Satire, Suffering and the Pantheist’s Dilemma » No Unsacred Place


In my latest post over on No Unsacred Place, I explore the meaning of pantheistic faith in the face of the “hour of adversity” and the role that satire and deep play have in helping us through times of spiritual crisis and community strife:

Strict pantheism is, I think, a difficult outlook to maintain. You find only a few people — even among Pagans — who are truly and purely pantheistic. Polytheism has its multiple gods, goddesses, elementals and other spirits, inhabiting a sacred natural world but also maintaining distinct personalities within it. For polytheists, a local river god, no matter how closely identified with the river, is not just the river, but conceived as “something more,” as possessing some quality of character or personality, some human-like attributes with which we, as human beings, can communicate and interact. Certain monotheistic religions go to the other extreme, conceiving of deity in purely transcendent terms, inherently separate from the “created” world. Usually modern critiques of each of these belief systems focus on the extent to which they deny or imbue sacredness in the natural world. Examples from past cultures show us that polytheism can degenerate into petty bickering among fallible and narrowly anthropomorphized deities, whose capriciousness no longer points to the mysteries of a shifting natural environment but has become entirely self-referential and melodramatic. Likewise, religions based on transcendent conceptions of deity come to rely heavily on abstract revelation (often supposedly only available to religious or political leaders) rather than personal experience of a sacred world, and even the extreme view that nature is inherently “evil” or degraded and must be rejected and escaped.

So how does pantheism cope with the “hour of adversity” and the inescapable reality of physical death? What can the bardic tradition of satire in Celtic mythology and folklore tell us about how we can confront a loss of faith in our spiritual lives as well as in our political leadership?

You can read the full article here.


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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.