Polemical topics for polytheists (part 4): Monotheists to learn from?

First view: Since monotheism is opposed to polytheism, we can learn nothing from monotheists

Second view: Since monotheism is another system of belief & culture like our own, we can generally learn as much from monotheists as polytheists

Balanced view: What we can learn from monotheists is limited, but it can be of great importance for our successful competition

If there is no question that monotheism has brought much detriment to the world, there is also no doubt that its adherents exceed our own (at least nowadays) in resolution, unity, and action. The many centuries that separate us from our pious and powerful ancestors should make us far more active and concerned for the welfare of our ancient ways and beliefs than we have been. It is excellent for us to teach or remind ourselves of the good (or indeed bad) examples of famous ancient polytheists—that is a sacred duty. But if this brings us inspiration or admiration, we are still not prompted to action and energy as much as we would be by the example of a monotheist. Be it from shame or jealousy or both, when we see our rival successful or powerful, we seek to do something similar with far more passion and concern than if we see our friend in the same situation. Even the Gods themselves underwent and undergo such emotions. It need not be shown how this is not only natural, but also necessary and useful. And since our world today is still dominated by monotheists, we must act accordingly and beat them at their games. For this purpose, we can learn from several ancient and modern examples. Moses is said to have suffered and sacrificed his high position in order to save his people from bondage in foreign lands by rebellion and then given them laws in their native lands. Although this is largely false propaganda, it remains a powerful story for monotheists and in our own case, it suggests that we need similar leaders who will rise up and inspire us all to action and unity. Paul of Tarsus is regarded as a Christian saint because he traveled and preached zealously throughout the Roman Empire; he wrote letters to existing congregations, established new communities, and is said to have been crucified for it. We polytheists don’t lack ancient martyrs, but where is the one today who can approach such piety when it is needed most? There were many Christian apologists who wrote tracts and engaged in debates with polytheistic authors—the disputation must return in public. Just as Christians attracted new followers because they were a “counter-culture” against Roman hegemony, we can and must do the same against Christian dominance! Next, where is a rich Hindu or capable polytheist who can rival Louis IX’s zeal, give up several years of his or her life, and return victorious after an ideological and cultural campaign, not a military one? Who among us polytheists can do what Loyola accomplished, in establishing a new movement of education and schools for youth that spread very quickly throughout Europe? Give me a polytheist, who like Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, can reinvent and re-establish an ancient language for a new people like the Jews in Israel! Show me the polytheists ready to match with the unyielding zeal of the Jehovah Witnesses or the noble patience of the Amish—Rise polytheists to greatness, while you may!

Restore our families, Ye Gods of Love,
And You of War, our breasts to vengeance move!
Redeem our shame, oh raise our hearts and hands
To worship rightly, and regain our lands!
Condemn’d are they who left our ancient path;
May their invented guiles inspire Your Wrath!

Polemical topics for polytheists (part 3): Systematic “polytheism”

First view: Polytheism is a mode of religion that governs the relations between people and Gods.

Second view: Polytheism is a mode of philosophical thought that governs how the world is viewed.

Balanced view: Polytheism is a religious, cultural, and social system based on tradition that governs our relations with the Gods, our way of life, and the world itself.

Words and terms can sometimes entrap those who think they are served by them; languages are by nature imperfect, especially when a complication arises because of time and tradition. There are also the problems of common usage, connotation, newly coined words, and mixing cultures. One thing is certain, however, within the scope of our discourse: The English language, together with probably most modern languages, does not contain a word that adequately explains “polytheism” as a concept or system. The word “polytheism” in itself is artificially constructed to provide a contrast to “monotheism”, a later system that supplanted its predecessor. Since both are defined through their differences, what we have left amounts only to “religion”, without the necessary considerations that accounts for the greater system that existed surrounding belief and worship. To think of either monotheism or polytheism merely as a religion, as many do, is to fall into the trap of modern language and its tendency to isolate or specialize terms, as well as to pretend it can encompass all ideas, beyond the confines of culture. The first and second views above are also examples of a kind of dualism that is at best unnecessary and at worst factious. Both views are correct, but they are also both partial, leaving out something greater that makes a complete whole. It behooves us in such a case to use larger words, as shown with the balanced view above. The worshipping of Gods existed amidst a cultural and social framework: There was agriculture or pastoralism to support their worldview, there was little pollution or oppression of nature to spoil it, there was oral tradition that passed through generations, there were customs that weren’t questioned or challenged selfishly within the group, there were priests or holy leaders who were revered by all (but not in a theocratic manner), there were elders and matrons who were respected by the young, and certainly there were communities of people that depended on one another. These are examples of a system surrounding the worshipping of Gods; take those all away and you are left with “religion” or “philosophy”, an isolated idea that applies to thinking and to individuals, more proper for books and discourse than as a true way of life. We should all aim at exploring and embracing all the parts within the larger system of polytheism that once existed in the better and more balanced world of our ancestors. In doing so, we will purify our worldview of the remnants of monotheism and its system, and lead a life that is more harmonious with people, nature and the Divine Beings.

