Market Share of the Gods

A few weeks ago, I was looking at the Sacred Source catalog  and wondered if it could not be treated as a primary source for the extent and type of polytheistic worship in the West — or at least the Anglosphere? — today.

They sort their statuettes, etc., into categories, and I have further divided those categories by gender and also into an animal/other category for non-human representations. I did break their “Americas” category in North and Meso-South.

I double-count Great Rite/conjoined images, and I also count Buddha figures, for although Buddhas are originally human, they are effectively treated by gods by some.

New:  2 male,  13 female
Goddess/Pagan: 8 male, 43  female, 2 other
Celtic: 6 male, 22 female, 3 other
Norse: 7 male,  6 female
Greco-Roman: 19 male, 32 female, 1 other
Hindu & Buddhist: 34 male, 30 female
Native American 0 male,  5 female
African: 1 male, 3 female
Neolithic: 1 male,  3 female
Middle Eastern: 2 male, 10 female
Meso/South American: 2 male,  6 female
Gnostic: 8 male, 15 female
Egyptian: 2 male, 10 female,  5 other

As my title indicates, I am assuming that these numbers reflect sales, not theology. Slow-selling figures are dropped, which is why you do not, alas, find the Emperor Julian in the lineup anymore. (I should have bought several!)

What else do they tell us? Comments are open.

9 Comments

  1. Modred says:

    The percentage of female to male is remarkable. My first thought is that, since female statuary so strongly outweighs male, there is a desire on the part of their customers to connect with the divine feminine. There’s no point in trying to draw sweeping conclusions from the data from just one site, but I believe that the sacred feminine is what attracts the majority of folks to alternative religions in the first place.

    I also think it’s interesting that the only category that is not majority female is “Norse.” What does that say, if anything, I wonder?

    Description Male Female Other Total % Female
    African 1 3 0 4 75%
    Neolithic 1 3 0 4 75%
    Native American 0 5 0 5 100%
    Meso/South Amer 2 6 0 8 75%
    Middle Eastern 2 10 0 12 83%
    Norse 7 6 0 13 46%
    New 2 13 0 15 87%
    Egyptian 2 10 5 17 59%
    Gnostic 8 15 0 23 65%
    Celtic 6 22 3 31 71%
    Greco-Roman 19 32 1 52 62%
    Goddess/Pagn 8 43 2 53 81%
    Hindu/Buddhist 34 30 0 64 47%
    Totals: 92 198 11 301 66%

    • Chas Clifton says:

      “I believe that the sacred feminine is what attracts the majority of folks to alternative religions in the first place.”

      That was true for me, back when.

  2. Robert Puckett says:

    Are these counts unique deities? For instance, out of those 7 Norse males, are 3 Odins and 2 Thors?

    • Chas Clifton says:

      I was not counting by names, just gender. Otherwise, I think I would have had dozens of categories with just one or two entries in each!

      Also note that if you visit the website today, you might get different totals, as merchandise moves in and out of stock.

  3. Morgan says:

    “I was looking at the Sacred Source catalog and wondered if it could not be treated as a primary source for the extent and type of polytheistic worship in the West — or at least the Anglosphere? — today.”

    I think you provided an essential qualifier when you wrote “these numbers reflect sales, not theology.” They reflect consumer activity that may or may not be indicative of religious feeling, much less the activity of worship as I understand it. What statues sell may have as much to do with aesthetics as with the name attached to it or the culture it represents.

    Or perhaps my definitions of religion and worship are too narrow and shouldn’t exclude the marketplace.

    • Chas Clifton says:

      Still, could you not argue that sales reflect theology, that there will be more idols of the deities that practitioners are involved with, as opposed to those whose cultus is more minor?

      • Modred says:

        Seems there should be a *rough* correlation between sales and theology, just not a perfect one. For every aesthetic shopper (as in Morgan’s example) there might be one (like me) who tries not to acquire more stuff, and there’s no sale at all.

  4. Morgan says:

    That’s probably generally true, but only if the person in charge of stocking the store accurately reflects demand.

    Mary and I had a similar conversation standing in the “New Age” aisle of Barnes & Noble. I was tempted to draw conclusions about the state of popular Wicca in America from the book selection, but it was painfully obvious that the person(s) choosing and organizing the stock was doing a poor job of it. In the end, it was impossible to know whether (for example) 2012ology was on the wain from the lack of books on the subject compared to a year ago. It could just mean that B&N had an inept stock keeper, publishers were out of stock, etc.

    In general, I think the stock selection of a successful business will say something about the population, but there are so many other factors — the biggest being the biases and knowledge of the person in charge of the business — that I would be hesitant to draw conclusions without considering other data first.

    Hasn’t some pretty good historical work already used things like the De Laurence catalogs as source material?

  5. MomaFauna says:

    It simply tells me that I miss the old JBL Statues mail-order catalogue. *sigh*