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Author Topic: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?  (Read 2475 times)

Mewtini

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Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« on: April 11, 2016, 09:21:09 pm »
One of the most common themes in organized religion seems to be some kind of antagonist force, generally in the form of some kind of anti-god.  The Abrahamic religions have Satan, the Egyptians had Apophis and Set, but we here at the Cauldron dont exactly fall into easy labels all the time.

So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?  As a primarily Slavic pagan, there are some interpretations that talk of Chernobog, the "black god".  A supposedly purely evil deity, it was said that Chernobog was so feared by the western Slavs that they barely even spoke his name at all, lest they attract his attention, and this is why he barely appeared in any sources whatsoever.  Then again, it could also be due to faulty records, what with the Christians being the ones writing down what the Slavs believed in.  They had a habit of trying to find "Satan equivalents" wherever they went, and Veles and Chernobog were good fits.  The former has been cleared of charges of evil, and from my experiences is quite a nice guy, but Chernobog is still regarded in most sources, those that will talk of him, as hostile.

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #1 on: April 11, 2016, 09:31:56 pm »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
One of the most common themes in organized religion seems to be some kind of antagonist force, generally in the form of some kind of anti-god.  The Abrahamic religions have Satan, the Egyptians had Apophis and Set,

 
A/pep I'll grant you.

Set as "god of evil" is pretty much Hollywood theology, though.  (I mean, it's not as much Hollywood theology as the almost as common "Anup (Anubis) as malevolent power" but it's still Hollywood theology.)
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Mewtini

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #2 on: April 11, 2016, 09:56:13 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;189940
A/pep I'll grant you.

Set as "god of evil" is pretty much Hollywood theology, though.  (I mean, it's not as much Hollywood theology as the almost as common "Anup (Anubis) as malevolent power" but it's still Hollywood theology.)

 
To be fair, I understand that Set wasn't originally considered a bad guy.  However, he was demonized in later Egyptian tradition, due to the people who primarily worshiped him getting conquered.

I've never seen Anubis depicted as malevolent.  Usually, he falls into the line of creepy good when depicted by Hollywood.

AineLlewellyn

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #3 on: April 11, 2016, 11:10:23 pm »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?

 
Within the Otherfaith there aren't really any 'evil' deities, but I'm a fan of dystheism which is essentially gods being not wholly good, or outright evil, or, a description I particularly like, 'where God decides to become malevolent'. So none of the Otherfaith gods are evil, but I wouldn't call them Good either.

There is an antagonist figure in the form of the spirit Mircea, who strikes down one of our gods and expels another from the sacred landscape they inhabit. He's overthrown and destroyed and I sometimes hear the gods call him a 'false god', since mythically he stole his divinity from another deity. I don't consider him divine though. He figures into my practice as a shadow type of figure that I can play off mentally to learn about my own faults and issues. He's fun to work with story-wise as well, but I don't feel there is much 'there' in a spirit sense.

The main four gods that are the foundation of the group of deities I worship are the Clarene, Ophelia, Laetha, and Dierne. the Ophelia and Laetha are both gods that can feel very uncomfortable to be around. the Ophelia is tied with drowning and depression and the Laetha with immolation, plus they both are less interested in appearing comforting and familiar to humans. That's in opposition to the Clarene and Dierne who both take strides to appear in ways that comfort humans who interact with them. That said, the Clarene is a fairy god and consumes human flesh for food, and the Dierne strikes down those who violate the laws of his land, so they aren't purely benevolent gods.

The latter four, who come from the first, are the Laethelia, Ophelene, Darren, and Liathane. Out of them the Liathane is the one that reads to most people as 'evil'. He's the god of chaos in the Otherfaith, and my experience of him is that he enjoys scaring people nearly to death. He loves poking people's soft spots and doesn't have much sympathy for humans or his other gods. And he's treated by a few of the other gods as a threat rather than just a nuisance or rival. So if I had to put down an 'evil' god I suppose it'd be him, but I think all of the gods I worship have sides that are dangerous to be around or can choose to be malevolent toward us.

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #4 on: April 12, 2016, 12:42:26 am »
Quote from: Mewtini;189945
I've never seen Anubis depicted as malevolent.  Usually, he falls into the line of creepy good when depicted by Hollywood.

 
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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #5 on: April 12, 2016, 12:56:08 am »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?

 
Asshole, yes. Entropic, yes. Evil as in actively and objectively malevolent, nooooot necessarily? I mean there's "totally down with Earth and all lifeforms thereon being destroyed if it fulfills their goals" but I'm not sure if that's 'evil' or just 'really big picture,' you know?

Mostly I just don't believe in evil.
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Mewtini

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #6 on: April 12, 2016, 01:39:58 am »
Quote from: Jack;189964
Asshole, yes. Entropic, yes. Evil as in actively and objectively malevolent, nooooot necessarily? I mean there's "totally down with Earth and all lifeforms thereon being destroyed if it fulfills their goals" but I'm not sure if that's 'evil' or just 'really big picture,' you know?