Polemical topics for polytheists (part 2): Modernity

First view: “Modernity is a blessing that should be embraced, because it has made us advance”

Second view: “Modernity is a curse that should be shunned, because it has ruined the world and nature”

Balanced view: “Although tradition is by far preferable, part of modernity is important to use for the time being”

The best way to describe modernity would be to consider Western Civilization*, which is in effect a synonym, as well as to look at the world as it stands. The systems of capitalism and globalism prevail; there is excess in everything and everywhere, because everybody tends to imitate the Western way of life. There is comfort to the degree of decadence, and satisfaction (much less true happiness) is hard to find, because society is no longer cohesive and communal. A great deal of imbalance threatens to turn a world, which has seemingly been reformed and improved, into a monster. Meantime, being trapped within this system, we polytheists can only hope and act to the best of our ability. At least modernity, through advancements in archaeology, provides us with the means to rediscover our ancient heritage, and through technology, to connect with one another quickly. It could even be said that the subversive and imbalanced qualities of modernity have allowed us to exist freely again, through the decay of monotheism. In an ideal world, the aforementioned second view would be best, but according to reality, we must carefully make use of some of the advantages of modernity (at least for the time being), if our intention is to rise again and compete successfully with our rivals. But careful we must be: modernity does not distinguish between monotheism and polytheism in its subversions and imbalances. For that reason, we’ll need to treat it like a tool and acquaintance, rather than a master or friend. When it falls to a choice between polytheism and modernity, there should be no hesitation to choose the former. And when modernity is no longer absolutely necessary, we should be the first to lay it aside in favor of an older, happier, and humbler way of life that is more balanced and more traditional, putting nature and culture above money and machine.

 

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*A very suitable acronym would be WC

Polemical topics for polytheists (part 1): Our vision and mission

Between two differing sides or two opposing extremes, there is always a balanced position to be found that mediates and reconciles them harmoniously, for the good of all parties. All sides and extremes exist for a reason and rightly claim our attention; the purpose should be to combine the beneficial points of those sides whiling avoiding the harmful. Seeing how useful this method is, I will endeavor to pursue it on this topic as well as on future ones. Therefore, to the question of “what is the current vision and mission of polytheists in the world?”, these are three possible answers,

First view: “Our mission is to embark on personal spiritual journeys and our vision is to be strongly connected with the Gods.”

Second view: “Our mission is to work together towards undermining monotheism and our vision is to rule the world”.

Balanced view: “Our mission is to work towards strengthening our general standing and our vision is the re-establishment and continuity of our religions & traditions throughout the world.”  

It is evident that none of these views are absolutely right or wrong, for that would depend on the context and circumstances of each. The third, however, appears more reasonable in a reconciliatory sense: Instead of the rather passive, solitary course of the first view, and the hostile expansionism of the second, the third view adopts a path that is both active and agreeable. We do certainly need spiritual journeys and strong connections with the Gods, as we also are required inevitably to compete with monotheism and restore our presence in the world. The true way to balance both is to re-examine our priorities and actions, according to our current situation. Comparisons with other individuals or groups is necessary and beneficial for such a task, since existence and growth depend on outer forces and circumstances. If strength comes both from inner conviction and unity of the group, what is the yardstick to measure this strength? Comparisons are necessary to determine that. So, let’s consider this question: how strongly does polytheism stand at the present time in comparison with monotheism? The answer is rather obvious and unfortunate, but it should make us think and act better, especially when the field for growth and improvement is really ripe and hopeful. Monotheism has already been declining, which is the reason why most of us are actually polytheists at the moment. We are now many individuals, with an opportunity to rise, but do we think of ourselves as a collective entity with a common mission and vision? Solitary worship and personal devotion is what we begin with, because we are forced to do so, and it is certainly good, so long as it does not obstruct unity on the ground. Fighting monotheism, on the other hand, is not really possible or reasonable, if victory is what we aim at. The means should not be confused with the end. Our end and purpose is to secure a strong framework to build our hopes upon, but like all foundations, it will require foresight, action, prudence and skill. Communities must form in order to take up this project successfully, otherwise our little structures will crumble or at least remain small and scattered in the face of powerful competitors. Can we truly have a long-lasting mission and long-sighted vision without strong communities? I think not.

