“True to the Earth” By Kadmus

“True to the Earth: Pagan Political Theology.” Gods & Radicals Press. 2018

Kadmus, a professor of philosophy, expounds on the difference between Polytheistic (Pagan) and Monotheistic metaphysics. After explaining the differences, he applies Polytheistic theology to modern Western politics. He concludes that capitalism came from Monotheism, which he considers to be nihilistic. To combat that, people need to embrace Polytheism, which is life-sustaining.

The major value of this book for me was how to think as a Polytheist. According to Kadmus, the invention of writing fundamentally changed how people think. Writing objectified words, which now exist without any anchor to reality. Therefore, abstract concepts such as “goodness” could come into being. Since writing detaches words from time and space, it allowed Monotheism to come into being.

In contrast, oral cultures are concrete and additive. They force the listener to be present with the speaker. Oral thought cements words to a particular time and place. Like verbs, oral thought follows “and also” to encourage things to accumulate more parts.

Kadmus writes, “This objectifying nature of the thought of a literate society shows up in many of our very worst modern characteristics. It also runs deeply throughout Monotheistic metaphysics. The Monotheistic God is most often an abstract goodness or perfection, a strange monster impossible to grasp in an active, concrete associative logic.” He continues, “If the One God were good, we could have this world; if it were evil, we could have this same world; if it didn’t exist at all, we could have this same world again. Thus, ‘goodness’ here is clearly a word without concrete content.”

Meanwhile, Polytheist metaphysics is committed to a complex plurality. This can be seen in the many names for the various Gods. For example, Marduk of Babylon has fifty names; each as important as the others. He is the Commander of the Legions of Wind Demons, Wielder of the Flaming Sword, Knower of the Secrets of the Earth, the Bringer of Rain, and more. Marduk can be all of these parts without being a totality

Monotheist thinking is reductive while Polytheistic thinking is productive. Monotheism reduces everything to One, while Polytheism promotes an abundant plurality. Kadmus writes “Reality within Pagan metaphysics is defined in terms of multiplicity and complexity, while Monotheism instead posits an ultimate oneness arrived at through reduction and simplification. For most versions of Monotheism, the oneness of the universe will derive from the power and oneness of its creator. If God is One, then so too are Truth and Reality. On the other hand, if the Gods are many, then so too are the truths of reality.”

Kadmus continues “When your metaphysics is based upon unity, reduction, totalizing, and Oneness, your approach to the world be shaped by it. Your approach to the world will focus on perfection, purity (Note 1), and the one narrow path to the only acceptable goal. In such a view, each thing has an essence that it either fulfills or betrays. Likewise, each thing has a purpose that it either serves or neglects. Oneness is purity, multiplicity is sin.”

As we try to re-establish Polytheistic metaphysics, these ideas are worth pondering. There is no One Truth but as many truths as there are Divine Beings. Polytheistic thinking celebrates fertility in all its forms, multiplying instead of reducing.

Notes:
Note 1. Purity in Polytheism can be seen in context such as dirty dishes that need to be washed. Christian purity involves purpose and order. In Monotheism, to be pure means to consist of only one thing.

Modernity and Myths: Introduction

I am planning to write a series of posts over the year on myths and how modern people regard them.

In the 4th Century, Sallustius wrote one of the oldest known treatises on the Gods – called “On the Gods and the World.” According to Sallustius, myths were divine since they represent the Gods (Themselves) and their activities. He wrote “That myths are divine can be seen from those who have used them… But Why the myths are divine is the duty of philosophy to inquire.”

Sallustius asserts that the meaning of myths may not be apparent to everyone. Although the Gods do give commonsense to everyone, not all use it. “To teach the whole truth about the Gods to all produces contempt in the foolish and the lack of zeal in the good.” He explains that hiding the truth compels people to ponder it. Therefore, myths have revealed (clear) and unrevealed (hidden) aspects of the Gods. Sallustius does assure everyone that “the soul may immediately feel that words are veils to the truth which is a mystery.”

