This entire blog post is in rebuttal to John Beckett’s “The Future of Polytheism: Keeping the Gods at the Front“, and more importantly, the central theme that Polytheism is all about worshiping gods. I said before how this isn’t so, and leads to elitism. But with bloggers still stating that the baseline for Polytheism is that Gods come first…I guess I’ll address it directly, head-on.
There are other issues in this article, such as the idea that Polytheism has a set of virtues and ideals (which isn’t true. My values as a Gaelic polytheist aren’t the same as the values of a Kemetic polytheist.) But that’s another article.
For this, I’ll put forth that the future of Polytheism needs to focus on the needs of polytheists–not the need or worship of the gods. First I’ll deconstruct John Beckett’s article, then I’ll assert my position that Polytheists need to be the forefront of polytheism.
(Alternate Titles: “What is a Name?“ and “Names are Important”)
“In real life, unlike in Shakespeare, the sweetness of the rose depends upon the name it bears. Things are not only what they are. They are, in very important respects, what they seem to be.”
– Hubert H. Humphrey
I don’t know what to call myself anymore.
I have been thinking about the power of names for almost a decade now, but never more intensely than in the past couple weeks. Lo writing about names made me realize that I could verbalize my conflictions. Maybe someone can give me advice?
Without surprise, this will be the shortest of my three blog posts–the first two being about my experiences and the people/panels. This blog post, in contrast, is what I am hoping for in the future if there should be another Many Gods West.
First, I hope there will be another Many Gods West. This weekend was such more articulated spiritual experience than the pagan gatherings I’ve gone to in the past. And I think it’s because it’s distinctively polytheist and not this NeoWiccan-trying-to-pass-as-all-encompassing-Pagan. I don’t identify as pagan, so going to a pagan event…I feel like such an outsider. As I should. But at a polytheist event such as Many Gods West, I felt like I belonged. And so, I hope there are more of these in the future.
Secondly, I am hoping that this first year proved to be a vital learning experience. It went so wonderfully for being a first year, but there were still plenty of rough edges. The heat being one of them. Acoustics being another problem. Not having proper name tags. Being able to record the different panels for those who couldn’t make it, or who had to choose between two different panels. Little things like that. Nothing major (except maybe the acoustics) but just little things to help make the entire event run smoother.
Thirdly, I am hoping that the idea that polytheism is a verb calms down by the next time this type of conference happens. I am hoping that people realize that to be polytheist isn’t this active engagement–though it certainly can be! It certainly is for me. But there are definitely people who are more passive in their practice, and that is fine in my book. I don’t think everyone needs to pray to gods, for example. I don’t think everyone needs to pray to spirits, even. But this is something I am going to take up myself by engaging in the community and challenging this notion.
And that’s it! I really hope this can be an annual or biannual event. I would love to gather up my friends from the online community and try to trek there next year. If nothing else, I can maybe someday aspire to do a Many Gods Midwest…Though that’s a long way down the road.
The entirety of Many Gods West is going to be broken up into three parts. The first part is about my experience, the second part focuses on the panels and people, and the third part is my hopes for next year.