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Author Topic: Hard polytheism, soft polytheism, and the transmission of deities across cultures  (Read 5421 times)

SunflowerP

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Quote from: Nyktelios;155714
I would say that they are not necessarily categories, but ends of a spectrum. I'm sure most people, both ancient and modern, would fall somewhere near the middle.


That would be why I said, 'nor are they a hybrid of the two'. I dispute that the Christianity-based map you are using for this is sufficiently descriptive of the territory of paganism.

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Just to clarify, I meant "evangelical" in the sense of strict adherence to "the Word" in a literal way, not so much to do with proselytism.


Ah, so you weren't using it to refer to evangelism, but to Evangelicalism.

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Ancient cultures appear to me to....

 
One thing that has been bothering me a great deal in this thread is the way that some folks - you are a particularly strong example - keep speaking about 'ancient cultures do X' (or, 'appear to me to do X') as if all or most ancient cultures did/thought the same things.

Sunflower
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SunflowerP

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Quote from: random417;155753
Really? Have you ever actually read her ficton work? This is the woman who gave the Wiccan community the quote "A religion without a Goddess is halfway to atheism".


Yes, she was very influential on the development of certain strands of the neoPagan movement. Yes, her fiction in particular was inspirational. But it is fiction. One might just as well try to argue that Robert Heinlein was pagan, because he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, which was much more directly influential on the Church of All Worlds than Fortune was on Wicca (or any other early neoPagan religion).
 
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Remember, the identification as Pagan grew out of the Wiccan movement, and so... Pre Wicca, one couldn't identify as a Pagan and mean the same thing as it means now.


The use of 'pagan' as an identifier by people who were not Wiccan predates any point at which there could be said to be a Wiccan movement. I mention it only because it's an inaccuracy that should not, IMO, be allowed to stand; it is not relevant to the argument at hand.

That paganism, in its current sense, didn't exist to be available to Dion Fortune does not support your argument that she was pagan; quite the reverse: because it didn't exist, she cannot possibly have been one. I am really uncomfortable with the notion of declaring a person, posthumously, to be part of a religion, or umbrella grouping of religions, whether it's being done by pagans or by the Church of Latter-Day Saints.

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Maybe, as a Ceremonial Magician and Hermeticist myself, the exclusion of someone who I consider one of the bridges between what I do and the larger Pagan community from the Pagan label, rubs me the wrong way. Are you saying then that I'm not Pagan? I identify myself as such, and bluntly, I fit the mold less than Fortune.

 
No, because you are able to identify yourself that way. I am not particularly interested in measuring whether people are 'pagan enough' to get to call themselves that; I am interested in not having it imposed on people without their consent.

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random417

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Quote from: SunflowerP;155909
Yes, she was very influential on the development of certain strands of the neoPagan movement. Yes, her fiction in particular was inspirational. But it is fiction. One might just as well try to argue that Robert Heinlein was pagan, because he wrote Stranger in a Strange Land, which was much more directly influential on the Church of All Worlds than Fortune was on Wicca (or any other early neoPagan religion).
 

Fair points all, with the exception that liking at her fiction now (by which I mean I'm not actually going to dig it out of my storage unit, but, you know :) ), her work COULD easily be viewed as fiction in the same vein as High Magics Aid, which is fiction designed to carry truth. Not at this point arguing with you at all, just curious as to your thoughts on that.
"Let it be that state of manyhood bound and loathing. So with thy all; thou hast no right but to do thy will. Do that and no other shall say nay. For pure will, unassuaged of purpose, delivered from the lust of result, is in every way perfect."

AL 1:42-44

Faemon

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Quote from: random417;155916
fiction in the same vein as High Magics Aid, which is fiction designed to carry truth. Not at this point arguing with you at all, just curious as to your thoughts on that.


While fandom seems far more frivolous than faith, I would think that the transmission of stories across cultures can be pretty well-analyzed borrowing terms from fanfiction writing communities. The source material, the official entertainment medium series, is even called "canon". What each fan believes about their favorite character (or any character) is called "headcanon" and I think that operates a lot like UPG.

To bring it back to the transmission of deities across cultures, there's going to be adaptations of a story, both in official/professional media and amateur work, that not everybody is going to be a fan of.

