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Author Topic: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories  (Read 4070 times)

Darkhawk

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Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« on: July 09, 2012, 01:17:26 pm »
So here's a topic that's on my mind, and I know there are folks around here who deal with either completely lore-lost or not-well-attested deities, so hey, it might even be a useful conversation.

So every so often, folks want to deal with a deity other than the Big Ones, the ones that have a lot of information kicking around (whether that's a lot of archaeological evidence, or a lot of recorded stories and references, or even a lot of UPG).  Sometimes the information is a name and a department, or maybe a couple of scattered references; sometimes not even that.  A face that may not even be intended as divine in an archaeological dig; a personal connection to someone unknown; an allusion that clearly points somewhere, but no clear sense on how to follow up on it.

I was talking last night with one of the folks I regularly talk religion with, and my comment was something along the lines of, "Yeah, if I want to work with this god, I guess I need to go visit him at his house."  Of course, that's the end of practical mysticism skills that I'm pretty much least confident about....

(And I know I'm on the lucky end of this kind of Obscure Deity Quest.  Archaeowiki has an entry on him!  (Though archaeowiki appears to be down, Wayback had it.)  It had two sources cited!  I already owned one of them!  I could look up all the ancient texts cited as mentioning him in anything I could find on the web in books I had!  And ... okay.  Now what?  Sigh.)

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.
as the water grinds the stone
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Aster Breo

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Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #1 on: July 09, 2012, 02:13:35 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63434

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.

I assume you're using "visit at his house" as a metaphor for learning about the original culture and context, yes?  If so, I agree that it's important.  But sometimes it can only be a starting point.  I think...

But, in another sense, I also think the problem of getting to know the "real" god/dess, or finding the way to his/her house, can be quite complicated even in the case of a well attested deity.  F'ex, regarding the only one I can claim familiarity with, Brighid, there's a lot of info out there, but extremely little of it is from the original Irish lore.  She's literally only mentioned once or twice.  Everything else comes from Christian writings about Saint Brigit or later.

So, where do I go to find Brighid's "house"?  Is it really at Kildare, or is that a red herring based on an unrelated saint?

I think we have no choice, in this kind of situation, other than to try to find the way on our own, using those archeological and mythological hints as sign posts, but understanding that sign posts sometimes get turned around so they point to the wrong direction.

I think this need to find our gods at home is the foundation of every Mystery religion or tradition.  However, understanding that fact and being able to recreate -- or create anew -- the Mystery that transports us to the right "house" are two different things.

What I'm most interested in right now, and the point at which I currently find myself in my own journey, is trying to build that Mystery process for myself.  And I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing.

How do others feel about this?

Or have I just completely missed the point and misunderstood the question?

~ Aster
"The status is not quo."  ~ Dr. Horrible

Darkhawk

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #2 on: July 09, 2012, 02:51:14 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;63440
She's literally only mentioned once or twice.  Everything else comes from Christian writings about Saint Brigit or later.


Which is an interesting and related point: that a lot of powers that are thought of as big and important and well-known are not actually strongly historically attested.

(This came up peripherally in another thread, as another example: for all Her modern popularity, Bast only became a really significant goddess towards the end of Egyptian history, when Egyptian religion was really, really fluxy.)

Quote
I think this need to find our gods at home is the foundation of every Mystery religion or tradition.  However, understanding that fact and being able to recreate -- or create anew -- the Mystery that transports us to the right "house" are two different things.

What I'm most interested in right now, and the point at which I currently find myself in my own journey, is trying to build that Mystery process for myself. And I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing.

 
And part of what I'm suspecting is that getting anything other than those little bits of sketchy data is going to take forging a personal connection, doing that mysticism thing, consulting with the god himself, and, well.  "I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing." :P
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Aster Breo

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Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #3 on: July 09, 2012, 03:32:58 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63442
"I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing." :P

At least we're not alone in our no idea-ness.  ;)

I wonder if those of us here on TC who are looking to build this kind of relationship and Mystery could help each other somehow?

