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Author Topic: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift  (Read 2161 times)

Sophia C

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #30 on: August 06, 2013, 04:57:01 am »
Quote from: Altair;117996
OK. So how one distinguishes between these two possibilities seems to come back to what Neteruhemta was saying; it's a UPG vs. recon issue.

 
Reconstructionism does not exclude UPG and SPG. It's just an approach that prefers to be clear about where ideas come from - whether they're from myth, modern perception, personal perception, etc. I'm a hard polytheist and a sort-of-reconstructionist, and I have UPG all the time. There are entire reconstructionist religions that were based on UPG and SPG, where a god came to an individual or small group and said "This - do more of this."

I personally believe that my ancestors were somewhere between hard and soft polytheism, which are modern, socially constructed (and entirely Pagan) categories. You only have to look at Hinduism to see that in at least some indigenous polytheistic religions, things are FAR more complicated than hard vs soft polytheism. I think the lines between gods, ancestors and land spirits were very blurry for the Celts, for example. I can only assume that the lines between gods could have been similarly blurry - though of course I have no specific evidence for that*. It's a belief. UPG, from a hard polytheist.

*Actually, you could argue that the Morrigu and the three Brighids are an example of our ancestors seeing deities in much more complex, multi-faceted ways than we tend to in reconstructionism. Very hard to say, though - that could also mean other things.
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Aiwelin

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #31 on: August 06, 2013, 03:14:42 pm »
Quote from: Juni;117952
Can an entity, once worshiped and named identically by two distinct group but later called by different (but similar) names and symbols divide themselves into pieces, a sort of divine mitosis?

 
This is what I was trying to get at with my post, but you've phrased it much better!  "Divine mitosis" is a fantastic way of describing the sort of thing I think goes on.  I don't see the deities as eternal and never-changing, and I think you have only to look at our history to see that.  Even in modern times, we worship and honor Deity rather differently then our ancestors, even including strict reconstructionists, just because we are not in that same culture and we don't have those same ideals, no matter what.  A Goddess who primarily demanded blood sacrifices in ancient Europe just won't get that kind of thing very often anymore, and I think it's likely that deities adapt to us and our cultures just as much as we adapt to them.  We have a reciprocal relationship which leaves neither of us unchanged.
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veggiewolf

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #32 on: August 07, 2013, 10:43:17 am »
Quote from: Aiwelin;118127
...A Goddess who primarily demanded blood sacrifices in ancient Europe just won't get that kind of thing very often anymore...

 
I think it probably depends on the deity and the worshipers in question.
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Aiwelin

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #33 on: August 07, 2013, 12:22:49 pm »
Quote from: veggiewolf;118268
I think it probably depends on the deity and the worshipers in question.

 
Hence the "very often" - I'm sure there are modern-day Pagans doing blood sacrifices, but I imagine they're much fewer and far between then the hypothetical deity would have been used to from her original worshippers.
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Materialist

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #34 on: August 07, 2013, 01:50:32 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;118043

I personally believe that my ancestors were somewhere between hard and soft polytheism, which are modern, socially constructed (and entirely Pagan) categories. You only have to look at Hinduism to see that in at least some indigenous polytheistic religions, things are FAR more complicated than hard vs soft polytheism. I think the lines between gods, ancestors and land spirits were very blurry for the Celts, for example. I can only assume that the lines between gods could have been similarly blurry - though of course I have no specific evidence for that*.


Words of wisdom. During the Roman Empire, nymphs were worshiped like goddesses, in Grhya, ancestors became gods for certain rituals. When nit-picking over theology like we're doing now, we much remember that our ideas are OURS, not our ancestors. Our Paganism is NEO, not the original, and our reconstructions are just that-reconstructions from the scraps Christianity overlooked. Saying "this is what was believed in the old days" is always a dangerous thing to say. Most likely it's projecting one's own beliefs onto the past.

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #35 on: August 07, 2013, 02:13:13 pm »
Quote from: Aiwelin;118280
Hence the "very often" - I'm sure there are modern-day Pagans doing blood sacrifices, but I imagine they're much fewer and far between then the hypothetical deity would have been used to from her original worshippers.

 
there are lots of people who do blood sacrifice to The Morrigan through Blood donation
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Aiwelin

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #36 on: August 07, 2013, 02:25:31 pm »
Quote from: maybeimawitch;118296
there are lots of people who do blood sacrifice to The Morrigan through Blood donation

 
Which only helps my original point - that gods and goddesses evolve with us.  A blood sacrifice by donating to others in need is NOT the same as slaying an animal or spilling a person's blood.  The intent is different, the action is different.  That the Morrigan accepts such sacrifices is awesome; but it surely must involve some evolution and change on her part - blood transfusions were not too common back in the day :P
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Fireof9

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #37 on: August 07, 2013, 09:38:40 pm »
Quote from: Juni;117992
(as I am certainly not the only pagan Juni with a love of cats).

 
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Fireof9

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #38 on: August 07, 2013, 09:50:23 pm »
Quote from: Altair;117930
Languages evolve, and populations that once spoke the same language will end up speaking different (although related) languages given enough time, if those populations become distinct. For example, English is a Germanic language, but an English-only speaker and a German-only speaker couldn't converse with any understanding. The English word for the stuff in oceans, lakes, and streams is "water"; in German it's "Wasser". Different words meaning the same thing.

So what about deities? Are (for example) Odin and Wotan the same god, and only the name changes, depending on the people? Or are they different, if similar, gods? How does one make that determination?

Invariably one's understanding of the nature of deity comes into play in this. It's relatively easy for soft polytheists like myself to answer this question, but I'm interested in what hard polytheists have to say too.

