30-Day Religious Meme: Day 3, Beliefs – Deities

This is the day when things are REALLY going to get ‘sticky’ for me. Why is this? Because it is the day when I start discussing things that are very personal to me — how I view the Gods as a whole. In later entries, I will be discussing certain Gods that I am close to in greater detail, but here I will be more general in my approach.
Starting at the beginning, one of the first things that people should know about me is that I am what is called a ‘hard’ polytheist. For me, Aphrodite is NOT the same as Venus and is most definitely NOT able to be equated to Ishtar, Astarte, Aine, Bastet, Chalchiuhtlicue (talk about a tongue-twister of an Aztec Goddess), Ninhursaga, Rangda, Zizilia OR ANY OTHER “love/sex/fertility” goddess.
The same applies to any other Greek God or Goddess with the exception of historically verifiable syncretism such as Cybele (who was originally Anatolian) or Serapis (who was a combination  of the Egyptian God Aser-hapi  with either Zeus or Haides — sources differ — made in order to help unify the religions of Greece and Egypt by the last “dynasty” of Egyptian pharaohs, the Ptolemys).
I personally look on what is termed ‘soft’ polytheism as being intellectually lazy, especially when SOME Wiccans take the view that “All Gods are one God. All Goddesses are one Goddess” which in effect combines Artemis (a goddess who is celibate-by-choice) with Aphrodite (a goddess of both spiritual AND physical love, including ‘affairs’ ) as well as all the other Goddesses. If we accept that the Gods and Goddesses have distinct personalities, which as a ‘hard’ polytheist I do, then the “poly-” portion of the word MUST be acknowledged and cannot be subsumed into the dualistic viewpoint that is created when all the Goddesses are equated into ‘THE’ Goddess.
Some people might think that this view is too restrictive or too rigid, but it actually to my way of thinking expands the richness of the tapestry that the gods make against the background of the Cosmos  When a ‘hard’ polytheistic approach is used, a person does not need to limit themselves to a single pantheon of Gods — unless, like me, they also are Reconstructionist in their methodology. I personally know someone who is a follower of Tyr, Dionysus AND Pele — who each have their own realms and responsibilities. (And speaking of trying to equate Goddesses to one another there is NO WAY that I have found to logically state that Pele and Hestia are one with the possible ‘exception’ of the two of them both being Goddesses associated with fire.)All of these things are important in how I view the Gods. I feel that all  my actions should ideally be part of my daily praxis (worship) and that praxis extend to everything I do. This is one of the ways that I connect with the Gods. Also, I believe that the Gods are, both individually and collectively, far more that any one mortal can understand. This is where Personal Gnosis about the Gods can and does happen. For example, I was led by Hestia to offer her coffee instead of what some people would say is ‘more authentic’. The reason that I found it to be appropriate lies in modern Greek culture where when someone visits your home (Hestia’s domain) you offer them coffee, food and maybe alcohol  I find the offering of coffee to be a logical continuation of the ancient practice of offering the food and drink that the household ate to the Gods as well.  Other people might have other ways of honoring her that SHE has led them to, and that is ultimately not our place to judge if it is in keeping with what the ancients would have done were they to suddenly be brought forward into our time (at least after the culture shock of living in a society that favors monotheistic religions was over).
The Gods are greater than we are. For those that listen to their various calls, they inspire the way we live our lives. They do not need our worship — although I feel that it pleases them to be acknowledged for their effects on us and our surroundings. And, perhaps most importantly, I believe that they do love us……

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