"Hi.  I'm Aster, and I have no idea how to (re)create the Mystery I need."
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Maps

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #4 on: July 09, 2012, 04:38:18 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;63440
I assume you're using "visit at his house" as a metaphor for learning about the original culture and context, yes?  If so, I agree that it's important.  But sometimes it can only be a starting point.  I think...

But, in another sense, I also think the problem of getting to know the "real" god/dess, or finding the way to his/her house, can be quite complicated even in the case of a well attested deity.  F'ex, regarding the only one I can claim familiarity with, Brighid, there's a lot of info out there, but extremely little of it is from the original Irish lore.  She's literally only mentioned once or twice.  Everything else comes from Christian writings about Saint Brigit or later.

So, where do I go to find Brighid's "house"?  Is it really at Kildare, or is that a red herring based on an unrelated saint?

I think we have no choice, in this kind of situation, other than to try to find the way on our own, using those archeological and mythological hints as sign posts, but understanding that sign posts sometimes get turned around so they point to the wrong direction.

I think this need to find our gods at home is the foundation of every Mystery religion or tradition.  However, understanding that fact and being able to recreate -- or create anew -- the Mystery that transports us to the right "house" are two different things.

What I'm most interested in right now, and the point at which I currently find myself in my own journey, is trying to build that Mystery process for myself.  And I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing.

How do others feel about this?

Or have I just completely missed the point and misunderstood the question?

~ Aster

 
Oh man, I think you hit the nail on the head with what I'm finding I have to do.

Mayan gods, unlike those of the Aztec, are painfully obscure; especially those connected to the more philosophical ideas and pursuits of the elite. Just so happens that the metropolitan centers where the gods of the upper classes were completely abandoned... and with them, their mythology.

So for me there's a lot of piecing together, a lot of sustaining myself on scraps and crumbs from a table I will never be able to reach. It doesn't help that the study of these "lost" Mesoamerican religions (I say "lost" because some have survived by way of complete isolation, others by tactful syncretism and folk traditions) is written about, to me at least, in a really odd way that makes it difficult to take out useful information that can be applied to a living tradition. (There's this feeling I get sometimes from the undertones of scholarly literature, and especially amateur writings on the subject, that the author/s subconsciously believe that the culture truly is dead, or, strangely enough, should be. That is when, of course, that they don't blatantly write about the Maya being wiped out or other such anti-historical, sensationalist nonsense.)

Anyways. Yes, it's a subject that I approach hesitantly-- while there is evidence that points to the existence of cults that in all likelihood resembled your typical Mystery school, some part of me wants to say that those were not in any way the norm, and that such groups were probably considered "anti-social", which was a bad thing. But I can't really conceive of any other way to get to understand and observe a god whose mythology has been almost, if not entirely, lost. You have to go to them, meditate on them, ask them for guidance and insight, and, unfortunately, rely on UPG. I mean, do all of that in the most respectful and historically accurate way as possible, but sometimes it really has to be done. What makes this even more difficult is when your gods are known to be particularly remote and unconcerned with people on an individual basis. :B

Darkhawk

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #5 on: July 09, 2012, 04:48:17 pm »
Quote from: Maps;63456
So for me there's a lot of piecing together, a lot of sustaining myself on scraps and crumbs from a table I will never be able to reach. It doesn't help that the study of these "lost" Mesoamerican religions (I say "lost" because some have survived by way of complete isolation, others by tactful syncretism and folk traditions)


Tangentially, speaking of syncretism and folk traditions: have you looked into the Petwo family of lwa?  I've seen some people suggest that they (especially the ones that don't have clear analogues in West African religion) may have been adopted out of local Mesoamerican and Caribbean pantheons.

Quote
Anyways. Yes, it's a subject that I approach hesitantly-- while there is evidence that points to the existence of cults that in all likelihood resembled your typical Mystery school, some part of me wants to say that those were not in any way the norm, and that such groups were probably considered "anti-social", which was a bad thing.

