Earlier today, I wrote a bit about the Delphic Maxim blogging going on, started by Star Foster, and I decided to wade into the pool a little bit. I have a list of about 30 that I will probably follow along and blog with (though I’ve combined a number of them, so it will be less posts than that).
This is my post on two of the first three Delphic Maxims are (in translation) “Follow God” (Επου θεω) and “Worship the Gods” (Θεους σεβου).
Now, I don’t speak Greek, much-less read ancient Greek, but I do know that there was what is today known as “hard polytheism” was not universal then. Sure, it was the predominant theological idea of the time, just as monotheist is the predominant theological idea today, but just as today, not everyone held bought into it. I also know that neither Επου or θεω is the word for “God”, which (according to what I know of etymology) I would think should be θεός, the plural of which is Θεους (as we see in the second maxim).
So, my totally non-ancient Greek scholar self is idly thinking that there might be some nuances of translation going on here that don’t come out well in English. I might add that Google translates the word Επου as “epic” in modern Greek, and the word θεω as “considering”–granted words change in meaning over time, but I find “epic considering” to be more interesting to contemplate. And that works out really well for my theologically theopanist, functionally soft-polytheistic self. Even if I’m wrong over what a bunch of dead guys meant, I like it.
In Thalassa’s world, not only is it always more fun if you refer to yourself in the third person, but “Follow God” and “Worship the Gods” are flip sides of the same coin. If “god” really does mean something nuanced beyond “individual deity” in its use, then what does it mean? For me, as a theopanist (its a term I’m trying on for size, I like the inclusiveness and non-specificity), it echoes the idea of a greater Divine of which the gods are as much a part of as we are. Follow god, follow what is Divine, follow Sacredness…worship the gods.
Which takes us to another often loaded idea among Pagans, the w-word. Worship. Worship is often a contentious idea–I’ve been a member, a moderator, and an admin and one of the owners of Pagan Forum over the course of about 6 years now, where I’ve encountered all sorts of Pagans from all sorts of traditions–the members may come and go, but one recurring theme that has cropped up many a time in my tenure there, is that a number of people don’t like the idea of worshiping the gods. Some choose to “revere” them, others to “respect” them, to “work with” them, to show “devotion” to them, etc. For me, worship encompasses all of those ideas (and more).
As a theopanist*, you might wonder why I would bother worshiping gods, plural. That would be where the functionally soft polytheistic bit comes into play. If it comes down to thinking about it, I’m a bit skeptical as to the actual existence of multiple literal entities getting their eternal rocks off on hanging out with humanity. But, I find the idea of gods, as a construct, an archetype, a symbol, a force, an anthropomorphic projection of cosmic and earthly phenomenon, to be both incredibly powerful and damned pragmatic. Worship, whether it be of ideas representing eternal concepts and forces, or of actual entities, is another way to connect myself to the natural world and to the human experience in an increasingly disconnected society.
And so, I worship the gods, and in doing so, I follow God–the epic Divine.
*a fancy way of saying I’m undecided as to whether or not I’m a pantheist or a panentheist or something yet to be determined that recognizes some sort of Universal Divinity, which I don’t care to try to define, being but a mere mortal (see Delphic Maxim #11, “Think like a mortal”)