The third book I ordered for Magic 1 arrived yesterday! It’s called Practical Magic in the Northern Tradition by Nigel Pennick whom you may remember is the co-author of A History of Pagan Europe along with Prudence Jones. Having thoroughly enjoyed A History, I couldn’t wait to start it. Yay for reading three books simultaneously! I feel like I’m back in college. I haven’t progressed very far in Practical Magic, and a lot of it has been review, but I’m enjoying it all the same. I’ve even learned a few new things.
Pennick is what many would call a “soft polytheist.”* He makes a lot of generalizations about the similarities between cultures, which sometimes annoys me, but he also points out their unique differences as well. In the introduction he says “…what is important is the essence, not the form, and that while the corresponding deity of another culture may have a considerably different form, its essence is the same”(12). I must be honest, I have a love/hate relationship with soft polytheism. Some days it makes a bit of sense, while others it seems too simplistic given the remarkable diversity of the universe.** All the same, I have a lot of respect for Pennick as a writer and researcher and look forward to learning more from him!
*”All gods are one God, and all goddesses are one Goddess, and there is one Initiator.” – Dion Fortune.
** When it comes down to it, I’m more of an agnostic hard polytheist pantheist. My experiences, as well as the lore I am most drawn to, lead me to believe in many, individual beings. I have to be a bit agnostic because who really, really knows how the universe works? The pantheist bit comes from my belief that, even if there are multiple deities, there exists a ubiquitous, unifying energy. Based on my own experiences, observations, and studies, this energy is very powerful as far as creation and destruction go, but has no consciousness as we experience it. It’s just energy/chi/magic/the Force, and it moves through us and the Kindreds. My belief is that some beings have more access to and/or understanding of this force, hence the power of deities compared to us.