 
I think it's worth also thinking about what a mystery school was in at least many of those ancient cultures that had them.  They were never mainline religion; someone could be pious without being a part of any of them.  They addressed specific needs, whether of the worshippers or of the gods, and specific situations, which is one of the reasons that they could be private/exclusive: only the people who needed that particular spiritual 'medicine' would feel the need to attend.

This gets a lot muddled in modern paganism, because at this point a huge fraction of the population is in the "I'm looking for a particular spiritual medicine" boat, but there isn't the same setup available anymore.  I'm firmly of the opinion that this is one of the major factors in the growth of neo-Wicca: the spiritual medicine in question can be satisfied for some people by a vague, affirming polytheism.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
as our ashes turn to dust
we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

Shine

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #6 on: July 09, 2012, 04:49:03 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63434

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.

 
Well, you've already mentioned Bast. At least there's some stuff on her. XD It would be awesome if there was more. A lot of my interactions with Bast and experience of her seems to be heavy on the UPG, though tinged with plenty of history.

With Bast, what I've discovered is, to some degree, knowledge of her and her past is beside the point. That's not to say it isn't important, and if someone suddenly found a treasure trove of stuff on m'lady, I'd be all over it. It's difficult to keep a balance between scholarship and spirituality because there are places where the two just don't intersect.

On the other hand, if there's not enough scholarship behind what you're doing, it's almost like you have to wonder if you're making stuff up.

How about deities who you aren't even sure exist because there's (a) no historical mention of them and (b) no evidence they would have had a place in history, anyway? This is what I'm dealing with right now and have no idea what to make of it. It's not like I get much more from them other than an occasional "you got it!" while scrambling around for info.

The lesser-knowns have a kind of mystique about them. Sometimes I think they want to draw people in, yet. . . when there's not a lot to go on, it's hard to do anything at all. You consult with the deity in question, I guess, but not everyone's satisfied with that.

Quote from: Aster Breo
I wonder if those of us here on TC who are looking to build this kind of relationship and Mystery could help each other somehow?


I like this idea. Wouldn't it be a bit tough, though, given that we might be working less with sources and more with the fuzzier, UPG type of stuff?
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Maps

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #7 on: July 09, 2012, 06:28:43 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63460
Tangentially, speaking of syncretism and folk traditions: have you looked into the Petwo family of lwa?  I've seen some people suggest that they (especially the ones that don't have clear analogues in West African religion) may have been adopted out of local Mesoamerican and Caribbean pantheons.

Interesting! I hadn't even thought about looking in that direction... I think I'll pursue this a bit and see where it takes me. Thanks. :]

Quote from: Darkhawk;63460
I think it's worth also thinking about what a mystery school was in at least many of those ancient cultures that had them.  They were never mainline religion; someone could be pious without being a part of any of them.  They addressed specific needs, whether of the worshippers or of the gods, and specific situations, which is one of the reasons that they could be private/exclusive: only the people who needed that particular spiritual 'medicine' would feel the need to attend.

This brings in another point-- I'd say the Meso religions have this in common with the state religion of AE (and probably many others but I'm just not familiar with a lot tbh), but that there is a sort of Mystery school inherent in the mainline system, but that group was only accessible to the very upper echelons of society, if not the priest classes exclusively, and what was learned therein was then shared and trickled down to the rest of society.

And then you're sort of stuck with the question of "to priest or not to priest" all over again, but it really is sort of impossible to build up something casual and historically folkish without the foundation already there for you.

Quote from: Darkhawk;63460
This gets a lot muddled in modern paganism, because at this point a huge fraction of the population is in the "I'm looking for a particular spiritual medicine" boat, but there isn't the same setup available anymore.  I'm firmly of the opinion that this is one of the major factors in the growth of neo-Wicca: the spiritual medicine in question can be satisfied for some people by a vague, affirming polytheism.

I think the idea of having teachers who have tread the exact ground you plan to walk, groups to walk with, and just that general enormous support system is the most seductive thing about neo-Wicca, and the 'medicine' that a lot of people are really looking for within the framework of a sort of "paganism at large". Trying to hack my way through this more or less alone is really freakin' hard, I won't lie. Sometimes I do find myself looking over my shoulder at the Wiccish non-recons off in the distance and pining some.