Polemical topics for polytheists (introduction)

Polytheism has been undergoing a gradual revival, particularly within the last decades, while monotheism has declined.  During that time, the world has also experienced many extraordinary changes under modernity, which is still continuous. In many respects, modernism and monotheism affect the quality of our professed polytheism considerably, because we live in a world that is dominated by them. Polytheism is as much a holistic system as modernism and monotheism, extending beyond religion and belief; it is a way of thought, action, and indeed life. In the infancy of our revival, it behooves us to examine and reconsider several important points that constitute what polytheism truly is, if our intention is to bring this polytheism to maturity. Discussion is always essential at this time, and though debate and disagreement are inevitable, our attention should not be drawn away from our common vision, which is, to restore polytheism to what it once was. I hope to see the day when our restoration is fulfilled at the hands of great men and women, but in the meantime, let us advance steadily and surely, improving our capacities for spirit and learning as we go. To that end, I have laid out a plan for a new series, which I have rightly termed “polemical topics for polytheists”. There are many points of controversy and disagreement that we polytheists either avoid or wield, to serve our purposes, whatever they may be. But can the middle course of discussion be taken? I think so, especially if our purpose is to serve polytheism and the Gods. In the course of the series, I will attempt to present my thoughts on as many as 40 topics that need to be resolved, or at least understood, amongst polytheists of the present time. I don’t profess my views will be perfect or exemplary, but they will be candid and balanced, to the best of my ability; in doing so I will also take care to use ancestral tradition and ancestral wisdom as a general reference to guide me throughout my endeavors. Do please share your own thoughts, whenever you wish; I can truly discuss only when you participate, and my views can truly be beneficial only when somebody engages with them. To encourage you, I offer a short sample of the topics: education (of children), moral relativism, separatism, feminism, shamanism, philosophy, and technology. With that, let me say that part one comes out within a few days; watch out for it!

Good and bad polytheists (part 20): Conclusion

Papyrus scrollAfter presenting various historical characters and stories from a range of almost 4000 years, a conclusion is needed to put an end to the series. After the 13th century, polytheism declined gradually throughout the Old World, surviving only in the Indian and Far East, as well as in other isolated places where some traditions have endured even to this day. At the end of the 15th century, as we know, the New World was linked to the Old, and the indigenous polytheism of those lands began a decline also at the hands of the Christian conquerors, though not without their own instances of bravery. When we polytheists of this day look back, we marvel at the changes that the world has gone through at the hands of mankind, and we forget the many stories and lessons about our ancestors that have long since past. Of the great and known personages that history has left us with, we find that not all of them were exemplary and good; indeed, in some cases, they contributed, by means of their selfish actions (knowingly or unknowingly), to the rise of evils and misfortunes that still plague the world.

The question remains, how exactly can a good polytheist be known then, and distinguished from a bad? Part of this answer is obvious to all, because the good and bad has certain universal standards. Generosity, courage, fidelity, humility, magnanimity, piety, prudence, honesty, justice, etc. are examples of virtues that are known to be good throughout the world and have been held as such throughout history. The other part is more particular to culture and the circumstances of the times. A good polytheist will always endeavor to respect his own culture as well as others, not setting one at the expense of another, and will be active in promoting the good within his community, even if the times tempt him with rewards for a bad and selfish endeavor. And when circumstances or times are otherwise bad and dangerous, he will also attempt to turn them as much as possible to a good direction, for the benefit and protection of his people, yet without excess. In the meantime, he will not forget of the Gods, nor insult them directly. Furthermore, he will not act with the pride of false piety, by pretending to act as if in their company.

