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Author Topic: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture  (Read 6514 times)

Demophon

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Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« on: June 18, 2015, 08:39:00 am »
I wonder if it's unusual to be drawn to gods but not the culture they come from? I usually follow deities from Mediterranean cultures and identify with them, but once in a while, usually in the summer, I feel an intense pull towards Freyr and Freyja. I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?

Jainarayan

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #1 on: June 18, 2015, 10:41:13 am »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
I wonder if it's unusual to be drawn to gods but not the culture they come from? I usually follow deities from Mediterranean cultures and identify with them, but once in a while, usually in the summer, I feel an intense pull towards Freyr and Freyja. I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?

 
I can sort of relate. I am drawn to some Hindu deities even though I am not Indian nor relate to Indian/Hindu culture. I am Ásatrúar, Thor is my fulltrui and the Aesir my pantheon, but I revere the Hindu gods.
śivāya vishnu rūpaya śivaḥ rūpaya vishnave
śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Faemon

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #2 on: June 19, 2015, 05:12:42 am »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
I wonder if it's unusual to be drawn to gods but not the culture they come from? I usually follow deities from Mediterranean cultures and identify with them, but once in a while, usually in the summer, I feel an intense pull towards Freyr and Freyja. I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?


I wasn't much for therianthropic spirituality, because I felt it was objectifying living beings that had perspectives of their own, but when the Wolf started thwapping, it was real enough and well worth pursuing. All the while, of course, I was going, "Wolf? Seriously, wolf? I have lived in tropical archipelagos all my life and would not recognize a real wolf if it bit me. I cannot access the significance of the behavior of this animal ecosystemically or cultural-symbolically, nor do I really want to. Every other newbie Neo-Wiccan's spirit animal is a wolf, please be something else that's less cliché. Please?"

Part of me feels on the one hand that a god is only identifiable at all because of the stuff of cultural context. We can read the myths and identify he figures, but that myth is a product of a culture, so it ought to be far more elucidating to also get to know the people who formed the myths: their sense of humor, their sense of aesthetics, their priorities and values and preoccupations...

On the other hand, culture isn't only regional but temporal as well. Considering this, how we might glean all the cultural cues that I mentioned, nobody actually writes down what is obvious in daily life for the posterity of future generations...and I suspect that some unmentioned fundamentals can change or shift through those very generations.

Then it shouldn't matter whether you're interested in the culture or not, because it's impossible to fully embrace or be significantly influenced by it. No matter how much we learn, we only work within the limits of our personal perspective.

This isn't to say that we shouldn't expand or deepen our knowledge, I only mean that if one does then I do believe it ought to be from genuine interest. Although far be it for me to say what is a feigned interest! But I feel that a genuine interest opens oneself up to elucidation. If you're just not interested in Heathenry, why force it? What would anyone get out of it?

Back to the Wolf...Since I've been incorporating fairy tales into my practice, lately, I might retroactively reframe that experience as my personal gnosis with the Big Bad Wolf. At the time, though, my efforts to "parse" that presence led me to explore Neo-Shamanism, Heathenry, and daemonism (that last one I gathered is a form of modern therianthropy inspired by Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials but is emphatically unrelated to the fictional source material.)

So, in that case, it couldn't have been the culture that produced that embodiment, because the only basis I had was this vague idea that some people had spirit animals as part of their thing. Maybe my psyche had developed its own culture, like a petri dish, or a bowl of yogurt.

From what I've gathered of your post, there is at least enough cultural influence that the names strike you. I mean, how accurate can mere names in a human tongue really be for forces of nature? What is a Freyr, and why does it whutsdeword? How far off from that can a person go, before the democratization of the embodiment turns him into something not at all meaningful to you-the-specific-individual? That's how important culture is.
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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #3 on: June 19, 2015, 08:05:36 am »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?

I think the first part of your sentence says it all: It's not at all uncommon and for non-recons usually isn't much of an issue. I don't think it is all that uncommon either. Even recons sometimes are attracted to deities that are in their religion's culture. If they decide they want to honor that deity, they just usually do so as a separate practice rather than incorporate in into their recon religion.
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Lilirin

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2015, 06:49:44 am »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
I wonder if it's unusual to be drawn to gods but not the culture they come from? I usually follow deities from Mediterranean cultures and identify with them, but once in a while, usually in the summer, I feel an intense pull towards Freyr and Freyja. I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?

Yes. I was into the Aztec religion for 7 years and I was miserable as a human being. The religion is similar to Christianity and is a bit outdated in that respect. After awhile my relationship with the gods started deteriorating.

