Sunday, February 24, 2008


Here's a term that I've used for several years in discussing Neo-Paganism and its postmodern tendencies to aggregate deities creatively and usefully from a range of disparate sources.

If you're a Neo-Pagan, chances are that you work with deities or figures from more than one pantheon. These pantheons may originate with a historical culture, a literary source, or with recent and novel inspiration--Greek, Celtic, Norse, Mayan, Iroquois, Sioux, Hindu, Polynesian, Tolkien, Lovecraft, Star Wars, Harry Potter, a local landmark, peculiarities of technology and how we use it, filk, subcultures with interesting slants on the world, poetic inspiration, and a host of others.

But not with each and every deity or figure from each and every one of these pantheons.

Neo-Pagan practitioners (like me) collect together a small roster of individual deities and figures from several pantheons that we work with--our personal metapantheon.

Mine, for instance, includes: Kali, Shiva, Ganesha, Nimue, Morgan Le Fay, Cernunnos, Lugh, Hecate, Aphrodite, Gawain, the Green Man, the Faery Queen of the Border Ballads, the Queen of Night, the Muses, Titivillus patron demon of calligraphers, Coyote, Raven, Odin the Wanderer, Hiiaka, Pele, Ku, Krishna, Radha, a bunch of local mountain spirits probably known to some Native American tribes, Cthulhu, Yog Sothoth, Wile E. Coyote, figures that associate themselves for me with Devil Duckies, tree presences much like Tolkien's Ents, spirits who've found new opportunities for perplexity in the sport of mountain biking, figures something like the Shadows from Babylon 5, and some others.

They all work pretty well together for me, and I expect that more will join as time goes by.

I also use this term metapantheon to mean the sum total of all the pantheons Neo-Pagans work with. Or to refer to any subset of this agglomerate of pantheons that a Neo-Pagan group, trad, or organization works with.


Yewtree said...

I like it very much. I think I'm going to use it too, if you don't mind.

One small niggle.... maybe you need to distinguish between the personal metapantheon (that's what I call "household gods") and the sum total of all deities honoured by contemporary Pagans.

Pitch313 said...

I think metapantheon is a useful term. Feel free to apply it as you wish.

I think that the distinction that you've pointed out is an important one in many contexts. Since I came up with the notion of metapantheon to describe the creative aggregation of both particular deities and of entire pantheons, I don't have any catchy way to make it. Yet.(Still thinking.)

Donna L. Faber said...

Metapantheon, eh? Pretty cool term. I looked at your list of dieties and discovered we have a lot in common. Some of them I consider archetypes, tho, but all in all, very neato. I am dropping by to share my synchroblog on duality. Morgan Le Fey aka Morgaine is in there ... you'll see her. I hope you enjoy it.
Take care,