Monday, May 12, 2008

Soft vs Hard

Isims and Schisms

Livia over at MagicHills has some interesting thoughts on "soft" vs "hard" polytheism:

...But I see all of that "all are one" stuff that I was bombarded with in my early studies as trite oversimplification that limited my perception and worship of the gods...Now that I've got a few years of study and practice under my belt I see that my past soft polytheism was really a hangover from my knowledge and experience of monotheism. I think soft polytheism made the transition from Christianity to neopaganism easier: one god, to one goddess, to a goddess and a god and now to many distinct deities...I see all gods as unique and distinct beings who are each worthy of study, reflection and worship. Hard polytheism isn't easy for me like soft polytheism was; I have to work harder, study more and think more. And I wouldn't have it any other way.

I agree with Livia that it's good to focus on individual gods and goddesses, and I like her distinction between the two types of polytheism. But those darn gods and goddesses have a hand in this as well. The characteristics of deities can mix and blend through time, and one can even absorb another. In addition, cultures can sometimes try to make sense of a complicated theology by simplifying it, such as the Greeks did when they tried to order and explain Egyptian mythology, in terms of the Greek pantheon and philosophy.


Yvonne said...

There's also the problem that hard polytheists tend to be rather forcefully dogmatic about it.

Personally I am a polymorphist - there is an underlying oneness to the universe, but also multiplicity.

genexs said...

Hi Yvonne:

But some of my best friends are hard polytheists! :) I think one of the best examples of a Goddess driven syncretism is Isis. She eventually absorbed most Egyptian Goddesses, even Hathor.

Thanx for commenting, it's a pleasure meeting a "polymorphist".

Livia Indica said...

You're absolutely right. Over time, and in the hands of different cultures, deities morph into other figures with different attributes. The trick is to decide what time frame and culture one wants to deal with and then take off running. Thanks so much for blogging about what I wrote, I'm flattered!

genexs said...

hi Livia:

You have a great blog and I like your writing and point-of-view.

Been off line for a few days due to tech problems, but everything is ok now.