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In pantheism it begins with the ALL, the pantheistic belief that all things are connected and all the realms of the multi verse are ONE spiritual being. ALL beings, every thing, every molecule of the universe has an energy like connection to everything else. We are connected to each other, to the plants, and animals, and stars, and they are connected to us. In pantheism this connection in and of itself is divine, the ultimate expression of true divinity IS the connection.
The gods and goddesses in pantheism are aspects of this connection. Each deity is an aspect of the ALL. Therefore each deity is directly connected to each of us as well as each other. All of these aspects can than be considered to all be one deity with many faces. In pantheism, a person searches for the divine within himself or herself. Because all things/beings are pieces of the divine, each person can then consider himself or herself divine through this connection. Because each person is divine, in essence a god or goddess unto themselves, they have no need to search external forces to fulfill their spiritual needs.
This does not mean however that a pantheist does not acknowledge different deities. Many pantheists make a special connection with a particular aspect of the divine in the guise of a specific deity. This deity is a representation of the living divine within that person. For example: a pantheist who worships the Egyptian goddess Bast will most likely have an infinity for cats and find that the peace and protection of their home life is among the most important things to them. A person who worships the Greek god Apollo will most likely enjoy the fine arts, bright sunny days, and may even have the gift of prophecy. Pantheists take the expression of the divine from within themselves and manifest it as a particular deity with matching attributes.
There are some pantheists who rather than finding a specific deity to connect with instead revere the ALL purely as is. Their allegiance then becomes one with the pure energy of the divine, faceless with many faces, nameless with many names, timeless throughout all time. This may take the form as a single cosmic energy or as in many cases is divided into the masculine and feminine principles, i.e. one goddess who is all goddesses and one god who is all gods. This allows a pantheist to recognize the divine roles of males and females in all aspects of life without having to commit to any specific aspect. In this case, as with the case of aspected pantheism, the person will look within for their connection to the divine. These people will acknowledge the different gods and goddesses as different aspects of the divine but rather than choosing a specific aspect to work with they will work with them all in the guise of the Lord and Lady, the masculine and feminine principle.
On the other hand, in polytheism all deities are intrinsically separate and our connection with them only occurs after contact is made through worship and study. Polytheistic deities exist as separate individual entities. Each deity, as a separate entity, has their own sets of values and requirements for their worshipers.
All of the ancient gods and goddesses of our ancestors are considered to be physical living beings separate from each other. As in the case for pantheism, the polytheistic practitioner will gravitate towards deities that have similar attributes and temperaments as their own. The main difference here is that the polytheist will look for their deity externally. While pantheism denotes a life of "self service" to serve the gods, polytheism is much more directly an individual service to a specific deity/deities and their specific historical culture. Polytheism requires the acknowledgment of each deity as wholly separate entities with each deity requiring different devotional techniques from their followers.
This separateness allows the polytheist a very intimate spiritual place. It allows them a seat in the presence of their specific deity, in essence making them special and marking them as worthy individuals. Polytheists will continually endeavor to please their deities by studying and by service. It is important to learn of the historical and modern religious applications for each person’s deity so they may better serve that deity's individual interests. And it is through this service that the polytheist gains spiritual fulfillment.
In the eyes of most Pagans, both of these points of view are good and correct. Most Pagans find a very happy home as either a pantheist or polytheist. I, on the other hand, found a deep connection with both. Instead of restricting myself to one theological system, I learned how to incorporate both into my spiritual life, hence the term: poly-pantheism.
I believe that all things within the universe are connected and that I am a part of that connection. I do believe in the ALL, and I do believe that as a part of the ALL, I am a goddess. So on those grounds, I look within myself for my spiritual answers. But as an individual person with my own needs and desires separate from my fellow humans, I also believe that the different gods and goddesses are separate individuals with their own needs and desires, worthy of individual attention and distinction. If I can be connected to all the life around me and still be an individual then it stands to reason that the gods can also be connected and individuals as well.
As a Poly-Pantheist I spend time studying the historical context from which my deities arise. I have a desire to learn what my ancestors knew and believed about the gods and goddesses that I love. Through this study I gain a closer relationship with each deity in His/Her “original” conception though the eyes of my human ancestors. But as humans have changed and adapted over the centuries, so I believe that our deities have changed and adapted as well. While their core traits and personalities have undeniably stayed the same, their modes for involvement in human lives have changed a bit. (I do not feel that this belief falls under neo-Paganism any more than I would call myself a “neo-human” because I use modern technology) To exist in our world, in our universe, is to change and adapt. If this is true for us then why shouldn't it be true for our gods. And a part of this adaptation is the understanding that all things in the universe are connected, something that many of our ancestors were well aware of and we simply forgot for a time.
In my spiritual and religious life, I serve as Priestess for one amazing goddess. I have dedicated myself to Her as an individual deity with very specific conditions for my service. My goddess is a singular deity with Her own thoughts and desires, but She is also me and I am Her. I can easily find Her voice both internally and externally, for she is all that is to me. But I also see Her as something greater than just a goddess doing Her own thing, I see Her as a thriving point of light set in the tapestry of the universal night. She is one of the many, and without Her the tapestry would unravel. Her aspects and energies are a necessary part of the whole of creation. She is also the “Lady”, a part of the divine feminine energies that infuse all life. And even greater still, She can merge with the “Lord” who is the divine masculine energies that infuse all life. And in doing so they become one, they become the ALL, and they do this without loosing any part of their individuality.
Just as I carry within myself all the traits found in humanity, so each god and goddess carries within themselves the traits for the entire divine. It is from the divine energy from which we all came and to the energy we will all return, what's in between is a celebration of that connection and our abilities to perceive that connection in so many glorious ways. This, in essence, is my spiritual belief system as a Poly-Pantheist.
One of the major things that both attracted and endeared me to the Pagan community was the absolute acceptance of my beliefs and of me. It did not matter what god or goddess I believed in or how I chose to serve them. All that mattered to my community was that I was one of them. As Pagans, it is our shining light to celebrate our differences. Our diversity is our unity. And I know from my heart that our gods don't care so much as to how we view them but rather they care that they are viewed at all by us.
I know there will be many that do not share in my belief of Poly-Pantheism and that is okay. Paganism is not about conforming to a standard but rather about challenging those standards to find our own individual paths. May each of you find yours.
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