A good day to be polytheist
In just a handful of hours I’ll be running with maenads, howling praises to the Gods, pouring out offerings, and surrendering to the Mysteries that They alone can bring. I’ll be the barbarian, the Heathen interloper dancing with satyrs and other fey folk on a northern shore, where I will likewise honor the savage Gods of the sea, my people’s Gods, who take no prisoners and ask no mercy. I’m looking forward to it.
Too often we spend our lives putting up masks, reigning ourselves in, hiding our devotion, pretending to be ‘normal’ as though that is ever anything to which we should aspire. We starve our souls of the very nourishment that is craved because somewhere, someone or maybe many someones taught us to be afraid, or to care more for the facades and fripperies of a polluted world than for the Gods and Their blessings. We move like shadows or walking wounded through our day to day lives and the Gods seem so far away.
It doesn’t have to be like that though. Our Gods are there. Our world is redolent with Them. It’s up to us to seek Them out and what joy when we find others who have been taken up by similar hungers.
Every time we gather together to celebrate, every time we pour out libations, make offerings, sacrifices, celebrate the many Mysteries of our Gods we are remaking the fabric of our world, millimeter by millimeter. We are taking back ideological space ceded with the dominance of monotheism. We are doing a good thing: for our Gods and for ourselves.
Community is out there. It may not seem like it. It may seem that it’s just one attack on polytheisms after another but it’s hugely important not to let the microcosm, the vicious little bell jar of the internet define our experience of our traditions. The internet isn’t tradition; what we each do at our shrines, when we pray, when we make offerings, when we gather and celebrate, when we inch by inch, minute by minute bring these Mysteries back to life – that’s tradition. Everything else is, in the long run, irrelevant; and make no mistake: there are people out there who are quietly going about the process of honoring their Gods. There are those as hungry for community as anyone reading this. Things are happening. Our traditions are growing and it’s a good and blessed thing. It’s important to remember that, and to go again and again into the presence of our Gods for renewal. They above all else sustain.
The Summer Solstice is coming up. For many polytheistic traditions, this is a major holy tide. What can we do to make it a powerful celebration of our Gods and most of all for our Gods? I’ll be giving it quite a bit of thought while I’m honoring Dionysos, and honoring my own Gods. Each celebration, each libation, each offering, each sacrifice, every prayer made, every image created, every moment of ecstasy and prayer is one more stone in the foundation of our traditions, one more step forward.
I’ve been thinking all last week how incredibly lucky I am to have the opportunity to honor Dionysos for several days, with those who are His, those who love Him as I love Odin. It reminds me what a privilege it is to be a polytheist now, in this time when I can do this openly, love and honor my Gods freely, venerate images, create rituals, and run with a troupe of wild maenads across the woods It is a glorious time to be a polytheist, and there is nothing that need hold us back.
(Dionysos prayer card by W. McMillan