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Speaking of Syncretism

By P. Sufenas Virius Lupus

[Snip] For the most part, polytheism doesn’t proscribe which deities are valid to be worshipped, and in fact almost every polytheistic culture that exists has happily done so alongside peoples with very different deities, practices, and beliefs. More often than not, the deities of those other peoples cross over into their own pantheons, and have often done so at such an early stage that they have become completely naturalized over the course of time. When we speak of Aphrodite as a Greek goddess, we often do so in ignorance of her Near Eastern origins, despite the Greeks giving her epithets that connect her to her likely origin place of Cyprus. Aprhodite is one example amongst many of this process.

As much as I am of the opinion that polytheism is an expectable, and even perhaps a natural, tendency amongst humans, so too do I think that syncretism is just as intrinsic to polytheism. One cannot be a polytheist without also being a syncretist.

Yes, as much as you might not wish to acknowledge it, every single person reading this column who is a polytheist is already a syncretist. If that horrifies you, I’ll still be here when (or if) you would like to read further. If that excites and fascinates you, please continue to read. If you already knew you were a syncretist…well, you still may want to read to the end of this column, since you’ve come all this way already. 😉

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