I went back to Wicca and this is where I belong. I still maintain relationships with some of the Aztec gods, but yeah, I am not going to be a "slave" for them if I want to follow it traditionally. (Like I said, outdated.) Plus, the evolved Aztec religion now is heavily mixed with Catholicism, and it's not my thing either.

Oh, and ancient pagans mixed and matched all the time anyway. Hellenized Egypt for example, or how Ishtar evolved into Aphrodite.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 06:50:52 am by Lilirin »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #5 on: October 15, 2015, 08:46:05 am »
Quote from: Lilirin;181044
Yes. I was into the Aztec religion for 7 years and I was miserable as a human being. The religion is similar to Christianity and is a bit outdated in that respect. After awhile my relationship with the gods started deteriorating.

I went back to Wicca and this is where I belong. I still maintain relationships with some of the Aztec gods, but yeah, I am not going to be a "slave" for them if I want to follow it traditionally. (Like I said, outdated.) Plus, the evolved Aztec religion now is heavily mixed with Catholicism, and it's not my thing either.


Wait...what? Mexica religion is almost nothing like Christianity. In fact, it is hard to think of two religions which are more different, especially in their relationship to the gods. Now, if you'd said Mexica religion and Norse Heathenism you might be closer to the mark.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #6 on: October 15, 2015, 10:01:38 am »
Quote from: Yei;181046
Wait...what? Mexica religion is almost nothing like Christianity. In fact, it is hard to think of two religions which are more different, especially in their relationship to the gods. Now, if you'd said Mexica religion and Norse Heathenism you might be closer to the mark.

 
Nope. Aztecs never met a god they didn't like and were much more easily converted then the other pagan religions. They also have concepts of sin and rewards for sacrifices. The Aztec religion never died so reconstructing it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Would you like academic citations for that?

Boom: http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/gods/what-happened-to-the-aztec-gods-after-the-conquest-1

And Timothy Knabb's ethnographic book Dialogue of the Earth and Sky. There's a lot of paralells between Christianity and the Aztec religion. Even down to baptism. I'm sure you can find more if you want to go digging deeper. The Aztecs even had that cult of virginity thing.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #7 on: October 15, 2015, 11:10:20 am »
Quote from: Demophon;176183
...I have no affinity for Norse culture though, so I honour these gods without going too deeply into their cultural context. I guess it's not that strange for those not using a recon methodology, but I think it's weird that gods come knocking from a culture I'm not that interested in. Does anyone have similar experiences?

 
In the past few months I've come to learn and understand a few things, the hard way (mainly by getting my tongue ripped out and stomped on with cleats on some forums),  namely that to a certain extent deities should be worshiped in the context of their cultures, or at least the cultures should be understood and applied to a certain extent. IF! one is going to interact with others of those faiths. Not to say it means one has to adopt Indian dress, or cook Indian food, or take an Indian name just to worship the Hindu deities. But if one intends to attend a Hindu temple or interact with other Hindus, understanding Indian and Hindu etiquette is a must.

Likewise if one is going to attend a Heathen or Ásatrú blót, one must understand the concept of community and frith, which are extremely important in the "Heathen worldview". And for the love of the gods, don't call anyone "bro" or "brother" or "brah" unless you are related by blood, or they are part of your innangard (literally "inside yard"), and with whom you maintain frith. See http://www.friggasweb.org/frith.html for what frith really means... it's heavy-duty. That is how important some concepts of the culture are. Even to read the Eddas, the Sagas, even just the Hávamál of the Poetic Edda, one has to understand the culture in which they were written and derive from.

Now, if one is not going to interact with others of those faiths, then pretty much all that goes out the window and you are left with being a Hindu Pagan, Norse Pagan, Celtic Pagan, etc... one who worships those gods. Something I myself do not have a problem with, since I kind of lean that way... I tend to collect deities. :p  Even still, you have to know why certain rituals are performed for certain gods. In Norse thinking the "gifting cycle" is important. The gods give to you, you give to the gods. It's not a tit-for-tat, but reciprocity is extremely important. A blót to a Norse deity is a sacrifice, a gift either a request or in thanks. It's just what's done.

Personally I am anti-social, so the idea of community and being among other people is not my horn of mead. I make a pretty suck-o Heathen in this day and age. It would be different if I were raised as a Norse villager or farmer in 998 CE when my village's survival depended on close community. Is it required to go out and build a community? Imo, no, but it helps to remember that even the Æsir and Vanir, and even the Hindu gods relied on each other for support, help and reciprocal favors. Virtually everything is  a gift for a gift.

