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Author Topic: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.  (Read 3904 times)

baduhmtisss

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So, I've recently discovered a problem of my own. I tend to associate Gods from different cultures in different time periods with very set ideas. Like, associating Egyptian gods with the desert, the Nile, Heat, and Sun. While I'm not particularly guessing that these associations are /bad/, they're hindering to my actual understanding of the Gods themselves.

Does anybody else have this problem? Or is it just me? What do you do to fix the problem?  Thinky thoughts are totally welcome, I'm looking for a discussion.

What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life? I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.
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Altair

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2014, 06:05:37 pm »
Quote from: Raine;168231
So, I've recently discovered a problem of my own. I tend to associate Gods from different cultures in different time periods with very set ideas. Like, associating Egyptian gods with the desert, the Nile, Heat, and Sun. While I'm not particularly guessing that these associations are /bad/, they're hindering to my actual understanding of the Gods themselves.


I guess I don't get why that would hinder understanding, rather than aiding it. I look at deity in context: rooted in a particular culture and environment. An appreciation of that culture and environment is essential to a proper understanding. Or am I missing something?

Quote
What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life? I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.


In this we share the same problem. I couldn't do it. Much as I love the myths of the many cultures the world over, I couldn't pluck their gods out of their cultural context and integrate them into my contemporary Western life. Greco-Roman would seem to be the most likely to make the transition, since its at the foundations of Western culture; but even that is too far removed in time and place and culture for me to make it fit.

My solution was to find my own gods within me. Others don't seem to have our problem, however, so hopefully they'll chime in with helpful suggestions.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

baduhmtisss

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2014, 06:25:38 pm »
Quote from: Altair;168241
I guess I don't get why that would hinder understanding, rather than aiding it. I look at deity in context: rooted in a particular culture and environment. An appreciation of that culture and environment is essential to a proper understanding. Or am I missing something?


I think it's me that's missing something. For some reason, I find that my understanding of that culture is what is creating a problem for me in that I can't see the gods outside of that culture. Is that making any sense? It's good to have an understanding of that god within it's own culture, so I'm not saying it's particularly bad, just that for some reason it's overpowering my understanding of the god's actual associations and hindering the connection?

Quote
My solution was to find my own gods within me. Others don't seem to have our problem, however, so hopefully they'll chime in with helpful suggestions.

 
I think this is what made your book so powerful for me. The uniqueness of the gods involved was entirely powerful in a way that I find difficult to feel with gods of older mythology.
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Faemon

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #3 on: December 28, 2014, 08:10:58 pm »
Quote from: Raine;168231
What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life?

I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.

 
I had a big problem with this, too, until I read this entry about simply opening oneself up to the presence or manifestation of the gods in the world we know firsthand.

There's also the essay "Here, There, and Anywhere" by Jonathan Z. Smith that gave a good breakdown of personal/familial/domestic religion, the state religion, and how those religions are adapted when its followers are forced to give up the groundedness and location of their faith of practice.
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Kaio

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #4 on: December 28, 2014, 10:02:11 pm »
Quote from: Raine;168231
So, I've recently discovered a problem of my own. I tend to associate Gods from different cultures in different time periods with very set ideas. Like, associating Egyptian gods with the desert, the Nile, Heat, and Sun. While I'm not particularly guessing that these associations are /bad/, they're hindering to my actual understanding of the Gods themselves.

Does anybody else have this problem? Or is it just me? What do you do to fix the problem?  Thinky thoughts are totally welcome, I'm looking for a discussion.

What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life? I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.


 Adapting is something I think most, if not all, contemporary Pagans do sooner or later, knowingly or not, admittedly or not.
 If one thinks about Deities associated with Egyptian culture, there is historical precedent of at least some of Them being worshiped outside Egypt and, I suppose, by non-Egyptians. You may take account of this precedent when you build your practices.

