As civilizations bumped into one another in antiquity, they tended to discover that they had many different gods. But since most pantheons break down gods into somewhat similar areas of expertise, the greeks just figured that the barbarians had funny names for their gods, and combined the two. This eventually got to the point where you could slam almost any two gods with similar areas of expertise together to get something subtly new. Some of my favorite gods, like Mithras and Hermes Trismegistus, come from the intercultural mashups (Persio-Roman and Greco-Egyptian, respectively) that were going on at this time.
So I propose that the international year of Polytheism, in the interest of kick-starting the spread of polytheism, hold an open call for syncretism and de-euhemerism. Combine your favorite gods with modern saints or legendary figures of our times. Let a thousand syncretic gods bloom. Say, for instance, one of those sainted old nuns like Mother Teresa or Mother Cabrini...they might make a good match with a hearth goddess like Demeter, or if you want to push a little farther, with Cybele, mother goddess of the wild earth. Or perhaps Saint Stephen (Istvan) of Hungary, the badass magyar warrior king whose severed hand is a national relic, might well be identified with Labraid Lámh Dhearg (Labraid of the Red Hand), the Celtic sun god whose legecy lives on in the red hand of Ulster.
Friday, August 1, 2008
I contributed to Monochrom's International Year of Polytheism recently with a call for more syncretism. You can read it at here: