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Author Topic: Deified Mortals  (Read 2592 times)

Faemon

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Deified Mortals
« on: July 31, 2012, 12:25:12 am »
I first grasped the title concept when reading Alan Moore's From Hell. Not the historical fiction itself, but the annotations at the end of the book that cited the extensive research he did into Victorian times, Jack the Ripper, Freemasonry, and Pagan mythology (he bemoans the lack of resources for a dragon goddess, Tiamat, outside of Dungeons & Dragons.) Moore mentioned something about the Greek gods, Apollo and Diana, that one researcher proposed to have been an otherwise ordinary prince-and-princess team from Minoan Crete who were deified as stories about them passed down through generations.

I don't mean to get into alternative history, however. I mean to focus on gods that are most popularly considered (though not agreed) to have maybe possibly have started out as ordinary human beings. There's a neat thread in these parts about Herne the Hunter, and this one of Brighid though the saint is portrayed as more of a vehicle for the goddess than a real person who had a similar name as a goddess and ascended to sainthood-- sadly no threads here for Antinous Farouche or Hymen (yet...? :whis:)



So, I wonder. Not in a very organized way, unfortunately, so please do just throw any thoughts in here. I wonder:

What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?

How do demigods fit into this, in your opinion? Or those who claim godly lineage, notably from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Amaterasu?

Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)
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Celtag

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #1 on: July 31, 2012, 01:15:15 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735

Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)
I personaly don't know. In the Celtic realm of things, I would say no, but my soul is ever lasting. So I guess that would make me immortal, but not a God. In Thelema, there is the possibility of Godhood, as far as i can tell from what I've been taught and read. So to me who knows, I guess I will find out.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 01:15:44 am by Celtag »
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wadjet

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #2 on: July 31, 2012, 03:24:22 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735
What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?

It wouldn't affect my views at all. In my view, all things are already God. We are all individual manifestations of Deity. What I call "Gods" are a specific type of being, or spirit - it's just another one of the infinite individual ways the Universe/Deity expresses itself. So if one of those Gods turned out to have been a human who became some other kind of being, then that is fascinating and a worthy possibility as to how God-type-spirits came to exist, but doesn't change my opinion of them in practical or spiritual terms.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2012, 03:24:47 am by wadjet »

Jezebel

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2012, 04:23:32 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735

What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?

How do demigods fit into this, in your opinion? Or those who claim godly lineage, notably from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Amaterasu?

Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)


It wouldn't really make a huge difference, the Greek Pantheon are very human to me. They squabble and fight, get jealous, love deeply, are petty and cruel just like humans, though of course on a much more epic scale.

The obvious demi god here would be Herakles, and then there's Adonis who though not a demi god, received a lot of recognition in a similar role to Persephone.

Do I think I could reach godhood? No, that would be hubris in the worst way and the age of heroes in long over.

Juniperberry

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2012, 11:32:53 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735


So, I wonder. Not in a very organized way, unfortunately, so please do just throw any thoughts in here. I wonder:

What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?



On a personal level it wouldn't bother me at all. Awhile back I was watching a show on the HC about Early Man and they were showing the hypothetical story of an old tribe leader who had lost an eye in a hunt. Then it went on to discuss how he put two and two together and realized following animal tracks would lead to the animal, and his tribe thought he was too awesome for words. It crossed my mind that Odin and the Aesir could have been very early humans whose history became mythology. And I'm fine with that. I sort of like the idea of  Old Man clan leader.

From a religious perspective it would complicate things. There's a difference between the dead and the gods and they have their own functions. One would have to rework their philosophy if euhemerism was proven true.
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Shine

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2012, 04:57:42 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735


What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?


Bast would still be as awesome (in the older and modern sense of the word) as she's always been. Same with Anpu.

Quote from: triple_entendre;66735


Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)

 
Unless I'm misunderstanding my sources, then sort of. After death, assuming I pass my trial, I can become, in a sense, a netjer (god). I mean, at least in early ancient Egyptian history, the dead can be referred to as netjer. I doubt I'd have anywhere near the power of Netjer-with-a-capital. ;)

Right now, I think I'd like to be a servant to Bast after I pass away, if that's possible, so I guess I'd patronize music (and maybe art. Okay, and dark chocolate. I don't think I can let go of dark chocolate, even once I shuffle off the mortal coil.)
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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2012, 07:05:22 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735

What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?


That I would be mildly surprised.

Quote
How do demigods fit into this, in your opinion? Or those who claim godly lineage, notably from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Amaterasu?


Honestly, if you think about the way heritage goes (like the recent probably-overblown thing about most of Europe sharing most of a Y chromosome with Tutankhamen, or how many people are actually descended from Charlemagne, and so on), I'd say "They're a dime a dozen."  If anyone has that sort of heritage, it's quite likely more people do than don't.

Quote
Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not?

 
I'm not personally willing to make the sacrifices that would be required.  I am too personally connected to actual individual people to go generalist.  I am quite happy to become, in my time, an honored and potent ancestor.
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Starglade

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2012, 07:42:17 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735


What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?


Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)


The Buddha was human, and never attained godhood; he attained enlightenment, which isn't the same thing. Similarly, my "patron" is Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig/Kwan Yin, who in the Buddhist framework is a bodhisattva: an enlightened being who chose/chooses not to pass on, but to remain human throughout subsequent reincarnations in order to assist others along the same path to enlightenment.

