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Author Topic: Gods are all individuals?  (Read 4554 times)

Celtag

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Gods are all individuals?
« on: October 14, 2011, 01:35:20 pm »
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.
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KittyVel

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #1 on: October 14, 2011, 01:40:48 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.

 
My beliefs are pretty much the same.  I'm a strict polytheist, and I believe that every deity is His/Her/Their own individual.  This includes personality, preferences, likes, dislikes, etc.  They're like humans, just a bit higher up on the ladder.  My 2 cents, anyway.
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Mata

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #2 on: October 14, 2011, 04:03:14 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... have no idea to be honest. lol.

But, if I may ramble for a moment since this was something I was pondering about the other night:

I think that many deities are distinct from one another. I don't think Thor is Set, or Hathor is Aphrodite, for the most part. But I think that gods who have a similar domain or sphere of influence, aren't totally separate from one another. Ba'al and Jupiter might both be storm gods and still not be the same entity, but I think (here's where it's gets kinda rambly) that they emanate from the same, for lack of a better term, Form; the Form of lightning interacts with the world and through a culture's experience and tradition, the Form is given an identity that develops into it's own being. A decent-ish analogy would be taking water from a lake, and dividing it and giving it to different people: People will put it to different uses. If the water goes into different pots of soup, it won't be the 'same' in terms of experience, and yet other people will use it to bathe, and so forth, but will not be changed in and of itself.

Ugh, I don't know. I am a little loopy on allergy meds, and this is something I am just toying with. And clearly I've been reading too many Platonic writings :p

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« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 04:05:13 pm by Mata »
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KittyVel

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #3 on: October 14, 2011, 04:28:44 pm »
Quote from: Mata;25407
But I think that gods who have a similar domain or sphere of influence, aren't totally separate from one another. Ba'al and Jupiter might both be storm gods and still not be the same entity, but I think (here's where it's gets kinda rambly) that they emanate from the same, for lack of a better term, Form; the Form of lightning interacts with the world and through a culture's experience and tradition, the Form is given an identity that develops into it's own being. A decent-ish analogy would be taking water from a lake, and dividing it and giving it to different people: People will put it to different uses. If the water goes into different pots of soup, it won't be the 'same' in terms of experience, and yet other people will use it to bathe, and so forth, but will not be changed in and of itself.

 
This is a great way of putting it!  Far better than what I could have said.  Well said!  :3
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HeartShadow

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #4 on: October 14, 2011, 04:29:57 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.

 
They are individual - except when They're not.

Clear as mud?  I know.  But as they are not *physical* entities, I don't think they're as ... confined in their reality as we are.  I cannot be someone else.  I can pretend, I can act, but I am this body and none other.  Spiritual creatures can .. overlap, and that overlap can be some of both and its own thing and ... stuff.

Basically, whatever rules we draw up, They'll break 'em. :p

Valentine

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #5 on: October 14, 2011, 04:55:37 pm »
Quote from: HeartShadow;25411
They are individual - except when They're not.

Clear as mud?  I know.  But as they are not *physical* entities, I don't think they're as ... confined in their reality as we are.  I cannot be someone else.  I can pretend, I can act, but I am this body and none other.  Spiritual creatures can .. overlap, and that overlap can be some of both and its own thing and ... stuff.

Basically, whatever rules we draw up, They'll break 'em. :p

 
I was trying to explain my view to folks last night, and eventually came to, "Well, They're about as separate from each other as we are.  Which is to say, not particularly at all, when you come right down to it..."  Everything kind of overlaps with everything.  Trying to find the border between actual natural phenomena is a game of lines of best fit.  I don't see why it would be different with Gods.  There aren't a lot of sharp clean divisions in this universe.
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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #6 on: October 14, 2011, 04:56:08 pm »
Quote from: Valentine;25418
There aren't a lot of sharp clean divisions in this universe.

 
...I'm being all liminal again, aren't I.
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Juniperberry

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #7 on: October 14, 2011, 05:15:48 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 think my gods are complete and separate individuals. Sure, there may have been One Source, but my gods sprang separately from that source. If you go by the Eddas then they even rose up, dismembered that One and created a reality of separates, and boundaries- distinctions and definitions.