 
Generally speaking I am a fairly hard polytheist. That said however my view is that given the way tribes of people moved in times past, it would stand to reason as their dialects changed so would the names of some of their Gods. Wodan, Wotan, Odin - as far as I can tell they are the same being. Somewhere in either the Havamal or one of the Edda's Odin is described as having many names. (Off of the top of my head I can't remember where it is said)

I think the same thing stands for Manawydan fab Llŷr and Manannan Mac Lir. I have gotten shit for that before as well.
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Sophia C

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Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #39 on: August 08, 2013, 02:27:02 am »
Quote from: Fireof9;118340
I think the same thing stands for Manawydan fab Llŷr and Manannan Mac Lir. I have gotten shit for that before as well.

Why? Nowhere is it 'written' that they can't be the same deity. Their myths are very different now, but they might well have had the same origin. Same goes for Odin/Wotan, only more so - no markedly different myths to suggest they're different deities. If I knew them both separately, I might have a different opinion - but I'll keep an open mind on it until I meet them.

(My UPG is that Manannan mac Lir and his Welsh cognate are 'sort of' the same being - but with odd, deity-level caveats that I don't quite understand. Which is different from Macha and the Morrigan, who present themselves to me as separate deities.)
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Altair

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #40 on: August 08, 2013, 07:18:47 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;118367

Their myths are very different now, but they might well have had the same origin.


I think this might be the best way to tell when gods with linguistically connected names are the same god or different gods, actually. If the myths are significantly different, then the gods are different, though "related." Of course, what constitutes a significant difference is open to interpretation.
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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #41 on: August 08, 2013, 07:56:11 am »
Quote from: Altair;118375
I think this might be the best way to tell when gods with linguistically connected names are the same god or different gods, actually. If the myths are significantly different, then the gods are different, though "related." Of course, what constitutes a significant difference is open to interpretation.

 
I agree, sort of - but sometimes UPG says something irritatingly different from what myths might suggest. While I'm in favour of keeping myths and UPG separate, I don't think we can say definitively that if the myths are different, the deities are - not if our UPG involves that god telling us otherwise.
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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #42 on: August 08, 2013, 08:05:54 am »
Quote from: Naomi J;118378
I agree, sort of - but sometimes UPG says something irritatingly different from what myths might suggest. While I'm in favour of keeping myths and UPG separate, I don't think we can say definitively that if the myths are different, the deities are - not if our UPG involves that god telling us otherwise.

 
There's also the case in some instances of practices and rituals evolving somewhat separately from mythology in question. I'm reading a book on Etruscan religion and the influence of Etruscan, Roman, and other Italic peoples on each other is pretty fascinating. Rome and Etruria had a bunch of deities/numen already in place by the time Greek deities were associated with those pantheons. So while, say, Diana and Apollo may be remembered from later parts of Rome as having very similar characteristics to Artemis and Apollon, they really existed prior to that association.

And then back in Etruria, we have Aritimis, who seems like her name at least was borrowed from the Greek, but we also have Aplu/Apulu, who seems pretty happily in place before Apollo showed up.

Book in question: The Religion of the Etruscans, a collection of essays from a conference of the same name. I'm just diving into this area of study so if I made any errors about anything in this rambling post, I'd appreciate correction.
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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #43 on: August 08, 2013, 12:13:41 pm »
Quote from: Sage;118381
There's also the case in some instances of practices and rituals evolving somewhat separately from mythology in question. I'm reading a book on Etruscan religion and the influence of Etruscan, Roman, and other Italic peoples on each other is pretty fascinating. Rome and Etruria had a bunch of deities/numen already in place by the time Greek deities were associated with those pantheons. So while, say, Diana and Apollo may be remembered from later parts of Rome as having very similar characteristics to Artemis and Apollon, they really existed prior to that association.

And then back in Etruria, we have Aritimis, who seems like her name at least was borrowed from the Greek, but we also have Aplu/Apulu, who seems pretty happily in place before Apollo showed up.




I'm beginning to look at this entire question of "different gods/same god with different names" the way the concept of species has become much more mutable in biology.

It used to be that the concept of species was fixed. Now it seems to be more fluid, with differences between closely related populations falling somewhere on a spectrum of very little genetic difference to a great deal of genetic difference, maybe subspecies or maybe a full-fledged species of its own, subject to constant debate and revision. Then there are populations that were formerly isolated from each other and considered separate species, that now are interbreeding and producing viable offspring, so genetically distinct populations are suddenly intermingling...and then on the level of microorganisms, you even have genes being swapped from one organism to another.

The deities of ancient pantheons seem to follow that model much more closely than attempts to plug them into a bipolar classification of "different gods/same god with different names." And why not? Why wouldn't the patterns of their diversity mirror the patterns of diversity we know from genetics, cultures, and languages, with which they co-evolved?
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

Fireof9

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Re: Linguistic Drift vs. Deity Drift
« Reply #44 on: August 08, 2013, 09:04:08 pm »
Quote from: Naomi J;118367
Why? Nowhere is it 'written' that they can't be the same deity. Their myths are very different now, but they might well have had the same origin. Same goes for Odin/Wotan, only more so - no markedly different myths to suggest they're different deities. If I knew them both separately, I might have a different opinion - but I'll keep an open mind on it until I meet them.

(My UPG is that Manannan mac Lir and his Welsh cognate are 'sort of' the same being - but with odd, deity-level caveats that I don't quite understand. Which is different from Macha and the Morrigan, who present themselves to me as separate deities.)

 
Why have I gotten shit for it?

Because the person that gave me shit is very sure that they are in no way the same deity.

I'm not sure either way, There just seems to me to be enough similarity and the close proximity of their "lands" makes me wonder too, a lot like the whole Wotan and Odin thing.
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