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The new issue of Walking the Worlds has the theme “Text and Tradition”, and I was pleased to contribute a major new essay, “The Gods and Brahman”. Here’s the abstract:

The role of the concept of bráhman in Indian theology and philosophy is frequently adduced as a reason why Hinduism should not be regarded as polytheistic. The present essay attempts through an analysis of Vedic and Upaniṣadic texts to arrive at an understanding of the relationship, or, better, the diverse relational possibilities existing between the Gods (Deva-s) and bráhman. Crucial to understanding this relationship is grasping that polytheism is not reducible to a static division of a whole into parts, but rather exhibits a polycentric structure, in which the ultimacy of Gods, or even of a principle such as bráhman, is understood practically to be essentially reciprocal. In this light, discourse about bráhman is seen as part of an effort to articulate polytheism, not to transcend it. In particular, the essay argues that by appropriating for itself the functional or essentialist dimension of the Gods and the transactional dimension of the relationship between humans and the Gods, bráhman stimulates the recognition of the unique, existential personhood of the God as object of bhakti.

My thanks to all the other contributors, to my fellow editors, and as always to Sara Kate Istra Winter of Winged Words Design for her superb design work on the journal.

Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) is available in single issues and subscriptions from here. Please consider asking your library to take out a subscription; in addition to the journal’s homepage, you can refer to the journal’s WorldCat entry for necessary information.

 

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I was pleased and honored to give the following paper as part of the panel “Reconsidering the Origins of Bhakti” at the 15th annual conference of the Dharma Academy of North America (DANAM), held in conjunction with the 2017 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Religion (AAR) in Boston, MA. It represents a revised version of the paper of the same name given at the SAGP/SSIPS conference in 2015. I wish to thank DANAM and the organizers of the session, as well as my fellow panelists and the attendees.

Bhakti and Henadology (DANAM)

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This new Bibliotheca Alexandrina devotional volume includes an essay of mine, “Aphrodite and Theology” (pp. 94-110). You can see a table of contents for the volume here, order the volume from this page, or from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. My thanks to the editor, Rebecca Buchanan, who also writes fiction, and in addition to her never-ending editorial duties on behalf of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, is also the editor of Eternal Haunted Summer.

Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus, ed. Rebecca Buchanan (Asheville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2017).

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The new issue of Walking the Worlds is out. In this issue I have a 2,000 word review essay on H. Jeremiah Lewis’ Hunting Wisdom: A Bacchic Orphic Diviner’s Manual. I recommend the book highly, and discuss general issues concerning divination provoked by reflection upon it. Steven Dillon‘s article in this issue, “From the Gods to Divination,” also makes reference to my work in intriguing fashion for a deduction of the validity of divination.

The theme for the next issue is “Text and Tradition”; the deadline is Nov. 1st. I hope that some of you will consider submitting something for it. Writer’s guidelines are here.

Walking the Worlds: A Biannual Journal of Polytheism and Spiritwork (ISSN 2474-3135) is available by subscription or as single issues.

I recently transferred all of the entries from my old LiveJournal to a Dreamwidth page, Endymion’s Bower. As I did with the LJ, I intend to use this as a space for occasional longer pieces of writing for which I don’t have any more formal use at the moment, but which I’d like to make available immediately rather than waiting until some such use comes along. Hence this text, a pendant of sorts to my recent article on Plotinus (“Plotinian Henadology,” Kronos Philosophical Journal Vol. V, 2016, pp. 143-159):

More on Polycentricity in Plotinus

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In honor of the 50th anniversary of the awarding of the Temple of Dendur to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, I’m adding to this site a complete guide to the deities depicted on the temple, allowing a visitor to easily look up who is depicted in any of the surviving scenes and read the inscriptions. I created this guide for my personal use some time ago. To my knowledge, no other exists, though the information is readily available from A. M. Blackman’s The Temple of Dendûr (Cairo: IFAO, 1911), while the inscriptions are available in transliterated form and French translation here.

The Temple of Dendur: A Guide to its Goddesses and Gods

 

Ἑστία ἐστι

April 5, 2017

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This new devotional volume dedicated to Hestia includes an essay of mine, Ἑστία ἐστι (“Hestia is”). You can see a table of contents for the volume here, and order it from this page, as well as from Amazon or Barnes & Noble. My thanks to the editor, Terence P. Ward, as well as to Rebecca Buchanan, editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina, for all their work, and to the other contributors for the works whose pages I share in celebration of the great Goddess Hestia.

First and Last: A Devotional for Hestia, ed. Terence P. Ward (Asheville, NC: Bibliotheca Alexandrina, 2017).

My friend and colleague Galina Krasskova did an interview with me recently for her blog, Gangleri’s Grove. While you’re there, be sure to take a look at all the other things she’s up to; I don’t know of anybody who does as much for the polytheist movement in so many ways as Galina does. She’s a continuing inspiration to me.

Polytheistic Voices: Interview with Dr. Edward Butler

 

I am very pleased to announce the publication of a major new article of mine in the latest issue (Vol. V) of Kronos Philosophical Journal. The entire issue can be downloaded from the page I have linked, or you can access my article as an individual PDF below, as well as from the Philosophy page of this site. I wish to thank the editors of Kronos, especially Andrzej Serafin, and all the journal’s staff for this opportunity and for all the hard work they put into this outstanding publication.

“Plotinian Henadology,” Kronos Philosophical Journal, Vol. V (2016), pp. 143-159.

Here’s an abstract:

Plotinus’ famous treatise against the Gnostics (33), together with contemporary and thematically related treatises on Intelligible Beauty (31), on Number (34), and on Free Will and the Will of the One (39), can be seen as providing the essential components of a Plotinian defense of polytheism against conceptual moves that, while associated for him primarily with Gnostic sectarians overlapping with Platonic philosophical circles, will become typical of monotheism in its era of hegemony. When Plotinus’ Gnostics ‘contract’ divinity into a single God, they not only devalue the cosmos for its multiplicity and diversity, but also multiply intelligible principles unreasonably. This is because they have foreclosed the distinction, which is to become increasingly explicit in the later antique Platonists, between the intelligible and that which is given existentially, the domain belonging to Plotinus’ indeterminate multiplicity of ‘intelligible Gods’, as opposed to the dialectically determinate number of intelligible principles. Plotinus is prescient in recognizing that incipient monotheism threatens to erase the distinction between philosophy and theology, and between both of these and psychology, the final outcome of which can only be solipsism or nihilism. The defense of polytheism is seen in this fashion to be essential to the preservation of the space for philosophical discourse.

 

This talk, which I gave at the American Academy of Religion annual meeting in Philadelphia in 2005, has long been available in my essay collection, Essays on a Polytheistic Philosophy of Religion. However, now that it has been translated and appears on the web in Portuguese at Hellenismo.net, it occurred to me that I should post it here in a stand-alone form.

Neoplatonism and Polytheism