Maps

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #8 on: July 09, 2012, 06:32:33 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;63446
At least we're not alone in our no idea-ness.  ;)

I wonder if those of us here on TC who are looking to build this kind of relationship and Mystery could help each other somehow?

"Hi.  I'm Aster, and I have no idea how to (re)create the Mystery I need."

 
And oh man, totally missed this, but I honestly think it could turn out to be a really neat idea. New SIG or group, anyone? :P

But seriously, there's gotta be more people in this boat than it would seem at first glance.

Aster Breo

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Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #9 on: July 09, 2012, 07:30:41 pm »
Quote from: Shine;63461
The lesser-knowns have a kind of mystique about them. Sometimes I think they want to draw people in, yet. . . when there's not a lot to go on, it's hard to do anything at all. You consult with the deity in question, I guess, but not everyone's satisfied with that.


Maybe that's the point.  Maybe those god/desses make it hard deliberately, to see who wants the relationship enough to *really* work for it.

Quote from: Shine;63461

I like this idea. Wouldn't it be a bit tough, though, given that we might be working less with sources and more with the fuzzier, UPG type of stuff?

Well, yeah, it's tough.  That's why it would be helpful to support each other.  ;)

What I'd be looking for isn't so much sources or UPG on specific deities, as much as ideas and brainstorming about the *process*.  What is a "Mystery"?  Is it an approach to religion?  A particular kind of relationship with deity?  A philosophy?  A school?

Regardless of which deity/ies, how do you go about developing a Mystery in our current world?  Is that even possible, or is this an idea whose time has passed?  Is it really something you can do alone, or does it require a group?  

What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish?  Is it about creating the circumstances necessary for a personal "audience" with the god/dess in question (e.g., specific states of consciousness, imagery, physical surroundings, etc.), and, if so, how?  Is it about developing a formal practice that you can then teach to other people?  And so on.

I suspect "Mystery" means different things to different people.  Just exploring those differences might be interesting and helpful.

~ Aster
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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #10 on: July 09, 2012, 08:03:46 pm »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63434

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.

 
I have a lovely barque *full* of obscure Gods: Heru-hekenu, Khonsu-Heru, Wenut, Heryshef, Sekhet. It's like I hit some kind of Per-Bast/Delta current, and there they all were. Heryshef is probably the best attested of all of them, with that great prayer of Somtutefnakht's in Lichtenstein's Ancient Egyptian Literature as well as some other sources; for the rest I just have little hints here and there. And some snippets of UPG, of course. (If there can be an "of course" with UPG.)

I don't think I'm to the point yet of trying to find out what Mystery is there, or even if there is a Mystery there (or a set of Mysteries for each of them, yikes). I'm right about at the "Hi, nice to meet you, would you like some cookies?" stage of the relationship. So I have a long way to go. But getting to know them better is definitely a priority, although it's still somewhat behind my service to Bast.

But talking of going to visit the God at His house -- Sekhet inhabits very particular places. She's the/a goddess of the fens, and if I want to talk to Her, better I go and hang out at my backyard wetland, or by the vernal pools in the tanglewoods, or at the very least alongside a lonely stream. She's probably the "witchiest" of the Gods I've connected with, if that parses in a Kemetic context -- skin-crawlingly numinous, all water and mud and roots and birds and secret deep places. The others are much more sociable and nonlocalized.

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SkySamuelle

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #11 on: July 10, 2012, 03:11:20 am »
Quote from: Aster Breo;63473

What I'd be looking for isn't so much sources or UPG on specific deities, as much as ideas and brainstorming about the *process*.  What is a "Mystery"?  Is it an approach to religion?  A particular kind of relationship with deity?  A philosophy?  A school?


That's a question that always struck a chord inside me.

Whenever I consider it my mind always go back to Eleusis, to those who had to be unique moments where the veil that covers what it stands between human reality and the Other was lifted. Moments of revelation that had to be deeply changing and that, while approached in a public setting, were also personal glimpses of intimacy between the human and the divine.

