How Hard is Your Polytheism?

Over the last however-many years, I’ve observed the terms “hard” and “soft” polytheism becoming less and less useful, both in the larger community and personally. Getting to know the Egyptian deities was a real paradigm-changer for me in that area and while I do still consider myself a mostly-hard, primarily-hard, relatively-hard polytheist, it’s a matter of degree.

On a tangentially-related note, like a lot of kids, I grew up with rocks. Rocks in the field, rocks on the beach. From an early age I collected them, brought them home, played with them, seeing which rocks I could write with and which rocks were best to be written on.

Which brings me, in a round-about way, to my first point. The Mohs scale is a very old and very traditional way of determining and measuring the hardness of minerals. (The ancient Greeks and Romans knew it, although they did not call it by that name.) Basically it involves putting two minerals together and seeing which will scratch which–that which is scratchable being the softer of the two. The Mohs scale ranges from 1 to 10, ten being the hardest; a diamond has a Mohs score of 10 while talc has a score of 1. To put it another way, you can scratch talc with your fingernails, while a diamond can scratch almost anything else in your jewelry box because it is the hardest stone in there.

Speaking of stone and stones, I sometimes find myself in old cemeteries. These days most grave markers are made from granite, but a long time ago they were more typically made from marble. Well, marble may be prettier but granite is harder. Old marble tombstones are often weathered and worn, the text is difficult to read, the corners are rounded by the many years of rain and wind.

The point is, some rocks and minerals are harder than others, and the same can be said of our polytheisms.

I am not a diamond-hard polytheist, nor am I easily crumbled between two fingers. Sometimes I might be a bit like granite, other times I am more easily weathered by the encounters I have had.

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