Natural Theology: Polytheism Beyond the Pale » No Unsacred Place


In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I explore in more detail what it means to take an ecological approach to polytheism through the concept of “natural theology,” and the kinds of tough questions that this kind of inquiry might challenge us to ask:

Ecology does not reject the hard sciences that came before it, but brings together and expands upon them. In this same way, natural polytheism draws on an ecological approach to theology to build upon the insights of hard polytheism, challenging us to deepen our relationships with the gods by asking more challenging questions about their relationships with us, with each other and with the natural world. Natural polytheism does not reject hard polytheism any more than natural history excludes hard sciences like biology, geology or chemistry by embracing ecology. But it does draw connections and invite us to think about the world holistically, as systems nested within systems, wholes nested within wholes. An ecological perspective can deepen our scientific understanding of the world by moving us beyond the questions “What is it?” and “How does it work?” to the more challenging questions, “How come?” and “What for?”

In the same way, natural polytheism isn’t content merely to name the gods and identify their associations, symbols and spheres of influence. It challenges us to ask: How did the gods come to be the way they are? How do the gods relate to each other, within cultures and across cultural boundaries? What is the cultural, physical or spiritual reason why this particular deity manifests in this way but not that way, embodies these associations or symbols but not those?

Can you be both a hard polytheist and a natural polytheist? How does natural theology provoke our curiosity about our relationship with the gods and deepen our understanding of their place in our lives? Why do the “tough questions” even matter?

You can read the full article here.

Alison Leigh Lilly
Alison Leigh Lilly nurtures the earth-rooted, sea-soaked, mist-and-mystic spiritual heritage of her Celtic ancestors, exploring themes of peace, poesis and wilderness through essays, articles, poetry and podcasting. You can learn more about her work here.