between the two.

My present theory is that some deities are not just "related" deities from different cultures, but may possibly be reincarnations of a deity.

So...becoming a different god: Obviously I'm a reincarnationist. I theorize that the God known as Lucifer, Lugh, Llew and maybe even Apollo are all the same god as they appeared in different cultures and at different times.

Just as I, may have incarnated as different people at different times.

But at essence each contains some core energy (light, etc) and each may have evolved and grown or been interpreted differently depending on the culture in which they incarnated.

Speak aloud, whisper, sing, meditate, be silent, dance, paint or find yet another method, the Gods will "hear" you.
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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #7 on: December 05, 2015, 07:11:10 pm »
Quote from: moon;183053
I'm a beginner, trying to understand everything I've been reading in these forums and on tumblr, etc.

1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".

2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?

3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

 
I've never really seen it as a hard vs. soft question either; though the idea of "squishy polytheism" has put all sorts of terribly delightful mental images in my brain. Thank you, Faemon. I've always just seen them as either related in some way or co-opted by another culture. In this way you have the Romans co-opting the Greek pantheon and the slaves from Africa co-opting the Catholic one and creating their own from the mix.

As for the last question... I speak aloud in private. When around others I will speak softly or just in my mind. No real religious reason. I just dislike having to prove my sanity to strangers and/or police.
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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #8 on: December 05, 2015, 07:19:01 pm »
Quote from: Skumring;183213
I speak aloud in private. When around others I will speak softly or just in my mind. No real religious reason. I just dislike having to prove my sanity to strangers and/or police.

 
Thank you! Maybe I'm not crazy after all.
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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #9 on: December 05, 2015, 10:36:16 pm »
Quote from: Lionrhod;183214
Thank you! Maybe I'm not crazy after all.

 
"Normal" people frighten me. :)

Seriously though; I have found that most of the people I know or am acquainted with find my path in general to be a little frightening and/or crazy. When they get the details of it many start giving me funny looks.

I'd rather not encourage anything more serious from those folks. Strangers are even more unpredictable in their reactions and as such I personally find it prudent to be somewhat circumspect in my public religious observations.
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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #10 on: December 06, 2015, 02:48:25 am »
Quote from: moon;183053


1. Are soft and hard polytheism the only options? What if I think that one pantheon is real, and others aren't, or that all pantheons are aspects/reflections of the one true pantheon? What if I think that Jupiter and Zeus are the same, as the Romans did? And even many Gauls saw their gods as equivalent to the Roman gods, so it seems odd to me that there are only the two polarizing options of "hard" and "soft".


Two wooden stakes stood on the plain,
On them I hung my clothes:
Draped in linen, they looked well born,
But, naked, I was a nobody
 

Quote
2. It also sort of raises the problem of the tipping point, where one culture's god has spread and changed enough that they suddenly become a different god. What does "suddenly becom[ing] a different god" even mean?


Be not a cobbler nor a carver of shafts,
Except it be for yourself:
If a shoe fit ill or a shaft be crooked"
The maker gets curses and kicks.


Quote
3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.


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The price of praise can be cheap:
With half a loaf and an empty cup
I found myself a friend,
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2015, 07:09:49 pm »
Quote from: moon;183053

3. When you a) perform spells or b) speak to the gods, are you meant to do so out loud? I realize that polytheism is radically different from Abrahamic monotheism, and so I'm wondering if it's more necessary to speak aloud for the gods to hear.

 
Waxed and throve well;
Word from word gave words to me,
Deed from deed gave deeds to me,
The pace of progress in artificial intelligence (I’m not referring to narrow AI) is incredibly fast. [...] The risk of something seriously dangerous happening is in the five year timeframe. 10 years at most.--Elon Musk

I am in the camp that is concerned about super intelligence," [Bill] Gates wrote. "First the machines will do a lot of jobs for us and not be super intelligent. That should be positive if we manage it well. A few decades after that though the intelligence is strong enough to be a concern. I agree with Elon Musk and some others on this and don\'t understand why some people are not concerned."

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Re: Questions on Polytheism, Paganism, and Witchcraft
« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2015, 12:24:53 am »
Quote from: Lionrhod;183207
You know, I've been a pagan/witch for 40+ years and this is the first time I've come up against "soft" vs "hard" polytheism. Maybe I don't get out enough! :)


My present theory is that some deities are not just "related" deities from different cultures, but may possibly be reincarnations of a deity.

So...becoming a different god: Obviously I'm a reincarnationist. I theorize that the God known as Lucifer, Lugh, Llew and maybe even Apollo are all the same god as they appeared in different cultures and at different times.

Just as I, may have incarnated as different people at different times.

But at essence each contains some core energy (light, etc) and each may have evolved and grown or been interpreted differently depending on the culture in which they incarnated.


 
I agree with this. I also think that people spread stories with their travels, as the stories spread so the characters multiplied into various figures and adapted into the cultural pantheons.

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