I’ve been practicing some form of Western Hindu polytheism since 2000-2001.(Mainly worship of Sri Ganapati.)

What I really wish there had been for me when I was starting out was a guidebook that oriented Westerners to the Hindu religions, with an emphasis on practice. Almost all that I found was informational (i.e., about the religion, not about how to practice it)…or written for Hindus using a great deal of terminology unfamiliar to the non-Hindu.

There were plenty of books on Tantra and yoga for Westerners. Often, uninformed and poorly written with an emphasis on the sex and magical end of things. (Though I will highly recommend Christopher Wallis’ “Tantra Illuminated” as a great book on Tantra. Well-researched and informative but gives only little in the way of practical application.)

I struggle with claiming the “Hindu” term for myself. I was not raised in the culture and it feels wrong for me to claim it. It echoes of cultural imperialism even if I’m well-intentioned.

There was one path available that was very open for white Hindus, ISKCON (Better known as the Hare Krishna movement.) I like the Hare Krishnas (though the organization has had their share of scandal and shitty behavior), but I’m not a Krishna-worshipper. I had no interest in giving up sex, onions, or garlic…but I love their vegetarian food and their emphasis on bhakti yoga.

Hindu temples were either unfriendly or inaccessible. I had no idea what to do or (importantly) what not to do. I did not want to offend the gods or the other HIndus. I kind of needed my hand held there and being (rightfully, considering how much Hindu culture has been exploited by the West) skeptical of outsiders..no one offered. It wasn’t their place to. This was not ‘my space’. I was an outsider.

There’s a great Kali temple (in a beat-up old strip mall!) not far from me that was very friendly when I visited. However, I don’t have a car. (I’m in a city with fairly good public transportation.)  If I lived closer or had a car, I would go there for worship. (Though I’m not particularly a devotee of Kali, they also have Sri Ganapati and repeat the Lalita Sahasranama (1000 Names of Lalita Devi) every Friday night.

Instead, for the longest time, I relied on Western sources. Mainly through the chaos magick writings of Phil Hine. I read through Mike Magee’s ShivaShakti.com (a vast resource of original Tantrik materials, though little context is given).

As I grew closer to Sri Ganapati, I wanted to learn more authentic Hindu practice. Thankfully, there were better resources on the Web than there had been when I started. Additionally, through research, I had picked up a basic Hindu religious vocabulary.

There is still a LOT I don’t know. Hinduism is thousands of years old and more complex than just about any other religion out there.

But, from a cultural standpoint, how would one go about creating an approach to the worship of Hindu deities..geared towards Western polytheists? I would want it to be respectful of the mother culture in which these gods come from. But I also don’t think that we must convert to Hinduism in order to worship Hindu deities.

Sri Ganesha is worshipped throughout Hinduism as well as in Tibetan Buddhism, even Japanese Shinto (Lakshmi and Saraswati are also worshipped in Shinto). Clearly these deities are not limited to traditional Hinduism, so why not Western polytheism?

I just want it to be done with respect to these deities and to Hindus.




~ by R.M. McGrath on 08/08/2016.

One Response to “”

  1. U can reach out to me @firetail23 on Twitter so that these questions can be resolved.


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