Mostly I just don't believe in evil.

 
I guess it would be better worded as "hostile to humanity and/or the Earth in general".  Because you can fulfill that and not be totally evil because you might have a damn good reason for it.  Or something.

For what it's worth, I dont really believe in evil either, and it's debated whether Chernobog was actually considered an antagonistic god or not, but according to some records by missionaries he was enough of an asshole that people would effectively use his "offering bowl" as a swear jar, spitting and cursing into it as they walked by.

Faemon

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #7 on: April 12, 2016, 01:58:49 am »
Quote from: ainellewellyn;189950
Within the Otherfaith there aren't really any 'evil' deities, but I'm a fan of dystheism which is essentially gods being not wholly good, or outright evil, or, a description I particularly like, 'where God decides to become malevolent'. So none of the Otherfaith gods are evil, but I wouldn't call them Good either (...)  the Liathane is the one that reads to most people as 'evil'. He's the god of chaos in the Otherfaith, and my experience of him is that he enjoys scaring people nearly to death. He loves poking people's soft spots and doesn't have much sympathy for humans or his other gods. And he's treated by a few of the other gods as a threat rather than just a nuisance or rival. So if I had to put down an 'evil' god I suppose it'd be him, but I think all of the gods I worship have sides that are dangerous to be around or can choose to be malevolent toward us.


I like the idea of dystheism because it speaks to me of something pluralistic, like instead of judging so-and-so as evil because so-and-so is not like me, I can think, thank goodness that so-and-so is not like me so that we get the thing done together that I couldn't do. Or, there could be some realization that virtues can be harmful in the wrong context, or flaws and even vices can be assets in a better context, and sometimes we move through different contexts that aren't for the best; that doesn't mean movement at all is evil.

But to assign malevolence as a constant potential without an assigned value, how to reconcile that with attributing ethical notions to the embodiment of these gods? (If that is still ongoing, if I understood...The Clarene as personal autonomy and boundaries, the Ophelia as restraint, the Laetha as challenge, the Dierne as consent.)

Is it something like the gods learned ethics from us humans, or it's a constant negotiating and striving-towards from all sides? Or did I misunderstand and there's nothing to reconcile.

Quote
There is an antagonist figure in the form of the spirit Mircea (...) I don't consider him divine though.

Considering Mircea as representing oppression, environmental exploitation, and everything contrary to Otherfaith values I also consider it important that he actually has a sympathetic backstory. If he were obviously evil-coated evil with evil filling and evil sprinkles from the start and all the time, I couldn't have comprehended why Pallis and Arabella lent him enough love and trust to betray them. At some point, and way beyond that, it's more clearly, "Yeah it sucked for him--seriously though don't be That Guy that does this thing about it that sucks for everyone. Here is why not. Here is how to not."

And it's also interesting to me that he doesn't exist, or may or may not have retroactively ceased to exist. In absence, it's both a clear message of "this extreme shouldn't have ever happened" and in a way a fitting end to this antagonist; and I feel also works out to a sort of repression or resistance to any hint or reminder, and that can sometimes leave us without a real clue anymore what exactly to beware of or condemn. That sort of situational "splitting" is one I can understand. If Mircea sustains, though, as shell or ghost or false Firebird, I can predict it also becoming too easy to point and say there is the oppressor (that's what a real oppressor looks like) instead of in here.
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Louisvillian

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #8 on: April 12, 2016, 05:37:48 am »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?

Not really, no. Some spirits, or classes of spirits, might be hostile to people, or dangerous to fool with. But "evil"? No. I just don't believe in objective "evil". I think the world, spirits included, as far too varied and complex for objective concepts of morality to really apply. Gods, spirits, ghosts, and people alike all have their own motives, goals, and methods. Some are harmful, some are helpful. Some are idealistic, some are cynical. Some look out for the whole, some are selfish. I'm not going to cast judgement on that, let alone on entities that are a bit above my pay grade.

Quote from: Darkhawk;189963
The Mummy Returns...

I recently re-watched it, and never got that impression. He's more True Neutral than anything evil or antagonistic. Sure, he lends the Scorpion King his badass army, but he doesn't really have any dog in the fight that the guy starts. He just grants a boon to man who vows his soul to the god, which was stupid on the part of King Scorpion. In the end, the army he lends out is a MacGuffin, rather than the antagonistic force. The antagonist, as in the first film, is Imhotep and his blind passion.

RecycledBenedict

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #9 on: April 12, 2016, 10:01:59 am »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?  


Evil? No. Evil does not exist.

AineLlewellyn

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #10 on: April 12, 2016, 11:06:00 pm »
Quote from: Faemon;189971
Or, there could be some realization that virtues can be harmful in the wrong context, or flaws and even vices can be assets in a better context, and sometimes we move through different contexts that aren't for the best; that doesn't mean movement at all is evil.

That's a great way to put it and pretty much how I see the gods and most things in life.

