Thursday, February 14, 2019

Extreme Polytheism In A Sometimes Not So Extreme Community

The Polytheistic and Pagan communities are often broken into two theological classes, those being Soft Polytheism and Hard Polytheism. Basically, Soft Polytheism is the belief that all Gods go back to one ultimate God, whereas Hard Polytheism believes that all Gods are their own separate individuals and manifestations, and are not dependent on any other Deity for their power or existence. So for example, a Soft Polytheist would believe that Zeus, Apollo, and Dionysus are all the same God, whereas a Hard Polytheist would believe they are 3 separate and distinct Gods.

Back when I first began seriously studying Hellenic Polytheism as a religion, I knew right away I was a Hard Polytheist. Soft Polytheism didn't make any sense to me at all because how in the world could a Virgin Goddess who refrains from sexual contact be the same as Aphrodite who loves sexual contact? In some cases, there was too much of an impassable contradiction, but I later came to realize that I was something even more than just a Hard Polytheist, what I came to coin as "Extreme Polytheism." I discovered that some Hard Polytheists, even though they believed in many distinct Gods, still had some Soft Polytheistic views even within a Hard category itself. I found that some, for example, believed in The Olympians in a Hard Polytheistic theology, but believed that the Non-Olympian Gods could be simply different manifestations or extensions of the 12 Olympians themselves, such as the idea that Nike is another manifestation of Athena, or the Wind Gods being an extension of Zeus. I saw that even within Hard Polytheism, there could also exist Soft Polytheism. 

I wasn't having any of that, though. I believed, and still believe, that every single God, Spirit and Hero is their own distinct individual, and not the extension or manifestation of any other but themselves. I didn't see any need, at any point, for a Deity to show themselves as anything other than themselves. Why would Athena, I thought, show Herself as Nike as if Her previous manifestation didn't suffice? It didn't make any sense when paired with the belief in all powerful, individual Gods who could do whatever they wanted on their own. So I became an Extreme Polytheist. I came to believe that Athena and Nike are two separate Deities who, at times, come together for a common goal, but who can also separate and go about their own way with other things. To my mind, there is no Divinity whatsoever who isn't their own independent Being. In some cases, I may be a minority within a minority, but it has greatly broadened my relationships with the Divine.

Although, I'm sure I'm not the only one out there with this perspective, but if we're looking for an official name for our theology (and I do think it needs its own identification), why not Extreme Polytheism?

In the Goodness of the Gods,
Chris Aldridge.

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