Gods and Politics

People everywhere are becoming more and more politicized – for better and for worse – so naturally, we’re going to see this trend manifest in our communities. So should it surprise anyone that polytheists are becoming more and more political? No. Is it a recent development, though?

Hell no.

To claim that politics has no place (and has never had any place) in polytheism is just outright ahistorical. And depending on which God or spirit you ask, the assumption that They have no stake in our societal affairs could even be downright offensive.

The old Mesoamerican religious traditions had many Gods, a number of whom concern Themselves with a single clan, tribe, or lineage to the detriment of all others. An entire third of the Popol Vuh, for example, is dedicated to the story of the K’iche people receiving their Gods, and the subsequent wars and politics that ensued at Their behest. The Gods were very concerned with the manner in which Tenochtitlan was founded, the capital city of the Mexica people, and now the capital city of Mexico. It was the Gods who inspired the Caste War of the Yucatan, prompting the Cruzob to revolt against the colonizers to establish an autonomous state. Several decades later, the Zapatistas took up a similar fight, and continue to do so. In some ways it can be argued that the ITS have been moved by the spirits that their ancestors honored and fed, and it is that relationship that inspires their war against techno-industrial civilization. (Rock of Eye has an amazing post that touches on this re: Lwa and slavery for a few paragraphs.)

And this is just the past thousand years in one region of the world – that’s not even mentioning all the civilizations that have ever been founded on the presupposition of God-kings!

Suffice to say, politics is every time a group of people gather together as a community and have to come to an agreement about shared resources, divisions of labor, and/or organizing time and priorities. Politics is every time we take to the keyboard and pontificate on what someone else ought to be doingAnd you can bet your ass that at least some of the Gods care about how these relationships and moments turn out.

The Twins don’t give a damn about most things (more on that later), but the Old Man does care about how proximal I am to the fields that grow my food, and whether I’m in a place where I can make an appropriate sacrifice in repayment. He cares that His hurricanes and monsoons will claim more lives every year in some areas, and leave others barren. Santa Muerte cares deeply about the disenfranchised, the at-risk, and the socially dispossessed. You can find Her in every black market, every brothel, and down the barrel of every loaded gun. The Abuela (Gerda, maybe?) cares that Her children are going extinct, that Her ecosystems are collapsing, and that we might live to see wet bulb conditions appear in our lifetimes.

And what are all of these things than the by-product of some politic or another?

If our worship and religions have no place to talk about these things on a collective level, then our worship is as irrelevant as fiction.

And that ain’t my polytheism.

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