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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post
    There does seem to be a tendency by some people with a Christian background to understand other religious traditions in ways that make sense to them, so I can certainly see an unnecessary imposition of a hierarchical relationship among deities as a result of such a viewpoint.
    I have often wondered exactly how hierarchical Greek and Roman pantheons really were. Did they genuinely have such a structure (by this, I mean pre-Christian) or was the hierarchy something applied to it retroactively by outsiders? I don't know enough to really know. If I remember rightly, I believe Julian the Apostate attempted to codify Mediterranean religions as a response to Christianity, but I don't know the details of his reforms, so it may have had nothing to do with creating hierarchical pantheons.

    Conversely, I wonder if the direction of influence went the other way, and it was Roman religious hierarchies that created Christian religious hierarchies (in terms of Pantheon). I don't think so, but I don't remember much about the Bible, so I can't the sure. Though, I am fairly confident that the Heavenly order predate Romanisation. Still, I sometimes wonder.

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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Yei View Post
    I have often wondered exactly how hierarchical Greek and Roman pantheons really were. Did they genuinely have such a structure (by this, I mean pre-Christian) or was the hierarchy something applied to it retroactively by outsiders? I don't know enough to really know. If I remember rightly, I believe Julian the Apostate attempted to codify Mediterranean religions as a response to Christianity, but I don't know the details of his reforms, so it may have had nothing to do with creating hierarchical pantheons.

    Conversely, I wonder if the direction of influence went the other way, and it was Roman religious hierarchies that created Christian religious hierarchies (in terms of Pantheon). I don't think so, but I don't remember much about the Bible, so I can't the sure. Though, I am fairly confident that the Heavenly order predate Romanisation. Still, I sometimes wonder.
    I think there was definitely a period of time in the Imperial Roman period when pantheistic and/or Henotheistic ideas existed among at least some of the pagan population (http://wildhunt.org/tag/one-god-paga...e-roman-empire). During this period, I am sure there would have been some cross-fertilization between Christians and Pagans. It may be that ideas of a more hierarchical divine relationship were held by some pagans and those viewpoints both facilitated the rise of Christianity and coloured post-conversion views of those religious structures.

    This is partly meaningful for me because at minimum the view of Germanic religions which developed post-conversion were influenced by Christian understandings of Greco-Roman religion. In a sense, Christian authors may have understood "paganism" through a Greco-Roman lens and interpreted Germanic traditions in that way. I believe you can see this process at work with the names of weekdays, with Snorri's attempts to organize Germanic deities into a pantheon of 12 Gods, and, I believe, Snorri's elevation of Odin to such a high status (something that may have also been influenced by Odin's relative importance to poets and people of a high social class).

    All together, this has made me very leery of accepting the divine relationships in the Eddas as an accurate representation of Germanic religion. I don't think that this means the Gods cannot be understood this way as I think any attempt to organize or understand a pantheon will involve significant simplifications; In other words, the "true" nature of the Gods is so complex that any human model will be inaccurate or overly simplistic. However, I do view the way the Prose Edda describes the Gods as a way of understanding those relationships, rather than the way.
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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post
    - How did the pantheon of deities which you worship develop historically? To what extent does this pantheon exhibit regional or temporal variation?
    - How does any uncertainty which arises from this variation affect your personal practice? (For example, I am a bit reluctant to address Thor and Tyr as the “sons” of Odin because I tend to think this concept may not have been particularly widespread and/or developed in the post-conversion period).
    This is really interesting... The way I see it, there is no fixed pantheon in my belief. The reason is that there is a lot of variation in the Old Norse pantheon depending on where in Scandinavia you are from. For instance it was not believed in southern Scandinavia that Frigga was the wife of Odin but rather the wife of Thor. Up until a 150 years ago or so the people of Värend (a folkland in southern Sweden) would "signa Thore-Gud och Frigge" (Hallow Thor-God and Frigga) on Thursday nights by raising their glasses and drink together. It was also important to keep quiet on those nights, not to disturb our Lady when she was spinning. Needless to say, no woman was allowed to bring out the distaff on these nights.

    Another example is how Freyja (or Fröja/Fröa) was viewed in southern Sweden. Here she was the Lady of growth and fertility (Ludhkona) and not primarily a goddess of love. She is also closely related to fruits and especially apples. If you have fruit-trees you always leave a few fruits on the tree in autumn to make it bear more fruit next year. (You can also bury three apples close to the ward-tree for the same result).

    My point is that the norse pantheon probably never was uniform. The Eddas are ideas frozen in time. They represent what people believed in Iceland towards the end of the pagan era and the beginning of the christian era. I'm sure that is true when it comes to other pantheons as well.

    (The above examples are taken from accounts from the 19:th century and might represent a change in faith and tradition over time...)

