Polytheism Is A Party Where Everyone Is Invited

Religion is only a sensitive topic if you see religion as inviolable. It’s always a fun (and fulfilling topic) to talk about, if you ask me. Polytheists do it all the time!

“Gurl, your Athena statue needs a new peplos. That one looks so 2016.”

“Dude, Ogun seems to like rhum. I wonder if Hephaistos would, too.”

“This year’s Durga Maa murti is rocking that crimson saree, YAAAS!”

When two polytheistic cultures meet, they compare (and often also share) their gods and traditions. It’s more about commerce than it is about competition—inclusion, not exclusion. That all religions are at each other’s throats cannot be farther from the truth in polytheism. There’s never an argument about whose god is true or false because they’re all true. Obviously. Plurality and multiplicity echo throughout the cosmos and this is evident in polytheist thought.

“Y’all should worship the One True Thor—YOUR ZEUS IS FALSE!” … said no polytheist ever. “There is no jealousy in the divine chorus”, as Plato put it.

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Krishna worships Shiva with no issues. Olympians pray to other Olympians. It’s called polytheism.

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to know which religions have been the exact opposite of everything above. But that’s not for here.

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Where Is Zeus?

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People ask me where the Gods have gone, thinking perhaps that the ancients saw Zeus as just a man in the sky, and because we see no sky-man there now (or ever), that Zeus is “gone”.

But He is always there, and has always been: in the fertile rain, in the mighty sound of thunder, in the very order that holds the sky aloft the wet earth.

Ὦ Ζεῦ, πάτερ Ζεῦ, σὸν μὲν οὐρανοῦ κράτος, σὺ δ᾿ ἔργ᾿ ἐπ᾿ ἀνθρώπων ὁρᾷς, λεωργὰ καὶ θεμιστά, σοὶ δὲ θηρίων, ὕβρις τε καὶ δίκη μέλει.

Hail Father Sky, Founder of justice in heaven and all beneath it!

O King in the highest heavens enthroned in glory

O Father of all, praise and thanks to You and Your mighty name.

Aba Amang Langit, Tagapagtaguyod ng katarungan mula langit hanggang kailaliman!

O Hari ng kaitaas-taasang naluluklok sa kaluwalhatian

Ama ng sansinukuban, papurihan Ka at pasalamatan at ang Iyong magiting na pangalan.

Hymn to Hermes

I cannot love this enough. O Son of Maia, our Guide and Companion in life and in death, hail and hail again!

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“Hymn to Hermes”

(c) A. Applegate 2017

We give greetings to Hermes,

Clever Son of Zeus and Maia,

Wanderer of all the worlds

God of great cunning

Who, on His very first day of drawing breath,

Proved Himself a maker of music and mischief,

Strummer of the lyre,

Thief of the cattle of Apollon

The One Who achieves fame amongst the Gods by His deeds

The Prowler by night Who lurks in the street before the gates.

We hail holy Hermes

Who wards all wayfarers

Whether travelers for pleasure or commercial pursuits,

or those seized by thanatos

Who wend their way into dark caverns to be seated as guests

in Hades’ great, gilded halls

We hail Hermes Psychopompos,

His most sacred charge

Serve as our unerring Guide, our Companion, O Khthonios,

May Your lamps reveal the Mysteries

Glory gleaned in gloomy depths

To those ready to receive the Light of…

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Hail Traveller & Teacher

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Hail Hermes, full of joy!
Thou, son of Zeus and Maia!
Gracious art thou amongst the blessed Gods
and blessed are those who gain thine friendship.

Watchful Hermes, father of Pan, guide us,
travellers and luck-workers,
now and ever after.

Hail Athena, full of splendour!
Thou, daughter of aegis-bearing Zeus!
Brightest do thine eyes shine, Glaukopis,
as do the minds of those who hold thee high.

Exalted Athena, who sprang full-formed
from the head of Zeus,
lead us, ardent pupils of life,
now and ever after.

Hail you, mighty children of Zeus,
fair speech and fair wit we bespeak of you
now and for ever more!

AVE IANE PATER AVE MMXVII

It’s been a while since I was last here and much has changed. And whilst 2016 was a bitch to the world of politics and pop icons, I was lucky that the changes were mostly positive for me. That said, I pray not only for my good fortune to flourish but also for the zeitgeist of this year — may things improve. I welcome you with open arms, 2017.

And what would be a more fitting way to welcome the next 365 days than with a prayer to the Opener of ways and God of beginnings?

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Pagbati sa Iyo ng may galak at tuwa,
O Haring Tarangkahan na may dalawang mukha;
isang pakanan at isang pakaliwa,
Poon ng mga pintuan, mula langit hanggang lupa.
O Haring Tarangkahan, buksan Mo ang daan:
sa Taong ito’y nawa’y walang humadlang
sa pagtupad sa mga tungkulin na sa ami’y nakalaan;
biyaya’t pagpapala nawa’y maging katuparan.
O Poong nagbabantay sa bawat simulain,
nawa’y sa unang pag-awit at panimulang panalangin
ay buksan Mo ang daan sa lahat ng kariwasaan;
kasaganaan, kagandahan at kasiyahan.
At sa pagsilang ng bagong umaga ito,
isilang nawa sa aming mga diwa at puso
ang isang bagong pag-asa at bagong ngiti
isang bagong lakas na hindi mapapawi.
Nawa’y sa Taong ito at sa mga darating pa
ay maging matagumpay at maligaya
ang pagkamit sa aming mabubuting mithiin,
malaya sa balakid at suliranin.
O Haring Tarangkahang tagapagbukas ng Daan:
nawa’y sa susunod na Ika’y aming awitan
ay mas higit pa ang aming tuwa’t kasiyahan
sa pag-awit sa Iyong matamis na pangalan.

 

Yes, this is Tagalog. I spent half of 2016 trying to get down my prayers and songs in the tongue of my mother’s people, and though I promise to try my best to provide a good translation sometime this week, I hope you can at least enjoy the rhythm of this New Year’s prayer to Janus. Ave Iane Pater! Luwalhati sa Iyo!

 

Hail to the Queen

To Sannion, for his continued health, a song to the Queen of the Gods:

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Hera Ludovisi, 1st cen. BCE

Hail, Hera, Queen of Olympos!
Your Name, renowned and true.
Your crown is wrought of star and cloud,
and your mantle, sapphire blue.

Queen, you are, undoubted:
wife and sister to Heaven’s King.
Cow-eyed mistress of gods undying,
unto whom do kingly birds sing.

Your hand is firm, like the queen you are,
Yet your heart is soft like morning dew.
Your voice commands all rain and gale,
and the hearts of many mortals, too.

This song is made for you, O Queen:
that which is yours can never die.
For you are Queen of every hero’s heart,
though body rot and spirit fly.

In other news, today at the altar:

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Many Gods, one household.

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Can’t go wrong with Ganapati.

May the fourth of the waxing moon be with you!

 

Soft and Hard Monotheism?

Is it possible to have a monotheism that doesn’t reject other gods as false? But that wouldn’t be truly monotheistic. Is it possible to have a monotheism that focuses on an all-loving, compassionate power? But that wouldn’t be truly monotheistic. Monist, maybe, or henotheist, but never truly monotheistic.

One might say that all monotheism is radical; it isn’t truly monotheism if it doesn’t espouse a belief in an exclusive, singular supreme power that is ultimately tyrannical and controlling.

I live in the largest Catholic enclave in Asia and I’m thankful that most of these same Catholics aren’t taking their monotheism seriously. Because, honestly, the truly monotheistic ones would be extremely difficult to deal with.

I think that needs to be said.