So, I’ve already talked about science in this project. Science, all things considered, is full of easy answers. Even all the theoretical and experimental physics and the calculus that entails and whatnot is incredibly easy when compared to the mysteries of pagan and polytheistic religions. That’s good —those easy answers are not only easy, they’re certainly necessary. If we didn’t have those easy answers, we wouldn’t have made many of the technological advances that absolutely help many people get food, clean water, medical care, and so on.
But religion, especially polytheistic religions, tackle the uneasy answers. Christianity tries, and from what I’ve observed in others, some sects do it better than the rest; Catholicism and Anglicanism/Episcopalism seem to have tapped into a lot of that for many –and if you ask me, it’s in part because it allowed itself as a sect to retain some of the trappings of polytheism, if not the language of polytheism. The Society of Friends is another Christian group1 that seems to genuinely do for people what they come there for —when you’re at a Meeting House, seeing with your own eyes why the Society of Friends got the nickname “Quakers”, you know there’s something mysterious going on there.
But when people leave christian backgrounds for polytheism, it’s usually (at least judging from my own incredibly scientific research of the polytheist blogosphere) because they’ve learned one of those uneasy answers that Christianity sweeps under the rug with monotheism: The universe is more complex than monotheism necessarily allows for. Catholicism double-speaks this with their hundreds of saints and guises of the Holy Virgin and presenting them in a manner closer to Hellenic Heroes; Quakerism avoids the issue entirely with group mysticism and while questioning certainly is encouraged, it’s clear that the answer they want people to come to is “oh, well, I guess the Holy Spirit has many faces and guises”. If that’s enough for some people, well, good for them. I genuinely mean it, I’m happy for them; maybe they just weren’t meant to see any further in this lifetime, and that’s OK, I’m not here to judge, and I’m not here to convert, only follow my own path and answer the questions of seekers who ask me things to the best of my abilities, even if that means sending them to another.
Having a single all-purpose deity is far easier than polytheism; if there’s only one deity, you have one “line”, so to speak, and you don’t have to remember the potentially dozens of different rules for an entire pantheon. You don’t have to think too much about how to approach that deity, especially if your sect is incredibly relaxed about those things, anyway.
Clearly polytheism is an uneasy path for the uneasy answers of the spirit that science can’t do shit about.
So why do I do it?
First off, life is uneasy. No-one gave anyone’s parents a fool-proof manual on how to raise children (especially not mine), most of them just followed a basic outline from how they were raised and winged it the rest of the time.
Secondly, while I’m grateful to the avenues that do provide easier answers, that doesn’t always work. When I first started talking to deities, I was afraid that I might’ve been going nuts –schizophrenia runs in my family– but then I remembered i don’t have any sort of MRI or EEG that’s in-line with that sort of imbalance. I guess the next easiest answer is that maybe I was talking to myself, a notion that does still cross my mind, but that notion always strikes me as too easy, easier than it should. Might it be that easy? I suppose, but so far my experiences with this goes in the uneasy direction.
And I say “uneasy” because it’s not always hard, it just isn’t easy. Sometimes you just have to do more than you’d expect to have the answers fall at you. A lot of the mysteries are like that; some of them can, or even need to be induced through ritual, or at least meditation of some sort, but a lot, in my experience, are of the sort that just fall into place after building that knowledge from book learning and divine gnosis. It’s not easy to acquire that knowledge and gnosis, some of it may even require other rituals and ordeals, but it corrals the pieces to bring out those uneasy truths.
1: Don’t talk to me about “Quaker paganism”. It’s more pagan than it is Quaker; I had to spend my adolescence at my step-mother’s meeting house as a concession to my father, and Quakerism is definitely Christian, and to take the Christianity out of Quakerism is to do something else using a vaguely Quaker-influenced template.