TWH — Paganism, together with the polytheistic and other religions with which it is often lumped, might be characterized as standing apart from conventional cultural and legal institutions. A not-entirely-undeserved stereotype is that of fierce independence from the over-culture, if not outright contrarianism, which can be witnessed in everything from an early acceptance of same-sex marriage to a rejection of the building of infrastructure that might result in hierarchy and rules. Even within Pagan and polytheist traditions wherein opposing cultural norms is not in vogue, it can be challenging to establish institutions and best practices for the sacred work of priest-craft and ministry simply because the faith traditions involved often don’t have enough in common for practitioners to overcome their small numbers by working together. We spoke with several Pagans and polytheists who have professional training related to the work often undertaken by members of the clergy, in order to better understand the challenges faced by those who are called to this service, particularly when it comes to providing any type of spiritual or emotional support which might be thought of as “counseling.” For the sake of simplicity, throughout this article the word “priest” refers as well to priestesses; this is not to suggest that one gender is preferred or superior over any other, but instead follows the deprecation of such words as “authoress” in acknowledgement that such roles can be filled by persons of any gender.
Pantheacon is an annual “conference for Pagans, Heathens, Indigenous Non-European and many of diverse beliefs,” which is held on the unceded land of Tamien Ohlone-speaking peoples in the city of San Jose, California. Pantheacon 2016 took place from February 12-15. The inherent contradiction of a conference billing itself as being at least partially for “Indigenous Non-European” people while taking place on Indigenous Non-European land was highlighted and addressed by several events scheduled on Sunday February 14. At 9 a.m., a panel was held on “Indigenous Experiences Inside and Outside the Pagan Community.” The panelists who spoke were Gregg Castro [t’rowt’raahl Salinan/rumsien Ohlone], Jacki Chuculate, Kanyon Sayers-Roods (Hahashkani-Coyote Woman) [Costanoan Ohlone and Chumash], Ryan Ts’ítskw Kozisek [Tlingit and white] and Michaela Spangenburg [multiracial Huron-Wendat].
In December 2014, a new website was launched to promote active religious learning and to act as a storehouse for primary religious text and information. The site, called Deily.org, is the brain-child of Shawn Bose and Justin Halloran, two Austin-based entrepreneurs with experience in tech media. In recent months, the site has expanded its content to include “Paganism.” The site’s name “Deily” is a play on two words – daily and the “latin world “dei, of a/the god or the nominative plural – the gods.” As is explained, Deily’s mission is “to host an online community, where members share and leave their understanding of religious content, that you will participate in every day.”
“I can’t begin to wrap my mind around the fact that this senseless act of violence happened on sacred ground. It does not matter that my spiritual path is different from those at Mother Emanuel … what matters is the sacredness of where they were when this occurred.” – Kelly Scott, Chairwoman of the Charleston Area Lowcountry Council of Alternative Spiritual Traditions. In recent months, it seems that news report after news report speaks of violence either against or within a sacred space. These acts range from the horrifying terrorist attack at Charleston’s Mother Emanuel to the destruction of ancient religious sites.
[Today we welcome guest writer Anomalous Thracian, a Polytheist Priest and spirit worker living in the North East. He is the director at Polytheist.com and blogger at Thracian Exodus.]
POLYTHEISM (Noun, plural polytheisms): the belief in the existence of multiple gods. Polytheists today exist around the world, as expressions of both continuous ancient cultures and traditions, and of newly restored, reconstructed, or received religious traditions. The word “polytheist” comes, by way of French, from the ancient Greek (polus + theos) meaning “many gods,” and refers to persons or groups who affirm with religious regard the distinct and differentiated reality of many gods, frequently alongside many other groups or systems of spirits and lesser divinities. Although many Polytheists are also Pagans, these movements, identities and religious traditions can be differentiated from the larger Pagan or Neo-Pagan movements.