Articles/Essays From Pagans
March 2nd. 2014 ...
Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward
The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role
Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?
The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects
February 23rd. 2014 ...
Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences
Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless
The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community
What Makes Us What We Are
February 16th. 2014 ...
Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing
The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief
Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence
Alternative Medicine – What Is It?
February 9th. 2014 ...
Words of Power!
The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse
Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings
February 2nd. 2014 ...
The Magick of Jewelry and Metals
Building a Magick Mirror
The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)
January 26th. 2014 ...
Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do
The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)
13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed
Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected
January 19th. 2014 ...
Open Letter to the Goddess
A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality
Social Conventions and the Pagan World
January 12th. 2014 ...
Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing
One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression
January 5th. 2014 ...
Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age
Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey
2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!
Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild
December 29th. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)
13 Keys: The Might of Geburah
Beyond The Season of Greed
December 22nd. 2013 ...
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)
December 15th. 2013 ...
The Hex Murder of 1928
My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)
Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots
December 8th. 2013 ...
Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey
Using Your Wand in Reverse
Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward
The Cry of the Soul
December 1st. 2013 ...
The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness
A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism
Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?
November 24th. 2013 ...
The Pagan and the Papacy
The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective
November 17th. 2013 ...
For Love of the God
Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca
A Threat to Religious Liberties?
November 10th. 2013 ...
Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?
Thoughts on the Threefold Law/Law of Return
The Celtic Tree Calendar
Nine Creeds: A Statement and Explanation of My Beliefs
November 3rd. 2013 ...
The Mundane/Spiritual Mirror: What Does it Say About Your Life?
October 27th. 2013 ...
Thoughts On a Miley-Cyrus/ Robin-Thicke Society
On Being Wiccan: Some Unsolicited Advice
Pagan Religious Communities in your Area: Connecting With and Creating Them
Banishing, Invocation and the Lesser Ritual of the Pentagram
October 20th. 2013 ...
Bottle Spells and Magick in Hoodoo Tradition
Weather Magick: Who is Responsible for the Weather?
Broom Closet: In or Out?
On Coven and Claws
October 13th. 2013 ...
Destroying to Create: A Lesson from the Dead
Consume the Scorpion- Scorpion Energy Revisited
October 6th. 2013 ...
UPG and U: A Breakdown and Building Up of Unverified and Unsubstantiated Personal Gnosis
Answering The Call from Spirit
Coping with the Loss of a Familiar
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 2 (The South)
September 29th. 2013 ...
Six Reasons Why Covens are Here to Stay
Priestessing and Titles: What's the Point?
Truth or Convenience? Questioning Motives for Spiritual Advancement
Speaking Up: The Conflict Between the Spiritualist and Our Human Experience
September 22nd. 2013 ...
Death of a Friendship within the Craft
The Five-way Road: A Pagan Pilgrimage, Part 1 (The Center)
September 15th. 2013 ...
Some Pagan Prayers
The Holocaust Survivor (Part II)
Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Bramble and Cerridwen
NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Hard Poly/Soft Poly - A Pagan Division
Article ID: 11318
Age Group: Adult
Days Up: 2,540
Times Read: 5,215
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Posted: March 25th. 2007
Times Viewed: 5,215
Whenever you type ‘Pagan’ into a search engine, you are running a fairly hit and miss chance of finding a site that will have what you are looking for. The majority of them will be Wiccan and aimed at an audience just setting out on their path. You will also find huge selections of chat rooms and forums for Pagan discussion and again, these will be predominantly Wiccan and filled with cries for help.
When you dig deeper, you may find the ‘Traditional Witchcraft’ sites and ‘Reconstructionist’ sites. These are filled with information on Polytheism, why they differ from Wicca and of very little aid to those in search of knowledge (except for links to other sites). It is the latter that grabbed my attention because of their talk on ‘Hard Polytheism’ and ‘Soft Polytheism’, a division of which I had previously only been vaguely aware.