In his treatise, Sallustius divided myths into five categories. Theological myths speculate on the essences of the Gods. (These myths interest only philosophers.) Psychic ones discuss the Soul, while physical myths tell of the activities of the Gods in the world. (Both psychic and physical myths are for poets.) Material myths concern the archetypes of the Gods such as Apollo as the Sun (however the Gods are never archetypes). Mixed myths, the most common, aim at unifying the humans with the Cosmos and the Gods.

In contrast, people raised in industrial societies of the modern age have different ideas. They have many problematic assumptions of myths in general. For example, traditional myths today are regarded as stories to entertain. In contrast, history, which supposes what did happen, is the truth. Actually, history is selective in remembering certain events and deliberately forgetting others. In the minds of modern people, myths and histories have become fused to create a particular vision of reality. One example of this is the myth of progress, which is regarded by many people to be fact.

Moreover, time and memory are regarded differently. The Ancient Greeks viewed time as a block – past is future and future is past. Therefore, divination is prescience since it dips into the time stream. Modern people, in contrast, see time as an upward arrow – past is past, and future is future. Oral tradition is faulty, whereas the written word is true. The Greeks believed that the written word was suspect since the writer could change the myth. For them, oral tradition what was faithful to the truth.

Read a version here: https://hermetic.com/texts/on_the_gods-1

A Modern Interpretation of the Lilith Myth

The Astrologist Tom Jacobs in his book, “Lilith: Healing the Wild” explores how a modern person can respond to the Lilith myth. (Note 1.) The title of book implies that Lilith represents that part of modern people which needs to be healed. By accepting Lilith back into their lives, they can experience their wildness more fully. Jacob’s goal in writing his book is to “transmute anger into proactive, constructive, activity to become willing to introduce the natural, wild, feminine into our daily lives.”

The story of Lilith is briefly as follows. God creates Adam and Lilith to keep each other company. Later Adam decides that Lilith should be subordinate to him. She refuses, and tells him that they are equals. However, neither of the two will relent in their stated positions. Frustrated, Lilith pronounces the Name of God, and flies off to the Red Sea beyond God’s domain. (Note 2.)

Enraged Adam tells God that Lilith has run off. God sends three angels to bring her back to Eden. When they find her, the angels tell Lilith that she must return or else. If she does not, each day, one hundred of her children will die. (Note 3.)

Shocked, Lilith tells the angels that God has appointed her to watch over children. Neither God nor Lilith will budge in their demands. Seeking revenge, Lilith tells the angels that she will kill Adam’s children and exploit men. Finally, the angels agree that any child who is wearing a talisman will not be killed by Lilith. Meanwhile, she becomes a demon who kills babies.

Jacobs breaks the myth into points to ponder for a modern person:

  1. Asserting equality. Lilith tells Adam that they are equal, since she has the right to exist just as she is.
  2. Meeting attempts to dominate. Lilith remains steadfast against Adam. She acknowledges the reality that she faces with Adam’s attempts to change her.
  3. Flight. Lilith uses her power to leave by pronouncing God’s Name. She goes beyond God’s jurisdiction into the unknown. For Lilith, leaving is an act of health.
  4. Separation. By leaving the only the home that she has ever known, Lilith becomes traumatized. (Jacobs says that this part of the myth is rarely explained.)
  5. Rage. Lilith feels betrayed by God for forcing her to choose between returning or having her children be killed. She meets God’s violence with her own.

Jacobs decided resolve Lilith’s rage and restore her to wholeness. He continues the original myth from the “rage” point. By rewriting the original myth, Jacobs encourages modern people to accept their “natural wildness.”

  1. Grieving and mourning. The loss of her home and her children bring unimaginable grief to Lilith. Coupled with the pain of God’s betrayal, her process of mourning is overwhelming.
  2. Accepting responsibility. Lilith has to take responsibility for her part of what occurred. She chose to kill children. If Lilith does not accept responsibility, she will remain disempowered.
  3. Recommitting to what is important. Lilith needs to be clear to what is truly important to her.
    Using compassion, she allows her wildness to flourish constructively.