There's going to be complete stories that are well-beloved because it ties in so neatly and resonates with the worldview of the audience members. As it comes to life in the minds of a greater reach of audience members, then we might glean a shift in how the story is characterized in the minds of people--the culture into which a deity-form or character has crossed over, which is the context by which the story is told, the image is created, and made resonant in the practice of the living faith (or fandom) of the people.

One distinction I would make (for now) would be the belief that gods are real, not just characters that we make up and change to suit our needs--but that the collective personal gnosis isn't culturally-contrived but divinely-granted.

Making a story out of a real person can be a problem in celebrity culture, invasion of privacy, ruined reputation ruining lives, or keeping up an image at the cost of personal authenticity that usually isn't healthy, along with some good stuff like being more influential the more famous you are (works backwards, too, probably, having an influence and then getting famous based on that.) But we can have a general idea about the human nature of a fellow human.

The gods? Remain a mystery. How much of an image is divine inspiration? How much is personal bias, or cultural/political agenda? What hardens or softens the polytheistic philosophy? And if, as the idea was introduced, recognize that "hard" and "soft" polytheism isn't really an actual thing at all--just a term to clarify a social philosophical position maybe, or check our thinking and attitude towards it--Is that really any closer to the nature of the deities (or the attitudes that people in the past might have agreed to take, in general, somewhat collectively, towards the nature of the deities?)
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 02:45:31 am by Faemon »
The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

SunflowerP

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Quote from: Faemon;155945


 
A Reminder:
Hi, Faemon,

Two points. One, please quote the post that you are responding to, not just the immediately-previous post in the thread. Because your post is not a reply to the post you quote (which is part of a different sub-conversation), it is extremely confusing. As well, it means that the trackback code of the post, which is an essential part of why we require quoting, doesn't go to the proper post.


Two, our rules  generally prohibit editing after more than 2-3 minutes.  (Correcting  typos or minor mistakes is OK, but don't forget to fill in the "Reason  for Editing" box so that we know what's going on.)  This is because  after that long, several people have already read what you've written,  and they won't see the changes you make.  Because of that, they will  have difficulty following the conversation when someone replies to your  new, updated post.

If you need to correct or add anything  significant after those 2-3 minutes, you should just reply to yourself  and give the correction or additional information in the new post.   Double-posting is not considered bad behaviour here, and this will help  keep everyone on the same page, so to speak.

This isn't a formal  warning, just a reminder.  No reply is necessary, but if you have  questions or need clarification, please feel free to contact a member of  staff privately.

Thanks!
Sunflower, TC Forum Staff
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SunflowerP

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Quote from: random417;155916
Fair points all, with the exception that liking at her fiction now (by which I mean I'm not actually going to dig it out of my storage unit, but, you know :) ), her work COULD easily be viewed as fiction in the same vein as High Magics Aid, which is fiction designed to carry truth. Not at this point arguing with you at all, just curious as to your thoughts on that.

 
One thought in particular comes to mind: that it's possible (perhaps even common) for a writer to convey a truth (perhaps different, and even mutually-exclusive, truths to different readers) without consciously apprehending it themselves.

F'ex, Heinlein was in fact quite irritated about the real-life Church of All Worlds - the truth he'd intended to convey was that people should figure out for themselves what, if any, religious structures worked for them personally; the one he presented in the novel was meant simply to be illustrative and to provide a start point for conversations about it.

I could cite other examples, but that's quite a long ways from the topic of the thread.

Sunflower
I'm the AntiFa genderqueer commie eclectic wiccan Mod your alt-right bros warned you about.
I do so have a life; I just live part of it online!
“Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live.” - Oscar Wilde
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My much-neglected blog "If You Ain't Makin' Waves, You Ain't Kickin' Hard Enough"

carillion

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Quote from: SunflowerP;156037
One thought in particular comes to mind: that it's possible (perhaps even common) for a writer to convey a truth (perhaps different, and even mutually-exclusive, truths to different readers) without consciously apprehending it themselves.

F'ex, Heinlein was in fact quite irritated about the real-life Church of All Worlds - the truth he'd intended to convey was that people should figure out for themselves what, if any, religious structures worked for them personally; the one he presented in the novel was meant simply to be illustrative and to provide a start point for conversations about it.

I could cite other examples, but that's quite a long ways from the topic of the thread.

Sunflower

 

Yes, but it's an interesting observation. Most of my exploring was set off by works unconnected to (by virtue of the authors stated interests) the ideas I ended up following. Hmm, maybe worth a thread...

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