Purity in Polytheism
Recently in a discussion thread, the comment was made specifically with respect to polytheism, that “purity is overrated.” Nothing could be further from the truth and I was so taken aback by the comment (it really does highlight so well the issues facing our communities today), that I decided it required a response. After all, Purity is, in fact, essential to piety. It is the core of solid polytheistic practice. (1)
Purity is defined as “the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.” (2). It is from the Latin purus, -a, -um, meaning ‘clean, free from filth, unstained, undefiled.’ (3) The opposite of purity is pollution and miasma.
Keeping ourselves and our practices free of miasma is essential for clear signal clarity with the Gods and ancestors. It’s what enables us to build and restore our traditions in ways that are both sustainable and pleasing to our Gods. It should be one of the defining factors—actually, I think it’s not too strong to say pre-requisites—for devotional practice. We should want to be as clean, i.e. as ‘pure’ as possible in our relations with our Gods and in our traditions. (4)
Restoration is a process of building something and why on earth would anyone of commitment and sense choose to build on a foundation that wasn’t solid and clean? So when someone says ‘purity is overrated’ I have to step back because not in polytheistic practice it isn’t.
- There are some practitioners whose work specifically with transgressive practices. Obviously, different standards apply there.
- See this entry.
- See the entry for purus, a, um
- It can also help us in determining what is actually a God or spirit and what is simply the sock puppets in our heads; with the prevalence of pop-culture ‘paganism’ I can think of no more important skill.