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    Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

    I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this?
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus focuses on Antinous. His blog has a number of resources for Ekklesía Antínoou. He is the main one that I know that worships a defied mortal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

    I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.
    I am fine with it. It is not part of my practice, but I have no issue with those that do.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that?
    I engage in what could be called ancestor worship, though not in a Roman or Hellenic context. In my case it's a matter of honoring those who came before me and had a hand in shaping me.

    Incidentally, China has a number of stories of people who were promoted to godhood after they died, often by official proclamation of the state.
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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

    I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.
    This was fairly common in Japan, too. One of the most popular Japanese Gods is Temman Tenjin, who was a real person named Sugawara no Michizane. He was exiled due to a court intrigue, though he had once been very powerful and a favorite with the Emperor. He died of malnutrition in exile.

    That would have been the end of it, but a little later, strange things started happening. People involved in his exile fell ill or just died. Lightning struck the Imperial Palace. Most concerningly of all, rumors began to circulate that it was Michizane's angry spirit (goryo) that was responsible. A renowned holy man named Nichizo had a vision where Michizane appeared to him and announced that he had been transformed into a god of fire and thunder, and that the three individuals most responsible for his exile (who had since died) were now suffering in (Buddhist) hell.

    Not only was Michizane posthumously reinstated to his offices, he eventually became very popular as a deity, especially with students. Michizane was a noted scholar in life, and it seems his interest in learning has continued after his death.

    There was a similar incident involving a deposed crown prince, who wreaked such havoc during the move of the capital from Nara to Heian-Kyo that not only was he posthumously reinstated, but he was in fact elevated to the throne to soothe his anger.

    Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Incidentally, China has a number of stories of people who were promoted to godhood after they died, often by official proclamation of the state.
    According to Schipper in "The Taoist Body," all or most Chinese deities are the spirits of people who died young or violently. In most cases such a spirit would become an angry ghost or a demon and would be placated or exorcised if necessary. In a few cases, such as a famous warrior general, the person would have enough spiritual power to become a deity and receive veneration.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Redfaery View Post
    Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.
    That would sum up the attitude of the educated classes in the Roman empire. You have a "golden chain" from the One to humans: Gods, Heroes, Daimones. And it's not too different from Christianity: latria (worship) for God, hyperdulia for Mary, dulia (veneration) for Saints and Angels. Aquinas included the planetary spirits in the angel class!

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by herkles View Post
    P. Sufenas Virius Lupus focuses on Antinous. His blog has a number of resources for Ekklesía Antínoou. He is the main one that I know that worships a defied mortal.
    Thanks for the link! The worship of Antinous in the modern age is something I find fascinating, especially since very little is known about him other than his (very attractive) statues.

    Quote Originally Posted by Redfaery View Post
    Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.
    So essentially you see it as deities that have always been deities at the top of the totem pole, deities who were once human beneath that, and then human/once-human spirits? I think I'd probably place it in a similar way, too.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    So lately I've been thinking about the worship of divinized humans and I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion.
    In the Srauta/Grhya branch of Hinduism ancestors are deified for certain forms of sraddha, such as the Abhyudayikasraddha ritual, to celebrate good fortune that has come to one's family. For me, ancestors symbolize knowledge of oneself and one's origins. The rituals I perform in memory of them are to remind me of what I've learned about their pre-christian ways, and further areas of research to explore. It never occurred to me that switching back and forth between ancestors as Dead People and as Dead Gods was unusual.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Samuel View Post
    So essentially you see it as deities that have always been deities at the top of the totem pole, deities who were once human beneath that, and then human/once-human spirits? I think I'd probably place it in a similar way, too.
    Yep. That sums it up pretty neatly, except I've come to realize more and more that the distinction between once-human and never-human gods is purely one of semantics. I don't think there's necessarily any difference in power or attitude between them.

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    Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals

    Quote Originally Posted by Redfaery View Post
    Yep. That sums it up pretty neatly, except I've come to realize more and more that the distinction between once-human and never-human gods is purely one of semantics. I don't think there's necessarily any difference in power or attitude between them.
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