Or, if you prefer the continental  myth ( which I do, with a lot of speculation), then Tuisto was born from here, one of many, just like plants, and insects and animals but of a more spiritual form, and from him came Mannus and from Mannus  the tribes....

I don't like the idea that there's one giant brain with tentacles that spread across cultures. I like organic explanations- I like that the gods are a consequence of nature, that they are born, or blossom, or arise from the building blocks of it all as much as everything else. ...Which is why they're bound to the same cold and impersonal laws of nature that everything else is.
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RandallS

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #8 on: October 14, 2011, 05:48:39 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 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".
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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #9 on: October 14, 2011, 08:50:47 pm »
Quote from: Mata;25407
I think that many deities are distinct from one another. I don't think Thor is Set, or Hathor is Aphrodite, for the most part. But I think that gods who have a similar domain or sphere of influence, aren't totally separate from one another. Ba'al and Jupiter might both be storm gods and still not be the same entity, but I think (here's where it's gets kinda rambly) that they emanate from the same, for lack of a better term, Form; the Form of lightning interacts with the world and through a culture's experience and tradition, the Form is given an identity that develops into it's own being. A decent-ish analogy would be taking water from a lake, and dividing it and giving it to different people: People will put it to different uses. If the water goes into different pots of soup, it won't be the 'same' in terms of experience, and yet other people will use it to bathe, and so forth, but will not be changed in and of itself.


That pretty much sums up my view. There are Big Forces flowing through us and in the world around us, so big that our limited human minds can't grasp them fully. To get a handle on them, different cultures look at these same forces and give them names and stories...but of course, every culture's interpretation is different (the way languages are different; words may be roughly equivalent, but layers of meaning will be lost in translation).

The trick is, different interpretations cause these Big Forces to differentiate into different gods; the observer affects the observed, much as in quantum physics, where certain states of subatomic particles are indeterminate until the particle is observed.

So the gods are different, but drawn from a similar source, and none of the gods fully captures that source; they're handy human constructs, metaphors for Something Big.
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celestialwolf

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #10 on: October 14, 2011, 09:23:21 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".

 
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.

Nyktelios

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #11 on: October 14, 2011, 10:37:15 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 think they are individuals to a certain extent, although I don't think every god from every pantheon is unique. Personally, I'm a universalist, and I think all religions worship the same universal divinity in different forms. I don't really believe in the gods as literal beings, more like complex symbols in recognizable forms that help our human minds relate to things far beyond our comprehension.

There is a lot of overlap with certain deities, so I do acknowledge some as the same. Aphrodite is a Hellenized version of Astarte, who is a Phoenician version of Babylonian Ishtar, who is a later version of Sumerian Inanna, so while they are distinct goddesses culturally, spiritually I believe them to be the same. Egyptian Hathor is also pretty much identical to Aphrodite, except for the sea associations, but the Greeks were a much more sea-oriented people than the Egyptians. The gods are always reflections of people who worship them, so I think it's silly to take cultural differences too literally.

Even within a single culture gods were equated with each other. It happened in Egypt a lot, where religion was so localized to each city with its own group of a few deities. As the cities came into contact, gods of different cities were equated and syncretized with each other. In Greece, minor local deities would be identified with Olympians and absorbed into them. Examples that come to mind are Dictynna being absorbed into Artemis, Apollon being referred to as "Pan in royal guise" in his Orphic Hymn, and Nyx being called Aphrodite in hers.

I think "hard" polytheism is a very new concept, which I'm guessing is a reaction against the idea common in Wicca that "all gods are one god," as a way for non-Wiccans to distinguish themselves. It's evident from ancient literature that many ancient cultures interpreted their gods much more fluidly than we do with our modern lens.

Juniperberry

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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #12 on: October 14, 2011, 11:28:52 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;254

I think "hard" polytheism is a very new concept, which I'm guessing is a reaction against the idea common in Wicca that "all gods are one god," as a way for non-Wiccans to distinguish themselves. It's evident from ancient literature that many ancient cultures interpreted their gods much more fluidly than we do with our modern lens.

No, I don't believe so....
 



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.

Tribal worship of the matronae was very possessive. There's evidence that the mothers belonged to the people, separate from the next tribe over. It was seen as religious property and not an overflow of divine oneness or substance.

