Pop pantheons! (from HerSpeak)

Of possible interest to at least a few of you: here’s an intelligent and insightful discussion of pop pantheons from HerSpeak (Molly Roberts) on YouTube. Although my own approach is more polytheistic and less strictly magick-oriented, it’s no secret that I see certain pop culture figures/characters as faces the gods can and do wear for Their own purposes. I especially love the points Molly makes here about cultural appropriation (is petitioning Ganesh for road opening magick really more appropriate than turning to Glinda if you’re not Hindu?) and the fact that even our most ancient and respected mythologies were new at one point.

Also, bonus points for mentioning American Gods by Neil Gaiman. (It’s even more ironic now than ever that this was the book that drew me to Odin in the first place.) A thinky thought of my own related to this: if you were one of the ancient gods and your temples lay in ruins, your rituals and lore were all but forgotten, and another religion had stolen your worshipers, would you not use all of the tools at your disposal to claim the hearts of new devotees? Reconstructionism is certainly one such tool, but we don’t live in the same world that existed 1,000 or 2,000 years ago. As a deity willing to grow and change with the times (as many–including Odin–are), wouldn’t pop culture masks be a tool worth exploring?


13 thoughts on “Pop pantheons! (from HerSpeak)

  1. I actually need to watch this video once my mother leaves on Sunday, but I love your thoughts on this subject! My husband and I have our own pantheon of gods and beings that belong to books my husband has yet to write which I feel is its own mark off of a pop pantheon, so I love to hear other peoples thoughts on stuff like this. 🙂 really well done.

  2. As someone who has experienced weird blurring between pop culture and traditional Hinduism and considers mythology to be really old pop culture, I really, really loved this video. It’s funny you posted this, since I’ve been on a major spree of pop culture magick & pop culture paganism-related stuff this week.

    • That’s how I’m beginning to see traditional pagan mythology–as really old pop culture. It’s pop culture with a lot of power behind it, from all those centuries of active worship, sacrifices and offerings etc. On the other hand, it’s starting to fade (in most cases, anyhow) due to centuries of Christianity (a newer pop culture mythos) that removed it from the forefront of the cultural mindset. On the other hand, our contemporary pop culture figures and mythologies don’t have that rich past behind them–but they DO have lots of active attention from many millions more people than are practicing any of the traditional pagan religions. I think it stands to reason that the gods would want to plug into that kind of power.

      • Exactly. I’m not sure if traditional mythology fades and gets replaced, or if it just gets transformed – I think the way we relate to and see the Gods was never meant to be static, because the Gods themselves aren’t static. My personal portrait of Durga, which I had commissioned by a very nerdy digital artist a year ago, is a completely pop culture/comic book/fantasy art-inspired picture of Durga and that was before I realized that pop culture paganism was an actual thing. I also have a pop culture-inspired portrait of Saraswati playing her veena, and something inspired me to put sunglasses on her, and when I did that I suddenly realized that the Saraswati I had been getting glimpses and *feels* about in my writing was fully formed and looking back at me with a mischievous smile.

        I would love to see pop culture magick explored from a more devotional perspective though. Everything that is being written about it is more like a chaos magick/”these are tools” kind of thinking, but I think most of us would feel more at home with a devotional polytheist viewpoint about pop culture spirits. (There’s an idea for your next book!)

  3. I see my pop culture practices as a somewhat specific subset of animism, these days. I just focus on spirits of story, as a rule.

  4. I have so many feeeeeeelz about this and I just can’t sort them out. I hate hate hate HATE when people rag on Pop Culture Paganism, since objections invariably boil down to IT MAKES US LOOK BAAAAAD. And I’m just like…Seriously? Way to throw people under the bus.

    At the same time, Pop culture paganism itself makes me very uncomfortable….but not in an “ick” way. It’s like it punches some sort of button deep within my head that tells me to PAY ATTENTION, because something very important is happening.

    • YES. People rag on it because it threatens to shake up the status quo–but frankly, the drive to protect the status quo is not what drew most of us to paganism. Also, it’s delusory to think that THIS makes us look bad to outsiders, and things like godspousery don’t. Believe me, most outsiders don’t have separate categories of crazy for pagans and polytheists; we’re all either nuts or damned anyway, depending on their level of religious tolerance or lack thereof.

  5. I actually pointed at my laptop and yelled “YES, THAT’S IT!” while the video was playing. This *is* how I understand my God, through a lens of pop culture symbolism–and since he’s a shapeshifter, he’ll sometime appear to me looking like a character that reminds me of him.

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