The earliest bad polytheist we know of is King Sargon, falsely (like several others) called “the great”. As the founder of the very first empire*, he established the horrible precedent for uncontrolled expansion and conquest, which never since ended. Imperialism is a condition that has always plagued polytheism, and in some respects, it could very well be said that it gave rise to monotheism and atheism, which are imperialisms, only in ideological form. If Abraham flourished at the period the biblical scholars agree upon, i.e. about 1900 BCE, then this was about 5 centuries after Sargon. Likewise, Akhenaten propagated his idea of monotheism during the New Kingdom, a period during which Egypt made foreign conquests and assimilated foreigners. This is also about the same time Moses is said to have lived. The exclusive and hostile monotheism of a sect of the Canaanites (said to be descendants of Abraham and followers of Moses’ commandments), commonly called the Jews, developed in a region and during historical ages that were plagued by continuous imperialism; the Jews were pressed from the east by the Egyptians, from the north by the Hittites, and from the East by the Babylonians and Assyrians. Is it any wonder then that they came to hate foreigners so much and make themselves differ from them in every way? If Judaic monotheism was an evil idea, it arose within an evil environment. The same could be said of the far more dangerous religion of Christianity, which arose during the unprecedented hegemony of the Roman Empire.

If there is any way to sum up this series of good and bad polytheists, it cannot be better done than by means of this theme of imperialism and the resistance to it. Abrahamic monotheism has attributed the source of evil to the pride of the Devil and his defiance of his master, causing an eternal battle in which man must resist evil or be punished by it and for it. Although this is a horribly poisonous view of the world and universe (since it presupposes that Abraham’s people are the only good ones, against the rest of the world), it has its advantages in directing the masses and gaining power. Polytheists must study history and learn from this lesson; it is possible to adjust and apply it in a good way, with a good intention. Imperialism is to us, what the Devil is to Abrahamic monotheists: it is a perfect an embodiment of most of the overgrown evils that have plagued the world. I say overgrown because we polytheists don’t believe in pure dualism or the eternal war between the good and evil. Imperialism is therefore the condition (ideologically and materially) that aggravates, multiplies, and propagates injustice, impiety, slavery, destruction of nature, genocide (cultural and ethnic), high ambition, universal war, and many more. Imperialism is the greatest false promise the world has ever known; it has promised people eternal happiness, protection, glory, and prosperity, but has given them only the shadows and shells of those blessings. After 4500 years since Sargon, with a continual series of empires, this is too evident already to need further explanation. If there is one thing that should be remembered then after this long series, it is the horror of imperialism and the nobility of resisting all its forms. Our present battle against monotheism and atheism verifies that truth beyond any doubt.

 

 

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* Although Egypt was said to have been unified many centuries before Sargon (i.e. about 3100 BCE), the circumstances were different, and did not lead to empire. Egypt had already been divided into a Northern and Southern Kingdom, not too different culturally and ethnically (unlike Mesopotamia), which were then united for reasons not precisely known. It can be observed in general that civilizations, which begin independently and accidentally along rivers (a constant source of water and hence food), are prone to growth and conflict, which often leads to centralized systems. There was what could be called temporary “proto-empire” before Sargon in the region of Mesopotamia, where city-states attempted at domination and achieved it temporarily. However, Sargon was the first to celebrate himself as a glorious conqueror who managed (in one lifetime) to conquer 34 city-states and stretch his dominions from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean sea, achieving therefore not only what had never been done before, but also (in his mind) what is worthy of imitation, because he falsely claimed he was inspired by the Goddess Ishtar. By this means, he added a dangerous idea to an existing (and somewhat undesirable) material condition, i.e. the glory of large conquests beyond one’s ethnic and cultural bounds. This is how the entity of empire was created and cemented in history, multiplying in an unbroken succession (see part 1) from 2400 BCE to this very day.

 

Good and bad polytheists (parts 17-19)

Owing to the influence of conquests by both Islamic and Christian rulers, polytheism continued to decline into the Middle Ages. Islamic armies suppressed cruelly and immediately a rebellious movement of apostasy that spread through Arabia after Mohammed’s death. Polytheism likewise had already vanished in North Africa and other parts of West Asia, conquered by Muslims, because these were regions that had previously been strongly Christian. Only the fringes of Europe remained in the old ways, but that was to change gradually. Various crusades were waged against polytheists in Europe, who were viewed as polluted and lost souls that required either guidance or death. In those distant places, instances of noble resistance and vile treachery are known.

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