It was a year of disagreements, breaking out like rashes and blemishs upon the skin of paganism/polytheism (a threat to our ‘sovereignty’ as a whole?), people on whichever sides often using extreme rhetoric, not especially conducive to mutual understanding. The controversies over pop culture devotion, polytheisms and monism, manifest so often with people arguing over terms that were seldom defined (and I am guilty too). One thing that stands out is how obsessed people have become by theology, much in contrast from years ago.
Even in poly recon influenced circles there seems to have become this huge emphasis on what we believe rather than do. of course doing something leads to reflecting upon it and shaping beliefs based on that, hopefully in a reflexive way, but it can be limiting when we are then expected to then put all of that into several boxes like hard or soft polytheist or monist (that vague word with many meanings). Beneath this official public level of belief that is staked out we have our primal substratum that derives from experience. This can be situational too, and dynamic. I think of the philosopher Gilles Deluezes’ terms of molar identity and molecular identity, molar identities attempt to freeze (are monistic) whereas molecular are dynamic, changing. This is also why I think we are best with definitions that contain various attributes, of which at least some will be present but not necessarily all.
Part of the problem arises from the fact that we often forget that we are communicating in language, a not transparent medium, and one that is mysterious in its own right. At its most primal language is an expressive, gestural medium, before its civilized apportionment into rational concepts. Chimpanzees and monkeys share in this gestural communication. Primordial gesture is where language begins in the awareness that there is a presence outside. Many of the words we use in these debates should require a whole discussion in and of themselves. Dictionary meanings are the merest beginnings. No wonder we have so much fruitless conflict (admittedly some of I may bear fruit of further knowing ourselves).
I really wish we can pay more attention to our use of language and rhetoric in the coming year. My anecdotal experience on the ground is that many poly/pagans aren’t really aware of these heated internet debates, but it is inherent to electronic communication for people to become more easily heated up. So even more attention to responsibility toward language is called for.
Happy New Year, readers!