In traditional polytheism, it’s hard to truly separate out the religious from the secular, since it’s all got a connection in the lives of mortals. In the modern day, traditional polytheists will often look for historical and mythological connections and justifications for pass-times and politics, but those who do not see the possibility of, or even a realistic need to separate from the Abrahamic supremicist culture will advocate an approach of putting aside one’s religious differences with others to reach a political and social goal for the community; in that action, one’s religion and ethics may still be important, but simply guiding one to ignore the differences to reach a compromise. Ideologically, it is only traditional polytheism, not Abrahamic religions, which offer this option: In Rome, Christians were actually given immense freedoms (contrary to what the fairytales in state school history texts claim), and the political compromise was that they simply had to pay a tax to the cult of the Emperor as a secular action, consider it as a rent payed to be a Roman, and this is even advocated by Christianity’s own mythological figure of Christ, in Matthew 22:21, “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s…”. Rome didn’t care that Christians didn’t want to acknowledge the Roman gods as gods, they just wanted Christians to pay their taxes which, in Rome, were funneled through the cult of the Emperor, and even Christianity’s highest figure agreed with that. But a religion is more than the sayings of its most cherished figures, and as much as traditional polytheisms are more than their mythologies, so is Christianity and Islam, whose extra-mythological traditions include forced conversion and spiritual disharmony with one’s neighbouring religions.
But I digress.
Things I do that people might not consider explicitly religious in 2011 often have an ancient relationship with tranditional polytheism, and even a subculture that is thouroughly secularised still takes ancient Hellenic influences. Things like painting, music, gardening, etc…, don’t necessarily have to be religious — there are plenty of pictures, songs, landscapes, and so on that, for their creators and designers, had no religious significance, but at the same time may actually have such for an on-looker. I’ve no reason to believe that Gavin Friday specifically called on the guidance of Eros or Erato in composing, say, “Caruso”, but as an devotee of Eros, it’s hard not to see the God’s influence.
..in fact, the whole Shag Tobacco album has been described by the artist himself to be an intricate art-rock opus “about a man who comes home to make love to his wife/partner”. It’s really hard for a devotee to not see the guidance of Eros in that. It’s actually kind of hard not to see the guidance of Eros, Apollon, the Moisai, in all of Mr. Friday’s work, and I once paid over $50 (*before* shipping) for a copy of Each Man Kills the Thing He Loves on eBay, proving my most expensive CD to date, and if it were something I didn’t get some spiritual meaning from, I’d probably be rather embarrassed to admit paying that much for what’s essentially a used CD — out-of-print, sure, but used, and I’d long had a pirated mp3-copy of the album for years, prior. It’s also hard not to see Gavin Friday’s pagan sensibilities in general, even when naming his new album (first in sixteen years) catholic.
Maybe that’s it? When one has decided to integrate the Theoi into every aspect of one’s life, it becomes actually difficult to not see how one deity or another has influenced decisions from politics to film to favourite cheeses, and so it becomes harder to say which activities are “secular” with religious significance? That’s pretty much where I’m at, right now. True, I’m not one of those people who has to cast bones before switching brands of toilet paper, but if I think about it for even a moment, I can see how this deity or another may have shaped that decision, I can see the hand of Apollon in the films of Christian Derek Jarman, and I feel Eros in “I Got You Babe”.
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