 I myself often face similar problems. Too much focus on the past may prevent us from developing a religious pratice and most, if not all, historically uninterrupted  religions had to make concessions.
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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2014, 12:56:22 am »
Quote from: Raine;168231
What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life?

 
I'm afraid I have the wrong kind of brain right now to make a useful answer, but I have a poem about this.

Quote
Set Beyond The Borders of Egypt

There is no river here
Nor flood to bring the black and green
And birth the land anew.
So he comes rumbling
To bring about his brother's blessing
To fling Osiris to the earth
All in pieces
And to drive the people to take cover
With rain and thunder
Rather than sand.


(And the ancients, when they travelled to places with rainstorms - I think even snowstorms - associated them with Himself, so it's not like I'm making this up....)
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Sobekemiti

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2014, 01:54:59 am »
Quote from: Raine;168231
So, I've recently discovered a problem of my own. I tend to associate Gods from different cultures in different time periods with very set ideas. Like, associating Egyptian gods with the desert, the Nile, Heat, and Sun. While I'm not particularly guessing that these associations are /bad/, they're hindering to my actual understanding of the Gods themselves.

Does anybody else have this problem? Or is it just me? What do you do to fix the problem?  Thinky thoughts are totally welcome, I'm looking for a discussion.

What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life? I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.


Oh, I have lots of Thinky Thoughts, let me share them with you. :D Apologies in advance if this is a little tl;dr, but there you go. I hope it's somewhat useful for you.
 
I suppose, for me, reconciling the Egyptian gods with my landscape meant understanding Their Egyptian context, so I could then relate it to my own context. That's probably the best advice I can give you. Know the gods in their cultural contexts, and then know your land the same way. Like, find that hot summer breeze in Heru's wings, the rain as Sobek's sweat cooling the land, gazing up at Nut's starry body at night, finding Hekate at natural crossroads around the suburb, how Sobek and Heru cycle through my seasons in my land, rather than in the context of a flooding Nile that just isn't present here.

I don't have a flooding river, but I do have black land and red land. The black land is in the south of the state, where the fertile farming country is. That's Wesir's land. The red land, Set's land, is in the north of the state, in that arid land. They don't quite have the same dynamic that the flooding river brings, but there is still some friction at the borders, where drought and saline soils are shrinking the arable land.

A paperbark tree by a river, shading the brown water, feels like the closest I can get to being beside the Nile. Artemis has also suggested using paperbark for spells, as it can break up quite easily and be painted on.

I can find Sobek in saltwater crocodiles, and Heru in wedge-tailed eagles. I can feel Heru's fiery nature in the hot easterly winds that come through here in the summer, when He's at the height of His power, and His calming nature in the sea breezes that come in to drive the heat away. Sobek can bring the rain to feed the soils, or there can be epic hail storms that might flood a street. Though I suspect His flood-bringing powers are probably much stronger up north during the wet season than down here where we have a more temperate four-seasons sort of climate. I still associate Him with winter storms, though, because they bring the rain.

Bushfires I see as more Ra than Heru, because many Australian plants have adapted to fire, and some even need it to regenerate. So that creative power of Ra's comes with the fire. There's a particular forest down south, called the Valley of the Giants, that has always felt like Wesir's land, with lush green foliage, and gigantic karri trees, and rich black soil. It's cool and calming, and it's a very peaceful place.

And now that I'm thinking about it, I almost want to go back to some of the mountains-so-old-they-are-just-very-big-hills we have down south and see if Meretseger can be found there. She's a goddess of a very particular place in Egypt, but perhaps She can also be found in the silence at the top of our very old mountains that only just qualify as mountains. Hmm.

See, this is why I spent so long trying to find a seasonal calendar that reflected my seasons, rather than those in Egypt. It knits the gods and the landscape together for me. It makes the gods come alive and feel much more present in the world around me.

