I commented recently to a friend that, considering what passed for ‘polite, respectful discourse’ with some militant atheists we were acquainted with, I’d rather deal with polytheist pagan cray any day over atheist cray.
I think my opinion on this matter may have changed.
So, yea… Blogosphere fap is happening regarding the inclusion of popular cultural icons into spiritual practice and cosmology and the… ‘veracity’ of such work.
Now there are a lot of angles I’ve considered addressing this issue from in my rebuttal, like the fact that the way this issue has been approached by pretty much everyone who opposes it is very offensive and I’m still boggled that for a religious minority that commonly faces so much persecution and discrimination, so many of its member still seem able to perpetrate the same kind of disrespect they face from the wider religious culture upon other members they disagree with. Or the fact that no one has once thought to bring up the practices and experiments of Chaos Magick, even though they would be very pertinent here. Or just the simple fact that within mystic polytheistic paganism experiences are going to vary widely by their very nature and instead of inflaming internet Fapageddon with ‘yur doin it rong!’ Posts why aren’t we doing more to foster an accepting culture that values critical thinking and plurality of experiences with a ‘live and let live’ attitude.
However, instead I think I’ll focus on the accusations that these contemporary, popular culture inspired figures are not Real(TM) Gods. To which I have only one reply:
Santoshi Mata or Santoshi Maa is a relatively new goddess in the Hindu pantheon. She is venerated as “the Mother of Satisfaction”, the meaning of her name.
Santoshi Mata emerged as the goddess in the early 1960s. Her cult initially spread through word of mouth, vrata-pamphlet literature, and poster art. However, it was the 1975 Bollywood film Jai Santoshi Maa (“Hail to Santoshi Maa”)—narrating the story of the goddess and her ardent devotee Satyavati—which propelled this then little-known “new” goddess to the heights of devotional fervour. With the rising popularity of the film, Santoshi Mata entered the pan-Indian Hindu pantheon and her images and shrines were incorporated in Hindu temples. – Wikipedia
Lookit that… a (practically) brand spakin’ new Goddess, with actual followers and everything, who’s primary entry point is a Bollywood film.
Hmm… I wonder who that reminds me of…
Bottom line, if you don’t like new or popular culture icons in your religion, don’t put them there. If you do, do what feels right. And about the concern that people don’t care if they’re interacting with another being or a ‘sock puppet’, I don’t honestly think that’s an issue. Anyone who seriously enters spirit work on some level has a “Holy shit am I going crazy?!?” period which ensures that there is indeed a desire for discernment which should assuage any concerns.
Live and let live, that is all.