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Author Topic: When a Deity Dies  (Read 2014 times)

Calim Levine

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When a Deity Dies
« on: June 17, 2012, 11:19:29 am »
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

Shine

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2012, 11:53:36 am »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

 
It depends on the mythology.

Several deities in the Kemetic pantheon die and are reborn again. Take Ra, for example. He has a daily cycle of death and rebirth (although I guess you could interpret that in a different way if you so desired). In a way, Ausir has a life and death cycle as well in his capacity as a grain god. I think there was also a story where Heru died, and then was resurrected, but don't take my word for it.

I don't directly worship deities that can die, but a deity's death doesn't upset me, at least in the Kemetic framework. Death and life are an endless cycle. So I know the (Kemetic) deities that die will return, although perhaps in a different way. And since gods like Ra can die and be reborn, that sets a precedent for mortals like me. I can die and be reborn as well.

When talking about the Norse gods, yeah, that's more upsetting because death is a permanent state, unless my knowledge is rusty. But with the Norse gods, all those deaths are for a good cause. An ultimate sacrifice, if you will. So while it's sad, at least something good comes of it.
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Maps

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2012, 12:12:34 pm »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497




I'm pretty sure I've read that Maya gods have been known to "die" with the end of major calendar cycles-- like how the world of the fourth sun is supposed to be ending here in a few months and a new sun deity will take Kinich Ahau's place, I think.

Really not sure how to deal with this from a religious standpoint at all. Kinich Ahau is, after all, an aspect of another major deity who, I'm assuming, is not due to die in December, so perhaps he will sprout a new aspect for this new era and things will carry on more or less as they do now. But if he (or maybe she) is not Kinich Ahau, then what will I address him/her as? Will they be markedly different, or for all intents and purposes, the same? Not sure, and really, it may not matter in the end either.

However, if something major needs to change in my practice because of it, I would not be surprised if I were informed of what that is in some way.

SkySamuelle

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2012, 12:48:55 pm »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

 
I don't really think deities can die in the 'stop exhisting' sense of the word as I don't interpret the myths litterally. Their mythological death is to me the metaphor of a passage from a state of being to another... I do view gods and goddesses as 'forces', the forces that are texture of our world, so it doesn't make sense for me to think that their energy might vanish, when I don't even believe humans stop exhisting after they die.

So, for me, it's a non-issue.
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MoonCrone

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2012, 01:07:55 pm »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?


I think it very much depends on which Deity you are talking about, and one's definition of Death...  

I am not aware that any of "my" Gods or Goddesses has ever passed over to Summerlands (or the Deity equivalent there of) during the time I have been involved with them (or should I say them involved with me???) be it by "natural causes" or by murder...  but I could be wrong about that...

I think if, say, Lord Ganesh was to pass over now, (please, fates, this doesn't really happen!!!) I would feel very sad and very lost without Him, and I would prey very hard for his return...even if it was as somebody or some thing else... :)

Thinking further about it, I wonder if we can really equate Deity Death with Human Being (or any other known life form) Death at all?   *goes off to investigate more*
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Nachtigall

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2012, 01:20:03 pm »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

 
I don't believe that the deities can die (I'm not referring to the cyclic death-and-rebirth, IMHO it's another issue entirely), and even if they do, it would be long after the humanity (or any other kind of sentient life in Universe) ceases to exist. Therefore, it isn't really relevant here and now.

Valentine

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2012, 06:49:58 am »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Numerous times in myths throughout the world, deities are recorded as dying or being killed. My thoughts immediately shift to the tale of Baldr, and how he was killed by the mistletoe lance. Indeed, if we are to believe a lot of Norse Mythology, it would seem necessary and unavoidable that many major deities will die.

Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

 
In a similar discussion a while ago, I said:  as far as my theology goes, everyone and everything dies eventually.  Everything has a death growing in it and waiting to flower.  Gods can die, but they don't end.
There are plenty of attested dead Gods, from Balder to Wesir, but They're still Gods, and They're still doing whatever it is They do.  "Dead" is just another adjective and state of being, for deities; maybe sometimes They are actually unmade, or go away, or wither, but death isn't an ending.
Besides, divine time isn't like our time.  Take the Ragnarok.  Has it already happened, having been recorded?  Is it yet to happen?  Is it happening even now?  Does it "happen" in a way that is outside our understanding?  To some degree, a myth is always history, and from another angle, it is a perspective on events yet to come, and on another level, a myth is always happening right now.  The Gods see it from another angle, through different lenses.
Either way, though, some of the nicest people I know are dead.  Doesn't keep me from chatting with them.  I expect a God isn't so different.
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RandallS

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #7 on: June 18, 2012, 08:08:20 am »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Of course, the death of deities, usually through deicide, is not just a Norse phenomenon. Depending on one's view of deities, it may not be possible for them to die. However, a good many pagans view deities as separate and powerful entities.

