Articles/Essays From Pagans
June 16th. 2013 ...
How To Stay Spiritual Amidst This Chaos?
Hearing The Music And Dancing The Dance
A Tale of the Wood
June 9th. 2013 ...
The Nature of Sacrifice
The Magick of Buildings
Start your own Pagan Church in Canada - A Detailed Guide
June 2nd. 2013 ...
Maiden, Mother, Who?! (A Discussion of the Triple Goddess)
Gods Who Live In My House
Why the 'Redneck Pagan'?
Among the Greenwod - An Interview with Raven Grimassi
May 26th. 2013 ...
So You Think You've Found a Teacher...
Learning To Live Your Own Life
Raising Personal Magickal Energy for Spellwork
Casting The Wiccan Circle
May 19th. 2013 ...
The Role of Identity in Magic
Talking Trash? It's a Dirty Subject but Waste Happens.
My Wiccan Journey
13 Keys: The Victory of Netzach
May 12th. 2013 ...
Pagan Studies I: How Should We Define Modern Paganism?
The Third Path
Nothing Special... Part Two
May 5th. 2013 ...
The Value of Multicultural Awareness
Put Your Back Into It (Our Lady of the Sacred Honey Badger)
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Red Lipped Bat Fish
April 28th. 2013 ...
Lessons from the Lessers: Iris
April 21st. 2013 ...
Taken By The Goddess: The Crescent Moon Tattoo
The Gods/Being Godbothered
To Be A Witch
The Archetypes are Gods: Re-godding the Archetypes
April 14th. 2013 ...
On The Inclusion of Children
'Wand Fun' With Grandson
Lessons from a Baby
Lessons of Freedom: On Divinity and Healing
April 7th. 2013 ...
Out of the Broom Closet... Sorta
A Journey Through the Witches Tarot
History and Science Behind Numerology
March 31st. 2013 ...
What is the Magickal Self?
Ethics and Numerology
March 24th. 2013 ...
Keystones of the Sacred Land
March 17th. 2013 ...
Why Some Pagans and Witches Still Hide
Witch Heritage 101: What Happens When Witch Haters Joke about anti-Witch Films
I'm Not a Broom. So What's with the Closet?
March 10th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Things I Did as a New Pagan: Part 3
Hunting for the Real Witch in Film
The Collective Shadow
Lies - The Opposite of Truth
March 3rd. 2013 ...
Grounding and Releasing Negative Energy
A Patchwork of Magick
February 24th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I Made as a New Pagan (Part Two)
February 17th. 2013 ...
Top Ten Stupid Mistakes I made as a New Pagan... Part One
Gardening with Crystal Energies
A Call from the Ancestors
Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances and Black Water Snakes
February 10th. 2013 ...
We Are the Weirdos, Mister: A Completely Uncool Story of Origin
February 3rd. 2013 ...
"I'll Grind Your Bones to Make my Bread": Pagans and Animal Husbandry
The Role of Contemporary Culture in Magic
A Pagan Response to Endangered Earth
The Great Mother's Gift, Heinlein, and the Nature of Squirrels
13 Keys: The Glory of Hod
January 27th. 2013 ...
Why We Do Need Wicca
The Cosmos In the Coffee Shop
On Travel Spirituality and Magick
January 20th. 2013 ...
Beloved Backs and How to Save Them
Building or Burning Bridges?
Plants, Magic and Intuition
Plagiarism - How It Harms Our Community
January 13th. 2013 ...
Ramblings of a Pagan Guy: Stupid Clichés
The Magick and Power of Words
Aging Is Not Easy
The Riddle of Who We Are?
January 6th. 2013 ...
Wicca v Witchcraft
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
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Posted: March 25th. 2007
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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: Oneida, Tennessee
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