The worst thing you can do in your spiritual life or practices is seek peer acceptance or approval from others. Your service must have the Gods at the center and must always come back to the Gods. You don’t need approval from human beings. You need approval from the Gods.
“If the Gods are the fundamental entities, and the precondition for all else, then perhaps we have to consider Them as good, regardless of what They are like in any particular respect. Perhaps our conception of “goodness” is too narrow and too cosmically insignificant otherwise.”
–Edward Butler, PhD and polytheist.
Epicurean Piety –I like this one, though I’m not generally a fan of epicureans.
“Therefore, I think it is especially necessary to despise those who transgress or mock the traditional rites. Furthermore, it will appear that Epicurus loyally observed all the forms of worship and enjoined upon his friends to observe them, and not just be in accordance with the laws. For as he says to pray is right and natural for man, not because the gods would be hostile if we did not pray, but the act of doing so helps us gain a better understanding of those who surpass us in their power and excellence, enabling us to fulfill our potential. He also said that every wise man holds pure and holy thoughts about the divine, namely that the nature of divinity is great and august. And it is particularly at festivals that we attain our greatest understanding of things for during a festival all that a man can think about, and all that is upon his lips, are holy matters. He didn’t just advise others to participate in the worship of the gods – indeed, he was very active in religious matters, sharing in all festivals and sacrifices, and especially the Khoes festival and the mysteries celebrated in his city and elsewhere.” – Philodemos, On Piety 25-28
A Christian author discussing Polytheistic and Pagan piety –of course by “idol” he means the Gods, or images thereof:
“Pagans, when they daily rise from their sleep, go in morning to worship and minister to their idols; and before all their works and undertakings they go first and worship their idols. Neither at their festivals and their fairs are they wanting, but are constant in assembling – not only those who live close by, but many travel from a great distance to attend such assemblies and dramatic spectacles.” – Didascalia Apostolorum 13
A Polytheist On Polytheistic Piety and Asceticism:
“Aquila to Sarapion the philosopher, greetings! I was overjoyed to receive your letter. Our friend Callinicus was testifying to the utmost about the way of life you follow even under such conditions – especially in your not abandoning your austerities. Yes, we may deservedly congratulate ourselves, not because we do these things, but because we are not diverted from them by ourselves. Courage! Carry through what remains like a man! Let not wealth distract you, nor beauty, nor anything else of the same kind: for there is no good in them, if virtue is not joined to them; no without her they are vanishing and worthless. Under the protection of the gods, I expect to see you in Antinoopolis. Send Soteris the puppy, since she now spends her time by herself in the country. Good health to you and yours! Good health!” – P. Oxy. 42.3069
Finally, another Christian complaining that piety still existed in the early medieval period.
“You must give up the names and inform me of the nature of their crime of all those in our diocese who foolishly make and observe their vows by springs, trees and stones for reasons of health, protection or as some kind of devotion.” – Ghärbald of Lüttich, Capitulary 2.12
(“all those…” implying it was not an isolated set of practices).
I’ll post more as I come across them. They’re educational and a good reminder that piety and reverence didn’t begin with monotheism, not by a long shot. We need that reminder sometimes. The inspiration is helpful.
The gods are generous and in that generosity grant many of us an informal relationship.
It’s tragic so many take this generosity as an excuse to be impious. Our gods deserve better.
—James R. B.
“Another piece of advice to newcomers: ignore naysayers who are not part of our Tradition. The general response of people outside our communities is confusion, bemusement, mockery, or outright anger that some people are once again worshiping the various ancient pantheons. Some people will do everything they can to convince us that practicing a “dead” religion is pointless or that modern Polytheists aren’t “legitimate”. Ignore them. We have nothing to prove to anyone outside our communities. The only opinions that matter are those of the Gods, our respected elders, and ourselves. If someone thinks you’re dumb for worshiping Thor, that’s their problem, not yours.”
One of my readers, Ryan, made a response to my last post about the desecration of Mary statues and the burning of a Church, and it was so beautiful and true I had to repost it here separately. This sums up how I feel so well. Thank you, Ryan, for your wise and thoughtful words.
“Part of me understands why someone would be tempted to do such things. Part of me would love nothing more than to see churches burned and Christian iconography defaced as they once did to our temples and holy images. Part of me wants to say “turnabout is fair play” and shatter their religion until anyone wanting to worship their God has to struggle to piece their faith back together from a pile of ashes as we have had to do. The worst part of me feels this way very, very strongly. But the better part of me knows that is not the way forward. The better part of me knows destroying sacred images damages us all, that some people are called to serve that God, that all sacred images are doorways for the divine, and that to act on such urges would not serve the Holy Powers, but only aid the Filter. I am angry at what was done to our Traditions, at the lies they still try to force down our throats, at the ongoing destruction of our Polytheisms, and I won’t deny that. But I will not let that anger tempt me into blasphemy and serving the Filter. The better part of me is stronger than the worst. I pray that those responsible are brought to justice, and that for every shrine to Mary desecrated, ten more are built and a hundred more flooded with offerings. I will hold fast to the Holy Powers and reject the Ruinous, always.” –Ryan
EDIT: Someone asked me what “the Filter is. It’s an earlier term for that malignant sentience that is aligned against everything the Gods have created, that seeks to tear down, corrupt, and destroy all that comprises the architecture of the Worlds, all that is good, all that the Gods have put in order. The Ancient Egyptian polytheists called it Isfet. I call it the Enemy.
Given the last few [moderated] comments I’ve had to delete from my blog here, I would like to make something clear: those who denigrate the Gods will not be given a voice here. Take your pollution somewhere else.
If you don’t actually believe in and venerate the Gods, if you believe it right to reduce Them to manifestations of human consciousness, to processes and thought-forms, if you are practicing a mish-mash of traditions from which you have excised the Holy Powers you have nothing to say that I wish to hear. Take it somewhere else. This is polytheistic space.
“If you stick a knife in my back nine inches and pull it out six inches, there’s no progress. If you pull it all the way out that’s not progress. Progress is healing the wound that the blow made. And they haven’t even pulled the knife out much less heal the wound. They won’t even admit the knife is there.”
-MALCOLM X, TV interview, Mar. 1964
“Monotheism is a disease of the soul, and even the kindest, most open minded Monotheist who finds the idea of forced conversion ghastly is still a carrier for spiritual plague. I have friends and family who are Monotheists who I love dearly, but I never let myself forget that they are infected and see the spread of their infection as both good and necessary. As decent moral people we should respond to kindness with kindness, but we should also never forget that at its core, Monotheism desires death to all other religions.”