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Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
06-27-2013, 11:49 PM
Post: #1
Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
I have recently converted to a polytheistic faith but find it hard to explain to others about my faith. One of the problems are the words used to describe polytheistic faiths. The first problem I ran into is that I do believe there is one main God who created the universe but at the same time I believe God is also represented by different spirits of the world in an animist way. Thus there is a mother earth or the spirit of the wolf or of the oak. I believe that many pagan faiths also have a concept of a creator God yet worship other gods which represent different aspects of the one God. Some gods with human aspects may actually have been real people who over time and through an oral tradition become divine. I mean no disrespect to Christian which was my faith for a long time but we see Jesus change from a man to a god through the same type of oral tradition. By the time the gospels were written he was then seen as a god. Even Mary and some saints develop divine status. The term pagan or heathen of neo-pagan, wiccan, Celtic pagan, Norse pagan suggest greater differences between these faiths than I think is really present. On of the remarkable aspects of the past was that pagans could live together with tolerance. The sad aspect of history is that pagans welcomed Christians in only to be eliminated by the people they welcomed when Christians gained power. My question here is can polytheists return to a tolerant state where they can become more united as a religion while keeping their individuality. The reason for uniting is to gain more recognition as a legitimate religion. I personally also think that the polytheistic religions are more connected with nature and need to be active in saving nature. This was more than I expected to write to start but I am still very new at this. I hope there are others interested in this.
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06-27-2013, 11:59 PM
Post: #2
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Quote:I believe that many pagan faiths also have a concept of a creator God yet worship other gods which represent different aspects of the one God.

This is called "soft" polytheism. The idea that all gods are aspects or facets of one god. It's different from "hard" polytheism, which recognises multiple deities as existing independent of one another. IE: Jupiter is not Woden, Aphrodite is not Amaretsu.

Quote:The term pagan or heathen of neo-pagan, wiccan, Celtic pagan, Norse pagan suggest greater differences between these faiths than I think is really present.

Yeah...get a soft polytheistic Wiccan and a Anglo-Saxon Heathen in a room and watch what happens. I suggest popcorn. Possibly a hose if the Wiccan is a fluffy.

Quote:y question here is can polytheists return to a tolerant state where they can become more united as a religion while keeping their individuality.

Can they live in harmony? Yes. Can they all be one religion? Noooo.

Quote:he reason for uniting is to gain more recognition as a legitimate religion.

There are huge differences however. Things like animal sacrifice, hard vs. soft polytheism, place of magic if any, place and type of divination, values, etc.

Quote:I personally also think that the polytheistic religions are more connected with nature and need to be active in saving nature.

This makes me wary. Because it can be interpreted so many different ways. You can have beliefs in conserving nature, but they can be taken to extremes. I know a Wiccan coven that is completely vegan because they view it as "saving" nature. You see how this might cause friction with pagans who may hunt as a way of conserving nature?
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06-28-2013, 08:52 AM
Post: #3
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
I have never heard of the use of soft vs hard polytheism. First I gave somewhat a view of what I believe but also was presenting the point that there is evidence that even with such gods as Jupiter there was a higher god believed in. The same is true of Woden. That does not mean they were not believed to be gods themselves but rather there was still a superior being to them.
I am sorry you have such a dim view of pagans/polytheists because history shows your view is incorrect. There is evidence that pagans could live together and believe in different gods. That does not mean the did not have disagreements about each others gods just that there was a tolerance for diversity. I do not see why people in our time cannot believe in our faith yet appreciate diversity. The use of the word fluffy is often applied by some as a derogatory comment which is exactly what we do not need to do. It implies a superficial belief. It would be a sad to think we cannot enjoy differences as much as similarities. Oh I forgot if you are Christian or Muslim there is only one way to believe and everyone else in the world is wrong.
My last statement is just a personal appeal. Everything that was wild that represents nature at its finest is disappearing. We are being left with reservations for animals and plants with there remaining land destroyed for human use. One aspect of Celtic vs Norse vs Native American vs African pagan religions is a reverence for nature. Yes there are defenses but still a respect that is needed so much in our world today. It seems that pagan religions are the only ones that have enough respect for nature to try and change what is happening to our Earth.
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06-28-2013, 11:19 AM
Post: #4
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
There is a vast difference between living together and worshipping together/ creating a single, unified polytheistic religion.

There is a very good essay you should read, "The Hammer and the Pentacle" (google it), wherein an Asatruar and a Wiccan go through their beliefs and explain what is similar and what is different; the differences far outnumber the similarities. This is not a bad thing. Most polytheists would balk at notions of universaliaty and monoreligion.

We are lightning, straying from the thunder; miracles of ancient wonder.
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06-28-2013, 10:06 PM (This post was last modified: 06-28-2013 10:07 PM by Niva.)
Post: #5
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Quote:I have never heard of the use of soft vs hard polytheism.