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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Svipdagr View Post
    This is really interesting... The way I see it, there is no fixed pantheon in my belief. The reason is that there is a lot of variation in the Old Norse pantheon depending on where in Scandinavia you are from. For instance it was not believed in southern Scandinavia that Frigga was the wife of Odin but rather the wife of Thor. Up until a 150 years ago or so the people of Värend (a folkland in southern Sweden) would "signa Thore-Gud och Frigge" (Hallow Thor-God and Frigga) on Thursday nights by raising their glasses and drink together. It was also important to keep quiet on those nights, not to disturb our Lady when she was spinning. Needless to say, no woman was allowed to bring out the distaff on these nights.

    Another example is how Freyja (or Fröja/Fröa) was viewed in southern Sweden. Here she was the Lady of growth and fertility (Ludhkona) and not primarily a goddess of love. She is also closely related to fruits and especially apples. If you have fruit-trees you always leave a few fruits on the tree in autumn to make it bear more fruit next year. (You can also bury three apples close to the ward-tree for the same result).

    My point is that the norse pantheon probably never was uniform. The Eddas are ideas frozen in time. They represent what people believed in Iceland towards the end of the pagan era and the beginning of the christian era. I'm sure that is true when it comes to other pantheons as well.

    (The above examples are taken from accounts from the 19:th century and might represent a change in faith and tradition over time...)
    Ah, that's very interesting. There is a tendency among some modern Heathens to discount modern folklore as it is believed to be remote from historical Heathen attitudes, but, given that I think the Gods are real beings who did not cease to exist or interact with humans after conversion, I always perceive stories as perhaps the most useful place to start when constructing our relationships with the Gods.

    You wouldn't happen to have any links relating to the above information described would you? Because I'd really enjoy having a look at them.
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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post
    Ah, that's very interesting. There is a tendency among some modern Heathens to discount modern folklore as it is believed to be remote from historical Heathen attitudes, but, given that I think the Gods are real beings who did not cease to exist or interact with humans after conversion, I always perceive stories as perhaps the most useful place to start when constructing our relationships with the Gods.

    You wouldn't happen to have any links relating to the above information described would you? Because I'd really enjoy having a look at them.
    I got myself slightly to drunk to answer your question right now, but ill try to better my life in the morning. If not, read Värend och Wirdarne by Hylltén-Cavallius, which is good if you read swedish and want to know about recent (19:th) heathen beliefs in southern Scandinavia.. Many other things (Like Freja) comes from my great grandmother, and I've just heard it as a kid and I can't confirm it. You might be able to find archive sources if you want, or I could just provide a link... http://luf.ht.lu.se/SerM/
    Last edited by Svipdagr; 5 Mar 2017 at 02:23 PM. Reason: typo

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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Svipdagr View Post
    You might be able to find archive sources if you want
    I found a source for my claims about Freja and fruit-trees: http://luf.ht.lu.se/SerM/09001-09500/M%209273.pdf page 5. In my translation:
    The informant nr3 (Petter Danielsson. Born in Krokstorp around 1810. Died in Krokshult, parish of Älghult 1891), told me, when I as a child helped him collect apples in his basket. We had lots of fruit, and father would let the poor have some for free sometimes. Then Petter said the following: “You who have so many apples and pears, do sacrifice to Fröja I guess? My mother put some apples in the earth by the ward-tree when I was a child.” I then asked Petter: “What kind of tree is the ward-tree?” “It’s the oldest one in the yard”, said the old man. But what Fröja was he did not know. I asked my mother. She replied: “Don’t care about what Petter says. He’s old and has become childish.” I haven’t heard anything like that except for that one time, until your question made me remember.

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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Svipdagr View Post
    I found a source for my claims about Freja and fruit-trees: http://luf.ht.lu.se/SerM/09001-09500/M%209273.pdf page 5. In my translation:
    The informant nr3 (Petter Danielsson. Born in Krokstorp around 1810. Died in Krokshult, parish of Älghult 1891), told me, when I as a child helped him collect apples in his basket. We had lots of fruit, and father would let the poor have some for free sometimes. Then Petter said the following: “You who have so many apples and pears, do sacrifice to Fröja I guess? My mother put some apples in the earth by the ward-tree when I was a child.” I then asked Petter: “What kind of tree is the ward-tree?” “It’s the oldest one in the yard”, said the old man. But what Fröja was he did not know. I asked my mother. She replied: “Don’t care about what Petter says. He’s old and has become childish.” I haven’t heard anything like that except for that one time, until your question made me remember.
    Thanks so much for the links, they look really interesting.

    I've always been interested in folklore which features pre-Christian deities because it suggests ways in which these deities continued to interact with humans in the post-conversion period and may therefore represent a useful place to begin the reestablishment of those relationships.

    In addition, since historical Heathen cultures would have passed their religious traditions through the family/community, it seems reasonable to do so when that opportunity exists.