And even going beyond the physical landscape, Set is a god of the marginalised and the oppressed, and as a queer pagan, that's entirely relatable. It took me a long time to understand that part of His nature, but I'm glad I did. He's a very complex god, and seeing His protective nature come out so strongly particularly during the trans* rite of elevation I did a couple of months back, it helped to cement that aspect of Him in my mind.

None of this has come easily or quickly, of course. It's taken years of experimentation and meditation, trying to know my landscape and seasons as well as I know the gods, and trying to adapt the gods to a foreign place. So if I were you, that's where I'd start. Get to know the landscape around you and try to find the gods there. See where it takes you.
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Sophia C

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #7 on: December 29, 2014, 04:31:37 am »
Quote from: Raine;168231
So, I've recently discovered a problem of my own. I tend to associate Gods from different cultures in different time periods with very set ideas. Like, associating Egyptian gods with the desert, the Nile, Heat, and Sun. While I'm not particularly guessing that these associations are /bad/, they're hindering to my actual understanding of the Gods themselves.

Does anybody else have this problem? Or is it just me? What do you do to fix the problem?  Thinky thoughts are totally welcome, I'm looking for a discussion.

What I'm also wondering, is how one takes those associations and understands them in their everyday life? Or rather, takes gods from different time periods and lands, and understands them in their everyday life? I have a big problem with this. For me, the gods are /other/ and /outside/ of my life, instead of working /inside/ my everyday life.

I have this difficulty, multiplied by the way I want my gods to be gods of things, like the sun or the weather, when in fact the Irish gods seem to have been gods with *influence over*, rather than gods *of*.

My particular issue with Beara is that she's specifically a god of a locality. At first she really didn't make much sense for me outside of that specific place. So I did a lot of listening to her about where she has influence, and tried to find themes. Those themes have ended up with me seeing her as a goddess of the liminal people and places, among other things. From there it's been about working out who and where that is, in the modern urban world I live in. That's pure UPG - except when it isn't.

So you could start with big themes, and be guided by hints left by the ancients, as Kiya talks about. An example is Manannan, the god with influence over the sea, who was seen by some cultures as also having influence over the weather. Extrapolate and see where you get to!
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baduhmtisss

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #8 on: December 29, 2014, 09:33:05 am »
Quote from: Faemon;168253
I had a big problem with this, too, until I read this entry about simply opening oneself up to the presence or manifestation of the gods in the world we know firsthand.

There's also the essay "Here, There, and Anywhere" by Jonathan Z. Smith that gave a good breakdown of personal/familial/domestic religion, the state religion, and how those religions are adapted when its followers are forced to give up the groundedness and location of their faith of practice.

 
The second link wouldn't allow me to see the page in google books, but that's okay because the first link to the essay has been very informative! Thanks for sharing. It's giving me some thinky thoughts, that actually relate a lot to what Sobekemiti is saying.
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baduhmtisss

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #9 on: December 29, 2014, 10:00:13 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;168281
I'm afraid I have the wrong kind of brain right now to make a useful answer, but I have a poem about this.



(And the ancients, when they travelled to places with rainstorms - I think even snowstorms - associated them with Himself, so it's not like I'm making this up....)


This poem totally opened up my eyes a bit to see exactly how the ancient civilizations viewed their gods. I didn't realize they were so.. flexible? I think that's the word I'm looking for. It's hard to view the gods outside of their original boundaries.
 
Quote from: Sobekemiti;168288
Oh, I have lots of Thinky Thoughts, let me share them with you. :D Apologies in advance if this is a little tl;dr, but there you go. I hope it's somewhat useful for you.
 
I suppose, for me, reconciling the Egyptian gods with my landscape meant understanding Their Egyptian context, so I could then relate it to my own context. That's probably the best advice I can give you. Know the gods in their cultural contexts, and then know your land the same way. Like, find that hot summer breeze in Heru's wings, the rain as Sobek's sweat cooling the land, gazing up at Nut's starry body at night, finding Hekate at natural crossroads around the suburb, how Sobek and Heru cycle through my seasons in my land, rather than in the context of a flooding Nile that just isn't present here.

