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Author Topic: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals  (Read 1009 times)

Samuel

Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« on: February 27, 2014, 12:35:45 am »
So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.

herkles

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #1 on: February 27, 2014, 12:56:25 am »
Quote from: Samuel;141093
So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this?

P. Sufenas Virius Lupus focuses on Antinous. His blog has a number of resources for   Ekklesía Antínoou. He is the main one that I know that worships a defied mortal.

Quote from: Samuel;141093

If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.


I am fine with it. It is not part of my practice, but I have no issue with those that do.

Jack

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #2 on: February 27, 2014, 04:23:27 am »
Quote from: Samuel;141093
And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that?

I engage in what could be called ancestor worship, though not in a Roman or Hellenic context. In my case it's a matter of honoring those who came before me and had a hand in shaping me.

Incidentally, China has a number of stories of people who were promoted to godhood after they died, often by official proclamation of the state.
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Redfaery

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #3 on: February 27, 2014, 08:54:39 am »
Quote from: Samuel;141093
So lately I've been thinking about how worship of divinized humans was very common in Ancient Rome, specifically Julius Caesar, Augustus, Claudius, and Antinous (probably others, too, those are just the ones that come to mind). And I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion - I have nothing against what other people want to do, and I'm interested in it, particularly in the case of Antinous who little is known about other than him being the lover of Hadrian.

I put this in Gods, Goddesses and Mythology rather than the Roman/Hellenic SIG because I thought this might be something where several types of Paganism might intersect - the Roman one is just the one I know about most intimately.


This was fairly common in Japan, too. One of the most popular Japanese Gods is Temman Tenjin, who was a real person named Sugawara no Michizane. He was exiled due to a court intrigue, though he had once been very powerful and a favorite with the Emperor. He died of malnutrition in exile.

That would have been the end of it, but a little later, strange things started happening. People involved in his exile fell ill or just died. Lightning struck the Imperial Palace. Most concerningly of all, rumors began to circulate that it was Michizane's angry spirit (goryo) that was responsible. A renowned holy man named Nichizo had a vision where Michizane appeared to him and announced that he had been transformed into a god of fire and thunder, and that the three individuals most responsible for his exile (who had since died) were now suffering in (Buddhist) hell.

Not only was Michizane posthumously reinstated to his offices, he eventually became very popular as a deity, especially with students. Michizane was a noted scholar in life, and it seems his interest in learning has continued after his death.

There was a similar incident involving a deposed crown prince, who wreaked such havoc during the move of the capital from Nara to Heian-Kyo that not only was he posthumously reinstated, but he was in fact elevated to the throne to soothe his anger.

Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.
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Gilbride

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #4 on: February 27, 2014, 12:27:04 pm »
Quote from: Jack;141103
Incidentally, China has a number of stories of people who were promoted to godhood after they died, often by official proclamation of the state.


According to Schipper in "The Taoist Body," all or most Chinese deities are the spirits of people who died young or violently. In most cases such a spirit would become an angry ghost or a demon and would be placated or exorcised if necessary. In a few cases, such as a famous warrior general, the person would have enough spiritual power to become a deity and receive veneration.

DavidMcCann

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #5 on: February 27, 2014, 01:02:29 pm »
Quote from: Redfaery;141115
Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.

That would sum up the attitude of the educated classes in the Roman empire. You have a "golden chain" from the One to humans: Gods, Heroes, Daimones. And it's not too different from Christianity: latria (worship) for God, hyperdulia for Mary, dulia (veneration) for Saints and Angels. Aquinas included the planetary spirits in the angel class!
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Samuel

Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #6 on: February 27, 2014, 04:27:28 pm »
Quote from: herkles;141094
P. Sufenas Virius Lupus focuses on Antinous. His blog has a number of resources for   Ekklesía Antínoou. He is the main one that I know that worships a defied mortal.


Thanks for the link! The worship of Antinous in the modern age is something I find fascinating, especially since very little is known about him other than his (very attractive) statues.

Quote from: Redfaery;141115

Personally, I don't view my attentions to human spirits the same way as those towards those that were ONCE human but now divine, or those that were NEVER human. The first I consider as being "venerated." I honor them and ask them for guidance, but I don't think they can do the same things as deities or no-longer-human spirits.