Let me offer you a quote:

"Hard" polytheism is the belief that gods are distinct, separate, real divine beings not psychological archetypes or personifications of natural forces. Hard polytheists reject the idea that "all gods are one god." "Hard" polytheists do not necessarily consider the gods of all cultures as being equally real, a theological position formally known as integrational polytheism or omnitheism.

This is contrasted with "Soft" polytheism, which holds that gods may be aspects of only one god, psychological archetypes or personifications of natural forces.

Polytheism on Wiki

Quote:First I gave somewhat a view of what I believe but also was presenting the point that there is evidence that even with such gods as Jupiter there was a higher god believed in. The same is true of Woden. That does not mean they were not believed to be gods themselves but rather there was still a superior being to them.

I find this interesting, can you offer citations? I don't recally ever coming across this in ASNC.

Quote:I am sorry you have such a dim view of pagans/polytheists because history shows your view is incorrect.

I don't have a dim view of polytheists.

Quote:There is evidence that pagans could live together and believe in different gods.

I don't argue that at all.

Quote:That does not mean the did not have disagreements about each others gods just that there was a tolerance for diversity.

Again, I completely agree with that.

Quote: do not see why people in our time cannot believe in our faith yet appreciate diversity.

It is entirely possible. But there are different faiths for a reason. If you compare Wicca to Fyrnsidu, they're not at all similar. They have different values, different virtues, different hierarchies and different beliefs. They can tolerate each other, but they can't function as the same religion.

As an example, Samhain is not the same as Winternights. They might be similar, they might be celebrated at/around the same time, and parts of one might bleed into the other, but it would be disrespectful to BOTH to try and beat them together. Not unlike Catholics turning Imbolg, Là Fhèill Brìghde, into Candlemas, the feast day of Saint Brigit.

Quote:The use of the word fluffy is often applied by some as a derogatory comment which is exactly what we do not need to do. It implies a superficial belief.

So, do you consider pagans who claim that they can cast/create spells, with no knowledge of spellcraft, to physically ride a broom or turn into a mermaid to not hold superficial beliefs?

Quote:Oh I forgot if you are Christian or Muslim there is only one way to believe and everyone else in the world is wrong.

This is exactly why I wanted to hide my beliefs for a time when I came on here. People judge you by what they think you believe, rather than your words and what you're saying.

Quote:Everything that was wild that represents nature at its finest is disappearing. We are being left with reservations for animals and plants with there remaining land destroyed for human use. One aspect of Celtic vs Norse vs Native American vs African pagan religions is a reverence for nature. Yes there are defenses but still a respect that is needed so much in our world today. It seems that pagan religions are the only ones that have enough respect for nature to try and change what is happening to our Earth.

This is just naive. Al Gore is not a pagan. There are people from all walks of life involved in environmental activism. Some of the most staunch environmental activists I know are atheists, because they don't believe in an afterlife or reincarnation.

Quote:There is a vast difference between living together and worshipping together/ creating a single, unified polytheistic religion.

that's what I was trying to say.

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06-29-2013, 03:29 AM
Post: #6
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
When I say unify I am not saying believe the same thing. One of the points I have been making is that history has shown that polytheists or pagans showed remarkable tolerance each other. The point to unify pagans has nothing to do with a monotheistic religion, on the contrary it is all about preserving our differences. In pagan societies it was OK to have different beliefs so Wiccan, Druid, or Asatru could coexist. The very importance to unify is to protect our differences. It is monotheistic religions that can not get along and seek to destroy any other form of belief. Islam in particular sought out to destroy all pagans and only tolerate Jews or Christians. The wonderful aspect of pagan religion is to be able to have differences and yet coexist. The purpose to unite is to protect this way of life.
There are references to the Idea that pagan religions had a sense of a higher God. I will have to locate them but will be glad to share them. I am not trying to say the Gods they worshiped were less important only that there was evidence that they also felt there was a creator of the world.
I do not mean to insult anyone so if I offended anyone I apologize. I am not naïve. I know that many atheists have been very active in environmental issues. I appreciate what Al Gore has done for the environment also but overall there has been too little done and I have not found most Christian organizations to be very proactive in protecting the environment. My point about pagans was that they have had a deeper appreciation for the environment than monotheistic religions. Atheists are a mixture of very dedicated to those who do not care. Those that do are often very passionate about protecting nature.
I do really appreciate your comments. I started this thread to get input on the idea. It has already been very difficult to organized pagans because of the fear there views will be diluted by others or that others will try to create an image that does not represent what others believe. I think there can be a connection with the idea of protecting the differences that make each unique while protecting the faiths from monotheistic faiths. Things are getting better about accepting a person to have a pagan faith but there is still too much ignorance and prejudice against pagans because of the history of demonizing pagans by the Christian and Muslim religions.
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06-29-2013, 04:06 AM (This post was last modified: 06-29-2013 04:07 AM by Niva.)
Post: #7
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Quote:When I say unify I am not saying believe the same thing. One of the points I have been making is that history has shown that polytheists or pagans showed remarkable tolerance each other. The point to unify pagans has nothing to do with a monotheistic religion, on the contrary it is all about preserving our differences. In pagan societies it was OK to have different beliefs so Wiccan, Druid, or Asatru could coexist. The very importance to unify is to protect our differences.