Mystery and Mysticism for me are closely interdependent concepts (maybe we can have a private  group on that for the support and share method thing? it would be interesting, I think) - part of my work with Hekate was around the point 'I can answer your questions on how the world really works and some thing you might even share, some others I will you to share, but some other are not helpful as public knowdledge.'

 
Quote from: Aster Breo;63473
Regardless of which deity/ies, how do you go about developing a Mystery in our current world?  Is that even possible, or is this an idea whose time has passed?  Is it really something you can do alone, or does it require a group?  

What, exactly, are you trying to accomplish?  Is it about creating the circumstances necessary for a personal "audience" with the god/dess in question (e.g., specific states of consciousness, imagery, physical surroundings, etc.), and, if so, how?  Is it about developing a formal practice that you can then teach to other people?  And so on.

I suspect "Mystery" means different things to different people.  Just exploring those differences might be interesting and helpful.

~ Aster

 
I think going about it is very possible, even by yourself, but I also think it's necessary that there is a strong 'help' from the other side when you approach this kind of work.
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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #12 on: July 10, 2012, 02:15:18 pm »
Quote from: Aster Breo;63440
...And I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing.

 
This is where I am, as well.  

Of late, I've been running into wall after wall with what I'm calling "mystical stubborn-headed-ness" because I want to GET THERE RIGHT NOW!  But...I have pretty much no idea what I'm doing.  And getting there requires that I figure it out.  

My gods (so far) are fairly well defined with reference material and yet I keep running into things that aren't in "the lore", which sends me into the walls I mentioned above.

So.  Yeah.
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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2012, 01:04:14 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63434

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.


My Kemetic deities for the most part are in the "Lore".  What I'm finding though is that for Aset most information in English is more from the Greek/Roman side of things than a Kemetic one.  

What I'm building with Aset seems to be a way to honor Her in a Kemetic context, but there are Mysteries with that, that I haven't found them in others' sources (Mysteries of Isis by Regula and Isis Magic by Forrest, etc).  I feel like I'm putting Her back together like She did for Wesir.  I write Her Mysteries as poetry/oracles.  


I feel more lost with Frigga.  She is in some of the Lore, but not much.  I'm just seeing how others worship Her today and asking the Goddess Herself what She wants.  With Her, I've just started with the home.  The first thing She'll ask anyone to do who honors Her is to clean their home.  De-clutter it.  So I have and do.  And I'm realizing that there is magic in this.  There is a Mystery here about right order, and the cosmos, etc.  

I guess my advice would be
1) Read what you can about the deity and/or their culture/religious ritual etc
2) Build a shrine
3) Ask deity what He/She/He-She/She-He wants  
4) Speak with others who worship said deity about their experiences, impressions etc.
I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --SatAset

Annie Roonie

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Re: Visiting That God At His House And Other Stories
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2012, 01:09:03 am »
Quote from: Darkhawk;63434

So: more obscure powers.  Thoughts, experiences, commentaries.  Whether it involves visiting them at their house or not.

 
I still don't have a path and I'm getting more comfortable with that. At the same time, experiences (flashes, audio/visual fun etc.) have increased with such frequency that I want to find out what they mean. I don't know if I am looking for a deity or a spirit or something I haven't even considered. So knocking on the door of someone who might be able to direct me to answers is appealing. Have been exploring the idea of making a connection for a bit.

Not sure if that is what your talking about though, since I do not have any particular deity in mind.

I've read about mysteries that involve help in overcoming the limits of typical consciousness. Teas, incense, rubs, eye drops etc. and trance meditative states, fasting.  I know from experience how powerful it can be to open the limits of consciousness and that such experiences can be shared. I recall it because I think that this might have played a part several mysteries.

I intend to travel that road when I can, to see what and who I can see. Maybe to get some answers. But I strongly feel that while the veil may indeed be thinning all over, slipping the boundaries of accustomed thought processes will open me up to other ways of knowing.

Is this something you would ever consider as a method to reach the house of a god?

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