Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Hard Polytheist Manifesto

One of the posters on Visionary Shamanism thought I was trying to shut down discussion when I stated that we should "agree to disagree" about some of our differences. My response follows: I think it's a reasonably good summation of what Polytheism and a belief in the Spirit World's objective reality mean to me.

Oh, we can have a discussion. In fact, I'd say we're in a better place to do so now that we've established some of the fundamental differences between our worldviews.  Instead of trying to convert each other to our respective ways of thinking (in other words, proselytizing), we might do better to talk about how our views of Spirit shape our interaction with the spiritual and material world.

For me, accepting the Gods as real means accepting that They may make demands of me and of others. It means accepting myself as a part of the universe, not the center of the universe.  It reminds me why humility and reverence have universally been considered virtues and that it is not "grovelling" to recognize one's superiors.

The spirit world doesn't just exist between my ears: it was here long before I came onto the scene and will be here long after I am gone. It is not a vague, nebulous place filled with white light that can be reshaped in any way I would like. It is an independent realm filled with beings which exist on their own terms and for their own reasons: they are not just there to lead me down the road to enlightenment. Some may look upon me favorably and some with hostility: most are just going about their business and don't care about me one way or the other unless I have something to offer them or unless I make myself a nuisance. (Those who have spent any time in a large city like New York, Paris or London will be quite familiar with this mindset).

Because I believe there are many Gods and many spirits, I believe that there are many different ways in which those Gods and spirits can be honored. I feel no need to turn everyone else's belief into a "slightly different reflection of the one true Divine" but instead can recognize it as a thing in itself.  Your practices are what your Gods want from you: mine are what my Gods want from me.

How do your beliefs shape your worldview?