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.

Notes

  1. There are some practitioners whose work specifically with transgressive practices. Obviously, different standards apply there.
  2. See this entry
  3. See the entry for purus, a, um 
  4. 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.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Posted on July 3, 2016, in community, Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. I wish practitioners showed the same respect toward miasma they show toward AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. If only we were as quick to distance ourselves from impiety as we are to insist on condoms.

    To be fair, it took me a long time to really learn and internalize that lesson. I wonder if we might not want to start stressing the parallels between miasma and other contagious diseases and offering tips on how one can engage more safely with an impious world.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ganglerisgrove

      YES! (maybe we should tout piety as the condom of religion!). YOu are so so right here and I love the analogy.

      It took me awhile too but you learn, often by screwing up, but my Gods you learn.

      Like

      • thetinfoilhatsociety

        “Handwashing prevents disease!” “Covering your mouth when you cough/sneeze prevents disease!”

        “Purity in devotion prevents diseased religion!” It could work….

        Liked by 1 person

      • I am at a point where impiety literally makes me feel sick. I’ve distanced myself from the Pagan scene because I’d rather eat rotten meat than wallow in their miasma. Instead I’m concentrating my energies on my daughter, my family and my house. I’m finding that people who need me

        Perhaps the most important thing Fuensanta taught me was holiness begins at home. In an impious world you have to keep your space clean and protect your own. If we can do that — if we can establish enough little centers of piety and devotion and wall them off from the filth around us — we can win this war.

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Interesting. Since I am only familiar with Hellenic practice, I wasn’t aware that the concept was so widespread.

    Like

  3. As my practice becomes more serious and I am diving deeper with the Gods, I find that maintaining purity is one of THE most important things for a healthy relationship with the gods. Right now my practice is continuing only because I have been Shown and Told (the hard way, damn it!!) that I need a VERY strict protocol of energetic cleanliness and purity in order to continue forward with serving the Gods properly in the way They wish me too. It’s not only to be a vessel fit for Their work; it’s also for every single component of my health and well-being.

    Until this protocol is set in place, I’m not moving an inch – and for damn good reason. For me, if there is no protocol or habit of purity in one’s religious practice, the practice is unhealthy. For me it’s like working surrounded by sickness I’m breathing in and it’s disgusting. Not taking responsibility for my health and well-being severely affects the ways in which I can do the Work, whatever that Work is.

    Re: the context of John Beckett’s comment — I don’t like the MGW drama and ridiculousness, but I have to commend him for getting into that mess called MGW and wanting to do work for polytheism, polytheism, and the Gods – especially in at atmosphere (ironically) that doesn’t welcome, doesn’t want to understand, and absolutely ridicules polytheists and polytheism. I think it’s really brave to put oneself in an unwelcoming community – it’ll piss them off, too. I will definitely be paying attention to what comes out from this year’s MGW because, even if I dislike that greatly, what happens there is important… whether it is an importance of positive progression or an importance of “fuck, there’s more drama, we need to answer to this because THIS is the bullshit that people THINK we do and that is being sold for profit in order to slight us and what we do.”

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I understand what John is trying to do and agree that his intentions are noble. My advice to him and to anybody else going to **any** spiritual gathering would be “purify and shield, purify and shield, purify and shield.” We take items from our home altars and set up shrines in our rooms when traveling, and I’d recommend something similar for any Polytheist. I’d encourage John not to be disappointed should his efforts at building bridges prove less successful than he might hope. But I’d also encourage everybody involved to hold to their guns and avoid ceding doctrine in the interest of some kind of fake “community.” Polytheism can work just fine as a number of different sects with wildly varying theologies — in fact, that’s how it always worked. It can’t work if it gets chewed up into some bland mush that tries to appeal to everybody by standing for nothing.

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I never thought what I did for mental health was a form of purity. I have decided there are toxic people, etc that I needed to stay away from. Becoming entangled with them always left me unclean mentally.

    I am beginning to see that in my spiritual practise as well. I keep my home as clean as possible, and do my daily devotions. Sometimes, when I think about the people behind MGW and their ruckus, I feel unclean. So there is another layer to regard in keeping things pure.

    Liked by 2 people

    • ganglerisgrove

      My adopted mom, Virginia, said that purity started with keeping one’s space clean. She always said she never bothered to ward or shield, she’d simply make the space so clean that things malignant and foul, or pollution simply couldn’t find purchase there. I think the same thing applies to our hearts, minds, and spirits. and learning how to set boundaries and maintain them, and other ways of handling mental illness are very, very helpful here because I tend to look at pollution as a type of illness. it’s a lack of balance, it’s a contagion…

      Like

  6. Final comment: Pagan SWJs seem to set themselves up as the final authority of what everyone should think is important or care about. They also have final authority on how we should respond. That puts them at the top of the heap. Isn’t that hubris, which the Gods detest? They are human centric – which as everyone has said is pollution.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ganglerisgrove

      YES. this. that’s it exactly. they are human centric and that is, in this space (religious) pollution. and it’s not enough that they’re polluted, they tout it as the way to be, and want to spread that shit until it corrupts all our communities.

      Like

    • SWJ = ?

      I’m on the periphery of all this and not up on all the acronyms.

      Like

  7. This is the major reason why the deities I worship do not want me to worship with neos of any sort. They do care that there are atheists and monotheists in the mix. The amount of miasma is so extreme that you can drown!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. ganglerisgrove

    Kenaz, i think you’re right: little centers of piety. it starts with each one of us being unwilling to compromise on this one thing, training ourselves carefully to approach the Gods, the ancestors, all things holy clean and with respect — to prioritize those things.

    Like

%d bloggers like this: