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Author Topic: Gods are all individuals?  (Read 4563 times)

catja6

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #15 on: October 15, 2011, 05:29:22 pm »
Quote from: Juniperberry;25480




I think it's pretty clear that hard polytheism existed in ancient cultures. Tacitus equated the Germanic gods as Greek gods, Tacitus had his hard polytheism and believed his gods to be true, only misunderstood by the tribes he reported on. He didn't equate it as a metaphor of some large One.



The actual terms "hard" and "soft" polytheism may well be recent.  But both points on the continuum -- and "hard" and "soft" polytheisms *are* points on a continuum, not absolute discrete categories -- are attested in ancient sources.  Not all forms of soft polytheism necessarily believes in the "One Source" thing; it's just one way that that type of polytheism can manifest itself.  

Another form of soft polytheism is "all gods are OUR gods."  Tacitus, a Roman, applied the "interpretatio Romana" (a common Roman practice borrowed from certain factions of Greek philosophy, the "interpretatio Graeca"), of equating foreign divinities with Roman gods.  (And of course the Roman gods themselves were often characterized as "actually" being the Greek gods.)   This is the most famous and well-attested form of soft polytheism in the ancient world -- it is absolutely much softer than what most "hard polytheists" believe.

Juniperberry

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #16 on: October 16, 2011, 06:25:18 pm »
Quote from: catja6;25559
The actual terms "hard" and "soft" polytheism may well be recent.  But both points on the continuum -- and "hard" and "soft" polytheisms *are* points on a continuum, not absolute discrete categories -- are attested in ancient sources.  Not all forms of soft polytheism necessarily believes in the "One Source" thing; it's just one way that that type of polytheism can manifest itself.  

Another form of soft polytheism is "all gods are OUR gods."  Tacitus, a Roman, applied the "interpretatio Romana" (a common Roman practice borrowed from certain factions of Greek philosophy, the "interpretatio Graeca"), of equating foreign divinities with Roman gods.  (And of course the Roman gods themselves were often characterized as "actually" being the Greek gods.)   This is the most famous and well-attested form of soft polytheism in the ancient world -- it is absolutely much softer than what most "hard polytheists" believe.

What you're describing as necessary for hard polytheism sounds like integrational polytheism- the believe in not only  distinctly individual deities (hard) but that *all* deities everywhere are separate and imdividual.

 Even according to your definitions, I have a hard time accepting that Tacitus was a soft polytheist.  What of the deities that he *didn't* equate with Roman gods, but recorded as distinct and individual gods outside of his own pantheon (Tuisto, Nerthus)? Wouldn't that imply a mindset of hard polytheism?

It seems that he identified certain gods as Roman because they were incredibly similar ( and the Germans and Romans had had contact at this time-) but then left deities  without similarities as separate and purely Germanic gods--without explaining them away through soft-polytheistic angles. There isn't any attempt to reconcile with Roman deity, no euhemerism, or any false god claims. They were gods, just not Roman. They were separate, individual deity.

Im curious if its only your opinion that Germania is the most famous example of soft-polytheism ever or if its a commonly accepted fact. Its just not anything I've heard before. ?? I'd like to read what you have on that because it just doesn't make sense to me right now.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 06:29:18 pm by Juniperberry »
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Nyktelios

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #17 on: October 16, 2011, 07:54:38 pm »
Quote from: Micheál;25502
I also believe "hard" and "soft" polytheism to be recent terms to differentiate from what some people think to be core beliefs of 20th century traditions that may have found inspired by a certain novel, contributing to the misinformation that Traditional Wiccans must be "soft" polytheists. The ancients were simply polytheists, "polytheism" itself being a fairly recent term not older than the 17th century taken from the Greek theological term Poly Theos-(in relation to)"of many gods," not unlike the Irish "Ildiachas."

Quote from: catja6;25559
The actual terms "hard" and "soft" polytheism may well be recent.  But both points on the continuum -- and "hard" and "soft" polytheisms *are* points on a continuum, not absolute discrete categories -- are attested in ancient sources.  Not all forms of soft polytheism necessarily believes in the "One Source" thing; it's just one way that that type of polytheism can manifest itself.  