But that kind of already happens. Think of it like file folders on a computer. You have a folder marked 'Paganism' and inside there are subfolders, Historical and Modern. You open Modern to find more folders -- Heathen, Celtic, Kemetic, Aztec, Hellenic, Roman, Eclectic, Syncretic, etc.

You click on Heathen and you get things like Theodism, Asatru, A-S, and others. Click on Celtic, you might get Druidry and Recon, etc. But the point is, no matter how many folders you go down, they're still all under that 'Paganism' source folder, like nesting dolls. You can't be more specific than that, because the moment you are, someone is excluded, or a practise is left out.

Quote:There are references to the Idea that pagan religions had a sense of a higher God. I will have to locate them but will be glad to share them. I am not trying to say the Gods they worshiped were less important only that there was evidence that they also felt there was a creator of the world.

Some might, I don't think all felt that way. As we've pointed out, generalizations are bad. Smack fingers.

Quote: The wonderful aspect of pagan religion is to be able to have differences and yet coexist. The purpose to unite is to protect this way of life.

You do realise how war-like and violent pagan times were, right...? Just because faith may have not been a factor in violence doesn't mean historical paganism wasn't violent in some contexts, especially to those they considered enemies, for whatever reason.

Quote:The purpose to unite is to protect this way of life.

But which "way of life." Which was kind of my point. Pagan religions vary HUGELY. Do you really think Dianic Wiccans want to protect an A-S Heathen's sacral king, when some don't even believe men belong in pagan religions? (Yes, I have actually heard that argument.)

Quote:My point about pagans was that they have had a deeper appreciation for the environment than monotheistic religions.

Again, opinions vary. Some have the use-it-or-lose-it philosophy, and some believe using up this planet is going to help bring on another universal cycle. A lot do revere nature in some way, but not all.

Quote:I think there can be a connection with the idea of protecting the differences that make each unique while protecting the faiths from monotheistic faiths.

Most monotheists really don't care. Yes, you have your fundamentalists and scary people in any religion, but that includes paganism. I would all point out that "monotheism" is not all scary attacking crusaders. Judaism has a strict "do not proselytise" rule, while Vodun doesn't CARE what anyone else does, except MAYBE the Catholics. I can guarantee you, the Amish don't care what you do.

Quote:Things are getting better about accepting a person to have a pagan faith but there is still too much ignorance and prejudice against pagans because of the history of demonizing pagans by the Christian and Muslim religions.

There's still much demonising and ignorance about Muslims and Sikhs, and practicioners of Santeria and Vodun. Think we should work on that too?
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06-29-2013, 12:13 PM
Post: #8
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Pagan religions were no more violent than Christian or Muslim. The massacre of the Saxons, the massacre of the Cather's, the march on Vienna from the Ottoman Empire, and the other massacres at the advance of Islam. To say that pagan were worse is not supported in history. I also think we need tolerance for all religions including Christianity and Islam as well as others. The problem has been that it was those two religions that were the religions that were intolerant.
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06-29-2013, 03:05 PM
Post: #9
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Quote:To say that pagan were worse is not supported in history.

I never said they were worse. I said they could be violent too. The way you seem to be suggesting how tolerant and diverse pagans were seemed to suggest that you seemed to fall into the idea of "peaceful pagans destroyed by warlike Christians/Muslms/etc."

My point was they had their own violence as well. Just because it was not necessarily based in religion doesn't mean that they were all sitting in a grove drinking mead, especially if you move away from Europe, to African tribes who would raid their neighbors, sometimes actually based on faith.
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06-29-2013, 04:03 PM
Post: #10
RE: Can polythists connect together as a united religion and yet keep thier individuality
Contemporarily, "Paganism" is our "uniting religion" in the same regards that "Christianity" unites Catholics, Baptists, Anglicans, etc. "Our" being pre-christian religions of Europe. To consider sub-saharan African and indigenous American tribal beliefs as "Paganism" is vastly over-broadening the term as applied during the Roman Empire.

As Niva has tried pointing out, in part, Pagans are united under this cultural umbrella, but we will never worship the same thing. And we're fine with that; there's no issue with it. Why would you think we all need to unite and worship the exact same thing?

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