I hope that didn't come off as a diatribe, but I just wanted to share some of the things that trip up newcomers to a faith. ;)
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śivasya hridayam viṣṇur viṣṇoscha hridayam śivaḥ
Vishnu's appearance is Shiva; Shiva's appearance is Vishnu
Vishnu is the heart of Shiva; Shiva is the heart of Vishnu - Skandopanishad
 

Yei

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #8 on: October 15, 2015, 03:12:15 pm »
Quote from: Lilirin;181048
Nope. Aztecs never met a god they didn't like and were much more easily converted then the other pagan religions.


No they were not. Mesoamericans proved to be extremely difficult to convert. That is why syncreticism exists. Even after loosing 90% of the population Mesoamerican religious values proved too strong to destroy and had to be compromised with.

Quote
They also have concepts of sin and rewards for sacrifices.


Mesoamerican concepts of sin and reward are almost completely different from Christian concepts.

Quote
The Aztec religion never died so reconstructing it doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Would you like academic citations for that?


What do you think I do for a living? Do you seriously think that I would follow a religion I do not understand. And I would argue that Mexica religion has been badly damaged by outside forces, and benefits from reconstruction efforts.

Quote
Boom: http://www.mexicolore.co.uk/aztecs/gods/what-happened-to-the-aztec-gods-after-the-conquest-1


I am very familiar with Mexicolore.

Quote
And Timothy Knabb's ethnographic book Dialogue of the Earth and Sky. There's a lot of paralells between Christianity and the Aztec religion. Even down to baptism. I'm sure you can find more if you want to go digging deeper. The Aztecs even had that cult of virginity thing.


Most of the parallels between Christianity and Mesoamerican Religion are superficial, and breakdown when the actual meaning behind the rituals are examined. In addition, focusing on these parallels comes at the expense of acknowledging everything that is different.

P.S: The Mexica did not have a concept of virginity, so no cult of virginity.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #9 on: October 15, 2015, 08:29:50 pm »
Quote from: Yei;181046
Wait...what? Mexica religion is almost nothing like Christianity. In fact, it is hard to think of two religions which are more different, especially in their relationship to the gods. Now, if you'd said Mexica religion and Norse Heathenism you might be closer to the mark.

 
Interesting. Might I ask what similarities you perceive their to be between Nordic Paganism and Aztec religion or would it be derailing the thread to ask here?
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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #10 on: October 15, 2015, 09:22:30 pm »
Quote from: Yei;181064


What do you think I do for a living? Do you seriously think that I would follow a religion I do not understand. And I would argue that Mexica religion has been badly damaged by outside forces, and benefits from reconstruction efforts.

Would you like more academic sources? "They never met a god they didn't like." Is an almost direct quote from Knabb. The Aztecs were not just the Mexica, they included the Tepenacs, and Acolhua. There is also other Nahuatl speaking people who sided with the Spanish. One of the major ones being the Tlaxcala.

Also, you "reconstructing" it isn't new as people have been doing it for almost a decade prior and have come to the same conclusions as I. There is a lot of studies on the fact the Aztec religion never truly died but merely evolved. The Virgin of Guadalupe, Santa Muerte, and San Simon/Maximon are some of the best examples of this. Arguing against it is arguing against academia.







Quote
Most of the parallels between Christianity and Mesoamerican Religion are superficial, and breakdown when the actual meaning behind the rituals are examined. In addition, focusing on these parallels comes at the expense of acknowledging everything that is different.

P.S: The Mexica did not have a concept of virginity, so no cult of virginity.


This is where you are incorrect. Premartial sex was frowned upon and discouraged. When a bride consumated her marriage if she had blood from it symbolizing she was a virgin she was praised. If not, she was a bit shamed. This is part of that. I believe this is from Duran. That is not including all their taboos.

Likewise, Jesus sacrificed himself for people so them adopting him in the scheme of things made since because the gods sacrificed themselves, Jesus was easy to come to.

The concept that people can be punished for their sins with death is not just as part of Christianity. In fact a man was supposed to confess his sin to a representative of deity similar to the church. Tlazolteotl and Tezcatlipoca are the two main ones who do such things.

In the Florentine codex I think it was, the Natives noted that the Spanish killing them in the name of God was similar to their ideas of killing people in the name of the gods, via sacrifice.

Should I go on? If you want to debate this further I wouldn't mind doing so via private message.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2015, 09:24:40 pm by Lilirin »

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #11 on: October 15, 2015, 11:26:28 pm »
Quote from: Riothamus12;181070
Interesting. Might I ask what similarities you perceive their to be between Nordic Paganism and Aztec religion or would it be derailing the thread to ask here?

