Thursday, November 6, 2008

Supermodel Kali

Supermodel and TV show hostess Heidi Klum dressed up as Kali for Halloween. Her costume looked like, well, a costume that a supermodel could arrange to have made. Klum, in fact, carried off Kali pretty well. Beautiful. Blue. Fierce.

Dressing up as Kali for Halloween was, for Klum, who has an interest in Indian culture, good scary fun. Until she saw some illustrations of Kali, Klum knew nothing about this goddess.

Some practicing Hindus, however, consider dressing up as a goddess like Kali irreverent.

I'm a Neo-Pagan devotee of Kali. I take my links with this goddess most seriously. Kali has played a central role in my practice for many, many years.

But I have witnessed a Kathakali dancer, costumed as Kali, dance this goddess, the reality of this goddess, for a transfixed audience. So I look at dressing up as Kali as something that may be more than reverent. It might work some magic.

Still, I'm mulling over things like cultural poaching and diversity and respect for others' beliefs. Devotees can differ, even among themselves, about non-devotees paying a Halloween homage to the goddess the devotees worship. Some might find it disrespectful of the wholeness of their tradition. Others might go along with the good scary fun. Still others might allow for the slim chance of magic working a surprising little change.

But what I'm mostly mulling over is play. Lila. Kali may be having some fun on Halloween. Real fun. Divine fun. Graveyard fun.

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Monday, November 3, 2008

The Constellation Of My Metapantheon

Here's my metapantheon, the assemblage of deities, guardians, and figures from a variety of sources that take an active part in my Neo-Pagan Craft practice.

Most members of my metapantheon come from the mythologies of several historical cultures (or culture complexes), but several come from literary sources or from personal discovery. Even though I made active selections of many to most of the deities, on more than one occasion a deity or group of deities joined my metapantheon. I didn't invite them by name or anticipate their continuing participation.

For the most part, no deity has dropped out of my metapantheon, although the active focus of my practice has shifted over the years. Some deities with whom I was once very engaged have moved to the sidelines. Others have then become more focal for me.

My practice engages one to several deities from each larger pantheon, but I recognize every deity from each pantheon. And I respect all members of each pantheon.

These days, the very active constellation of deities in my metapantheon is:

Hindu/Tantra--Kali, Durga, Shiva, Ganesha

Neo-Pagan Celtic--Maeve, Olwen, Culhwch, The Morrigan, Tam Lin,Thomas the Rhymer, The Queen of Faery

Arthurian--Morgan le Fay, Gawain

Hawaiian--Hi'iaka (and by extension, the Pele family)

The Pantheon of the Anderson Feri Craft Trad--The Star Goddess, The Guardians, The Goddess of North

The Pantheon of British Traditional Craft--The Goddess, The Horned God

Figures of the Land, usually known to Native American cultures--Raven, Coyote, Red-Tailed Hawk, Redwood trees, Jaguar, Agave

The less active constellation of deities includes:

Norse--Odin (the Wanderer), the Valkyries

Greek--The Muses (truth to tell, they could just as well be in the active).

Cthulhu Mythos--Yog-Sothoth, Cthulhu, Nyarlathotep

Tolkien--Gandalf, Galadriel, Tom Bombadil, The Nazgul

Yoruba, Santeria, Umbanda--Oshun

Popular Occulture--Gremlins

Popular Culture--Wile E. Coyote, Devil Ducky, Azrael the Cat

Not much discord occurs among the members of my metapantheon, and I can usually do magical work guided by deities who come from more than one cultural source--and have that work turn out to be fruitful.

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Yes! I Am A Neo-Pagan Polytheist!

Over at The Wild Hunt, Jason Pitzl-Waters reports on an AAR session on Polytheism in Practice. He tells us about David Miller's response to the presentations. Miller wondered if kathenotheism rather than polytheism might be a more accurate term to describe the diversity of new religious movements, including Neo-Paganism.

Kathenotheism, according to the Ethnographic Thesaurus, means:

The worship of one god at a time while accepting other gods exist.

Polytheism, according to the New World Encyclopedia, means:

Polytheism (from the Greek: polus, many, and theos, god) refers to belief in, or worship of, multiple gods or deities.

What an interesting distinction. Although I'm not so sure that it will aid practicing Neo-Pagans as much as the folks who study them.

What crosses my mind is that essentially postmodern spiritual movements constellate their deities and work by the illumination of those constellations of deities differently than more traditional or conventional movements have.

Time and number may become more relativistic, more of the moment's circumstances. Practitioners may, at need, shift their categorizations.

Here's the comment I left at The Wild Hunt:

But I am a polytheist. I have, in the best tradition of bricolage, put together my own Neo-Pagan metapantheon from the pantheons of several historical cultural traditions. And, once in a while, deities from other traditions have joined my metapantheon on their own.

It's probably accurate to say, though, that I do not allot equivalent weight and devotion to all the many deities of all the known pantheons. I do focus on the metapantheon that suits me and my practice.

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