I just read one of the longest blog posts of my life, over at Gangleri’s Grove: Devotion or “Psychotic Superstition”
I respect Galina, but don’t always agree (or even understand) her mindset. To me, she’s something of a hardline Heathen, a steadfast polytheist who has strong (VERY strong!) opinions about the current state of the greater Pagan Community©. She’s also an academic with no weak chops in religion. I, on the other hand, claim both Buddhist and Druidic faith, and am currently only tentatively “theistic” in practice. I blame that on my academic training and long-term mental health status.
The post that spawned this one is, frankly, upsetting, on a number of different levels. I mean, how can one be both a pagan and an atheist? IMO, not well. And it’s an impossibility to be an atheists polytheist… The terms are diametrically opposed. Atheists dispute the very existence of the divine, while polytheists acknowledge the existence of many gods. This matches with Galina’s position against someone who was on her Facebook. He was apparently dead-set on casting Heathenry as foolish, backward, and delusional. Anybody who knows anything about Galina knows that she’s anything but a fool.
Long parts of the discussion between she and Jeff go back and forth, and Galina sums up thus:
Now i’m not posting this to bash Jeff. I”m posting it because everything he said are things that i’ve seen cropping up in the Pagan community and in Heathenry too (different parts at different times). It represents a mindset, a way of looking at the world that not only excludes the Gods but renders devotion to Them as psychosis. Is it any wonder that there is so much antagonism toward devotional work in Heathenry, or actual active belief in the Gods in Paganism? These things aren’t just words.
THIS is a perfect example of the monotheistic filter at work. It’s a perfect example of what our contemporary culture teaches, what academia reinforces, and how we are all infected with a distrust of devotion. it’s there and it’s exchanges like this that make me see how deeply those anti-piety currents run. Perhaps this exchange with Jeff wasn’t one of my shining moments as a theologian. It is disheartening, however, to find these ideas ever present as we trudge forward in this work.
This is a large part of my situation right now. I am a product of the Modern Mind and a patient in the mental health (such as it is) system in the USA. I know that I used to touch the numinous, before I had a breakdown. I know that I had a connection to The Divine©. These days, though, I am tentative. I am unsure. I doubt myself, and my hold on sanity. I am afraid that I might fall into actual, real, clinical psychosis. On the flip-side of that coin, though, I desire numinous experience (yeah, don’t laugh about the Buddhist with attachment and desire. 😛 ). I expect that there is more to this world and reality than science and rationality can explain or even experience.
Am I a polytheist? Likely not, particularly with my Buddhist background (heavy monism, definition 1a). I also claim pantheism as a self-description. Be this as it may, I also currently chose to single out Hecate/Hekate for some small devotional work. Currently, I am 99.99% certain that I’m not psychotic, due to my psychiatric medication regimen. I am mostly glad that I don’t hear voices and feel that the Gods are talking to me. Were it otherwise, I would severely doubt my sanity.
So where does that leave me? I’m still trying to figure that out. Until I have certainty, I will depend on faith.