Quote from: Faemon;189971
But to assign malevolence as a constant potential without an assigned value, how to reconcile that with attributing ethical notions to the embodiment of these gods? (If that is still ongoing, if I understood...The Clarene as personal autonomy and boundaries, the Ophelia as restraint, the Laetha as challenge, the Dierne as consent.)

Is it something like the gods learned ethics from us humans, or it's a constant negotiating and striving-towards from all sides? Or did I misunderstand and there's nothing to reconcile.

I think there are things to reconcile. I don't think we need to reconcile everything, and there will always be pieces that are outside of bringing together or truly understanding.

I think that, in the Otherfaith, it's both gods and humans who learn ethics from each other. There is negotiation involved, and there is a lot of compromise. Each god and spirit brings what they are and what they have to the table and we bring what we are and believe as well, or rather we bring all of that to the kitchen and try to make a good meal of it. A spirit might bring something not suitable for humans but which is still part of themselves. So we point out 'hey, this thing is not for us [is dangerous for us, crosses certain lines, whatever]'. On the same side a god or spirit might say, 'This thing you brought doesn't work for me' and we figure out where to go from there.


Quote from: Faemon;189971
Considering Mircea as representing oppression, environmental exploitation, and everything contrary to Otherfaith values I also consider it important that he actually has a sympathetic backstory. If he were obviously evil-coated evil with evil filling and evil sprinkles from the start and all the time, I couldn't have comprehended why Pallis and Arabella lent him enough love and trust to betray them. At some point, and way beyond that, it's more clearly, "Yeah it sucked for him--seriously though don't be That Guy that does this thing about it that sucks for everyone. Here is why not. Here is how to not."

And it's also interesting to me that he doesn't exist, or may or may not have retroactively ceased to exist. In absence, it's both a clear message of "this extreme shouldn't have ever happened" and in a way a fitting end to this antagonist; and I feel also works out to a sort of repression or resistance to any hint or reminder, and that can sometimes leave us without a real clue anymore what exactly to beware of or condemn. That sort of situational "splitting" is one I can understand. If Mircea sustains, though, as shell or ghost or false Firebird, I can predict it also becoming too easy to point and say there is the oppressor (that's what a real oppressor looks like) instead of in here.

Mircea is in a weird state of existing and not-existing. I do think that having him still 'around' story-wise and practice-wise does lend, as you said, too easily to pointing at him as the oppressor rather than looking into ourselves for what an oppressor, or violator, or whatever, can be. He's certainly more complicated than I ever expected him to be!
« Last Edit: April 12, 2016, 11:07:23 pm by ainellewellyn »

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #11 on: April 13, 2016, 07:58:02 am »
Quote from: Mewtini;189938
So, do you have any gods in your pantheon that you would classify as "evil"?

I think this depends on how you define "evil". Any deities who are "evil" in the sense of "completely anti-good" in the sense Satan is in Christianity" None that I can think of. Ares, howeever, probably comes close in Hellenic Polytheism. Ares was the God of Destructive War -- unlimited war where the purpose is to cause as much death and destruction as possible. From a human POV, this probably qualifies as evil.
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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #12 on: April 13, 2016, 10:37:20 am »
Quote from: RandallS;190036
I think this depends on how you define "evil". Any deities who are "evil" in the sense of "completely anti-good" in the sense Satan is in Christianity" None that I can think of. Ares, howeever, probably comes close in Hellenic Polytheism. Ares was the God of Destructive War -- unlimited war where the purpose is to cause as much death and destruction as possible. From a human POV, this probably qualifies as evil.

 
I used to be chummy with a devotee of Ares, and I find this bemusing; but true. Just goes to show that paganism has all stripes.

I believe in God, and in a pretty bog-standard definition of evil.

Mewtini

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #13 on: April 13, 2016, 01:50:31 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;190036
I think this depends on how you define "evil". Any deities who are "evil" in the sense of "completely anti-good" in the sense Satan is in Christianity" None that I can think of. Ares, howeever, probably comes close in Hellenic Polytheism. Ares was the God of Destructive War -- unlimited war where the purpose is to cause as much death and destruction as possible. From a human POV, this probably qualifies as evil.

 
I'm pretty sure that the Roman interpretation has Ares/Mars get a whole lot more refined, and finally start caring about strategy and less about mindless killing.  I kinda like to think of it as him maturing and growing up.  But that's just my impression...

The only being that's pure evil in Hellenism I'd say is Typhon, but that's just because he was pretty much designed to be an antagonistic monstrosity to fulfill a need, and even then it's just mythology and ultimately serves as an explanation for volcanoes.

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Re: Does anyone believe in gods/forces of evil?
« Reply #14 on: April 13, 2016, 02:22:03 pm »
Quote from: Mewtini;190048
I'm pretty sure that the Roman interpretation has Ares/Mars get a whole lot more refined, and finally start caring about strategy and less about mindless killing.  I kinda like to think of it as him maturing and growing up.  But that's just my impression...


No, you're right, Mars is an extremely different god than Ares, and thus one of the places that demonstrates that the simple equation of the Olympians with the Roman gods is not as "true" as a lot of pop mythology books suggest.
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