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  1. #1
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    Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.

    What does everyone else think of this practice?

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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.

    What does everyone else think of this practice?
    Do you specifically mean the practice of worshiping one deity in secret with a statue of another deity, or do you mean generally putting, say, a statue of Venus on an altar and worshiping in front of it with the idea that it's Freya?
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.

    What does everyone else think of this practice?

    In the sense of "all gods are the same gods/source" or for those who feel they must hide their true beliefs, I think this is an excellent alternative thinking. Or perhaps, for example, you really do see Freya as what most people think of as the Virgin Mary.

    Obviously, to each their own, so long as the gods are not offended

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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.

    What does everyone else think of this practice?
    I think it's hardly an ideal way to work, but it is certainly a very common and historically-rooted response to having to practice one's religion in an oppressive/repressive environment, and people forced to keep their pieties secret have done it since time immemorial. There are a lot of similar practices among indigenous people under colonization--look at the cultic practices around Our Lady of Guadalupe or La Santa Muerte, or around the syncretic forms of Catholicism and Islam in the rural Philippines and Indonesia--and among enslaved people--look at the way African diasporic religions developed, with saint equivalences and so on.
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Valentine View Post
    I think it's hardly an ideal way to work, but it is certainly a very common and historically-rooted response to having to practice one's religion in an oppressive/repressive environment, and people forced to keep their pieties secret have done it since time immemorial.
    Valentine pretty much pegs it, I believe.
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post

    What does everyone else think of this practice?
    I think it's okay if (a) there's no other option, (b) the deity in question is okay with it, and (c) the statue is at least similar to the deity's real form. For example, a statue of a puma would be an okay stand-in in my mind for Bast (assuming a and b), but a fish would not.

    I imagine if you had no other options, the deity would be more likely to be okay with it.
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.

    What does everyone else think of this practice?
    It was an especially common practice in Byzantium, where pagans would often disguise deities like Apollo in icons of Christ. Which is ironic, because research suggests that the -forgive me- iconic look of Orthodox icons was first perfected in images of the Dii Consentes. But while I agree with others who said it's not really ideal, it's certainly nothing bad or unusual either.
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.
    I saw this thread referred at the bottom of another thread and it actually ties in with something I was thinking about the other day as I rebuilt my altars after moving.

    Two of my primary goddesses are Latvian - Mara and Laima. Neither one, as you might imagine, has a whole lot of statuary available. Mara has been compared to the Catholic/Orthodox Mary, and Laima to the Hindu Lakshmi, and so I use statues of them on the altar. So far, nobody's complained. I think it helps, though, that the synchronization already existed so I had something to base my choice on.

    I can't see any reason not to do this, as long as the deity doesn't mind.
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  9. #9
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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Emrys View Post
    My aunt recently gifted me a statue of the Virgin Mary. Even though I am not a devotee of the Virgin. This got me thinking.

    In Japan, when Christianity was outlawed, Christians would often use statues of Kannon, Buddhist Bodhisatva of Salvation, as statues of the Virgin Mary. Often, these statues were inscribed with a hidden cross.
    The statue of the Virgin Mary stands for Erzuli Freda in condomble and Santeria, and she's the one I use, for the one I call the Lady, who is Freda, because she always has been, but I've never really thought of what was behind it because it comes from centuries of syncretism. I've seen drawings and pictures of her but on the altar it'll always be the Virgin Mary that stands.

    My friend Murray uses a picture of St Brigit in proxy for the Godess Brighid as well, but I think that has to do with the catholic threads in his practises as much as it has to do with her.

    Have you seen the Mists of Avalon? That final scene where she sees the Godess in the Virgin Mary was my first thought when I read your thread. I think the form of a God is for us, really, but if we see what they represent when we see their representation, whether it's something traditional or new doesn't really matter. A bit of a religious twist on it's the thought that counts.
    Better they change than disappear.

    I also think that the representation does change the God it stands for:
    The Virgin Mary as the Lady stands for the traditions surviving despite efforts of slave owners, and it's a figure that is slightly different from the Loa that arrived from the coasts of Africa, more rebellious, secretive, landing strength as much as love and seduction. I don't know if I'm making any sense.

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    Re: Statues of Deity X standing in for Deity Y

    Quote Originally Posted by Lorien35 View Post
    The statue of the Virgin Mary stands for Erzuli Freda in condomble and Santeria, and
    Within Santeria/Lukumi, the Orisha are honored; not the lwa. Erzulie Freda is a lwa/loa and would be honored in Vodou. I think you may mean Virgin Mary statues are used for Oshun in Santeria and Erzulie Freda in Haitian Vodou. Within Candomble, the Orisha are honored; I'm not sure if some Houses also honor lwa/loa or not.
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