Polytheist theology

From Magic from Scratch’s post regarding polytheistic theology:

So, what’s next?

In my opinion, Theology answers questions. The first step, I think, is actually to figure out what questions we hear ourselves and other Polytheists asking. Some will be broad, some will be narrow. From there, we should look at who else answered the questions that we are now asking, and determine the method by which they arrived at those answers.

So, theology is something I’d desperately been missing from Paganism since I first became pagan, lo those many years ago. I quickly found out that not many other pagans were coming at this from a academic comparative religions standpoint–few knew what theology was and even fewer cared to waste time and energy discussing it. It took me a long time to realize that no, I wasn’t missing something that every one else got; there just really wasn’t much theology to get yet. Since I went through the initiation/dedication and priestess-making stuff with Freya over the last year or two, these concerns have really started hammering the back of my mind. Possibly the first thing I need to do is to get a better foothold on what pagan (specifically polytheist) theology should answer for me.

Here are some of questions that I’d love to finish working my mind through: (For the record–these questions are rhetorical; they are meant to get people thinking, not to solicit specific answers. A full discussion would take a lot more time that I have to offer to a blog post. Email me or grab me at a convention or an event and buy me dinner for a full discussion. 🙂 I know myself well enough to know that I need to figure out what seems to me to be a legit, reasonable answer; I can’t just borrow someone else’s ideas whole hog, tempting though it may appear.)

1. How do the gods from all of these different pantheons all get along? All of the deities I’ve directly interacted with are busy with agendas of their own; they have to come into conflict with others at some point. How is that handled?

2. What about syncretic deities? (ta master’s thesis in the making right there)

3. Does a person’s beliefs actually affect where that person goes after death?

4. I’ve experienced my Goddess as everything from a slight change in air pressure to a full-on, intense, multi-sensory, transformative shamanic journeywork. She’s presented Herself as both small and petty (though not often) and so large that I could barely connect with her or see where she ended. Which one is the real Her?

5. Why can my Gods pass me around like a trading card? Do pantheons mirror baseball teams or something?

6. If the Gods exist…. then likely ancestors and nature spirits do as well. If so, what’s to stop divine, semi-divine, or supernatural entities from the monotheisms from existing as well (saints, angels, demons, etc.)

7. Can new Gods be created? How?

8. Why do the Gods need us?

9. What are the specific details of the powers do the Gods actually have?

And finally, as a new priestess, the one that’s probably most pressing to my mind is this:

10. Why should modern humans bother worshiping them at all? Are people’s lives consistently made better off from having worked closely with a polytheistic deity, or is it all just self-aggrandizement? Should everyone have the opportunity to try out paganism? (And all of the sub-sub-sub-issues brought up by this question.)

2 thoughts on “Polytheist theology

  1. These are great questions. There is a great book that discusses this called Dealing with Deities by Raven Kaldera. He talks about most of what you are asking here within his book.

    I’ve heard it as Pantheons are considered families (even extended-family). I personally think all deities and spirits exist (yes, even the Gods within the monotheistic religions; and earth spirits and ancestors too; I’m just going to assume if my deities exist so then so will everyone else’s. I’m not about to tell a deity they don’t exist, okay?), but which gods own you and which gods you interact with will determine who else you can interact with.

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