Another form of soft polytheism is "all gods are OUR gods."  Tacitus, a Roman, applied the "interpretatio Romana" (a common Roman practice borrowed from certain factions of Greek philosophy, the "interpretatio Graeca"), of equating foreign divinities with Roman gods.  (And of course the Roman gods themselves were often characterized as "actually" being the Greek gods.)   This is the most famous and well-attested form of soft polytheism in the ancient world -- it is absolutely much softer than what most "hard polytheists" believe.

I agree with the above.
 
Quote from: Juniperberry;25783
Im curious if its only your opinion that Germania is the most famous example of soft-polytheism ever or if its a commonly accepted fact. Its just not anything I've heard before. ?? I'd like to read what you have on that because it just doesn't make sense to me right now.

For the record, I said that ancients were more fluid in their polytheism than modern "hard polytheists," not that they all believed that all gods were one god. The Romans weren't the only ones who interpreted foreign gods with their own. Herodotus (a Greek historian writing in the 5th century BCE), identified the foreign gods of the countries he wrote about with Greek gods. He equates Astarte with Aphrodite in the Near East, in Egypt he equated Isis with Demeter, Osiris with Dionysus, Hathor with Aphrodite, Amun with Zeus, Bast with Artemis, etc. If I remember correctly, Herodotus wrote that Hera was the only deity unknown in Egypt. I agree with catja that this kind of polytheism is much softer than what "hard polytheists" believe about the gods.

During the Hellenistic and Roman periods, Isis had many titles that equated her with all other goddesses (and even gods) in her Greco-Roman cults. She was considered The One Who is All, all gods and goddesses in one. Of course, this was particular to her Greco-Roman mystery cult and wasn't how she was seen in Egypt. There's also my favourite passage from Lucius Apuleius in the early second century CE:

"Behold Lucius I am come, thy weeping and prayers has moved me to succor thee. I am she that is the natural mother of all things, mistress and governess of all the elements, the initial progeny of worlds, chief of powers divine, Queen of heaven, the principal of the Gods celestial, the light of the goddesses: at my will the planets of the air, the wholesome winds of the Seas, and the silences of hell be disposed; my name, my divinity is adored throughout all the world in diverse manners, in variable customs and in many names, for the Phrygians call me Pessinuntica, the mother of the Gods: the Athenians call me Cecropian Artemis: the Cyprians, Paphian Aphrodite: the Candians, Dictyanna: the Sicilians , Stygian Proserpine: and the Eleusians call me Mother of the Corn. Some call me Juno, others Bellona of the Battles, and still others Hecate. Principally the Ethiopians which dwell in the Orient, and the Egyptians which are excellent in all kind of ancient doctrine, and by their proper ceremonies accustomed to worship me, do call me Queen Isis."

There's also the common idea in Hinduism that the many deities are manifestations of Brahman, the world soul over which the physical universe is draped. If I'm not mistaken, in the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells Arjuna that he (Krishna) is the supreme deity, but that worshiping other deities is fine because they are actually all really Krishna. In Shaktism, all gods and goddesses are considered different forms of Devi, the Goddess. The same goes for Vaishnavism and Shaivism, which acknowledge all deities as different manifestations of their supreme deity, Vishnu and Shiva, respectively. Polytheism and monism often go hand-in-hand, and monism should not be equated with monotheism as in Abrahamic religions.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 07:55:28 pm by Nyktelios »

DashesAgainst

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2011, 08:07:08 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;25434
I think most deities are separate individuals, but I also believe that in a relatively few cases "deity with name A" may really be the same as "deity with name B".

 
This is what I believe as well.
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Miss

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2011, 08:42:43 pm »
Quote from: celestialwolf;25467
To me the Gods are unique manifestations of the same source. They are as much the same as they are different. Whether I honor the Great Spirit as a whole or Brigid individually, it makes no difference on my relationship with the Gods. So far, they appear to be more than ok with it.

I've been looking a lot into certain paths with divine polarity,where there's a permeating force.

For now I've settled on this permeating force being a part of everything, while still having everything separate. I completely credit this to hearing someone on another forum explain certain things to me. She said the divine source is like spiritual DNA. It's part of you, it's part of me...yet we're certainly not the same person. The divine source also is in the gods/goddesses.

I spent a week in a really chaotic mess, because I was trying to solidify my beliefs. I didn't feel as if gods should be facets of a singular or duo theistic entity, yet I was torn with their being a type of singular divine source (With polarity).

