Articles, Polytheism

Polytheist Practice

This blog post (linked here: There IS No “Pagan Umbrella”: Reframing the (Current) Pagan/Polytheist Debate) inspired my post below.

I think the polytheist community needs to be its own thing. We are not Pagans, using Outer Court Wicca practices and Hermetic Practices to conduct rituals. Not everyone calls quarters, casts circles, calls upon a God and Goddess, does a magical working and concludes the rite with cakes and ale.

In fact, most polytheists, I would argue, don’t do this. Most Polytheists that I’m familiar with (Kemetic, Hellenic Heathen/Germanic and possibly Canaanite) do things very differently.

1) Most of us honor ancestors and have ancestor altars in our homes to honor our departed loved ones.

2) We have shrines to Gods and Goddesses in our homes and They are treated as individual beings with their own personalities, attributes and affinities. They are given offerings, ritual and are worshiped at their shrines during certain times (daily, weekly, monthly and/or during festivals). Also, some people follow deities from one pantheon while others follow deities from more than one pantheon. And some follow more than one religious path. It varies.

3) Some of us honor House or Land spirits. Some honor other spirits.

4) Many of us honor the deities in rituals consisting of incense (or essential oils, flowers, scent of some kind, etc.), candles, offerings and libations as well as ancient or modern hymns. Gestures of adoration and praise can also be incorporated in this.

5) Many of us derive our religious practices from ancient sources such as those found in archaeology, anthropology and literature as well as temples where applicable. We also derive our practices from getting input from the deities Themselves. (Since we are dealing with incorporeal, sentient, distinct entities, we would ask for Their input on how They would like to be honored). So experiences with the deities would also help inform our practices.

6) We also adapt our religious practices to our time and place. We don’t live in the ancient world and we are not the ancients. So we offer fig newtons to Kemetic deities and chocolate to Hetharu and strawberries to Aset and cheese to Wepwawet and red wine to Sekhmet. We offer what we are able to given the deities historic (or modern) associations, our own budgets, our own abilities and our own religious taboos (if we have any; someone who has a taboo against eating pork may not offer it, etc.)


2 thoughts on “Polytheist Practice”

  1. I personally believe that polytheism falls under the pagan umbrella. Not to mention that Wiccans are also polytheist- even if the boil their theism down to “all gods are one god, all goddesses are one goddess” It’s still two deities, which is more than one. Which means polytheism still counts for them.

    I think that we need to spread awareness that there is more than one type of religious practice out there. That there is more to paganism than eart-worship and Wicca. But that doesnt mean we can’t still fall under the Pagan bracket (even if I don’t like the term). That, and a lot of that education has to come from bigger places- such as Llewlyn and other larger Pagan speakers, etc.

    But I don’t think some exodus from the Pagan descriptor is gonna change that stuff.

    1. I agree with you to a point. I think part of this is we’re coming at this from some different places. More information sharing I am always up for.

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