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Religions of Relation: Dynamics in Modern Polytheism

By Anomalous Thracian

[Snip] A lot of people who are coming into polytheist religions from a dominant parent-culture paradigm of staunch monotheism or secular atheisms struggle at understanding the complex relationship factors. Understanding polytheism as systems of relationship, first and foremost, is an important thing; and, indeed, relationships wherein humans are not at the center (although for obvious reasons, we take a central role in the active execution of our own practices, being the ones developing those practices).

Dualist, monist, or atheist paradigms carry over into many newcomers to polytheism, who struggle with the number of gods, spirits, or relationships, as if they need to “know” them all, in order to “get it” or “do it”.

Relationships do not need to be “known” or “understood”, but merely acknowledged. It is not about “mapping and cataloging” all of the complexities, but instead having space for those complexities, and working to develop a lived awareness around our own part within them. There is a tactile responsiveness that comes from the re-development of this polytheist and animist paradigm, like learning to drive a car or ride a bike: reading and hearing about it is useful up to a point, but in getting on the road, you suddenly realize that you can feel the road beneath your feet, and that split-second learned responses to things like moisture on the asphalt, fog in the air or gusts of wind strong enough to put a little bit of tail-spin into your trajectory are all examples of “things you need to learn on the ground, not in a book”.

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