Open Forum Discussion

Well this is heartening to read over. 🙂

I admit, I didn’t read every single word, but I’ve been a touch concerned about what I was seeing back and forth about the “Devotional” and “Immersive” Polytheism.

I still find myself wanting – hoping even – to see these proposed categories defined each in their own right. Thus far I have only seen them each defined in opposition to another position, and that makes it harder for me to engage with them without feeling obliged to engage in the associated conflicts.


About EmberVoices

Ember Cooke has been a member of Hrafnar and Seidhjallr for more than a decade, where she trained to be a Seidhkona, Galdrakona, and Gythia. She founded the Vanic Conspiracy and made ordination vows to the Vanir and her congregation in the summer of 2013. She has contributed to several publications on Heathen and Northern Pagan subjects and regularly presents rituals and workshops at festivals. Her personal practice is more diverse, as the Vanir have lead her into cross-training and service for the wider Pagan community. This has including medium and servitor training in American Umbanda, clergy training with the Fellowship of the Spiral Path, and jail ministry for local counties. She holds a BA with honors in Religious Studies from Santa Clara University. Ember has lived all her life in the south San Francisco Bay Area, and is intimately bound to the valley of her birth.
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2 Responses to Open Forum Discussion

  1. For my own mileage, Devotional implies setting aside specific time and acts for the Gods, and Immersive is about creating mindfulness while engaging in everyday living. I don’t think that these things need to be considered in opposition to one another at all – I do a mixture of both. But I also have no issues with either term – as I said in my own video, so long as people are engaging with the Gods, I’m happy. Immersive polytheism is a little like kitchen witchery because it acknowledges that there is magic in ‘mundane’ living. Devotional also carries a connotation for some that implies that the individual is in a very personal, focused relationship with a deity or deities. Neither approach is right or wrong; I think the Gods value full time dedicants, but They also cherish the time that someone who only has 15 or 20 minutes in a day to sit and meditate or pray, because our mortal lives are short, and if they work full time, and have a family, that really may be *all* the time that they can offer to Them. But that small amount of time is also where the immersion approach grew from. Why can’t someone meditate on Hera or their Disir while they’re sweeping the kitchen? However, household activities are not the only thing that an immersion approach implies – I know a Freyjaswoman who takes care of special-needs cats, and that’s both a devotional activity, and it’s an immersive one as well. I hope that helps to clarify?

    And for that matter, on my end, I’m far more interested in Revivalism’s emphasis on social justice issues and training for clergy – over and over I see lots of people who have wonderful subject area knowledge, but who don’t know how to break down concepts for newcomers, or they don’t know how to engage in conflict resolution, or how to keep people on task. Developing solutions to give leaders better skills, and ideally to start building a framework for services like retirement (where is retirement community for spirit workers who don’t have a family to fall back on??), etc – these are long-term goals, and they are important to the sustainability of our faith. And this goes back to Revivalism’s other main concept, which is that polytheism should be a religion that functions in the modern day, even as it acknowledges its ancient roots.


    • EmberVoices says:

      In their own right, they’ve all sounded useful to me. The idea that one should pick one or another approach instead of including them all in the toolbox of faith kind of baffles me. But what I’m seeing is that they’re treated like budding denominations, or such. I’m seeing “Why I don’t call myself X and instead call myself Y”, mostly.

      All *I’m* looking for is how to describe my practice succinctly in ways that others will understand what I’m saying, and those of like minds will know we’re on similar paths.

      I had, until now, just explained the manner of my polytheistic belief as “Hard”, in the sense of being concrete rather than abstract. I still do, but I had understood Devotional to be intended as an alternative to “hard” because some folks felt there were other connotations to “hard” vs. “soft” that went in a totally different direction than the usual “concrete” vs. “abstract” usage when describing belief systems.

      And now it seems to be going in another direction entirely. I’m glad we’re discussing it. I’m glad more options for self-description are arising. I’m glad polytheists are thinking about the world outside their most immediate personal practices. But I’m very frustrated with some of what I’m seeing happening as the process goes by.

      I guess it’s just growing pains, though. I’m trying not to lose track of it all, without getting sucked into too much of the interpersonal politics involved.



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