Many Gods, Many Peoples

Although Polytheist and Animist beliefs have been the primary mode of relating to the world and its inhabitants for thousands of years, the Western world is only now seeing a resurgence of these ancient and indigenous forms.  Destruction of ancestral traditions, displacements of peoples, Monotheism and Imperialism have all contributed to this, as well as what many have called the “Disenchantment” of the world.

But not all traditions were lost, nor were these beliefs every truly subjugated.  Indigenous peoples in Africa and the Americas never fully succumbed, and in other lands, the belief and reverence of gods, spirits, and ancestors have continued unabated.  Sanatana Dharma (“Hinduism”) remains the dominant religion in India–the second most populous country in the world, while Shinto continues to be the dominant practice in Japan.

In “the West,” revived interest in ancestral practices and the influence of the Occult and “Pagan” movements in Europe during the 1700’s and further have led many of us to reconnect to those ancient ways and discover, to our delight, the gods never went away.

While academics and theologians are finally beginning to take notice of polytheistic practice, we haven’t waited for their attention.  Reconstructionist- Druid-, Heathen-, and many Witch-traditions–among others–have been worshiping the gods-thought-lost, and sometimes discovering new ones.

Meanwhile, African Diasporic Traditions and Indigenous Animist groups have helped the “Disenchanted West” reconnect to their own lost threads, moving beyond the consumeristic approach of appropriating others’ beliefs in order to fill a modern void.

Many Gods West is meant to be a celebration of all these traditions, those newly-reconstructed and those continuously-practiced.  There are many gods in the world, and many peoples worshiping them.

Inclusion and Purpose

What’s a Polytheist?

For the purposes of this conference, we’re defining Polytheism as the acknowledgement, experience, and worship of many different gods and spirits–thus the title of the conference! Also, we specifically embrace the reverence of spirits of land and ancestors.

Deciding precisely what qualifies as Polytheism is not our goal; however, for guidelines, we suggest consideration of the following:

–If you think the gods are ‘only’ myths or subconscious archetypes, you may have trouble understanding most of the other folks who attend and present.  If you’d still like to attend, you’re certainly welcome to, but we fear you may feel a little left out.
–If you believe there’s only One God or no gods at all, you’re probably looking for a different conference?

–Monism (the belief that all gods are actually part of one Divine Source) and Duo-theism (the belief that there are only two gods with many faces/names) are quite contentious issues!  While we certainly encourage debate, if one of those aforementioned theologies are a “fundamental truth” for you, please be respectful of others who find these ideas contrary to their experiences and potentially colonialist.

 

Inclusion and Discrimination

Many Gods West is intended as a safe, welcoming, and convivial forum for polytheists to share knowledge, practices, rituals, and other learning experiences with each other.

While we realize there are many different iterations of polytheistic practice, certain things run contrary to the spirit of what we’re doing, as well as against many of the gods we worship.

Racialized ideologies, gender essentialism, and anything potentially abusive to sexual or racial minorities are not only unwelcome, but prohibited.

While we certainly encourage freedom of expression and differences of opinion, racism, sexism, homophobia, and anything else which endangers or belittles people according to their identity doesn’t belong here.

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