Archetypal Polytheism 

The Romantic Tradition

October 27, 2015 / by Todd


Numerous writers have located the roots of modern Paganism and the revival of ancient pantheons in the literary and artistic movement known as Romanticism.  Relevant themes in the movement included the masterless personal soul, a heightened regard for Nature, and interest in supernatural themes, including both magic and Pagan religion.

Goethe confided to his diary that “the beautiful gods continue to visit me.”  Goethe had no literal belief in them, rather he viewed them as symbols for his own deepest experiences…He sometimes wrote as a genuine polytheist, accepting the old deities as metaphor.

Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, pp. 21-22

Schiller’s target was not Christianity, but [the] new science, which in his opinion reduced an earth rich in poetry to a compound of chemicals.

Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, p. 22

For [Keats] the arts the natural world, and the classical deities were all closely interwoven.

Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, p. 24

I am glad that you do not neglect the rites of the true religion.  Your letter awoke my sleeping devotions, and the same evening I ascended alone the high mountain behind my house, and suspended a garland, and raised a small turf altar to the mountain-walking Pan.

Percy Bysshe Shelley, letter to Thomas Jefferson Hogg (1821)

Behind these divine forms, however, [Shelley]…sought, and defined, a “pervading Spirit”…suprapersonal and lacking any moral sense.

Ronald Hutton, Triumph of the Moon, p. 25


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