It’s About the Gods, People.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been seeing a lot of articles like this one and this one. The first speculates that polytheism and polyamory are a natural combination and the second, that polytheism and anarchy, or at least anti-capitalism are natural combinations (this latter goes a bit farther and slyly comments that this is true even if the polytheist in question doesn’t realize it). I hate this shit, I really do. The only thing that is a natural combination with polytheism is devotion to the Gods. Presuming any moral or political stance beyond that is at best a matter of personal opinion and at worst misguided. Assuming that any polytheist really holds a particular political stance, even if they may not realize it, is insulting to our intelligence. There is no political or sexual litmus test to be a polytheist and I’m getting damned tired of people and groups and articles pretending that there is. Of course, it’s much easier to wade about in human things than to focus on what actually IS polytheism: venerating the Gods.

I don’t understand why this distinction is so difficult for people to make.

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Posted on August 16, 2015, in community, Polytheism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 19 Comments.

  1. druishbuddhist

    As I read the article on polyamory and polytheism, I was left scratching my head, because the two are not related. Do they have some similarities, in some respects? Sure, but so do a lot of things. Correlation does not equal causation, as the saying goes. I was completely baffled by the author’s attitude that they two are necessarily related, other than the fact that there are multiple entities in the particular relationship. However, the same goes for a family: There are multiple people in the relationship, and they all have separate relations to each other member and as a whole.

    But the two are not, NOT the same, and any attempt to paint them with the same bush is reaching too far.

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  2. I have a question, but if I mis-state or mischaracterize anything unintentionally, please correct me and I will happily apologize.

    In the past, you have written often about how Polytheism is radical, and to properly honor the Gods and the dead in practice, one has to fight cultural and religious colonization and reject the dominant culture and system (https://krasskova.wordpress.com/2015/01/05/radical-polytheists-or-happy-fucking-new-year-to-you-too/ – I know you know your own thoughts very well, I just don’t want to put words in your mouth by trying to describe your views poorly).

    So where is this line drawn for you, personally? Where, on the spectrum of taking a stand against colonization and the dominant culture, does being “anti-capitalist” no longer fall in line with what you have said(if I understand you) is the radicalism inherent to polytheism? Is it the act of giving this system this particular name? Is it a mistake to perceive certain political and economic systems as an extension of the dominant and toxic culture? It seems like the ideas are very similar to me, and apart from the labelling/naming, I am having difficulty in picking out the distinction.

    Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

    • this is a good question. that I believe in taking a stand against our dominant culture and some of its values doesn’t mean that I think we shouldn’t have structures. I’m coming off a pretty bad pain flare, but when I’m feeling better, I’ll put my thoughts down more clearly in answer to your question. If someone wants to be anti-capitalist — have at it! but not every polytheist is. We’re not all going to hold the same political or moral or sexual views, we’re not all going to take a stand against colonialism, monotheism, etc. in the same way. I think that yes, many of us are absolutely going to be motivated to become engaged politically and socially because of our polytheism and that’s GOOD, but to say that we all must be X on the political spectrum is….a slippery slope and it’s not accurate. It has nothing to do with how we get down to the brass tacks of veneration. I’ve just seen one too many articles saying that polytheism is a perfect fit for X…and really, no. not necessarily. not for everyone. What I do like (and kudos to Rhyd here because I think he embodies this beautifully) is how passionately motivated some people are in fighting what is a terribly soul sucking system. We may not agree on how we do this, but we all agree there’s a problem and it’s a good thing when our Gods motivate us to get out there, roll up our sleeves, and make some change. I’m parsing out a semantic line here I guess.

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  3. Virginia carper

    Being a polytheist has nothing to do with economic systems. As one who has spent a career in international finance and banking, and a Roman polytheist, economics has nothing to with religion. You can be radical as a Christian and you can be as capitalist as me. I do know in leftist economic theory, that anarchy, anti-capitalism has nothing to with polytheism. Simply because I do not hold the same beliefs as the dominant religion doesn’t mean that I am an anarchist. My family I.e. uncles and grandfather were both devout Baptists and anarchists. They blew up mines to strike against mine owners. They were card carrying Communists, and Union organisers. And were also ministers or missionaries spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So decouple the two – anti-capitalism and polytheism.

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  4. Yeah, I don’t get it whatsoever. My political, economical, and sexual views or facts have nothing to with my gods or the number of gods that I worship. While I have issues with both articles you linked to, I take more issue with Rath’s article….I’m very much a polytheist, I’m proud to be a polytheist, and I’m very much not an anarchest whatsoever….

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  5. I always find this baffling. I am a polytheist and also polyamorous, but the two have no direct correlation nor common source. Loving more than one person at a time is not at all the same as acknowledging (and worshipping) the Gods as distinct individuals. At the same time, I am absolutely not an anarchist, nor particularly anti-capitalist, because I don’t derive my economic or political views from my belief in the Gods, nor vice versa. At most, for me personally there’s probably a correlation between my spirituality and my generally liberal viewpoint, but not specifically because I’m a polytheist – more my ideas about freedom to be whoever we wish to be and are guided to be, which I could think just as well if I were a monotheist (or whatever else). Head-scratchy indeed.

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  6. I really think the issue boils down to many people not being able to understand a system that doesn’t revolve completely around human needs or desires. They apply some kind of human-centric qualifiers to make themselves feel more comfortable.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think so too. and it is maddening. this isn’t about making us comfortable. we’re restoring our traditions and fighting to see the Gods recognized and venerated. I hate how inevitably it gets pulled back down to human desires and issues. (not that things don’t need to change in our society, but as adults, part of the human community and awake we should be working toward that anyway).