 
To be honest I did not actually mean the comment with any seriousness.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2015, 12:01:07 am »
Quote from: Lilirin;181071
Would you like more academic sources? "They never met a god they didn't like." Is an almost direct quote from Knabb. The Aztecs were not just the Mexica, they included the Tepenacs, and Acolhua. There is also other Nahuatl speaking people who sided with the Spanish. One of the major ones being the Tlaxcala.


Then I should point out that no-one in Mesoamerica called themselves Aztec. The term as we know it was developed by Alexander von Humbolt. If any collective term should be used for this group, it should be Nahua.

Quote
Also, you "reconstructing" it isn't new as people have been doing it for almost a decade prior and have come to the same conclusions as I. There is a lot of studies on the fact the Aztec religion never truly died but merely evolved. The Virgin of Guadalupe, Santa Muerte, and San Simon/Maximon are some of the best examples of this. Arguing against it is arguing against academia.


Did I ever say that 'reconstructing' was new? Did I ever deny that syncrecism had taken place? No I did not. So this is a strawman.

Quote
This is where you are incorrect. Premartial sex was frowned upon and discouraged. When a bride consumated her marriage if she had blood from it symbolizing she was a virgin she was praised. If not, she was a bit shamed. This is part of that. I believe this is from Duran. That is not including all their taboos.


I think I know to what you are referring to, admonishments recorded in Sahagun's Florentine Codex. Such passages must be remembered in context. For example they probably represent a formal ideal, not necessarily everyday practice. However, that is not the real problem with your argument. You specifically used the term 'cult of virginity'. The problem being that the concept of virginity does not exist in its European form. The Mexica (and neighbours) valued 'chastity' which is different. First of all it applied to both men and women, and behaviourally it was more closely linked to abstinence (for ceremonies). Sexual history was irrelevant. There is little evidence that 'virgins' were worshipped or revered as they were in Europe. For example the most prominent Mesoamerican goddesses were all mothers.

Quote
Likewise, Jesus sacrificed himself for people so them adopting him in the scheme of things made since because the gods sacrificed themselves, Jesus was easy to come to.


Except the sacrifices were completely different. The sacrifice of gods in Mesoamerica was an act of creation, and subsequent acts of sacrifice were performed to rejuvenate and restore creation. Jesus's sacrifice was about moral redemption, and had its strongest implications for the afterlife. Critically, it was not supposed to be repeated. This is what I mean by focusing on the superficial.

Quote
The concept that people can be punished for their sins with death is not just as part of Christianity. In fact a man was supposed to confess his sin to a representative of deity similar to the church. Tlazolteotl and Tezcatlipoca are the two main ones who do such things.


Again, failing to note the differences. In Mesoamerican religion divine punishment is solely temporal. There is little evidence of punishment post-death. In addition the afterlife was determined by the circumstances of death, not how one lived. With Christianity, while temporal punishments are claimed, the main emphasis is on judgement in the afterlife. Going to either heavan or hell is largely determined by actions through life, though acceptance of Jesus being the key one, rather than the specific circumstances of death.

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In the Florentine codex I think it was, the Natives noted that the Spanish killing them in the name of God was similar to their ideas of killing people in the name of the gods, via sacrifice.


I think you'd have to be a bit more specific/detailed than that. Killing people in the name of the divine is about as generically human as religious thought can get. It is hardly proof of widespread similarity.

Quote
Should I go on? If you want to debate this further I wouldn't mind doing so via private message.

 
What is wrong with just here?

I am trying to think of some sources that contrast Mesoamerican religious beliefs, social thought, and worldview with that of Christian theology. One might be '2012 and the End of the World: Western roots of the Maya Apocalypse' by Matthew Restall and Amara Solari which actually deals with some of the contrasts. Another text to look at would be 'The Flower and the Scorpion' by Pete Sigal, which deals with Nahua concepts of sin and sexuality. A general overview of key Mesoamerican values can be found in David Carrasco's 'Religions of Mesoamerica', though it does not set out to make a specific comparison. It might also be worth looking at Inga Clendinnen's 'Aztecs: An Interpretation', though to be honest I think it is a little dated now. Clendinnen also makes a comparison with the Maya in an article, I believe it is called 'Ways to the Sacred', though I don't have the original text with me.

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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #13 on: October 16, 2015, 04:07:07 am »
Quote from: Riothamus12;181070
Interesting. Might I ask what similarities you perceive their to be between Nordic Paganism and Aztec religion or would it be derailing the thread to ask here?


Maps was a mayan recon that used to post here and we used to get a kick out of the similarities between our religions (mine is heathenry).
 
