Sunday, October 23, 2016

Soft Pantheism and Hard Pantheism: What's the Difference? Does it Matter?

We often hear the phrase, “All gods are one god,” but what does that really mean?  Is it an acknowledgment of monotheism? Is it truly how we see our gods? What does that mean?  This is, in essence, soft pantheism.  It is the belief that the deific energies of our universe manifest themselves in the way we, as individual human beings, can best interpret them. Hard pantheism is, by its very nature, the opposite.  All gods live and exist in their own right. Does the difference really matter?  I tend to say probably not, in the grand scheme, but in my own practice, I do make the distinction.

For many of the soft pantheists I have known, any god form from any pantheon can be interchanged with a ‘corresponding’ god form.  I have heard soft pantheists (and I love this example!!) do their best to equate Isis with Hekate.  Is it doable?  With some stretching and pulling, yes.  With this same stretching and pulling, I have heard these same people try to convince other that Hekate came into being as a deity because the worship of Isis spread north from Egypt.  Is it possible?  Sure, but pigs could also fly out of my butt.  Sarcasm aside, archeology has made the tenuous suggestion that they may have occurred, based on a small amount of evidence.  As a reasonable and rational person, I do not ignore evidence, however, as a hard pantheist, I believe that Isis is Isis and Hekate is Hekate.  (I don’t even like the Latin spelling of Hekate, despite the fact that it literally makes zero difference in anything but the aesthetics of the name on paper.)  One may have evolved from the other, but just as Athena sprouted from the head of Zeus, once there was a separation they ended up taking on independent lives, therefore are not the same.

As a hard pantheist, I believe that all paths lead to god, but which god is up to the one walking the path.  I see the gods, all 5,000 plus worshiped on this planet today, as individuals.  Some may be similar in our understanding of them, but they are all different entities.  For several reasons, I am a hard pantheist.  First, I believe that no finite thing can fully comprehend the infinite.  The concept of ‘god’ is an infinite being or source.  The mind is a finite thing.  Therefore, we as finite beings can not even begin to fathom the infinite.  We can only fathom other finite things, which is why it is easy to rationalize ‘one god, many faces.’

However, we live in a reality where everything is also energy.  If that is the case, our thoughts are also energy and therefore real.  So, as each god came into the collective consciousness as a thought, how did they become real?  Well, how do we manifest a thought? Action.  Our actions: prayers, ritual, hymns, and all manner of worship brought them into being.  It sustained them and gave them form.  Our myths and tales gave them form, personality, and history.  Our cultures bred them in all of their forms.

I am a hard pantheist because I do not want to cheapen or water down my own worship or the worship of those around me by assuming or claiming specific gods are equivalent or the same.  Your Sun god, while similar to mine, isn’t the same.  Your War god, while having many of the same representations as mine, isn’t the same.  When we, as pagans, generalize our worship to a concept instead of a specific deity it can scatter the energy of our worship between the vast numbers of gods that the concept represents. (That said, there are times when this practice is absolutely appropriate, make no mistake.)  Scattered energy tends to have little focus so it doesn’t have much sustenance, much in the same way that building a weak or scattered cone of power in ritual just doesn’t pack the same punch as a focused one.

I am a hard pantheist, mostly, because my gods demand it.  There was a time when I was, absolutely, a soft pantheist, but my gods do not like it when I scatter my energies.  They do not like sharing the offerings I give to them with other gods of similar concepts.  They do not like sharing me.  I have many gods with whom I share myself, not just Hekate and Mars.  They come to me as they will, not as concepts but as individuals.

Praise be to the gods!  Blessings upon those who sustain them!

Brightest blessings, Friends.

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