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  7. Another great post from you! I agree with you completely. Why mix things that aren’t related? I personally hate politics, but that doesn’t give me the right to say that all Polytheists hate politics. For all I know there could be plenty that love to keep up with them.

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    • For all that I bemoan political stupidity and the like, I really do like to follow them and keep updated on them. A lot of that has to do with wanting to be informed, and knowing what is coming down the pipe. For instance, our local politics has a lot to do with how things like contracts for labor shake out, or if pipelines get inspected, approved, etc.

      Liked by 1 person

      • flatlinedgamer

        I keep up with things that are important. To me at least. It actually makes me hate politics and politicians more. I mean, come on, where does it make sense to remove thousands of Mustangs because “they’re destroying the natural system” and replace them with cows, an animal that actually is destructive to water sources and habitats?

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      • About as much sense as keeping a 60 year old pipeline owned and operated by Enbridge Energy underneath the Great Lakes after Enbridge had not one, but two oil catastrophes within the space of 5 years. It’s as though the politicians are saying “Don’t worry, that’ll buff out” in regards to oil spills. They still haven’t cleaned up the Kalamazoo River. Fuckers.

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  8. Thanks, Marybeth. Today is so much better than the last two days. I’m hoping tomorrow will be even better.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. These are my thoughts on this that I started writing on. At first I was going to ask you to dig into your thoughts, since when I started writing you had not yet responded to Marybeth. I’ll be interested to read the follow-up.

    I see you write a lot on the kinds of things you hate in regards to capitalism, i.e. the despoiling of the landscape, the destruction of sacred sites for stupid shit like dumping waste snow on a sacred mountain. You’ve also traveled a lot, and it seems to me the countries you’ve remarked on liking the most are ones that have at least some form of socialism, universal healthcare, that kind of thing. I think it is very possible to have hierarchy, order, and free markets without the deep problems of capitalism. There were hierarchy, order, and markets well before capitalism, and there can be well after it.

    I am anti-capitalist because the fundamentals of the economics that allow capitalism to exist and thrive rest in colonialism, imperialism, and unfettered exponential growth. Because of my convictions borne from my religion, capitalism is at odds with respect to my relationships and worship of the Gods, Ancestors, and vaettir. There is little-to-no Gebo in such a system, and its continued existence rests on the backs of children, slavery, and extreme poverty. It also rests on the destruction of countless environments, such as in Baotou in Mongolia. By its nature, it won’t stop, because it is predicated on exponential growth, and so, every-increasing destruction of the environment, and intake of resources. Even to the death of us.

    What I am not is an anarchist. If anything, I’m tribalist. It so happens that in order for my people to keep on keeping on these large issues of capitalism, climate change, peak oil, and the like will need to be addressed. I do like order, hierarchy, and markets, but I hate what capitalism has done to our relationships with each other, the absolute devastation it has unleashed on indigenous peoples and the environment.

    My feelings in regards to capitalism come out of my religious views. Capitalism as it exists and has existed does not practice Gebo, or really any kind of balance with the world, with the lands it affects, and the like. The old saw that a capitalist would sell the rope one would hang it with holds true, especially in regards to the environment. The appalling condition of Baotou in Mongolia, the dumping of wastewater on a sacred mountain in Flagstaff, Arizona to make snow for a ski resort, the continued threat by Enbridge Energy to the Straits of Mackinac with its 60 year old pipeline running beneath it despite a terrible safety track record, all enabled by this economic system.

    What my views on capitalism do not require is that everyone adopt them any more than everyone adopt my religion, or within polytheism, my tradition.

    So while I see that my beliefs and views in regards to capitalism have grown out of my religious views, Odin has not sat me down and said “Son, you *must* be anti-capitalist to be a Northern Tradition Pagan or Heathen” any more than I think it is my job to do so in my role as His priest or a Northern Tradition shaman. While I may say “We need to think of the impact our actions, ways of life, etc. have on the landvaettir” this call to action will lead people to different conclusions than my own. It’d be a whole different story if I said “Anyone that wants be a Northern Tradition Pagan must do x or y”. A Northern Tradition Pagan, polytheist, etc. just needs to worship the Gods, respect/venerate/worship (as called/capable) the Ancestors, and vaettir.

    Thank you for giving me things to think on, and helping me bring out my thoughts on things.

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  10. One thing on the poly/poly comparison – our culture has a maniacal monofocus, where giving any sort of devotion or attention to more than one thing or principle gets you labeled as false, a cheater, an opportunist, or a sucker. I think that the reasons that polyamory and polytheism are demonized in our culture rise from similar roots – but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily overlap with one another in any way but regarding having common enemies.

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  11. Connecting polytheism with polyamory seems like the Jewish idea that worshipping Gods besides YHWH is like adultery. Perhaps that’s a subconscious origin for the otherwise non-existent connection between polytheism and polyamory.

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  12. Aurhrgh. There goes my calm and peaceful evening mood. I can only agree, polytheism really is not related to polyamory OR anarchism, Some may be both one and the other but to say one comes with the other? Ehm. No, I wouldn’t say that, no. There might be an overlap of people daring to think “outside of the box” and thus come to explore so called alternative ways – such as polyamory, polytheism and anarchy all may be described as, but the three concepts aren’t in themselves related! Bah.

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