The Real Allure of Monotheism LOL

You know where I have the most guilt as a polytheist? It’s silly but I don’t like leaving any of my household Gods out when I’m making offerings. If I have a box of cookies and I want to give a few in offering to Sigyn, for instance, I often feel really bad if I don’t also offer to Hermes, and then I think of Mani and then…and then…and so it goes and then I have no cookies left. (I’ve learned to reign this in significantly over the years, but the tendency, the worry is still there).

If I am cleaning and tending for one shrine, making new offerings, etc., I feel bad if I don’t do ALL of the shrines (which is impossible in a single day). Now mind you, I don’t think the Gods care. They are so very much bigger than we can ever conceive of – our cognition is simply not capable of truly grasping the entirety of a God’s being. It’s not like I feel as though I shall be smote (how the hell does one conjugate this verb??!)  if I miss a Deity…at best, I suspect it probably gently amuses Them. It’s not like there’s any sin or wicked act going on here either, Lol. I just don’t like leaving any Being that I love out.

This can be rather funny. My household prays nightly together and often before doing so, I’ll be moved to make an offering to a particular Deity to Whom I then plan to pray. Then it becomes complicated, because I’ll think, “well, T. is praying to Freya tonight – I don’t want Her to be without an offering, and Sannion is praying to Dionysos so I want to make that offering, but then I haven’t made an offering at THIS shrine in a bit…and oh look, that offering bowl is empty.” and it can get out of hand. I’ve been known to joke when it does that here, right here is the real pull of monotheism: having only one Deity to tend! Lol.

I’m not sure if this is all a matter of scrupulosity or not. For those who may not know, this is a term I first ran into reading Therese of Lisieux though I believe it dates back a couple of centuries before her (she lived in the very late 19thc.). She uses it to describe excessive fixation on unrealistic expressions of devotion – I’ve heard it described as spiritual OCD. Usually it goes hand in hand with fear that you are in some way offending your God constantly. That’s certainly not where I’m coming from with any of this, though I keep an eye on it because scrupulosity can be incredibly detrimental to one’s devotional and spiritual life (just as other types of OCD may be to one’s life in general). We shouldn’t need the constant reassurance from our Gods, after all, a desire that goes hand in hand with scrupulosity. I almost think scrupulosity is lack of trust in one’s Gods, a deep insecurity and fear, lack of a healthy sense of self too. Regardless, it’s damaging on many levels. So, I do consider this occasionally wondering if I’m headed in that direction but for me, it really just comes down to not wanting anyone (even when I’m referring to a Deity) to feel left out. Of course, this makes no sense with a Deity but there you go. I often feel weirdly protective of some of Them.

I just woke up a little while ago and I’m about to go and make the morning offerings at the Lararium (the ancestor shrine gets tended in the evenings, but the household Lararium in the morning) so this was on my mind as I looked at the shrine and just laughed, put some coffee on, and went to get the incense.

About ganglerisgrove

Galina Krasskova has been a Heathen priest since 1995. She holds a Masters in Religious Studies (2009), a Masters in Medieval Studies (2019), has done extensive graduate work in Classics including teaching Latin, Roman History, and Greek and Roman Literature for the better part of a decade, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Theology. She is the managing editor of Walking the Worlds journal and has written over thirty books on Heathenry and Polytheism including "A Modern Guide to Heathenry" and "He is Frenzy: Collected Writings about Odin." In addition to her religious work, she is an accomplished artist who has shown all over the world and she currently runs a prayer card project available at wyrdcuriosities.etsy.com.

Posted on October 9, 2019, in Lived Polytheism, Uncategorized and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Edward P. Butler

    I think that scrupulosity can be an issue in any religious tradition. It can lead to deisidaimonia, often translated as “superstition”, which as you say is ultimately a kind of lack of trust in one’s Gods.

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  2. This is so true! In fact, I’ve had a note to myself to write a blog post about this topic for more than a year. I was a devout monotheist for twenty years, and having one deity to focus on is so much simpler! (LOL!)

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  3. This makes sense, although “too many opportunities for offerings to Gods” does not, to me, seem like a compellingly alluring argument for monotheism. 😉 I hadn’t heard of the term scrupulosity before, and it’s a useful concept.

    Honestly, when I feel like I’m not doing what I should be doing devotionally or notice what seems like an unhealthy compulsive thing starting up, I end up writing through it to see if there are places I can streamline my workflow and get out of my own way. I think less about wanting to give a God offerings than the moment of stillness after reciting hymns in a focused state when the scent of incense and/or essential oil is bright and light in the room. Or, with Gods like Apollôn, Mnêmosynê, and to a lesser extent, the Mousai, when I think about them or look at icons of them (or, to be frank, encounter philosophers discussing them), my mind usually starts arborescing through their visual, cultic, poetic, philosophical, and mythic symbols, and it’s extremely easy to accidentally hit a mild altered state and want to do offerings even when it’s not at all convenient.

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  4. In all seriousness, this is essentially all monotheism really has to offer: laziness. Particularly with contemporary American Christianity.

    You sinned? Just pray and Jesus will forgive you!

    You didn’t go to church? That’s alright. Jesus knows and forgives you!

    You aren’t even initiated into Christianity through baptism? That’s alright. Just tell Jesus you love him and you are on your way to New Jerusalem!

    American Protestant Christianity is pretty much just an excuse to be self-righteous about everything. No actual work or effort needs to be put in it. No concern over offerings. No concern over ritual purity. No tedious studies of history to better understand your faith. Nothing to actually show you earn or deserve any recognition for bettering yourself as a person.

    It’s lazy, infantile, and degrading to the value and dignity of the human spirit

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  5. I smiled wide. The conundrum of polytheistic worship.

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