Poly-Theology, Thoughts #1

I’ve always hated the topic of theology. Back in the Christian days I’d try to get into because I felt that I needed to defend my faith. But mostly I wanted to poke my eyes out whenever I heard people debating Hebrew semantics or the literalness of this or that or whatever other topics that theology covers, which is basically everything. Seriously. Being stuck in one of those gotcha! conversations is just the worst.

Still, there is something to be said for having a consistent belief system. Or at least some working parameters. When I first dipped my toe in the vast world of Paganism I had no idea where to go. The most prevalent belief system, at least according to all the books on the shelves, is the Wiccan duo-theistic model. Goddess and God, all divinity aspected in some way under that paradigm. Which is fine, but I always wondered where the Other fit in. The third aspect, the gender-bender, the gray area, the not goddess/god/not wanting to be. I’ve always had a certain niche in my heart for that…facet? or that deity (and right there, you can tell that I’m an eggs-over-medium polytheist, can’t you? Sly dog.)

So, well, what then? For awhile I had (and have) relationships (?) with Brighid, Aphrodite, The Green Man, Hekate and The Morrighan. Some are a bit more involved, some are just passing hellos and thank yous and wows. But it’s quiet a collection. I definitely am not God-spoused or singularly devoted to any of them. And really, I feel like my theology is kind of populated with lots of gods and goddesses. Which I like. I like their stories, prayers and songs.

But…see, I don’t know what to name them. I don’t know what pantheon they are. I’ve read up on several and while some deities resonate, others don’t, then I feel muddled and wish I was a Reconstructionist. Cause Reconstructionists, man, at least they got their pantheon, right? Celtic, Greek, Roman, Norse, whathaveyou.

Grass is greener.

This bothered me. I’m a verbal person and when I wanted to pray to something I didn’t like just addressing the air or Goddess or God. Prayers, petitions, offerings, even just a hello-thankyou fell flat when I did that.

So, I got an idea. From a book. Because that’s how Pagans role, yo. The book is called Firethorn by Sarah Micklem. In it the theology in that world is so…intuitive. It’s basically a fully realized system of poly-theology based on archetype and avatar theory. I like it as a way of identifying deities without the pressure to name and categorize them right off. So, while I’m taking inspiration from her work, I’m not using her system.

But what I’ve come up with goes like this:

For several nights I’ve been trying to cultivate a dream life. It’s something that takes time, yes, but I’ve felt the desire pressing on my intuition. I wanted to petition a deity, make a little offering, but I had no idea who. And I really hate, hate, hate just looking up a deity from a correspondence table. It just feels like cold-calling, which I just…I mean, it seems a bit disrespectful, truth told. So, I used the name Dream Weaver. Which feels like an aspect of the same Weaver I murmur to when I read cards. And it seems to have worked.

Someday a name might be whispered in my ear, but for now, to my modern, disconnected from archaic knowledge and really not wanting to screw it up brain, this works.

Right now I’m not sure of many others. Some names that I have work for me. Aphrodite for marriage, beauty and sex. Hestia and Brighid for different aspects of home, hearth-fire, marriage, children, cooking, housework. And on and on. But for others that I don’t have names for yet, Dream Weaver and Weaver and Star Lady (though I see her in Aphrodite and Brighid, too) and Warrior and Storyteller, this seems to…be a happy medium.

I guess this is my deity life hack. Or something. Thoughts?

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Devoted, Part Two.

I can’t quiet recall how Greece came into my consciousness. It might have been reading some of Star Foster’s blog Pantheon. Or that I stumbled upon a copy of Edith Hamilton’s Mythology for a dollar at the best place in the world. Truthfully, it seemed to kind of all happen at once.

Then it kind of just happened.

Friday I had a wedding to attend and nothing to wear. As I drove away from dropping C off at a play-date, it popped in to my head to ask Aphrodite and Hera for help. Weird, because I’ve never worked with any of the Hellenic pantheon. But I obliged the nudge. And I found some great stuff for a great price. Chalking it up as something to be looked up/honored later (you know, sometime next week), I went home happy.

Later that afternoon as I was preparing to get ready I got another nudge. Ask Aphrodite for help. Lord knows I can always use makeup, hair and beauty help–it’s not my strong suit, to say the least–and in an hour I looked great. I had done things with my makeup and hair that I have never done before, or since, and had never looked that good. At this point, I started to feel a little…I don’t know the word. When I looked down to find that the eyeshadow I was using was named Celestial Silver (two of Aphrodite’s epithets are Urania, heavenly, and Asteria, starry) I shivered a little. I felt (feel) One part of each crazy, tickled and pleased.

Then it went on from there. At the wedding I felt a strong urge to pray to Aphrodite, Hera and Hestia for blessing on the wedding. The next morning as I researched/read stuff on the Internet I just kept finding…resonances. A book that I previewed on Amazon called Aphrodite’s Priestess seemed to speak just to me. As I picked up dinner that evening I swung by Joanne’s with the idea for an altar, and ideas just kept coming to me (and, it must be said, pretty much everything I got was on sale…awesome.). Etc.

I guess this all seems pretty small. But for someone who hasn’t…felt…experienced…anything like this in so, so long–and never really since I’ve identified as Pagan–it feels significant. To me, it is significant.

I’ve vacillated over whether or not I wanted to publish this. My more rational, skeptical self keeps saying Wait another month, another year, don’t tell anyone. For fear of looking stupid, I guess. Especially at this beginning/new stage–after all, I want to be taken SERIOUSLY, right? Have read all the right books and have the right practice and say the right things…

Ugh. Bull shit. Here’s the truth:

I don’t know where this is all going. I know that I’m not a Reconstructionist, and I have no desire to be. I like celebrating the Sabbats. I like my nascent magical practice. I know that Aphrodite is a goddess I want to honor, but I’m also interested in Demeter and Dionysus and…well, most of the Hellenic Pantheon.

Does this make me the dreaded Eclectic?

Perhaps. But it’s a step forward from General (which is no bad place to be.) And I feel a sense of resonance, of truth, that my footsteps are orienting towards the wine-dark sea, to the dry, scrubby, sunlit hills that remind me so much of my own home.

Devoted, Part One.

For the past 18 months or so this has been the blog of a General Pagan. I identify as capital-P Pagan, and I muck around in pretty trodden territory.

From the time I first comfortably self-identified (three years ago now?) till a couple of days ago, I’ve tried to make everything that fell under capital-P Paganism fit: Wicca, ADF, OBOD, Reconstructionism, Heathenry, etc. None of it fit very well, and I wasn’t really connecting to any deity in a particular way. I still offered and prayed to Brighid, for the great gifts She has bestowed on me, but…I got this feeling from Her that…I don’t know. While she liked me, and did indeed comfort me, maybe we just weren’t a…fit. I say that and feel like I’m betraying Her in some way, but that’s not the case. I do honor Her and will always.

I’ve always thought that I’d be into Celtic Paganism of some sort. Druidry/ism, Celtic Polytheism, Reconstructionism…something. I triedreally reallyhard to make it fit. When I was a teen I went through a HUGE Celtic phase. Enormous. Seriously, for ten years, pretty much all gifts given to me were Irish and Celtic mythology, folklore, music, etc. I was the girl with the Celtic obsession.

(It fit the hair.)

But…I could never make it stick. I wanted it to stick. I felt like itshould stick. I started reading more heavy-duty Celtic history and archaeology, expecting to be fascinated, expecting that I couldn’t put it down and…all the books collected dust. It was like using Super Glue to bond something, but it no matter how long you held it together it just always fell away. Honestly, it made me sad and disappointed.

Still, I had the trees and the wind and thunderstorms and the way the sun shone through the trees in the park. I had Nianna, a water spirit in said park, and I had vague whisperings and tugs as I read different stories, watched different shows, cooked dinner or kissed my daughter.

It was enough. I was Pagan in my orientation, and though yearning, still fine. What did the gods owe me, anyway? They’re so…other. So…vast. They already gave me life and numerous blessings and gifts…if this was what it was…then, I could live, and joyfully. Though it definitely irked that when I wanted to pray I just prayed to the heavens. It felt…impersonal.

That expectation–the personal relationship–is definitely a holdover from Christianity. In polytheism, the personal relationship is not guaranteed. It’s something I struggled with as I moved from Christianity into very-soft polytheism (more…Wicc-ish deity duality) into a newly realized medium-hard polytheism.

That realization, made some time in the past few weeks, almost took me by surprise. As I was trying to firm up some personal theology, I realized that I believed that the gods, while definitely having definite bleed over, meshing, immersing, etc., are mostly separate entities to me. And while there might still be one Divine, somewhere, I felt polytheist, truly, for the first time.

Then it was kind of like the doors were blown open.

And I knew exactly where to go.