I Like my Deity, Like I Like my Coffee...
Polytheism can be a confusing affair, or at least that's how it felt for me who was raised with a monotheist spirituality. I specifically remember reading the ancient Greek mythology and being inspired by movies such as Jason and the Argonauts (1963) or Clash of the Titans (1981). I could readily accept that these divine figures were interested or involved in the deeds of some mortals, because it was only a story after all.
We are now a few additional decades away from that youthful choir boy, but it seems that even today we are still retelling the same stories, from Immortals, to Percy Jackson Lightning Thief and even the remake of Clash of the Titans. So why should it be any kind of challenge for me to accept the idea of Polytheism when it is so prevalent in our media?
Well the answer for me is rooted in Catholic dogma, specifically the Ten Commandments. You know the one I'm on about of course. The 'Thou shalt have no other Gods before me' one. We even have the screen immortalisation of this in the form of Charlton Heston's tirade as he heaved some stone slabs at a golden bull statue. So why has this stuck to me all these years? Well because the rest seem so logical, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, honour thy father and mother... You can see how these all just make sense from a certain perspective, so when a person is raised with 'these fundamental truths' its easy to just accept the the rest of the weird ones because they are are part of a set right? Taking the lord's name in vain? Keeping the lord's day holy?
Its taken me some time to get mature enough, and confident in my own powers of intellectual reasoning to safely question these "fundamental truths" and challenge my our perspectives. I'm no theologian, nor philosopher but I know that, back to the wall with no way to talk my way around it, I would steal, maybe even kill to preserve the life and security of those I love. So it might be fair to say that these 'fundamental truths' have nuances, provisos, caveats and addendum, and if that is that is true for some of them, then why not the rest? Either the ten commandments are written by men to try set out some ideological framework with a significant bias and a dash of manipulation, or they are the words of a deity that has a lot of good ideas, but a rather large dose of insecurity.
So where has this lead me? Well, as I always say, questions are more important than answers. Having a question opens us up to opportunities for thought exploration, and creates space for each of us to create our own understanding and define our own personal truth. My questions could be said to have occurred as follows; "What other Gods are there? "Who are the ancient Gods of Ireland?" "Who is the Morrigan (and should I be afraid)?" "I said no thanks to Her, so who is it that is calling my names?" "Who is the Dagda?" "How can a God/King of Ireland be a glutton/lech/oaf?" "If all I know is wrong, how can I find out what's true?"
No easy thing to consider when we break it down, especially when we need to challenge our preconceived ideology and unconscious bias. For me I find that engaging with deity can be as close and personal as you, and they, choose it to be. Many is the morning that I boil the kettle and The Dagda gets his own cup of coffee upon his altar as we sit to chat. As I grow more close with my deity I find that I rely upon his support more easily and can share more of my humour in our interactions. This is why I can say, with some playful irreverence, that I like my deity like I like my coffee... Large, Strong, & Helps me to do EVERYTHING!