I can't recall the specifics, but in all honesty, I think there's just bound to be similarities between folk religions that share a world-accepting view.
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Re: Drawn to Gods but not their Culture
« Reply #14 on: October 16, 2015, 05:30:54 am »
Quote from: Yei;181079
Then I should point out that no-one in Mesoamerica called themselves Aztec. The term as we know it was developed by Alexander von Humbolt. If any collective term should be used for this group, it should be Nahua.

'Aztec' is the actual academic term and is used by FAMSI. I will go by the academic terms as I have mentioned in my secular Mesoamerican blog. This was the general consensus among the recon community I was a part of, as well. The Mixtecs didn't call themselves Mixtec either, yet we don't really used what the call themselves.



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Did I ever say that 'reconstructing' was new? Did I ever deny that syncrecism had taken place? No I did not. So this is a strawman.

My point was missed.



Quote
I think I know to what you are referring to, admonishments recorded in Sahagun's Florentine Codex. Such passages must be remembered in context. For example they probably represent a formal ideal, not necessarily everyday practice.

The reason that the Florentine codex is considered the largest primary resource on the Aztecs and THE primary source on them is because it confers with the archaeology.

Quote
However, that is not the real problem with your argument. You specifically used the term 'cult of virginity'. The problem being that the concept of virginity does not exist in its European form. The Mexica (and neighbours) valued 'chastity' which is different. First of all it applied to both men and women, and behaviourally it was more closely linked to abstinence (for ceremonies). Sexual history was irrelevant. There is little evidence that 'virgins' were worshipped or revered as they were in Europe. For example the most prominent Mesoamerican goddesses were all mothers.

I am not projecting "European" values on them as you say. I simply going by academia and various research. Sexual history was not irrelevant as people were punished for adultery via stoning and punished for premartial sex to death, especially if you were a part of calmecac. (The codex Chimalpopoca goes into some detail on deviant sexual behavior that they people were punished for.)The Aztecs were pretty conservative and this was noted by the Spanish.

The fact that there were concepts like this, put it similar to Christianity in emphasizing purity, especially for girls. But I believe it was Duran that mentioned the marriage-blood thing.


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Except the sacrifices were completely different. The sacrifice of gods in Mesoamerica was an act of creation, and subsequent acts of sacrifice were performed to rejuvenate and restore creation. Jesus's sacrifice was about moral redemption, and had its strongest implications for the afterlife. Critically, it was not supposed to be repeated. This is what I mean by focusing on the superficial.

Incorrect. Sacrifices were done for ollin. "If I don't sacrifice people to Tonatiuh the sun will stop moving! The world will end!". Ollin = movement. This is also why flesh was eaten. This isn't too far off from Jesus. But if you want to argue with various ethnographers and anthropologists, be my guest.



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Again, failing to note the differences. In Mesoamerican religion divine punishment is solely temporal. There is little evidence of punishment post-death. In addition the afterlife was determined by the circumstances of death, not how one lived. With Christianity, while temporal punishments are claimed, the main emphasis is on judgement in the afterlife. Going to either heavan or hell is largely determined by actions through life, though acceptance of Jesus being the key one, rather than the specific circumstances of death.

I wasn't saying they were punished in the afterlife, although that gets sketchy when you read about Mictlan and how nobles received better burials for their journey. They were however, promised heaven if they sacrificed themselves for the gods. There are Christian concepts of this too. They're just not as common nowadays.



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I think you'd have to be a bit more specific/detailed than that. Killing people in the name of the divine is about as generically human as religious thought can get. It is hardly proof of widespread similarity.

Well, people who lived through it and academia on the subject disagree. I think it was in the Florentine codex actually that the Aztecs saw parallels between themselves and Christianity with killing in the name of. So, I'm going with academics on this subject after reading hoards of primary and secondary sources on the subject for almost a decade.


 
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What is wrong with just here?

I am trying to think of some sources that contrast Mesoamerican religious beliefs, social thought, and worldview with that of Christian theology. One might be '2012 and the End of the World: Western roots of the Maya Apocalypse' by Matthew Restall and Amara Solari which actually deals with some of the contrasts. Another text to look at would be 'The Flower and the Scorpion' by Pete Sigal, which deals with Nahua concepts of sin and sexuality. A general overview of key Mesoamerican values can be found in David Carrasco's 'Religions of Mesoamerica', though it does not set out to make a specific comparison. It might also be worth looking at Inga Clendinnen's 'Aztecs: An Interpretation', though to be honest I think it is a little dated now. Clendinnen also makes a comparison with the Maya in an article, I believe it is called 'Ways to the Sacred', though I don't have the original text with me.

Because I don't feel like derailing a thread but okay. I try to go for more direct sources.
« Last Edit: October 16, 2015, 05:32:27 am by Lilirin »

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