It turns out that after all these years of just being Pagan, I am also a ‘Hard Polytheist’. To those not aware of the difference, I offer these simple definitions:
Hard Polytheism: The belief in many individual deities as separate and defined entities.
Soft Polytheism: The belief in many deities as aspects of a greater force (i.e. The God and Goddess, the one Divine).
This division is not always as clearly cut as defined above but as a generality, these definitions will explain enough.
When we become Pagan, we do so because we have a different view of the world from the mainstream religions and, as such, we separate ourselves from them.
Many will come first to Wicca as the predominant Pagan faith. Wicca is largely a soft polytheistic faith and many covens will draw on a mix of pantheons for use in their rituals seeing them as all being connected to The Goddess and God.
For someone of hard polytheistic beliefs, this can seem uncomfortable, unwieldy and somewhat ill-defined. I say this from discussions held with other hard polytheists who have turned to Druidism (although this can also be a soft polytheistic faith), Asatru and the various forms of Reconstructionism.
This can lead to division within the Pagan community with each side holding separate celebrations so as to avoid being mistaken for the other.
There are fundamental reasons for not holding joint rituals. Many hard polytheists do not agree with the integration of ideas and philosophies into European faith systems (This may also be true of other Pagan faiths but they lie outside my experience to date), whereas many of the key rituals of Wicca take from a wide variety of sources that might come from Indian, Oriental or Egyptian origins.
However, I have to say that I have participated in a few rituals and ceremonies with Wiccans and found them both moving and effective. The fact that I didn’t necessarily agree with everything that was being done didn’t lessen the effect.
I have never been involved in hard polytheistic rituals beyond those I perform myself. This is because I have found it much more difficult to find a hard polytheistic coven than to find a Wiccan group willing to allow me to participate (and to those that do, I am grateful).
Why are we divided by our way of following the Gods?
From discussions with both sides, I can say there is really very little in it. Hard Polytheists see the Gods as literal beings Whom exist, separate from us, with Their own needs and drives.
The majority of Soft Polytheists would say that the many gods represent aspects of the divine duality of the God and Goddess and therefore, They are archetypal stages in a human life that we all share as common experience.
This difference of opinion becomes a chasm and causes an awful lot of bad blood between the opposing views. Why? We still worship the same Gods; we just have different ways of thinking about them.
Pagans are supposed to be willing to accept anyone’s beliefs, but when it comes to accepting that another Pagan doesn’t practice in the same way or believe the same thing, it fuels conflict and division between the factions.
Such a simple divide in Pagan theology poses a serious threat to the way in which Pagans are viewed by the general populace and by the larger religions of the world. Despite the ancient religions from which we all draw our roots, Paganism is still viewed as a new religion, and a heavily divided one at that.
In truth, all religions are fractured into different belief sects but they also have a history that they all rely on. From an outside point of view, modern Paganism can be traced back to the likes of Gerald Gardener, Aleister Crowley, the Order of the Golden Dawn and a handful of romantics of the nineteenth century. So at the most, we have a provenance of 150 years on which to rely. This is not enough to give us a strong base on which to build our faith into a religion.
The constant squabbling has to stop in order to give Paganism the strength it needs to stand amongst the mainstream religions – and not just to be tolerated, but to be fully recognized as an equal to any belief system and to be practiced freely and openly without fear of reprisals from the local mainstream church.
Would I join a Hard Poly group if I had the chance? Yes. Because that group would allow me to share ideas with others who believe the same thing that I do and allow me to learn another way of doing things.
Would I attend an open ceremony by a Soft Poly coven? Yes as often as possible.
I would also attend ceremonies held by Asatru or Hellenic groups despite the fact that I am a Celtic Pagan. I will show public support for any group that is Pagan and whom acknowledge and respect their Gods in the same way I would hope that they would respect mine.
I am a Hard Polytheistic Celtic Pagan. But first and foremost, I am Pagan and proud to be so.
Walk in shade and find sweetwater,
Location: Science Hill, Kentucky
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