Hellenic deities cannot die as that is what makes a deity a deity: immortality. In myths, even deities who have been eaten by other deities don't die, they are just trapped in the deity who ate them and can be freed. They can be trapped, transformed, etc, but they cannot die.
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Elani Temperance

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When a Deity Dies
« Reply #8 on: June 18, 2012, 06:36:30 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;60616
Hellenic deities cannot die as that is what makes a deity a deity: immortality. In myths, even deities who have been eaten by other deities don't die, they are just trapped in the deity who ate them and can be freed. They can be trapped, transformed, etc, but they cannot die.

This.

I know this is different for other pantheons but to me, immortality is a key difference between us and the Gods.
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earth_dragon

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #9 on: June 18, 2012, 11:18:17 pm »
Quote from: SkySamuelle;60512
I don't really think deities can die in the 'stop exhisting' sense of the word as I don't interpret the myths litterally. Their mythological death is to me the metaphor of a passage from a state of being to another... I do view gods and goddesses as 'forces', the forces that are texture of our world, so it doesn't make sense for me to think that their energy might vanish, when I don't even believe humans stop exhisting after they die.

So, for me, it's a non-issue.

 
This is pretty much me as well. I don't know that deity death can be thought of as so literal. After all, look at something like tarot cards. The death card in the deck doesn't have to mean literal death; it can mean the end of a cycle/era and the beginning of another.

Admittedly, I don't know much about Norse mythology at all, but in many other mythologies and stories, when a deity dies they are again reborn/reincarnated/resurrected/etc. They just become something new and maybe a little different. This, for me at least, makes the idea of all death much easier to handle.

Clematis

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #10 on: June 24, 2012, 06:55:17 pm »
Quote from: RandallS;60616
Hellenic deities cannot die as that is what makes a deity a deity: immortality. In myths, even deities who have been eaten by other deities don't die, they are just trapped in the deity who ate them and can be freed. They can be trapped, transformed, etc, but they cannot die.

 
I've been confused about Asclepius.  I thought he died in some myths, but it seems like people still worshiped him.  It's unclear to me whether the myth in which he died was recorded after, before, or during the time when people were still building temples to him.

Wikipedia says that from "300BC onward" he became very popular--so I would imagine that he was popular until the Romans conquered.  So were people worshiping a dead god? How did people of the ancient Hellenic Civilization see him?

Nachtigall

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #11 on: June 27, 2012, 05:12:04 pm »
Quote from: Clematis;61451
I've been confused about Asclepius.  I thought he died in some myths, but it seems like people still worshiped him.  It's unclear to me whether the myth in which he died was recorded after, before, or during the time when people were still building temples to him.

Wikipedia says that from "300BC onward" he became very popular--so I would imagine that he was popular until the Romans conquered.  So were people worshiping a dead god? How did people of the ancient Hellenic Civilization see him?

 
Like Herakles, Asclepius was a son of a god and a mortal woman, and was deified after his death as a mortal.

iulla

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #12 on: June 27, 2012, 10:07:05 pm »
Quote from: Clematis;61451
I've been confused about Asclepius.  I thought he died in some myths, but it seems like people still worshiped him.  It's unclear to me whether the myth in which he died was recorded after, before, or during the time when people were still building temples to him.

Wikipedia says that from "300BC onward" he became very popular--so I would imagine that he was popular until the Romans conquered.  So were people worshiping a dead god? How did people of the ancient Hellenic Civilization see him?


Exactly what Nachtigall wrote.

Also, his worship did not stop with the Romans - far from it, actually.  

As legend has it, in about 293 BCE there was a horrible plague, so the Roman Senate contacted the Sibyl.  She told them that if they wanted the plague to go away, they should build a temple to Aesculapius (his Roman name) and send a delegation to Epidauros to entice the god to come back with them.  A snake (sacred animal of Aesculapius) got onto the ship and curled up around the mast; the Romans took this as a good sign and thought of it as the numen (sort of divine essence, in the easiest translation) of Aesculapius.

It was an even better sign when the ship got back to Rome and the snake slithered off the ship and swam to the Tiber island.  They took that as a sign that Aesculapius wanted his temple built there, so they did.
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ryman19

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Re: When a Deity Dies...
« Reply #13 on: June 28, 2012, 02:39:27 am »
Quote from: Calim Levine;60497
Do you believe deities can die? How do you react when they are recorded as dead? How do you deal with knowing that your patron/matron could die?

 
while yes i believe that a deity can die, i also believe that as long as there is someone believing in them or worshiping them and giving then that energy to exist then there will always be a means of resurrection for them. quoting true blood, i feel a deity can only "meet the true death" once every one living forgets about them and every evidence of that deity ever existing gets destroyed.

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