An old topic, but one I feel like revisiting in the light of my own experiences. How many of you feel like one or other of these?
Like most of us (I think) I was raised in a monotheist or atheist culture (and I mean that the messages I was given were one or the other, not usually both from the same person).
Having come to some sense of communion with God as known to the Jews, and also some sense of communion with nature, I came to OBOD and found it quite easy to hypothesize that 'God' or 'Great Spirit' is in everything and everything is God: which is a kind of pantheism.
But then one is confronted with the notion of individual gods and goddesses such as Lugh, Brigid and Ceridwen. Not to mention the ideas of tree spirits, or faeries, or, indeed, ghosts. So how do these fit with a pantheistic perspective? Intellectually, it is quite easy to say that spirit is in everything, they all arise from the same Source. But while this is adequate for beings who aren't claiming to be Gods, how exactly does one deal with being confronted with a very specific God(dess) who one experiences as totally different from any other?
Some would then invoke Jung's idea of archetypes. According to this, we have a collective unconscious, and our personality is in some sense made from a collection of inner personas that exist in this collective unconscious. The inner personas are called archetypes, as I'm sure you all know, and some will equate Gods and Goddesses with particular archetypes. They are then equated with pieces of the collective self, which of course if spirit is in all, are certainly "of Spirit". The evidence of a degree of similarity between the gods of different cultures and of common mythological themes appears to support the theory. But the question then becomes what exactly is a "collective unconscious"? There seem to be two answers to this that I can think of. One is that we inherit personality facets, and these facets, the building blocks of all our personalities are in fact the archetypes. The other is that it isn't within us individually at all, but is actually shared: in other words, we are having common perceptions of something outside ourselves in some sense rather than perceiving a similar inherited part of ourselves.
It is, I suspect, pretty impossible to discern by objective experiment which of these two might be correct. Which in fact leaves room for one to believe in the objective reality in some sense of many Gods (which is being a "hard polytheist").
It still seems like a bit of an act of faith to opt one way or the other, but I happen to find that the gods and goddesses that I perceive are rather more complex than an equation of them with pure archetypes would allow. This slants me more towards polytheism.
So what do you all think on this?