So essentially you see it as deities that have always been deities at the top of the totem pole, deities who were once human beneath that, and then human/once-human spirits? I think I'd probably place it in a similar way, too.

Materialist

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #7 on: February 27, 2014, 06:42:37 pm »
Quote from: Samuel;141093
So lately I've been thinking about the worship of divinized humans  and I was wondering - are there any modern pagans who still practice this? If so, what are your beliefs on that? Personally, I'd feel a little odd worshiping someone I knew was a living human being, but that's only my opinion.

 
In the Srauta/Grhya branch of Hinduism ancestors are deified for certain forms of sraddha, such as the Abhyudayikasraddha ritual, to celebrate good fortune that has come to one's family. For me, ancestors symbolize knowledge of oneself and one's origins. The rituals I perform in memory of them are to remind me of what I've learned about their pre-christian ways, and further areas of research to explore. It never occurred to me that switching back and forth between ancestors as Dead People and as Dead Gods was unusual.

Redfaery

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #8 on: February 28, 2014, 05:15:53 am »
Quote from: Samuel;141153
So essentially you see it as deities that have always been deities at the top of the totem pole, deities who were once human beneath that, and then human/once-human spirits? I think I'd probably place it in a similar way, too.

 
Yep. That sums it up pretty neatly, except I've come to realize more and more that the distinction between once-human and never-human gods is purely one of semantics. I don't think there's necessarily any difference in power or attitude between them.
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Jack

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #9 on: February 28, 2014, 09:31:37 am »
Quote from: Redfaery;141220
Yep. That sums it up pretty neatly, except I've come to realize more and more that the distinction between once-human and never-human gods is purely one of semantics. I don't think there's necessarily any difference in power or attitude between them.

Ahhh, the Inverse Ghostbusters rule. If you have to ask if it's a god, assume yes.
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Redfaery

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Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #10 on: February 28, 2014, 10:41:05 am »
Quote from: Jack;141227
Ahhh, the Inverse Ghostbusters rule. If you have to ask if it's a god, assume yes.

 
Heh. Sort of. Terminology is overrated. I think there are many different entities that can reasonably be called gods. My rule is, what does it call itself? That's a good place to start. Not that I don't think there are spirits who'd lie about it, or simply give a false impression, but I think the strongest clues to someone's identity (be they spirit, god, or human) is what they tell you about themselves.
KARMA: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

ainellewellyn

Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #11 on: February 28, 2014, 02:42:05 pm »
Quote from: Samuel;141153
Thanks for the link! The worship of Antinous in the modern age is something I find fascinating, especially since very little is known about him other than his (very attractive) statues.

 
I have to totally disagree with this. Having read the Devotio Antinoo (also by PSVL) and a fair bit of the Aedicula Antinoi site, the claim that 'little is known about him other than his (very attractive) statues' is not true. We know from those statues who he was syncrenized with, and we know a city was founded in his name, a star named after him, we have stories of hunts he went on with Emperor Hadrian...so we know more than just how much of a cute young man he was. (And I'm not even covering everything the site and book cover.)

Aedicula Antinoi (the site linked to above) is absolutely saturated with information on Antinous, so it's a great resource for finding out more and deeper information about him.
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Samuel

Re: Worship of historical figures/divinized mortals
« Reply #12 on: February 28, 2014, 02:46:21 pm »
Quote from: ainellewellyn;141245
I have to totally disagree with this. Having read the Devotio Antinoo (also by PSVL) and a fair bit of the Aedicula Antinoi site, the claim that 'little is known about him other than his (very attractive) statues' is not true. We know from those statues who he was syncrenized with, and we know a city was founded in his name, a star named after him, we have stories of hunts he went on with Emperor Hadrian...so we know more than just how much of a cute young man he was. (And I'm not even covering everything the site and book cover.)

Aedicula Antinoi (the site linked to above) is absolutely saturated with information on Antinous, so it's a great resource for finding out more and deeper information about him.

 
I'm sorry! I actually didn't know that there was so much more information about him. My experience with knowledge of him has only been through statues, but I suppose it's because I haven't looked into it too closely. I'll have to check out that site - it's a subject that interests me, even if I'm not an Antinous devotee.

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