I present Jacobs’ ideas as how modern people approach a difficult myth. Rewriting is one way of delving into the myth. It does allow the person into the mythic landscape. However, myths in general tend to be rewritten to reflect modern sensibilities. This is why Jacobs felt the need to continue the Lilith myth to a satisfying end for his readers.

Notes:
Note 1. Jacobs believes that he channeled a being who is said to be a child of Lilith.
Note 2. A version can be found here. Lilith – History, Stories & Interpretations of The First Woman | Mythology.net https://mythology.net/demons/lilith/
Note 3. These are the children that she had with the beings who lived around the Red Sea.

Resources:
Lady Haight Ashton, “Pagan Portals: The First Sisters: Lilith and Eve.”
Tom Jacobs, “Lilith: Healing the Wild.”

Revising Myths: Beginning Thoughts

Many ancient myths are viewed through the lens of modern sensibilities. Because most people regard myths as a tool of social instruction, they consider the old myths to be outdated. Greek myths are deconstructed to show how Hera was deposed by Zeus or Proserpina by Hades. Then, these myths are rewritten with the female Gods restored to their “rightful places.” (The underlying religious philosophy of an old myth is usually ignored or misinterpreted.)

I put “rightful places” in scare quotes since the people revising the Greek myths believe that the Patriarchy overthrew the Matriarchy. For example, the Jewish myth of Lilith, they say, is really about enforcing the Patriarchy at the expense of women. This myth supposedly shows the stages of the disempowerment of women by men. The Goddess was defeated when Lilith choose to become a demon instead of returning to Adam. The Goddess followers seek to redress those wrongs. In their retelling of this myth, Lilith reclaims her power. Now not only is the former Matriarchy reasserted, but the existing Patriarchy is overthrown.

Because Western culture is monophasic, the concept of a myth creating a new reality is alien to many. Monophasic perception regards reality to be only waking thought. Furthermore, rational thought demands that everything has to make sense. “Trust the science” is the motto of monophasic cultures.

Meanwhile in polyphasic cultures, people access new perceptions through dreams, imagination, meditation, and trance. Because these forms act as portals to other worlds and dimensions, they fill in the gaps of the waking experience. In polyphasic cultures, “Dreamtime” can be world building.

Myths can be considered world building as well, for they connect directly with the sacred. In a myth, the creation between the conscious and the unconscious takes on a new creative energy. This becomes a new cosmos. However, the temporal relationship between the mythic and human worlds is complex. Mythic time runs differently than does human time and can fracture human reality. In fact, a person can move in and out of various realities without knowing it.

Therefore, the modern revisions of myths do create new worlds. By doing so, they have changed the axis mundi of the original myths, and reordered previously held perceptions. The axes are flipped with the vertical now the human world and the horizontal the Goddess (or Gods). This reorientation of sacred space requires further consideration, since it changes the values attached to different spaces. (Such as what are mountains now in the mythic landscape?) Moreover, the relations between the macro and microcosmos has shifted.

Prayer Beads: Shapshu and Yarikh of Canaan

Materials:

Charms:
Sun and moon: 1
Hamsa: 1

Beads:
Clear Quartz: 3 beads
Light Jade: 4 beads
Dark Jade: 4 beads

Pattern:

Sun and moon charm
Clear quartz
Light Jade (3 beads)
Clear Quartz
Dark Jade (3 beads)
Clear Quartz
Light Jade
Dark Jade
Hamsa

Prayers:

Sun and Moon:
Bring peace and well-being, O ‘Ilu and the Gracious Gods

Clear Quartz:
Bring peace and well-being, O Gracious Shapshu the Torch and Yarikh the Lamp

Light Jade:
Bring peace and well-being, Yarikh Lord of the Sickle

Dark Jade:
Bring peace and well-being Shapshu, the Burner of Illness

Hamsa:
Bring peace and well-being by your loving kindness, O Gracious Gods.