We Polytheists Are the Biggest Threat to Polytheism
Why is it that no matter what we do, the Gods are never given Their due?
I was so excited after the PLC at how many new connections had been formed and how vibrant our communities seemed. I thought, finally we can work together to further the restoration of our traditions, the restoration of cultus, the veneration of our Gods, the mutual strengthening of our communities. It seemed a milestone, something from which we could build upon and I was hopeful. Now, not so much. Now I pretty much just want to throw up my hands.
I’ve been really disturbed lately with certain trends I see in the polytheist communities and it’s taken me over a month to really parse out why. I mean, I support a great deal of the social activism that I see going on within our various communities. I think our commitment to our traditions and our Gods should spur us to speak up and oppose injustice. Yet more and more, as the polytheist communities turn into political, activist, or social justice communities I find myself agitated. It finally dawned on me tonight why.
Social activism is a good and necessary thing. I think we should be calling out injustice when we see it. I think we should be fighting to make changes in our world. These are necessary things because we are part of a human community that is slowly being bled dry, that is being oppressed on so many levels that it boggles the mind. I think we have an obligation to fight for change. That work is not devotion and that work is not religion. That work is part of being an engaged human being.
What I see now is all of that good and necessary work being put in place of devotion, cultus, and *religion*. Politics is not religion. (And don’t even get me started on how poorly our community deals with co-religionists who do not happen to have radical politics. Since when was a political litmus test part and parcel of being a polytheist? You know what IS part and parcel of being polytheist? Actually venerating the Gods).
I think we are very, very good at putting anything in place of devotion and calling it devotion. We’re good at putting any human thing first in our hearts and minds and calling it religion yet every time we are given a chance to prioritize the Gods and Their veneration, we default to finding some human cause to deify, to put *in place* of our devotion. It’s the ‘in place of’ part that sickens me to my soul. Any social justice work that I do flows from my polytheism; my polytheism does not flow from my social justice work.
Is it too much to ask that we stop trying to model our religions on Protestant Christianity (the type of secular Protestantism so common in the US that seems to mistake commitment to their favorite cause for actual faith) and instead do the work of devotion, not instead of community activism, but with the acknowledgment that they are two very distinct things? Devotion and cultus constantly get the short end of the stick and I do not in any way like what polytheism is becoming because of it.
Am I saying don’t engage in social justice work? Hell no. Engage. Engage fiercely. Allow the Gods to nourish you in this work; but don’t mistake it for devotion. It isn’t. Don’t mistake it for “building polytheism”. It’s not that either, however good and necessary it may in fact be.