Friday, May 1, 2020

Divinity Beyond Monotheism

Polytheism has long been defined as a multiplicity of divinity, though modern beliefs range from the singular to the non-existent and everything in between. The early cosmotheologians of the Indo-Europeans were hard polytheists, believing in a set of distinct, individual deities as evidenced in the Hellenic Greek, Germanic, and Vedic religions. After Aristotle’s ponderings of an “Unmoveable Mover” in his Metaphysics, the idea of a creator God with a hierarchy of lesser beings underneath took root, making it easier to accept the notion of a monotheism, and several previously polytheistic peoples were converted to faiths such as Christianity. We see similar changes in the east involving the early Indians and Islam. Today among pagans, we still see a varied approach to the nature of divinity from the “All is One” seen in Universal Spiritualists societies to dualism (two opposite gendered deities) and aspecting (a mostly singular entity that can appear in any form) in Wiccan practices to the hard polytheism held by Druids and some eclectic pagans. Humanist pagans even argue for a non-existent or at least divinity-within/universalist perspective.

Pre-axial Hellenic, Germanic, and Vedic practices are all considered part of the Indo-European family of religions due to their similarities, one of which is the belief that there are multiple and separate beings known as deities, gods, or “Shining Ones.” Though the evidence for such a concept is not recorded verbatim in the recorded lore, this can be deduced from anthropological examination of their religious behaviors. For example, each deity had separate rituals, received their own offerings, and often had their own shrines and/or temples (Armstrong, 2006, p. 4). Their understanding of the cosmos was a reflection of their own world, meaning individual deities as plentiful as individual people in the middle realm.

Personally, while open to continued learning and growing in this area, I am a hard polytheist. I have “met” many beings, and after the work of the Court of Brighid with Rev. Ian Corrigan, I do not foresee any other way of viewing the world for me. Divinity is the collective of all the beings, as divinity lives within us, AND we are all individual beings.

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