So--I do not aspire to godhood. I do (often) aspire to become enlightened, as the Buddha became, and (again often) to become a bodhisattva, if not in this time around then in another. (I have serious doubts about reaching it any time "soon.")
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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2012, 07:55:23 pm »
Quote from: wadjet;66751
It wouldn't affect my views at all. In my view, all things are already God. We are all individual manifestations of Deity. What I call "Gods" are a specific type of being, or spirit - it's just another one of the infinite individual ways the Universe/Deity expresses itself.


This.

My ultimate deity is immanent, and we are part and parcel of it. So we are simultaneously perfectly ordinary and divine. Gods who started out as humans in that context are unremarkable.

What's more, in my religion, there really isn't a separation between the gods and mortals. The gods have both mortal and immortal children; we happen to be among the mortal ones. (And even "immortal" is used loosely, since the gods eventually die too.) The difference between us and them is one of scope and longevity.
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Faemon

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #9 on: August 04, 2012, 11:07:28 pm »
Interesting, lots of very very very different viewpoints.
 
Quote from: Starglade;67286
The Buddha was human, and never attained godhood; he attained enlightenment, which isn't the same thing. Similarly, my "patron" is Avalokiteshvara/Chenrezig/Kwan Yin, who in the Buddhist framework is a bodhisattva: an enlightened being who chose/chooses not to pass on, but to remain human throughout subsequent reincarnations in order to assist others along the same path to enlightenment.

So--I do not aspire to godhood. I do (often) aspire to become enlightened, as the Buddha became, and (again often) to become a bodhisattva, if not in this time around then in another. (I have serious doubts about reaching it any time "soon.")

This post reminded me of Roger Zelazny's Lord Of Light, a kind of Hindu-Buddhist theological steampunk/cyberpunk. Buddha is portrayed as this ultimate trickster deity of the Hindu pantheon, since his shenanigans allow a way out of the cosmic order of things that kept caste systems intact to non-deities. In the book, the characters discuss how to achieve godhood:

Quote
Godhood is more than a name. It is a condition of being. One does not achieve it merely by being immortal, for even the lowliest laborer in the fields may achieve continuity of existence. Is it then the conditioning of an Aspect? No. Any competent hypnotist can play games with the self-image. Is it the raising up of an Attribute? Of course not. I can design machines more powerful and more accurate than any faculty a man may cultivate. Being a god is the quality of being able to be yourself to such an extent that your passions correspond with the forces of the universe, so that those who look upon you know this without hearing your name spoken. (...) Being a god is being able to recognize within one's self these things that are important, and then to strike the single note that brings them into alignment with everything else that exists. Then, beyond morals or logic or esthetics, one is wind or fire, the sea, the mountains, rain, the sun or the stars, the flight of an arrow, the end of a day, the clasp of love. One rules through one's ruling passions. Those who look upon gods then say, without even knowing their names, 'He is Fire. She is Dance. He is Destruction. She is Love.' So, to reply to your statement, they do not call themselves gods. Everyone else does, though, everyone who beholds them.

I was thinking to become a patron (matron?) of bad timing and fast improvisation-- but enlightenment sounds... better, actually.

Quote from: triple_entendre;66735
What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?


To answer my own question. From mythologies, I mostly take the moral of the stories-- so I've had "What Would Elaine Ascalot Do?" moments, despite my not believing that she actually existed beyond a literary device. So I wouldn't act differently. Well, perhaps the UPG imaginary friend aspect of my deities would suddenly vanish. Or... because it's not entirely voluntary... maybe they wouldn't and I would have to re-grout the boundaries on the periphery of my belief system by turning to soft polytheism, if I go that far at all instead of take the spiritual experience in stride.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2012, 11:09:50 pm by Faemon »
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Alex

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #10 on: August 22, 2012, 07:06:16 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;66735


What would it mean, for your belief system, if your patron deity turned out to have been human?

How do demigods fit into this, in your opinion? Or those who claim godly lineage, notably from the Tuatha Dé Danann, or Amaterasu?

Do you believe that you, an ordinary mortal human being, can personally achieve godhood? If no, why not? If yes, then how (and what causes would you patronize? Feel free to have fun with this one.)


In African Diasporic religions, there are plenty of Gods/ Spirits who were human at one point or another. Chango started out as a Yoruban king and was deified and the Ghede are the dead spirits..someone like Ghede Nibo started out as human.

Catholic saints, which are pretty damn close to being deified, started out as mortals, too. Hell, Jesus is written as being human.

Egarwaen

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Re: Deified Mortals
« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2012, 07:51:32 pm »
Quote from: Alex;70264
In African Diasporic religions, there are plenty of Gods/ Spirits who were human at one point or another. Chango started out as a Yoruban king and was deified and the Ghede are the dead spirits..someone like Ghede Nibo started out as human.

Catholic saints, which are pretty damn close to being deified, started out as mortals, too. Hell, Jesus is written as being human.

 
Yeah, isn't it actually pretty common in classical mythology? With the Celts it is, of course, tough to separate the myth from the post-conversion propaganda, but don't Greek, Roman, Egyptian, Chinese, and Japanese myth (among others) all feature formerly-human gods or divine/spiritual beings?

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