None of this has come easily or quickly, of course. It's taken years of experimentation and meditation, trying to know my landscape and seasons as well as I know the gods, and trying to adapt the gods to a foreign place. So if I were you, that's where I'd start. Get to know the landscape around you and try to find the gods there. See where it takes you.

 
Sobekemiti, thanks. You essentially gave me a recipe for understanding the gods in a manner all related to my own landscape. It's hard for me to put two and two together sometimes, so when it gets laid out as "Do X, then Y, and you'll get Z" it makes much more sense.

Quote from: Naomi J;168290
I have this difficulty, multiplied by the way I want my gods to be gods of things, like the sun or the weather, when in fact the Irish gods seem to have been gods with *influence over*, rather than gods *of*.


I find that I have the hardest time with gods that have *influence over* rather than being gods *of* too. In my mind, it's kind of a broken connection that I can't seem to bridge. Like, If it was a god of Storms (X), I would see a storm and go "Oh that's X" without any difficulty. However, if it was a god influencing storms, I would see a storm and go "That's.. a storm.. with uhm.. a god? Uhh." and I would loose the connection of the god to the storm. Which is why I think it's so difficult for me to translate deities to my own landscape. Like, for example, Hapi. Hapi is generally speaking a god of the Nile. It's nearly impossible for me to see him as associated with anything other then the Nile.

Quote
So you could start with big themes, and be guided by hints left by the ancients, as Kiya talks about. An example is Manannan, the god with influence over the sea, who was seen by some cultures as also having influence over the weather. Extrapolate and see where you get to!

 
I think I will! :D Thanks.
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Darkhawk

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #10 on: December 29, 2014, 11:52:59 am »
Quote from: Raine;168297
This poem totally opened up my eyes a bit to see exactly how the ancient civilizations viewed their gods. I didn't realize they were so.. flexible? I think that's the word I'm looking for. It's hard to view the gods outside of their original boundaries.

 
The ancient Egyptians, from what I can tell, tended to think of their gods as localised to their homelands in that those gods were anchored there, that that was the place one could most truly know them, but that didn't make them stop seeing the ways they manifested in other lands.

They also had things going like having foreign dignitaries saying "Your gods are so powerful!  Could you ask them to help us solve our problems?" and sending icons as emissaries.  (I think the famous case was a statue of Khonsu.)

There's also a surviving Egyptian folktale about a sailor.  He winds up on an island, and the god of that island treats him very well and says "Bring my name back to Egypt when you go" because that god wanted to be venerated there.

The ancients in general didn't live in little sealed bubbles.  They traded gods across their borders (sometimes claiming that the gods they've swiped were theirs all along).  They travelled, and they brought their practices with them when they did, and they updated their interpretations and understandings of their gods as they did.  And there are times when they felt cut off from their gods when they were away from their homelands ("How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?" - Psalms something), and there are times when practices mutated, there were times when they blended, and there were times when people kept more or less doing as they were doing.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Altair

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Re: Gods from other Lands/times being incorporated into Everyday life.
« Reply #11 on: December 29, 2014, 11:13:08 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;168305

They travelled, and they brought their practices with them when they did, and they updated their interpretations and understandings of their gods as they did.  And there are times when they felt cut off from their gods when they were away from their homelands ("How can we sing the songs of the Lord in a foreign land?" - Psalms something), and there are times when practices mutated, there were times when they blended, and there were times when people kept more or less doing as they were doing.


The syncretic religions of the African diaspora here in the new world--Candomblé, Vodou, Santería, etc.--are good examples.
The first song sets the wheel in motion / The second is a song of love / The third song tells of Her devotion / The fourth cries joy from the sky above
The fifth song binds our fate to silence / and bids us live each moment well / The sixth unleashes rage and violence / The seventh song has truth to tell
The last song echoes through the ages / to ask its question all night long / And close the circle on these pages / These, the metamythos songs

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