So far I'm satisfied with this way of thinking, but I appreciate criticism and hearing different opinions. Sometimes I settle on one way of thinking and can't really see beyond that. I don't like this trait of mine, which is why I ask a lot of opinion type questions. Sometimes I also have the issue of taking symbolism in a more literal sense. *pacepalm*
« Last Edit: October 16, 2011, 08:44:35 pm by Miss »

Livia Indica

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2011, 10:33:03 pm »
Quote from: Celtag;25392
For me I am a polytheist, I believe that all Gods and Goddesses and completely different beings. I know there are totally different views on this, I would just like too know what you believe.

 
A hard polytheist here, and yet I can completely understand the softer view. I work primarily with the Greco-Roman pantheon which is, as has been stated, a perfect example of the blending and borrowing that went on in ancient times and continues to this day. After reading through the previous posts and rethinking things a little I guess I would say, having read my share of history/myth/UPGs, etc., that I'm a hard polytheist with soft leanings. Does that makes sense?

I guess I should say that I believe that most deities are distinct but I acknowledge that there are many deities who are known by multiple names with various guises. I'm one of those folks who make a point to call myself a hard polytheist mostly because I don't believe in a single deity of any kind or a single intelligent force or any single anything.

Catherine

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #21 on: October 17, 2011, 02:28:56 pm »
Quote from: Celtag;25392
For me I am a polytheist, I believe that all Gods and Goddesses and completely different beings. I know there are totally different views on this, I would just like too know what you believe.


I guess I'm a middle of the road polytheist. I can't say that I believe 100% either way.

I think that there are individual gods and goddesses, but how many? I have no clue. Are some of them the same, just viewed through different cultural lenses, etc? Possibly. Could there really be only one "source" and all of the deities we experience are different faces of that one? I guess it could be that way, but that makes the least sense to me. I have no way to be 100% positive about any of this, though.

As far as my practices go, I choose to honor Them as separate, individual deities to the best of my ability. If that's really how it is, great! There's no confusion, and it's pretty straight forward. If not, that's okay too, because I'm reaching out in a very specific way, looking to connect to a specific personality, or energy, or whatever you want to call it.

For example, Juno and Hera might be the same entity. If I automatically assume they are the same when they're not, then there could be problems. So, I go with the name that was given to me and draw from that culture in my practices.

If on the other hand they are the same Goddess, then I'm just being more specific about what aspect, personality, energy current, whatever, I'm trying to contact and communicate with.

If in the end all goddesses are one goddess, then I think it's even more important to be specific about which aspect I'm reaching out to. The easiest way for me to do that, is to treat them all as individuals.

Does that make any sense at all, or am I just rambling again?

celestialwolf

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #22 on: October 17, 2011, 02:31:12 pm »
Quote from: Catherine;25978
Does that make any sense at all, or am I just rambling again?

 
Makes sense to me.

Firaza

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #23 on: October 18, 2011, 03:17:14 am »
Quote from: Celtag;25392
For me I am a polytheist, I believe that all Gods and Goddesses and completely different beings. I know there are totally different views on this, I would just like too know what you believe.

 
I am a hard polytheist. I believe that though some gods may be similar, there are enough differences between them to make them individual beings.

Dark Midnight

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #24 on: October 18, 2011, 03:36:19 am »
Quote from: Celtag;25392
For me I am a polytheist, I believe that all Gods and Goddesses and completely different beings. I know there are totally different views on this, I would just like too know what you believe.

 
I'm with you. I know that a lot of Deities have similar aspects, but I believe that they are all individuals.
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Lokabrenna

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #25 on: October 18, 2011, 02:57:36 pm »
Quote from: Dark Midnight;26117
I'm with you. I know that a lot of Deities have similar aspects, but I believe that they are all individuals.


I too believe that gods are individuals, but I think that different cultures give them "context" so to speak. I see a lot of similarities between Freyja and Aphrodite, or Hel and Ereshkigal, but they each come from different times and cultures and each culture had its own way of seeing the world, so there are ways (some more subtle than others) in which they are distinct from each other.

Yindaijin

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #26 on: October 18, 2011, 08:29:29 pm »
Quote from: Firaza;26116
I am a hard polytheist. I believe that though some gods may be similar, there are enough differences between them to make them individual beings.

 
Ditto!

And might I add that I'm not sure if the Gods of pantheons other than mine exist. I feel that they probably do, but some part of me has trouble with the concept. I'm not exactly sure why, but there it is.
"The soul is dyed with the color of its thoughts." - Marcus Aurelius

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