I am what I suppose I would term an academic polytheist. By nature I really do not practice much, I am far more involved in my books than in the day-to-day rituals that a lot of pagans engage in. For me, it seems that this is my personal method to my practice and belief system. Academia has been my life for a long time, and I love the lifestyle of academia.
A definition (Oxford) of academic:
So there’s that. I definitely focus more on education and scholarship than I do on the actual, physical practice of my religion. I know that for quite a few people that would not work. And it is true that I know in some respects my relationships with the deities have suffered because of my academic-leaning tendencies. Still, I am comfortable with my choices. I know my shortcomings, and I am aware of how to work with them, which is something that I have to keep in mind.
The path of an academic is something I think that comes hand-in-hand with my personality and my mental abilities. It suits me better than just diving in headfirst. Careful research and constant academic study are how I work, my usual choice. I think also, my long-term interest in history and going for my history major in college and all the hours I spent doing research for that predisposed me to following a path that mirrored my college academic career.
Academic polytheism is a type of study-intensive practice focused on scholarship to learn the history of my pantheon and the practices of those who came before me. At least, that’s what it is for me. I am determined to learn as much as I can here, just as I would in any other discipline. Learning about the history of a pantheon with very little written about them in English is a challenge, which is partially why I am going to learn Russian, but it is also due to the fact that my family is Russian, and I feel the need to learn that language to really understand my family’s past. Scholarship is really only understandable if you can understand the sources. Since so few sources on Slavic paganism are published in English, or even in German, I need to broaden my understanding to gain a better understanding of other languages to ensure that I can learn more.
My downfall is definitely in physical practice, which has always been something of a disadvantage for me. Academics is something of a comfort for me. I know what to do and how to act in academics. If I know what to do, I am more comfortable to explore more, and it makes me more able to keep going.
I also know that academic routes are not the best for everyone.
I remember someone telling me once,
Those who can do, those who cannot, well they go into academics.
Which always struck me as hilarious. Some of the smartest and most capable people I know are in academics. One of my professors at my alma mater worked for Microsoft for years, extremely valuable to the company, before going back to come teach at my university as a history professor. He was the head of our History Department for three years, chosen by the department. And that’s just one example, off the top of my head. Academics isn’t for those who cannot actually do something. Some people just prefer the academic route. There are some people in all types of fields that cannot actually do things. Just like there are people in all fields that are brilliant.
My choice for academics spreads across my “mundane” life and my spiritual/witchcraft life. It suits me as a person. Academic paganism is a lot like how I like to live–deep in books, constantly mired in notes and writing out how those are interconnected. This is just how I spent the last 4 years in college, and it just seems natural to go about my spiritual/religious life in the same way. The academic style is my personal choice.
I suppose it just boils down to who the individual is. They will end up working how they want to. For me, academics is the path that works for me.∗