    This is one reason why Frau Holle/Holda is so important to me; my mother/grandmother didn't know anything about other Germanic deities, but they at least knew about Holle/Holda.
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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post

    I find this an interesting question because it seems to me that the way a particular culture understands its pantheon of deities is something which is in constant flux.
    In the context of Hinduism, this is so true it's almost painful. The running joke is that Hinduism has 330 million gods (that came from a mistranslation of "types" and the word for "ten million" - 33 types of gods, not "33 ten million"). But it's probably not too far off. Literally, every village can have its own gramadevata, presiding village deity. And the next village may not have even heard of that first deity, having their own. The same can apply to families. One family can have a kuladevata (family deity) that another family never heard of. Deities come and go in worship. Some fall by the wayside.

    Then we have regional deities... gods and goddesses known in one part of India, but unheard of in another. Every one knows Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. Most people know he is the son of Shiva and Parvati. What people don't know is that Shiva has two other sons and a daughter. One son is by a constellation of stars (Hindu stories are nothing if not colorful), the other is by a female form of Vishnu (it's a very colorful story), and the daughter is by... well, I don't know. She just is. The second son of Shiva and the stars is known as Murugan (and other names) in the south, and as Kartikeya in the north, but not as well known as in the south. He is considered Parvati's son and depicted in iconography with Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha as a family. Shiva's other son Ayyappa is almost unknown outside of south India. I don't think Parvati took to Ayyappa.

    On top of that, a new goddess has come onto the scene in recent years. And then we have the cases of children born with deformities resembling characteristics of certain gods being worshiped. So yeah, they come and go. Given that modern educated Hindus believe there is only one God who takes myriad forms, the now-you-see-'em-now-you-don't comes as no surprise.
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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Jainarayan View Post
    In the context of Hinduism, this is so true it's almost painful. The running joke is that Hinduism has 330 million gods (that came from a mistranslation of "types" and the word for "ten million" - 33 types of gods, not "33 ten million"). But it's probably not too far off. Literally, every village can have its own gramadevata, presiding village deity. And the next village may not have even heard of that first deity, having their own. The same can apply to families. One family can have a kuladevata (family deity) that another family never heard of. Deities come and go in worship. Some fall by the wayside.

    Then we have regional deities... gods and goddesses known in one part of India, but unheard of in another. Every one knows Ganesha, the elephant-headed god. Most people know he is the son of Shiva and Parvati. What people don't know is that Shiva has two other sons and a daughter. One son is by a constellation of stars (Hindu stories are nothing if not colorful), the other is by a female form of Vishnu (it's a very colorful story), and the daughter is by... well, I don't know. She just is. The second son of Shiva and the stars is known as Murugan (and other names) in the south, and as Kartikeya in the north, but not as well known as in the south. He is considered Parvati's son and depicted in iconography with Shiva, Parvati and Ganesha as a family. Shiva's other son Ayyappa is almost unknown outside of south India. I don't think Parvati took to Ayyappa.

    On top of that, a new goddess has come onto the scene in recent years. And then we have the cases of children born with deformities resembling characteristics of certain gods being worshiped. So yeah, they come and go. Given that modern educated Hindus believe there is only one God who takes myriad forms, the now-you-see-'em-now-you-don't comes as no surprise.
    What is interesting about the level of "pantheonic" (I made up a word! hooray!) diversity in India is that it has so many features that historical Germanic religion lacked. India has been a literate society for a long time, it has a professional priestly class, it has an incredible amount of written material (some of which is widely if not universally revered), and a greater degree of political unity (though political unification of the subcontinent was fairly sporadic until the Muhgal-British-Modern states more or less succeeded each other).

    Given that ancient Germanic societies has none of these things, I don't think it would be outlandish to say that the level of pantheonic diversity may have even been greater in those societies than in modern India (although the subcontinent does have a level of population density relative to pre-modern Germanic societies which may provide ground for a higher level of diversity).

    So, given the many wonderful responses, I have two main thoughts on this issue:

    One is that while some people may see the level of pantheonic (there he goes again!) diversity as evidence of an inherent falsity of polytheistic traditions, I would disagree. I think humans are fundamentally unable to really understand Deities, and all of our myths, iconography, etc are ways in which we establish a point of contact with beings who are fundamentally other. I think there are many ways to establish such relationships and pantheonic diversity reflects the myriad of ways one can do so.

    Secondly, this really emphasizes to me how the Germanic pantheon as described in the Eddas can only really be a starting point for a modern Heathen. Deities may interact with us ways that are new or long forgotten but still perfectly valid. This doesn't mean we should throw out the baby with the bathwater so to speak and declare Odin to be the God of cute cat videos, but I think there is some utility in a combination of UPG and "the Lore(!)" for the creation of modern relationships with the Gods.
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    Re: Variation in Pantheons

    Quote Originally Posted by Megatherium View Post
    "pantheonic" (I made up a word! hooray!)
    And it is a cromulent word, and also potentially very useful.

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