I want to bring to light books, movies, and shows that have polytheist and/or ancestor worship themes or even “feels”. First up, the children’s movie “The Book of Life”.
On the surface, the movie is about a would-be musician who is afraid to stand up to his father about who he is/want he wants in life. At the same time, he and his childhood best friend vie for the love of the same woman. Two Gods make a bet about who the woman will marry, the ruler-ship of their own portion of the land of the dead as the prize. Those first two plots are fine, especially acknowledging that since its a children’s movie, certain things have to be a little more on the nose. I think a deeper, more meaningful plot hangs around in the background until the end of the movie, where it takes center stage.
The movie opens to a scene that shows families at the grave yard, making offerings to their dead and explaining why that is important. Ancestor worship, the Gods, and the land of the dead are at the heart of the story. By the end, “being true to yourself” and the love triangle plots are set aside in favor of saving their town- not just to save human lives, but because without those living humans to remember the dead and make offerings, the ancestors will lose access to a blessed afterlife. That’s the plot point I was blown away by- the dead were more important than the living.
As a parent who is raising a polytheist child, I love having media to show her some of these points. After seeing this movie, ancestor worship became much easier for her to understand because she was able to see it in some way. It was no longer just something mom said/did, but something others did as well.