Even the notions of what gods were/are is quite different than monotheism or soft polytheism. These spiritual creatures were a population - the vaettir, who had individual residence and land, and was a population of which the ruling wights (gods) were a part of.

Along with that were the ancestral deities.  Demi-gods that belonged to an individual line. It wasn't one great Hamingja understood individually by all in their own way. Even the creation of man consists of being born through a spiritual progenitor that is distinctly individual from the next.

I could go out on a limb and say that soft polytheism in paganism is a modern reaction for those separating from a monotheistic worldview . One could even say that if you're so certain that at the end of the line there's One True God than why not just pray to that. But I don't because no doubt the issue is a tad bit more complicated than the cultural impact of Wicca.

Edit: Sorry if I come off sounding harsh. When I'm posting from my phone I try to mince words ( believe it or not) and to just get it texted as easily as possible. Sort of kills the conversational tone I would prefer to have. :/
« Last Edit: October 14, 2011, 11:32:57 pm by Juniperberry »
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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #13 on: October 15, 2011, 01:15:59 am »
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".

 
I'm basically with Randall on this one.  As a polytheist, I believe all the god/desses are individuals.  However, I also think there are instances in which a deity is known by one name to a certain group of people or in a certain geographic area, AND known by a different name to a different group of people or a different area.  I think Brighid and Sulis might be an example of this.

Several years ago (and several forum softwars ago ;) ), I explained my thinking like this:

Say, for example, that the pre-Celtic people who lived in Ireland worshipped a sun goddess.  There's some support for this idea, based on the limited archeological remains that date back that far -- like Newgrange.  We don't have a clue what this goddess's name was -- let's call her Jane.  Maybe that's her True Name, or maybe it's a title itself.

So, the pre-Celts worship Jane the Exalted Sun Goddess.  And as other peoples start to move into Ireland, Jane's people are either conquerred or assimilate or meld with the newbies.  The Janefolk explain Jane to the newbies, using terminology like "exalted" and "supreme" and "holy", etc.  The newbies get the concept of exalted, but their word for exalted is "Brig".  So, maybe for a while, Jane is known to the mishmash of people as Jane Brig (or Jane, the Exalted).  Eventually, as the original Janeites die out, the "Jane" part of the name gets dropped, and the goddess is known only as Brig, or Brighid.  Same goddess, evolved name.

Something similar could have happened with Sulis.  Maybe the Janeites originally emigrated from Britain into Ireland.  So, if Jane was worshipped in Britain, the same process could have occurred with newbies there.  The Janeites introduce Jane as Jane, the Exalted Sun Goddess.  The newbies key in on the "sun" part, but in their language, that's Sul.  So, it's Sul Jane for a while.  Then just Sul.  Same goddess, *different* evolved name.

Over time, the goddess's True Name, Jane, is lost.  All we've got are evolved names and clues about how she was worshipped.

I'm NOT suggesting that Jane was a Universal Mother Goddess worshipped by all ancient people everywhere around the globe.  Yes, there are sun goddesses in other cultures.  Isn't Hathor a sun goddess?  But that doesn't mean that Jane=Hathor.  Unless there is some evidence that the Janeites also had significant contact with the Egyptians, enough that the evolution proccess could occur.  But given the vast geographical differences and the time periods involved, that seems unlikely to me.


This is pretty much how I still think about it.
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Re: Gods are all individuals?
« Reply #14 on: October 15, 2011, 03:05:01 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 believe this to a certain extent, because I believe certain deities to be the same designation of themselves under alternative names.

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."

Examples from my own cultural tradition, An Daghdha("The goog dod," a title) is known by many names, such as Eochaidh Ollathair, Aedh Álainn, and Aedh Ruadh Ró-Fheasa being a few examples(all other titles.) Even breaking the etymology down, "Dagdea" comes from the Celtic "dago-Dewios," dewios meaning "sky," as found in other Indo-European languages such as the Indic "dyaus", Latin "deus," and I think we're all familiar with the Greek "Zeus."

Even in regards to cosmology, scholarly views of our native vernacular like professor Ó hÓgáin state, "We can deduce that the Daghdha was a male deity with solar connotations, and Danu (other-wise called Mór-Ríoghain) was his female consort representing the land and the waters." There are many great deities that fill these roles according to tuath, with some believed to be the same designation as others under alternative titles.

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